Masashi Kishimoto is the artist and author behind the shonen manga series Naruto. First published in Weekly Shōnen Jump in 1999, Naruto quickly became one of the most important and well-known series in the manga world. Over the years, Kishimoto has participated in interviews that offer some insight into the creation process.
We went through these interviews and collected some of the things we learned about Naruto from Kishimoto interviews. These include details about Kishimoto's rivalry with One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda, when and how he decided that Naruto and Hinata would get together, how he decided to end the series and more. You don't have to take our word for it, either - we have plenty of translated quotes from Kishimoto himself for your perusal.
Naruto & Hinata's Relationship Was Set From The Middle Of The Series
Naruto and Hinata's relationship is one of the more heartwarming parts of the series. Kishimoto said that he was planning their relationship from around the middle of the story:
"I think what made me realize it was partly because, if you really look back and think about it, Hinata always supported and acknowledged Naruto, even before Master Iruka. She had the ability to see beyond his reputation and see the true person inside. I think I started realizing that they were meant to be."
But while it was clear in Kishimoto's mind, it wasn't necessarily obvious to everyone else. In fact, some people were pretty disappointed that Naruto didn't end up with Sakura. One person who was notably upset was Kishimoto's wife.
"I almost caused a rift in my own household too, because my wife was very upset also that Naruto didn't get together with Sakura. In fact, she complained quite vehemently to me!
I tried to defuse the situation by assuring my wife that SHE was actually the model for Hinata. (laughs)
....My wife is quite strong as well, she's a strong character.
So I think my wife might secretly realize that Hinata wasn't really the model for her… (laughs)"Cool insight?
Kishimoto Wanted 'Naruto' To Reflect The World At Large
During his interview with New York Comic Con, Kishimoto was asked why he decided to create characters like Killer Bee who had darker skin. He said:
"When I started expanding on the world, especially through introducing other ninja villages, the very nature of doing that kind of forced me to widen the perspective. I wouldn't say it was necessarily a deliberate decision, but I was definitely conscious of the fact that if I wanted to have my Naruto world reflect actual society more, then it might be easier for fans to accept, to see, other cultures or races as well. So while it wasn't necessarily an outright deliberate decision, I think I was conscious of the fact that I wanted Naruto's world to reflect, at least a little bit, the world at large."
When the interviewer mentioned that many Black and Latino fans were excited by characters they felt represented by, Kishimoto smiled widely and said:
"That makes me happy to hear that as well!"Cool insight?
Naruto's Childhood Is Loosely Based On Kishimoto's Own
Where did Kishimoto get his ideas for his protagonist's early life? According to an interview with Shonen Jump, he was inspired by some of his own childhood experiences.
"My childhood wasn't all that happy. It may have sounded like it was all good in my journal entries in the manga volumes, but that was in order to make it interesting for the readers. Like any person, I've had hardships in my life. I was not the center of anyone's attention in school, rather sitting on the outskirts. I didn't do well in everything. I didn't excel in studies nor sports. So I can understand Naruto's feelings of being an underdog. I don't really like people who are too perfect. [laughs]"Cool insight?
He Faced Pressure To Continue The SeriesPhoto: Toei Animation
During an interview at a 2015 New York Comicon, Kishimoto revealed that his editors pressured him into continuing the series beyond its intended end-point.
"I would be lying if I said there wasn't some pressure from management, the powers that be as they were, but I had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted the story to come to a close, so I had to put my foot down and say, 'No, I'm sorry, this is it.'"
While Kishimoto did get to end Naruto, its sequel series Boruto would debut in 2016. Initially, Shueisha wanted Kishimoto to create the sequel himself. Kishimoto agreed to supervise and help with the initial concept but refused to head the project. Instead, his assistant Mikio Ikemoto took charge of the art, while Ukyō Kodachi, the writer of the Boruto film, handled the story.
In November 2020, Kishimoto took over Kodachi's role and began writing Boruto himself, with Ikemoto continuing as the artist.Cool insight?