We all have that one anime that made us realize this was more than a fleeting interest and turned it into a full-blown hobby. For me that show was the original NARUTO, which I watched with the anime club at college. And so for auld lang syne, I decided to revisit the very first episode of NARUTO and see what I thought about it, nearly 10 years later.
And you know what? There's still a lot to love about this ol' chestnut.
I love when a show with a deep fantasy world starts off in media res, and NARUTO does just that. Sure it starts off with a flashback that fills you in on the evil Nine-Tailed Fox Demon thing, but it really gets going when perpetual troublemaker Naruto Uzumaki has to run away from his teachers using all the ninja tricks he knows. Then right after that you're thrown into the concept of a Ninja Academy, which I can only presume is the Japanese equivalent of Hogwarts.
It's strange to me how much they put into the relationship between Naruto and Iruka too, since later on Iruka is all but replaced by Kakashi. Especially since Kakashi is closely tied to the Uchiha clan and Iruka has a very emotional connection with Naruto.
And the art! Vibrant colors always keep me entertained, and this show is dripping with them. All the major characters stand out in their design, and encourage speculation of their involvement in the story down the line. The semi-realistic style of the show also really helps it be memorable, too.
Thankfully, the music is just as epic as I remember it being—I could listen to this soundtrack all day long. Such a badass fusion of classical Japanese instruments and modern rock. Yoshida Brothers, eat your hearts out.
Sure they really barrel through the story in this first ep. Sure Naruto makes a couple of derpy faces. But you know what? This is a damn fine show and a satisfying chunk of story. I have to hand it to my old anime club president: he couldn't have picked a finer show to hook an anime neophyte.
So what was your gateway anime? Have you watched any of your old favorites of late, and did they hold up? Let us know in the comments below!
Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter @Murphix.