As some of you might have figured out already, recently I may have become a teeny tiny bit obsessed with the show/manga Naruto. No no, please don't go skimming past this post. I promise I'll try my best to make it worth your time. You see, recently I've been thinking about my new obsession, and I've been thinking about the old f-list. I'm coming to the conclusion more and more that pretty much any Harry Potter fan (as the vast majority of my f-list is) should at least give Naruto a chance, because the two, despite being about completely and utterly different things, are so similar I can't bear it. I honestly think that anyone obsessed with Potter would find something similarly amazing in Naruto, and so here's what I'm going to do:
Naruto for the Harry Potter fan: why Narryto Uzupotter is a worthwhile fandom to fall in love with
So what is this whole Naruto thing about, anyway?
Let me start by saying this. Naruto is not about ninjas.
Okay, I'm completely lying. But what I'm getting at is that Naruto is about ninjas the same way Harry Potter is about wizards. To simply say "oh, Naruto is that ninja show" is to miss so much of what's really amazing and important about it. Yes, you will watch/read Naruto and think just how awesome it would be to walk on trees or water, or to shoot lightening out of your hands, in just the same way you read Harry Potter and wish you could really unlock your door using alohomora, or hex your enemy's legs together. But the important thing about Naruto, just like in Harry Potter, isn't the magic or the moves or the fighting techniques, it's the way those things shape and are shaped by the characters. It's about the way the world and the people in it come to mean something much, much more than a bunch of ninjas.
So who is this Naruto kid? Uzumaki Naruto (the names I use here will almost all be in the Japanese order, aka surname first) is the main character and hero of our story. He was orphaned shortly after birth (sound familiar, anyone?). However, even more special about Naruto is what is inside him. At the time of Naruto's birth the village he lives in, Konoha, was under attack by a horrible fox demon that was destroying just about everything in site. The village leader of the time, the fourth hokage (hokage is a title held by the most powerful ninja in the village. Think Dumbledore as the Hokage of hogwarts, as hilarious as that sounds) figured out a way to save the village from the destructive fox demon. Unfortunately, this involved the fourth hokage sacrificing his own life in order to seal the demon inside a newly born infant. Said infant just happened to be Naruto. Hence the "whiskers" and the seal on his stomach (a mark from having someone elses power placed inside him, Sound familiar?) which was put there by the fourth hokage to seal the demon in place.
Now the fox demon is effectively caged inside of Naruto, and some of the demon's power actually mixes with Naruto's own, giving him the potential to be one of the strongest ninjas ever, not that Naruto has any clue how to use this to his advantage in the beginning. (why oh why does that sound so familiar?)
Though the fourth hokage intended Naruto, the container for the fox demon, to be seen almost as a hero of the village, the truth is far from it. Still frightened by the fox demon, and mourning those who were killed by it, the villagers hate and fear Naruto. However, because of a law put in place to never tell Naruto just what he really is (in a largly unsuccessful attempt to give Naruto a normal life) Naruto grows up knowing that he his hated by the entire village, but never knowing why. (Seriously, sound familiar anyone?) Though the law prevents the younger generation from knowing what Naruto is, their parents' hatred none-the-less bleeds through, and Naruto is effectively ostracized for all of his young life. In response to this, Naruto becomes a loudmouth prankster, prone to wearing bright colors and graffitying the monument dedicated to the Hokage's of the past, all in a misguided attempt to have someone -anyone- recognize his existence.
In the start of the series, Naruto eventually graduates from Ninja academy (though it takes rather extreme events for him to do so) and is placed on a three man team of low ranking ninjas meant to train those fresh out of school. This team, called team seven, consists of Uchiha Sasuke, the number one student of Naruto's year whose good looks are only outweighed by his angsty family background, Haruno Sakura, a highly intellegent but unsure girl who at first is more interested in her crush on Sasuke and avoiding the embarassing Naruto than reaching her full potential as a ninja, and their sensei/team leader, the infamous and genius ninja Hatake Kakashi, who has a dry sense of humor, a face covered by a mask and usually buried in a book of porn, and the ability to kill you several times over before you realize he's standing behind you. Meet the trio of main characters. Trios, of course, as any good Harry Potter fan knows, are actually the best, strongest, and most heart-warming arrangment of main characters ever.