A world of ninja, a whole bunch of character introductions, and the series' first real battle are here!
Welcome to The Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! I'm Nate, and I'll be your host this week as we make our way through all 220 episodes of the original Naruto. Last week, I told you how all this worked, but everybody who's new I'll go over things one more time.
Each week, we'll be watching SEVEN EPISODES of the original Naruto, and sharing our thoughts on them interview-style every Friday at 5pm PST.
This week, we're starting things off with episodes 1-7, featuring an introduction to everyone's favorite super-loud orange ninja, the rest of our main cast, and this world of ninja that they inhabit. Things move pretty quickly--it's not long before Naruto's assigned to Team 7, they have their first real test against their teacher and commander Kakashi, and they face their first life-or-death fights against the Demon Brothers and Zabuza!
But, before we discuss these episodes, let's take a look at the comments and questions that you had from our last installment!
The number one question we got last week was a simple one: ARE WE GOING TO SKIP THE FILLER?
No. We are not skipping the filler.
You may skip the filler, but be sure to tune in to see our reactions to it... there's gonna be a lot down the road.
Now, let's see what the Crunchyroll Features team thought of this week's episodes!
Alright, this is where it all starts--I know a bunch of you are new to Naruto. How did actually watching it compare to your expectations?
Paul: Judging from my previous experiences with the fans, I was expecting Naruto (both the show and the titular character) to be a little more meat-headed and hyper-masculine. Instead, the show sets a laser focus on evoking sympathy with a protagonist who wants to be the best in the world simply so people will recognize him. I didn't anticipate such feelings of internalized inadequacy from the shouty, fighty shonen hero.
Peter: I’m rewatching and also decided to read the manga alongside. So far I’m really impressed by how strong Kishimoto’s aesthetic was from the outset. The environments and character designs are all unmistakeable and his action is like this perfect combination of piece-by-piece panels and splashes. I like the anime’s additions, especially some extra Naruto/Konohamaru scenes which drive home the difference in how they’re treated and an early Ino intro that sets up her rivalry with Sakura.
Kevin: I was one of the people watching the original Cartoon Network run of the show’s dub back somewhere around 2003 or 2004. Going back and rewatching, I forgot how much the early parts of the show focus on Naruto’s emotional struggle, first of not being accepted by anyone and just trying to get attention, then how he feels about his various failings as a ninja. As a result, the stakes aren’t as high, but it feels like a much more personal story.
Jared: I completely missed out on Naruto after dropping off anime around 2003, but going in I was more expecting it to follow a similar structure to other shonen shows I’ve seen. From the start, the opening episode completely shattered any expectations I had with how tight the entire episode was woven together with regards to its narrative, characterizations, and how much info it packed into 24 minutes. Outside of that, I think I’d missed out on knowing that Naruto can act like a brat early on in the series.
Joseph: I’m in an interesting position, because I watched maybe 40 episodes of this a decade ago and I’ve read around 50 volumes of the manga. I will say I was surprised at how nostalgic it felt to watch this compared to, say, Shippuden, which has a much different vibe. It’s also impressive how much groundwork is laid for the entire series via Kishimoto’s designs and world and the way the anime adapted it.
Carolyn: I was very surprised at how quickly they dove into Naruto’s backstory. I have seen the show many years ago and didn’t seem to remember that such a “big reveal” occurred so quickly. I… honestly find the story quite boring and hard to keep my attention focused on, I guess I’m just not super invested in the characters. However, I can absolutely see seeds of how this show has affected and inspired many that came after it. I hadn’t really noticed that when watching other anime, but going back and rewatching Naruto makes that pretty clear. Also, I am cracking up at the totally rad ‘80s Breakfast Club-esque opening sequence. I didn’t remember that music at all.
Noelle: Naruto was one of my first encounters with manga when I first really started getting into it, but it’s been a long time since I touched it. I read the whole thing, but I never reread it, so a lot of instances I completely forgot about. For example, I forgot how kind of gruesome it was at the start, focusing on serious injuries instead of just fantasy violence. At the same time, I’m impressed how strong the characters are established, along with themes such as kindness and proving yourself that will resonate throughout the entire series.
