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The Secret of NARUTO's Success?

Episode #1 -- Retro Review. Believe this!

I’ve been circling around this particular pillar of the Holy Shonen Trinity, all the time I’ve been shogun of Anime Vice. Maybe it’s because the episode count seemed too daunting. Maybe it’s because I was introduced to the franchise through X-Play reviews rolling their eyes about the lameness of the games (and the number of times “Believe it!” was uttered therein). I just never got into it.

Either way - - always better late than never - - so we’re here.

Whenever I watch the first episode of a long-running, super-popular series, I squint real hard and try to spot which specific details might’ve spelt success from the onset. Putting this in sequence with BLEACH and ONE PIECE’s openers, I noticed all three jump straight to their heroes doing cool stuff.

There’s no slow build-up. We don’t get blank-slate norms who must be summoned to adventure before they start kicking ass. Luffy already has stretchy powers from eating the Devil Fruit and he’s striving to be king, Ichigo already can see ghosts and he’ll punish anybody bullying those ghosts, and Narutowell, he’s already leveled up several times, apparently. This opener’s so front-loaded with lore, it felt like I missed about six episodes, at least.

What’s striking is that, while this sort of haste can usually be to the detriment of most series, it actually seems beneficial here. Sure, the show’s breathlessly rattling its set-up off so it can get to the wish fulfillment (Naruto vastly overpowering his foes with the various jutsus), but that wouldn’t be enough. While it might take some hurried and clumsy steps to get there, this episode shows us to the most dramatic moments of Naruto’s young life.

Seriously, not only do we learn the horrific curse of his birth, not only do we get the gut-wrenching (sort-of) death of his mentor, but we also get a Lucifer-like temptation wherein he must choose to be a hero or a villain. That’s the sort of heavy, dramatic moments you normally get the climax of an arc, not the introduction. The show has to bend some rules to go straight for the jugular, but the effect is crucial, because we’re now rooting more for Naruto than we would’ve if he were just another mischief-making orphan. And that's what'll hook an audience for hundreds of episodes.

This is my take, anyway. I'm sure we've got plenty of mega-fans in the community - - what's your take? What did this show do right from the beginning? What's the secret of NARTUO's success?

Watch, Enter: Naruto Uzumaki” and decide for yourself.

About the Author

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk
Kino88on March 11, 2014 at 6:15 p.m.
Never truly watched it before, but it seems ok.... As always I prefer a show that doesn't drag on for a millennium Simply because sooner or later I'll anxiously wonder while watching Arc after arc whether or not there's ever gona be an all Concluding payoff, a final word to ponder, and perhaps the chance To fill that old taken slot with something new, That has always been my gripe with most shonen, they can be great fun for Awhile, that is until they become a never ending series of cliff notes, Even Hunter X Hunter as much as I have enjoyed it so far, I have only made it to Episode 60, and already I'm wondering how much farther this already 120 episode serial Is gona be stretched, or more importantly if I'll even care to make it that far.
sickVisionz moderator on March 11, 2014 at 7:33 p.m.

I thought you already did a retro review of this episode...

OfficialRikudouSenninon March 11, 2014 at 8:31 p.m.

Naruto Solos

Marshal Victoryon March 11, 2014 at 8:33 p.m.

Secret of its success? Simple shonen tropes of hard work an growth. Personal loss an gain plus the there is good an bad on all sides. Also it mixs a odd tech level with ninjas an giant monsters. Tho Naruto has more of the underdog becoming topdog that many shonen.

I have watched all the the 1st series an almost caught up on the second series. Both are king of the filler or at least runing hard for the top title. They flashback filler an show alot of things from difrent angles with a fairly consistant plot.When Naruto is good its really good an when its bad its really bad. Most of the bad tho can be found in the non-flashback filler tho.

katmicon March 12, 2014 at 1:09 a.m.

I didn't like the first episode of naruto, or the second or even and third and fourth. I would go so far as to say i found them to be terrible. I wasn't hooked to the show till episode ten and i have never looked back. Now for me its Naruto>HunterXHunter>One piece>Bleach. Naruto would benefit greatly from an HXH treatment, where all the filler is eliminated and the animation is improved in some arcs. Though i cannot understand the complaints over filler for anyone just starting to watch the series who can simply skip over the filler stuff.

