Naruto:Interveiw with the creator
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Posted 11/23/07 , edited 11/23/07
Naruto: Interview with Creator

Shonen Jump interviewed the creator of Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto. Here it is:

Shonen Jump: What were you like when you where younger (say in middle school and high school)?
Masashi Kishimoto: I had manga on the brain, and I was constantly drawing, hardly ever doing homework. In short, a bit of a brat.

Shonen Jump: How did growing up in a rural environment influence your manga, or your personality in general?
Masashi Kishimoto: This is a story set in a slow-paced, relaxed setting, far away from capitalist society. My personality is very slow-paced, too, so that's why I often just barely meet, my deadlines for the manga.

Shonen Jump: I've heard that you where a huge fan of Akira Toriyama's "Dragon Ball" and "Dr. Slump". What was your favorite storyline of Dragon Ball? Or, if you prefer, who was your favorite character?
Masashi Kishimoto: I love all the stories up until the first appearance of Frieza. My favorite character is Kuririn, because he has the most "human" feel, and I really associate myself with him.

Shonen Jump: When you where younger, you were attacked by monkeys. Can you tell us about this experience?
Masashi Kishimoto: I accidentally stepped on a young monkey, and the alpha male of the group and the mother of the monkey attacked me. Ever sense then, I have been afraid of monkeys. But these days, I look back on the incident and realize that the protective, nurturing aspect of the monkey is just the same as what a human would feel.

Shonen Jump: You grew up next to a military base, and the ninja in Naruto behave something like a military force, with discipline and training. Are you a military enthusiast, and did you ever consider joining the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF)?
Masashi Kishimoto: I don't really consider myself a military enthusiast. Where I grew up didn't really have a military base, as Japan doesn't have a military, just a Self-Defense Force. What I did was use the training grounds of the SDF as a reference, in addition to books on the Mossad and the SAS. I never wanted to join the JSDF, as I wanted to draw manga.

Shonen Jump: I've heard that you where most inspired by "Akira" the anime, and the manga by Katsuhiro Otomo. Why is this, and what inspired you?
Masashi Kishimoto: I consider "Akira" (1988) to be the first Japanese anime to use the "fresco" style of art. Unlike the other works during that time, the character designs, lines, and sense were very realistic, as was the manga itself. Even the buildings were very detailed, and the sheer amount of information that the art conveyed was incredible. It was a very cool science fiction manga. I think it's also the reason anime became so popular in the U.S. I got a bunch of storyboards for "Akira" when I was 14, and I remember constantly copying them.

Shonen Jump: What was it like going to art school? What was the most useful thing you learned there?
Masashi Kishimoto: I trained in plaster mediums and the drawing of the human body to increase my skills as a design artist. I also learned graphic design, coloring, and perspectives. Manga is still an art form that you pick up by yourself-that's the current reality of the Japanese manga industry. Although the drawing skills that I learned in art school were quite useful, I had the ability of drawing and perspective prior to entering art school. Thus, going to art school was more of a step backwards for me.

Shonen Jump: What was it like being "trained" to be a professional manga artist for "Weekly Shonen Jump"? What kinds of things did you learn?
Masashi Kishimoto: Of course, art is a big part of being a manga artist, but equally important is being able to write a story well. I do everything pretty much by myself, from the characters to the story to the backgrounds. Also, receiving advice from the editor is important, but I think getting a good editor who is supportive of you is the key.

Shonen Jump: You played baseball as a kid, and at one point you considered making a baseball manga. Do you still follow baseball? If so what's your favorite team?
Masashi Kishimoto: I love playing baseball, but I don't really like watching it. I don't have a favorite team in Japan. If Japan had major league teams as impressive as the Americans, I might have a team I would root for.

Shonen Jump: I've heard that you are a fan of traditional Japanese adventure stories. Do you like "chabbara eiga" (Sword fighting movies set in Japan's Feudal period) or historical fiction?
Masashi Kishimoto: I like chabbara, but the recent chabbara films don't have the feel that the older movies have, and I'm not a big fan of the recent ones. I'm hoping a much cooler director comes out and creates an awesome chabbara film.

Shonen Jump: Especially since the early 1980's ninja have been very popular in America n movies and comics. Have you been inspired by American ninja stories?
Masashi Kishimoto: I know a little bit about the popularity of Sho Kosugi (star of many action movies) during the period, as well as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I'm happy, from the perspective of someone from Japan, to see the new way ninjas are perceived in America. Although I hear there are some people who are upset about how the entire "ninja mythology" has been screwed up because of it.

Shonen Jump: This may be an American misconception, but when I think of "ninja" I think of figures wearing completely black outfits, usually with masks. But the ninjas in Naruto look completely unlike the old stereotypes. How did you come up with the interesting "Konoha Style" of ninjas in Naruto?
Masashi Kishimoto: If I created a world that recycles the traditional concept of a ninja it would have ended up just like all the other ninja manga. I wanted to create a ninja world with a twist, something fresh, so I completely threw out the preconceived notion of what a ninja wearing yellow clothing, who is suppose to be part of a secret intelligence gathering organization. There's no way that a ninja who stands out that much would really exist. (Laughs)

Shonen Jump: Samurai are of almost equal fame to a ninja, and in pop culture, in some ways, they seem like the opposite of ninja - forthright instead of sneaky. Are there any powerful samurai in the world of Naruto, or are ninja the overwhelmingly dominant power in this world?
Masashi Kishimoto:I do have a few samurai character: Zouri and Waraji (although they're kind of "lame" samurai.) But there are way too many samurai manga out there, so to stay original I'll continue with ninja stories.

