While many have criticized Naruto for not being very ninja-like, he finally becomes a true shinobi in an epic new piece of fanart.
One of the oldest criticisms of Naruto is that the titular character and his friends aren’t really ninjas. Shinobi are supposed to be stealthy assassins, not bombastic children wearing orange jumpsuits, critics have claimed. Regardless of how true or not that is, a new piece of fanart depicts Naruto as a more classic ninja with stunning results.
Though they share some similarities with the real-world perception of ninjas, it’s undeniable that the ninjas of Naruto’s world defy expectations. Shinobi in Naruto can be anything from martial artists, to warriors, to healers. The series’ most classic interpretation of ninjas are probably the series’ Anbu Blackops who are spies and assassins trained in the art of sneaking. In Naruto, the word ninja just means so much more than being a katana-wielding killer. The series is no stranger to taking inspiration from multiple sources as evidenced by the revelation that Naruto’s entire ninja world was created by aliens. Still, it’s natural to wonder what it would look like if Naruto did fit more into that mold, and a new piece of fanart shows just how epic that could be.
In post on Instagram, artist angoreseiko puts their own spin on what Naruto would like as a more traditional ninja. The future Seventh Hokage wields a katana in one hand and readies a Rasengan in the other as a dragon looms behind him. While this version of Naruto wears a far more muted color palette, his striking blue eyes and signature whiskers make him unmistakable. Particular praise needs to go the little details such as the half of an oni mask strapped to Naruto’s headband as well as the added straps keeping the headband’s metal plate in place. Sharp-eyed fans can also notice that this is distinctly Naruto after his battle with Sasuke, as evidenced by the bandaged right arm. Angoreseiko also did several recolors such as one with Naruto’s more classic color scheme as well as one where he sports gray hair.
More so than most other manga series that became popular in the west, Naruto takes heavy inspiration from Japanese myth. Many of Naruto’s powerful ‘god-tier’ jutsu have some basis in classic Shinto stories. Because of this heavy cultural influence, it makes sense that fans would want to reinterpret the series’ infamously broad definition of ninja. Far from criticism though, pieces of fanart like this are touching tributes inspired by the inventive world that series creator Masashi Kishimoto crafted. When Naruto fans make art depicting Itachi as a samurai, for instance, they do it because the series means something to them.
Despite how some might scoff at the idea of calling Naruto calling himself a ninja, the broad definition of shinobi is part of the series’ appeal. Even when Naruto fans give the series’ hero a more classic ninja appearance, they prove just how beloved the ninja world truly is.
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