Kara: I was five years out of college when Naruto started, and I remember in the circles I ran in it was Not The Done Thing to be into it. I can’t remember if it was because it was considered a “casual’s anime” or if it was based on run-ins with cosplayers at conventions. Likely a little of both. Watching it has been a lot more chill than I expected, and while I see a lot of the tropes I figured I’d see, it looks like it’s leading somewhere interesting.
David: I basically grew up with Naruto, but I fell off of it in high school so it’s been more than a decade since the last time I actually watched an episode or read a chapter. Comparing it to my expectations, it’s much more focused than I recall--the first episode could stand alone as a very emotionally effective short story, for example. Kakashi is still the only side character who seems to have a lot of thought put into their long-term character arc, though.
Daniel: I like it, though Naruto has always kind of been a blind spot for me. I’ve seen a decent chunk of it, but it’s always kind of been background noise, something to have on so that when people ask me “Do you only watch One Piece?”, I can say “NUH UH. I ALSO WATCH THIS ONE ABOUT ANOTHER LOUD BOY.” That said, actually paying attention to it, it’s pretty fun. I dig Kishimoto’s world building, and the environment that he’s set up. I’m really interested in finally figuring out why so many people adopted this show as their gospel.
Danni W: I actually did watch the first dozen or so episodes of Naruto around six or seven years ago, so this was more of a refresher than anything. It never quite clicked with me the first time, so I was surprised to find I enjoyed it more this time around. I think it helped that the show gets real pretty immediately. We’re only seven episodes in and Naruto has already had to face real combat three separate times. The characters aren’t enough to hook me yet, so the early doses of action have made for a good on ramp for me.
I've always enjoyed how Naruto hangs on to its emotional core, and we see that very strongly in the first few episodes. What did you all think of this part of the story?
Paul: I'm not fully invested yet in the emotional stakes of the series, mostly because I don't really know the scope and scale of the world that Naruto inhabits. Why are these children being trained to be spies and assassins from such a young age? What dangers does the outside world present such that it prompts entire villages to weaponize their kids?
Peter: I feel like I never gave Iruka enough credit in retrospect, maybe because his act was the first in what later emerged as the series core. Without him, Naruto probably would have been another Gaara. I also never realized that Naruto is wearing Iruka’s headband the entire damn story. After Naruto’s hand stab I’m trying to remember if grand masculine gestures are regularly mocked as an inverse toward the important compassionate gestures, so I’m planning to track that moving forward.
Kevin: While I like seeing the cool techniques and fights from later in the show, going back to the beginning and seeing much more of a focus on each character’s internal conflicts is an interesting change, giving each of their actions a bit more personal weight. It’s not inherently better or worse, just a different focus on the same story.
Jared: It really seemed like a great way to start the series and let people know from the onset that this is a story that deals heavily with empathy. I figured eventually the series would go that route, but to do it immediately sets a tone that allows for these characters like Naruto to instantly have layers that otherwise might take a long time to see. With the show really bouncing between emotional moments and comedy pretty frequently, I’m curious whether it’ll continue that or try and lean more in one direction or the other.
Joseph: Naruto is the most three-dimensional character in these first episodes, mostly because we haven’t had much time to delve into the stories that drive Sakura and Sasuke. I think they do a great job of making Naruto sympathetic, which makes up for his brattiness. One other thing I appreciate is that they make it clear from the outset that being a ninja isn’t just cartoonishly huge shuriken fun and games. People die on the regular here, and Naruto and the rest of his upstart era would do well do remember that before taking the next steps.
Carolyn: Just let Naruto live! Everyone is so mean to the poor kid. Again, I was surprised at how quickly they jump into this and I have a feeling it is what kept me watching the first time around. They do a good job of making you feel empathy for Naruto even when he is being totally obnoxious.
