Nov. 10, 2014 marked an emotional day for many of us who have been following a young and ambitious man’s journey toward reaching his lifelong dream. His name is Naruto Uzumaki, a heroic icon of Japanese shounen manga and an inspiration to thousands of people who have read the series since it first got published in 1999. The series is written by Masashi Kishimoto, and after 72 volumes in 15 years, the story of Naruto finally ended. But, the ending was met with mixed feelings from fans all over the world, especially in the U.S.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead! Proceed at your own discretion.
The Naruto fandom became quite a war zone after the release of the last chapter. There were complaints about how the story ended and most of them were directed toward “the ships that went canon” (a.k.a. couples who ended up together that fans have been wishing for since the beginning). In chapter 700, time skips forward and all of the main characters have become adults. There are also new characters who have a close resemblance to these main characters – in other words, their children. Because of this, readers had a few good guesses as to who these children belonged to and while they’re adorable, some of these children didn’t receive a warm welcome. These parents were Naruto and Hinata (NaruHina) and Sasuke and Sakura (SasuSaku).
(From left to right: Boruto, Naruto, Hinata, and Himawari Uzumaki)
(From left to bottom right: Sasuke, Sakura, and Sarada Uchiha)
Naruto and Sakura shippers (NaruSaku) were the fuel to the fire that broke out in the fandom, although they weren’t the only ones who may feel bitter about the ending. Everyone had their theories and analysis as to why their ship was better or logical. While there are fans who are simply satisfied with the happiness of their favorite characters, other fans have more extreme oppositions to the ending.
Most of the negative responses came from NaruSaku fans because their ship did not go canon. In fact, shortly after the release of the last chapter, Kishimoto received death threats from fans who were not satisfied with how he ended Naruto. A Facebook page was created. Here’s the image:
This is an example of how disrespectful fans, or as people are now referring to them: “ex-Naruto fans,” are acting toward Kishimoto. After all the hard work Kishimoto has invested, he should not have to deal with something as horrendous as an anti-Facebook page dedicated to killing him. In fact, no author deserves this kind of fate (not even Twilight had such extreme haters). Here is another example of ex-Naruto fans acting out about the ending:
Several fans notably argued that Kishimoto spent so many years on character development, only to throw it out the window in the last chapter. Some call him a “troll” for doing so and that he didn’t plan the ending at all, and that it was on impulse. To respond to some of the international fans’ passionate discontent, one of Kishimoto’s staff members had to send out a tweet in English to prove to fans that Kishimoto had in fact planned the ending out way ahead of time, and that the ending will not change no matter how much hatred is thrown at Kishimoto or however many petitions there are. As a result of this response, the fandom exploded into chaos. Supportive Naruto fans were enraged, embarrassed, and ashamed by the stunts the ex-Naruto fans pulled. Some fans went as far as responding to these ex-Naruto fans through long, rage-y Tumblr posts or YouTube videos like Sawyer7mage, who brought up a lot of good points about how ex-Naruto fans were acting. Here’s the video:
Many fans applauded and acknowledged his video; they even shared it on Tumblr and other forum sites so that the message would get across to all of the ex-Naruto fans. There are other posts and videos like Sawyer7mage’s. Whether or not the ex-Naruto fans read or watched what the videos are trying to tell them, at least it’s reassuring to know that the true fandom has a strong defense against the ex-Naruto fans.
Over the weeks, the war eventually died down, but some ex-Naruto fans still wallow in resent, occasionally posting their unrequited feelings. However, these posts are ignored by the rest of the fandom as many of them are looking forward to watching the last Naruto movie that released on Dec. 6, 2014 in Japan; it’s literally called “The Last: Naruto the Movie.” This movie serves to glue chapter 699 and 700 together: to show how the characters ended up where they were in chapter 700 and, most importantly, how Naruto fell in love with Hinata. Kishimoto stated that this movie would be focused on the romance between Naruto and Hinata, and some SasuSaku fans were disappointed that their ship did not get any screen time. However, Kishimoto did announce at the movie premiere that another movie will be released late next summer of 2015 and it will focus on Boruto. There are possibilities that SasuSaku may appear since their daughter, Sarada, will most likely make an appearance in the movie as well. Nothing is for certain, but SasuSaku fans still hope.
After the movie released, fans in Japan were in tears as this permanently ended Naruto’s story. International fans are still waiting eagerly for the movie to be released either in theaters in their home country or online with their main language subtitles. Kishimoto gave out information that he is working on the next installment to the manga, but it will be focused on the next generation, a.k.a. the children that we see in the last chapter. It is set to release in spring 2015 and fans are waiting in anticipation to see what Kishimoto has in store for them. On another note, the animation for Naruto is still ongoing and there is no set date for when the anime will end so fans can cling onto Naruto even though the manga ended.
We’ve come a long way and part of our childhood has ended. But, as one story ends, another will continue.
Masashi Kishimoto, thank you for all your hard work and thank you for giving us a story and a hero who we can relate and look up to. Naruto’s dream is like many of ours, and the will of fire still burns.