Shonen Jump: Their character Jiraiya, who appears in Naruto, is based on a legendary ninja. Is Naruto inspired by any other particular legends?
Masashi Kishimoto: Jiraiya is about the only character who is like that; the others are all original.

Shonen Jump:Your work seems to have a science fiction influence. Approximately speaking what is the technology level in the world of Naruto?
Masashi Kishimoto: Actually, the world of Naruto doesn't differ very much from our present time. TV, refrigerators and air conditioners exist in the world. The only exceptions are weapons and explosives, which I've decided to set in a much earlier era. That's why you don't see firearms.

Shonen Jump Question:
Many "Shonen Jump" mangas have puns for character names. So can you explain some of the puns in the names of the characters? I know that Naruto is a word for the spiral fishcakes in ramen... But I've also heard of a place off the sea of Japan called the "Naruto Uzumaki" (the Naruto whirlpools), like Naruto's a first and last name.
Masashi Kishimoto Answer:
Uzumaki (spirals) are a very cool Japanese pattern. "Weekly Shonen Jump's" philosophy for naming characters is to create a name that the readers can easily associate with the character, by combining it with puns and gags.

Shonen Jump: How did you develop the chakra power system in Naruto? Are you interested in East Indian mysticism?
Masashi Kishimoto: I actually have no interest in East Indian mysticism. I needed a hook to tie in those points in the story when characters would use powers that were beyond normal human capabilities. The term is chakra, which is used as an explanation for readers to better understand the powers. Its similar to "the Force" in Star Wars, or chi (aka. - Ki) in "Dragon Ball", or magic points in RPGs.

Shonen Jump: How did you develop the mystic hand gestures used by the ninjas in Naruto?
Masashi Kishimoto: As an alternative to the standard verbal method of casting spells, like in RPGs, the ninja use hand gestures instead

Shonen Jump: In Naruto, the frog seems to be associated with the character Naruto. Also, in an early drawing you associate the snake with Sasuke, and the snail with Sakura. What about these animals caused you to connect them with these characters? Are ninja associated with frogs in Japan?
Masashi Kishimoto: When you talk about ninjas, you invariably talk about frogs. There is a ninja manga whose main character is "Hattori-kun," who (also a joke in the story) does not like frogs, so this connection between ninjas and frogs is a close one. (In Japanese folklore, frogs are concerted magical animals, and the oil from a frog's skin is a traditional ointment for wounds and other ailments.) The triad of snake, snail and frog is from Japanese mythology. The snake is more powerful then the frog, the snail is more powerful then the snake, and the frog is more powerful then the snail, Making a paper, rock, scissors" sort of situation. These three are collectively called the "Sansukumi".

Shonen Jump: What inspired you to do a story about a demon fox? What interests you about foxes?
Masashi Kishimoto: Because the fox, in particular the nine tailed fox, is considered to be one of the most powerful supernatural beasts.

Shonen Jump: What is the relationship of Naruto and the demon fox? Was the demon fox killed and reincarnated inside Naruto's body, or was it sealed inside the baby Naruto with out dying? Are there two souls within Naruto's body, in a mystical sense, or is it more like two personalities, in the psychological sense?
Masashi Kishimoto: The demon fox has been sealed inside of Naruto without having been killed. It's because the nine tailed fox couldn't be killed, so they had no choice but to seal it away... probably... which us why there are two personalities inside of Naruto.

Shonen Jump Question: Do you get more fan letters from boys or girls? Do boys and girls like different things about the series?
Masashi Kishimoto: Fan letters are typically written by girls, as it seems that "boys don't write letters". About 90% of the fan letters seem to be from girls, even though the majority of readers are suppose to be boys. It was like that when I used to read Weekly Shonen Jump as a kid, and apparently it's the same today.

Shonen Jump: Naruto and Sasuke kiss (accidentally) in the first chapter where they appear together. Does this add a special dimension to their rivalry?
Masashi Kishimoto: I didn't have any particular reason for it, other then to surprise readers. I mainly did it because I don't think there has ever been a manga where two rivals kissed. Also, by having this encounter, it was easier to set up the love triangle: Sakura, who had intended to be the first one to kiss Sasuke, has it stolen by her rival Naruto, Sasuke and Naruto are rivals, so there's and added tension there. And so on and so forth.

Shonen Jump Question: Is there ever going to be a manga adaptation of "Ichalcha Paradise"? (Make-Out Paradise" or "Cum-Cum Paradise")
Masashi Kishimoto: Never

Shonen Jump Question: In closing, what advise would you give fans who are interested in becoming artists themselves?
Masashi Kishimoto: Creating manga isn't just about drawing well, but writing a good story. Keep the art and the story real, and you can't lose. Also, watch a lot of good Hollywood movies. Those who rail against the entertainment industry are just being close-minded.
Posted 11/23/07
no more naruto threads........
Posted 11/23/07
^ Yes...and wrong section as well..

Please read the forum rules and look at the thread indexes before starting a new thread next time.
killar 
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Posted 11/23/07
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