Noelle: While I remember pretty vividly the general plot, I don’t remember a lot of the small moments that make up a scene. Naruto is set up really well, and I to this day really enjoy that he’s not just cast as a quirky problem child with no future, but someone who genuinely wants to be acknowledged, and acting out is the easiest way to get attention. Knowing how things end up, seeing everyone at the start and how they are introduced is a good refresher and sets up a lot later on. At its heart, this really is a story about teamwork, empathy, and growing up.
Kara: It’s been all right—some cute and funny bits, and I like what action scenes we’ve had. From a writing standpoint, it feels like (except for Naruto himself) everyone’s categorized largely by wanting to be the Hokage, wanting to kill someone, or having a crush on someone. But I can also see that we’re quickly moving forward from that. Being on the News team means educating myself fast about unfamiliar shows, and the wildest thing to me has been seeing Hinata in the background crushing on Naruto when I just recently posted an article about her wedding figure.
David: Iruka and Naruto’s relationship has to be my favorite single part from this section. Iruka is given every reason to not like or just give up on this kid, yet he sticks up for him the whole time (while also never letting him slack--no free pass on the exams for Naruto!). Kakashi is setting up to be a good role model, too, but I’ll definitely miss how intimate Iruka’s care for Naruto is.
Daniel: You can really sympathize with Naruto because he’s the “chosen one” character without being a prodigy. He isn’t impressive right out of the gate, but he has the potential to be impressive. I think you can relate to him easier than, say, Goku, who is ready to dropkick most of the world the first time you meet him. That feeling of being meant for bigger things, but still struggling to even get on the path to those bigger things is pretty powerful.
Danni: I think it’s showing some promise. I really appreciate the lengths it goes to explain why Naruto is a troublemaker in the first place. He can be pretty annoying, but the reasons for that are mostly justified. In the end, he’s a victim. I like that Sasuke can already see that and identify with him in that respect. They both have a lot of trauma to work though in the next *checks notes* few hundred episodes.
I know we're really early in, but have there been any standout moments or characters so far?
Paul: I know everybody else is probably going to go with Kakashi as the standout character, but also cool as Kakashi may be, my heart goes out to Akimichi Choji, the chubby ninja who is stuffing his face with potato chips in Episode 3. I also like the design of the oversized shurikens and other exaggerated weapons, and I dig the visual aesthetic of the Village Hidden in the Leaves.
Peter: This question is kind of hard to answer since I’m retracing old ground but I definitely did not recall Sakura being such a little shithead. Completely forgot her putting her foot in her mouth with Sasuke saying Naruto’s a troublemaker because he’s an orphan. Funnily enough, I think her hating Naruto for who he is rather than what he represents is a really important connection between the two.
Kevin: Naruto freezing up in his first real fight and then stabbing himself, swearing that he’ll never be a burden again was a scene that I feel is an exemplar of how the early story focuses more on Naruto’s emotional journey, rather than just trying to fight increasingly strong bad guys, but still has the kind of payoffs that the audience can rally behind.
Jared: Iruka is a good dude who really wants what’s best for Naruto, even if it means taking an oversized shuriken to the back. Naruto stabbing himself in episode 6 was an immediate “YO” moment from me. The entire atmosphere of the fight in the back half of episode 7 was incredibly good. I really hope that Konohamaru continues to show up with either worse and worse stealth or continuously better ways to try and fight Naruto.
Carolyn: Glad to see Shikamaru show up so early. Love him. As I mentioned before, I’m not sure I’m fully invested in these characters. I am quite disappointed in Sakura. I remember loving her when I was younger and she is not the strong female character I remembered. She’s kind of desperately boy-crazy. Which is fine! But it feels like it comes on strong and the first several episodes don’t give her many traits beyond that. She must grow throughout the series, or my memories were warped? Kakashi Sensei feels sooooo much like a Shoto Aizawa (My Hero Academia’s Eraserhead) prototype. The mystery, the aloof manner, but secretly a big softie that just wants his student to do well. Similarly, Naruto has a lot of traits that seem to overlap with Bakugo and Soul Eater’s Black Star. More evidence of the show’s reach. Sexy Jutsu has not aged well. Also, the ending theme song is beautiful.
