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Naruto (ナルト, NARUTO) is a manga by Masashi Kishimoto with an anime TV series adaptation. Its main character, Naruto Uzumaki, is a loud, hyperactive, adolescent ninja who constantly searches for approval and recognition, as well as to become Hokage, who is acknowledged as the leader and strongest of all ninja in the village.
The manga was first published by Shueisha in 1999 in the 43rd issue of Japan's Shonen Jump magazine. Viz Media publishes a translated version in the American Shonen Jump, and has translated roughly a third of the series. Naruto has become VIZ Media's best-selling manga series.
The anime series, produced by Studio Pierrot and Aniplex, premiered across Japan on the terrestrial TV Tokyo network and the anime satellite television network Animax on October 3, 2002, and is still being aired. Viz also licensed the anime for North American production. Naruto debuted in the United States on Cartoon Network's Toonami programming block on September 10, 2005, and in Canada on YTV's Bionix on September 16, 2005. Naruto began showing in the UK on Jetix on July 22, 2006. It began showing on Toasted TV on January 12, 2007 in Australia, although it could be watched on Cartoon Network in 2006. The first series lasted nine seasons, while the second began its first on February 15, 2007.
Twelve years before the events at the focus of the series, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox attacked the Hidden Leaf Village. It was a powerful demon – a single swing of one of its nine tails would raise tsunamis and flatten mountains. It raised chaos and caused the deaths of many, until the leader of the Leaf Village, the Fourth Hokage, defeated it by sacrificing his own life to seal the demon inside a newly-born child, Naruto Uzumaki.
The Fourth Hokage was celebrated as a hero for sealing the demon fox away. He wanted Naruto to be respected in a similar light by being the containment vessel for the demon fox. The village he grew up in, however, mostly shunned Naruto; they regarded him as if he were the demon fox itself and mistreated him throughout most of his childhood.
A decree made by the Third Hokage made it so that the other villagers were forbidden to mention the event to anyone, even to their own children. However, this did not stop them from treating Naruto like an outcast. Although their children did not specifically know why their parents treated Naruto the way they did, they learned through example to despise the boy. As a result, Naruto grew up as an orphan in a lonesome atmosphere without friends, family, or acknowledgment. He could not force people to befriend him, so he sought acknowledgment and attention the only way he knew – through pranks and mischief. However, that soon changed after Naruto graduated from the Ninja Academy by using his Multiple Shadow Clone Technique to save his teacher, Iruka Umino, from the traitor ninja Mizuki. That encounter gave Naruto two insights: that he was the container of the demon fox, and that there was someone besides the Third Hokage who actually cared about him. His graduation from the academy opened a gateway to the events and people that would change and define his world, including his way of the ninja for the rest of his life.
Naruto maintains a balance between drama and comedy, with plenty of action interspersed. It follows Naruto and his friends' personal growth and development as ninja, and emphasizes their interactions with each other and the influence of their backgrounds on their personalities. Naruto finds two friends and comrades in Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno, two fellow young ninja who are assigned with him to form a three-person team under a very experienced sensei named Kakashi Hatake. Naruto also confides in other characters as well that he has met through the Chunin Exam. They learn new abilities, get to know each other and other villagers better, and experience a coming-of-age journey as Naruto dreams of becoming the Hokage of Konoha.
Naruto places strong emphasis on character development. Almost all outcomes are a result of decisions, character, and personality; very few things happen just because of chance. At first, emphasis is placed on Naruto and Sasuke, two of the members of Team 7. However, other characters are developed, such as Kakashi, Gai, and Jiraiya, as well as Naruto's peers in the other genin teams and other villages.
Several major villains came into play as well, the first being Zabuza Momochi, a missing-nin from Kirigakure, and his partner, Haku. Later, in the Chunin Exam Arc, Orochimaru is introduced as an S-rank missing-nin at the top of the Leaf Village's most wanted list. Later, a mysterious organization called Akatsuki begins to pursue Naruto in order to take the beast inside him and use its power for their personal goals.