This has always been my complaint about one piece; because it doesn't have outright filler episodes, you cannot simply skip episodes for fear of missing out on important story elements; thus you have to sit back and watch luffy run through a tunnel for two entire episodes.

katmicon March 12, 2014 at 1:16 a.m.

People that have yet to watch naruto need only give it a chance ( and by chance i mean more than a few episodes in beginning, where even i initially dropped the show). Think of the way otaku are/were encouraged to give One piece a chance despite its quirkiness, explaining that there was something most definitely worth watching beneath its madness. Same thing with Naruto; give it enough time and underneath the typical shonen stuff you will find quite a story.

Though Naruto is unfortunately a little like HXH in that you cannot skip a few hundred episodes to the present and expect to appreciate or even understand what's happening. Chances are you will have to cut through several hundred episodes, right from the start to truly appreciate the Naruto spirit. For those that find themselves hooked though, a 500 ep backlog is likely to be less of a burden and more of a joy.

takashichea moderator on March 12, 2014 at 1:18 a.m.

Naruto does well for younger audiences because it has that charm and gets the young'uns all psyched for these shows. For folks who are older and have seen other Shonen series, it's harder for them to get into Naruto. With most Shonen shows, it's a marathon or a pie eating contest. Most will drop the series because it gets stale due to fillers or the over usage of of cliches like friendship and such. I did find folks from reading their blogs that they dropped anime entirely because of Naruto. For some, others will avoid Shonen series like a plague after seeing Naruto. There is not much variety in Shonen series. They all have their gimmicks while retaining core values: determination, friendship, love, and good vs evil.

zaldaron March 12, 2014 at 2:12 p.m.

Ug....might read some of these might not. But Naruto is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with Shonen. Every once in awhile I will come in to watch big fights - the king toad fight was truly epic. But the long waits in between the annoyances of the characters, the closeness to a Saturday morning cartoon with "morals" nope not something I am going to watch long term.

Destinyheroknighton March 12, 2014 at 2:41 p.m.

@zaldar:

Well, Shonen is for kids. That why it feel like a Saturday morning cartoon (because it kind of is)

Anyway, the reason why I (use to) like Naruto was the characters (beside Sasuke), story, fights and it was a simple read. That what I like with most Shonens, I can just kick back and relax and have a good read

Vapovileon March 12, 2014 at 3:12 p.m.

Naruto used to be a really fun series that I used to watch on Toonami, but one major beef I have with it is that it's fight scenes are soooooooo slow. I mean, it's like they do 3 fighting moves, then cut to a lengthy flashback about their lost lost friend or parent that they never had. Sakura in particular really ticked me off, as she just b****ed at Naruto all the time, even when he would save her, and would do nearly nothing in combat situations. Plus, after the climactic fight between Naruto and Sasuke, the rest of the original series essentially becomes a GIANT filler mini-series that goes nowhere, so that is where I dropped it as a kid. I have yet to watch any of Shippuden, though.

Juubion March 18, 2014 at 10:56 a.m.

The fights were good. I mean, very,very good. Almost every ninja had a unique technique, including Naruto. And when wasn't that, was old fashioned kicks and punches.

And they used the techniques strategically. Wasn't a simple question about "my power is bigger than your", but about outsmarting your opponent.

And Sasuke was cool, really cool. Naruto was a brat.

The plot? The plot was simple, I think. Not anything about "changing the world" or "destiny" or "secrets". Naruto was a common ninja that just wanted to be in the top of the food chain. And Sakura, because he was a boy after all.

Sharingan? Sharingan was a very interesting power. You know, because copied other jutsus that weren't kekkei genkai and predicted the moves of your opponent. Oh yeah, good times.....

YotaruVegetaon March 23, 2014 at 12:25 a.m.

I can't help but tie Eastern characters with Western ones. If Naruto is like any character, it's Captain America. You would think Goku would be the Captain America, right? Nah, because Captain America started out as just a wimpy guy who couldn't make it through to basic training on his own; but he had the guts to fight against oppression and tyranny. So with a boost in power, he takes on those evil forces, head to head. Sound familiar?

This is why I scoff at people who gave up on Naruto long ago, because, although the show has a few faults [SHAKES FIST AT FILLERS], it's an uplifting show overall.

Dig Deeper into Naruto

A young boy, Naruto, with a demon sealed inside him wants to become the best ninja in his village and become the next Hokage. Thus Naruto, joined by his team mates and leader, begins his journey to become Hokage of Konoha.

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