Noelle: Kakashi’s great, and knowing that he’s pretty close to my age puts a lot of things into context now that I’m an adult. Kakashi’s got a lot on his plate with these three problem children under his wing, but he’s still a pretty laid back guy personality-wise. Someone who stood out to me more in my rewatch was Iruka. Iruka’s presence means so much to Naruto, being the father figure he never really had. If Iruka wasn’t kind to Naruto, and he really was the only person to treat Naruto like a kid and not just a monster container, this would’ve been a very different series. Naruto truly did need someone to be there for him, and seeing their relationship really does make my heart warm. Iruka’s a good guy!
Kara: I actually cannot believe how much I associate with Naruto, and 12-years-ago me would faint at hearing that. The absolute need to prove himself, the feeling that he’s sliding backwards the harder he works, all that is something I (and others, I’m sure) can relate to. Obviously he goes a little harder than most people would in his situation—seriously, if you’re wearing Safety Orange constantly, you’ve gotta think really highly of yourself as a ninja—but it’s really something to see how much of his attitude is couched in fear of failure.
Joseph: Kakashi’s kancho, obviously.
David: Konohamaru only gets his one episode here, but I actually thought his bit was the most emotionally effective. He largely has the same issues as Naruto but in reverse. Konohamaru isn’t necessarily "royalty" but treated as such, infantilizing him from his perspective. Even his name is a point of contention for him, putting a burden on his very existence that others can’t relate to. To these ends, he looks up to Naruto for being a free spirit, but as the viewers we understand that they are more similar than they know. Naruto is the main character--we see his troubles garnering respect and even love from his peers and mentors in these episodes--but Konohamaru grounds that conflict by mirroring it.
Daniel: In my high school band class in Freshman year, a kid asked the teacher to be referred to as “Sasuke.” He also had a ninja headband that he’d wear around some time, and while I thought it was goofy then, I think it’s ABSOLUTELY DOPE now. So, while I still figure out the characters, I’m gonna nominate broody ol’ Sasuke in honor of that kid.
Danni: Kakashi covers like 75% of his face with ninja gear and to show how badass he is fought one-handed while reading a book called Makeout Paradise. I want to be that cool someday.
The action escalated pretty quickly--we started with Team 7 having to take the bells from Kakashi for the first full-on action scene (even if it wasn't "for keeps"), and then we have to worry about Hidden Mist assassins and our first real villain, Zabuza. Any thoughts on the action?
Paul: I like all of the action that I've seen so far, but the resolution to Kakashi's test wasn't dramatically satisfying for me. The payoff didn't match the build-up. I wanted to see Team 7 put up more of a show of resistance than simply refusing to obey Kakashi's instructions not to feed Naruto. The scene plays more like everyone being recalcitrant teenagers and less like anyone taking a principled stand.
Peter: I can’t believe the action is so sick even this early on. I always thought of Sasuke’s style as the most orthodox and the intricacy of some of his combos and the shots are so damn satisfying to look. Kishimoto made it super easy for the animators to make some stylish shots and they ran with it. The series is already building its vocabulary with a Sasuke attack that obviously builds into the Lion Combo and some underground shenanigans.
Kevin: I feel like this is the show’s action at its weakest. None of the Genin know how to fight yet, so once the actually dangerous fighting begins, they’re relegated to standing around watching Kakashi and Zabuza fight, and even that hasn’t gotten to the more impressive techniques. It’s not bad since at least there is still a fight between two experienced combatants to watch, it’s just weaker than what the show delivers on later when the protagonist and major characters are experienced enough to contribute.
Jared: I was surprised how subdued the action had felt before Team 7 took on Kakashi with there being pretty minimal fight scenes until that point. Kakashi messing around with Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura gave a good baseline of the complete difference in skill between all of them, but it wasn’t until Zabuza and his ridiculous cow print sleeves showed up that we truly get a sense of how much of a gap there is between Kakashi and Team 7. The beginnings of that fight truly gave the feeling of their being stakes involved which had been missing elsewhere.
