Unless you’ve been living under a manga-proof rock somewhere far beyond the Pop Culture-sphere, you’ve heard that Naruto has come to an end after 15 years. Let me reiterate that: 15 years. That’s impressive, there’ no way around that. Naturally, fans from all over the world are curious as to the thoughts of the man behind the series, having finally concluded a story than spanned a large portion of his life. Well, a mere 12 hours after completing the final page, The Asahi Shimbun conducted an interview with Kishimoto and asked him about the manga behemoth that was Naruto.
Having so recently finished working on Chapter 700, Kishimoto noted that he had not yet come to terms with his new freedom from a schedule, though that is to be expected when exiting from such a long running pattern “I have had to meet a deadline every week for 15 years, so I feel that there’s a deadline for next week.”
Kishimoto also spoke of Naruto’s long run, stating that he was originally instructed, “Continue the series for at least five years.” However, as time went on, the series expanded far beyond his original intentions, a fact he owed to the characters. Had he tried to force and ending any earlier, he believed it would have compromised its integrity, “If I had made them act as I wished, the reality would have been lost.”
As for the popularity of the series, Kishimoto expressed the joy he felt when he received fan letters from all over the world. As manga artists spend most of their time working, the letters allowed him to see how far his series had spread, both within Japan and without.
One Piece also managed to come up in the interview, being another manga that possesses startling popularity around the world. Kishimoto weighed in on the pirate series and thanked it for “running ahead of the pack”, believing it to be one of the reasons he was able to work so hard on his own manga endeavour.
When all is said and done, Masashi Kishimoto has contributed to the world of manga in an irrefutable way. Whether you are a stalwart fan of the orange jumpsuited ninja or not, there is no getting around his status as an icon. Having spent so many years telling the story of Naruto and friends, Kishimoto has shown no interest in slowing down, stating that he feels no less passionate than he did at the start of Chapter 1. The only words that he would say to his younger self about Naruto are the same that countless fans across the world already believe and will follow long after the end of the grande finale: “Cherish him.”
Source: The Asahi Shimbun