Carolyn: Again, surprised at how quickly the show turns on a dime. They can go from goofy to serious in a heartbeat and it is very reminiscent of how things often progress on My Hero Academia. But I still find it hard to really get into the peril. I’m not sure why, exactly, I’m not very invested in the characters, but it’s early. I’m sure that will change.
Noelle: Since this series came out where it did, Jump was still very much comfortable with keeping pacing slow. As a result, the fights are a lot slower than what I’m used to, even if that was the norm back then. At the same time, the action itself isn’t bad--it’s pretty clever, and introduces the rules of the world in a way that anyone can pick up with ease.
Kara: I have a feeling a lot of my appreciation for the fighting will come as I start learning the different abilities in play. There have definitely been some cool moves, but I think we’re still in that exposition phase where we’re learning the types of things ninjas can do (and what our main cast’s strong and weak points are). A couple weeks from now when I’ve seen more of how this universe operates, I’ll probably be all in.
David: Sure, the action isn’t flashy, but the Kakashi training fight was much better than I remember it being for two reasons. One, it’s just funny. Kakashi doesn’t do anything truly harsh to the kids (well, aside from starve them, but that’s part of the plan), and what little physical combat he does with them is either light or just plain comedic. Two, it serves as a small show-don’t-tell of the show’s combat mechanics. For example, he calls out at the beginning that he’s going to use taijutsu, leading to his infamous kancho when he could have done a million other things; Sakura even believes he is using a more fancy technique before it happens. From there more involved strategies are used and by the end we have a basic primer of Naruto combat simultaneously serving as a team-building exercise for our heroes. Very efficient storytelling.
Joseph: The action is really clear and well-handled in these early episodes. I’m not sure how it gets later on, but I know in the manga I found some of Kishimoto’s action layouts much harder to follow than they should be. His designs and the intention behind his action translate nicely to animation, thankfully. Naruto is also really good at suddenly showing just how powerful a character really is within action, which is a total must-have shonen staple.
Danni: It’s not very flashy so far, but it is pretty tense. The high-level combat so far seems to entirely be a contest of clones and substitutions. The substitution jutsu seems way too broken. That being said, it’s a pretty cool technique. I hope we get to start seeing some good hand-to-hand soon.
For this batch of episodes, what were the highest and lowest points, respectively?
Paul: High point: Naruto getting caught in Kakashi's rope trap, grumbling about not getting tricked again while he frees himself, and then immediately getting caught in another rope trap. I love those kind of gags. Low point: ninja diarrhea.
Peter: In both cases probably the information reveals. Purely narratively speaking, a lot of the info that comes at the characters feels like common knowledge in retrospect. Kakashi is famous for having the Sharingan, how the village and mission systems work, and Sakura not knowing about her crush’s family being murdered seem like they should things the kids know. On the other hand, I’m super impressed with how much of a foundation Sasuke and Kakashi’s backstory have so early on and foreshadowing for both.
Kevin: The lowest point for me was the repeated use of the “Sexy Jutsu.” Once made sense to show Naruto as a troublemaker who could invent new techniques if he tried, and the Harem Jutsu showed that he can be creative and combine techniques for new tactics, but the other 2-3 times just feel like a joke being overplayed. The best moment was the fight against the Hidden Mist Chunin, since each of the kids’ personalities show through clearly. Sakura is terrified but keeps to her main duty, Sasuke starts retaliating to get rid of the threat, and Naruto freezes in place and needs to be saved, leading to an excellent emotional payoff when the fight is over.
Jared: The high points for me were Kakashi vs. Zabuza, Naruto’s hand stab, and Sakura and Ino’s incredibly ridiculous power walk competition in episode 3. Sexy Jutsu really beats you over the head with how many times they use that gag and Naruto’s stomach issues from episode 3 were just strange, so those would be my low points.
Carolyn: The music is a definite high! The emotional moments and humanizing of Naruto is nice to see. Using ninja skills to save a lost cat is completely adorable and feels like something All Might would do. Did the My Hero peeps grow up on Naruto? It feels like it. I also like how positive Naruto is in the face of adversity. He can make any situation a positive one. Laughing at the clunky exposition, “It’s going to take someone who is highly skilled.” Low point, again, definitely Sexy Jutsu (and teaching Sexy Jutsu to a little kid, WTF, these were different times) and Sakura’s desperate crush.
Noelle: Sexy Jutsu got old really fast. It was interesting to see Naruto expand it, as that showed he was learning, but aside from that, it’s an overdone gag. Glad they cut down on it. For good points, the Zabuza fight for sure, and each one of the kids standing up for themselves in the face of danger. And of course, Naruto stabbing himself in the hand to show his resolve!
Kara: Low point was absolutely the diarrhea episode—add to that the weird middle school comedy of errors surrounding it. I only had so much tolerance for Sakura’s crush and Naruto’s willingness to either mess with or take advantage of it. High point for me was Konohamaru’s desire to be called by his name and not his function or association. It was such a goofy little episode, but something really resonated for me about being willing to go to ridiculous lengths just to be recognized for who he is.
David: The bizarre ‘love triangle’ dynamic as a whole is the low point--this is notably represented well in the “diarrhea episode,” but comes across everywhere else too in how obviously undercooked Sasuke and Sakura’s characters are at this point. On the other hand, the high point is how obviously fully developed Kakashi is despite us knowing so little about him at this point. Unlike the rest of the side characters, there is clearly a lot going on in both what we see him doing here and what is implied to be happening in his background, and that’s as exciting a hook as it was when I was in middle school.
Joseph: The gags are hit or miss, but mostly decent. For me, the low point is any time an information dump rears its head. Zabuza standing on top of his sword for an eternity while he and Kakashi trade off exposition about the Sharingan is sloppy. I dig most everything else, and the high point is how the story handles this early-stage version of Naruto. He is just straight up a bad ninja, and it shows. He’s loud, brash, and obnoxious in an all orange jumpsuit. He’s the anti-ninja. Best of all, he’s terrified, and he totally should be.
Daniel: I really like the show’s tone, usually. But the high point and low point were within five seconds of one another. In the first episode, it’s so rad when Naruto finally reveals his Shadow Clone Jutsu against Mizuki. And then they all beat up Mizuki, and you get these “BONK BOOP SCHWWWWOOOP” sound effects, which takes all of the power of the scene and kicks it out the door.
Danni: For me, the highest point of this batch was in the first episode when Naruto overhears Iruka defending him against Mizuki. That’s a potentially life-changing moment for Naruto, finally learning why so many in the village hate him. Had it been anyone but Iruka who had found Naruto, he likely would’ve ended up turning against the entire village in anger. It’s a touching moment of understanding not just between teacher and student, but also between a pair of orphans linked by the same tragic event.
The lowest point is anytime I‘m reminded the sexy jutsu exists.
Ramen consumed so far: 2 bowls, 1 cup
"I'm gonna be Hokage!" count: 8
Number of Shadow Clones summoned: 46
And that's everything for this week! Remember that you're always welcome to join us for this rewatch, especially if you haven't watched the original Naruto!
Here's our upcoming schedule!
-Next week, on JANUARY 25th, we'll be discussing EPISODES 8-14, hosted by KARA DENNISON! The mission in the Land of Waves continues! THIS IS THE ONLY INSTALLMENT WE'RE ACCEPTING QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS FOR THIS WEEK!
-Then, on FEBRUARY 1st, we discuss EPISODES 15-21, with KEVIN MATYI hosting! Not only do we start the Chunin Exam arc, but we get our first FILLER EPISODE!
-On FEBRUARY 8th,we'll discuss EPISODES 22-28, with JARED CLEMONS as host! The Chunin Exam kicks into high gear!
Thank you for joining us for the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! Have a great weekend, and we'll see you all next time!
Have any comments or questions about episodes 1-7? What about our upcoming installment, featuring episodes 8-14?