Naruto has been a huge hit for over 20 years now, becoming one of the most popular children’s series in the world. It might be surprising to some folks, but this ninja anime did really well on our Essential Wuxia checklist: we gave it a 12/15!
Is Naruto Uzumaki a Wuxia Hero? I gave this section a 6 out of 8. Naruto’s tragic childhood allows him to empathize with many of the people he encounters, and he does his best to help them no matter what. He frequently finds himself in a position where he needs all his courage to jump into danger, to protect them.
This tendency to go beyond the mandates of his missions to save folks is one of serval ways that we see Naruto's individualism. He frequently rejects the rules of ninja society, while still striving to become strong enough to hold the title of village chief, the Hokage. His neglected childhood also drives this desire to win the respect and admiration of the village, while also fueling his rebellion against his teachers and elders.
Though he does not have much in life, he gladly shares it with those friends, even when he is competing against them. Yet Naruto extremely loyal to those friends, right up to a fault. It approaches a level of self-sacrifice that feels particularly heart wrenching in a child character.
Is the series Essential Wuxia? I gave this section a 6 out of 7. The themes of self-discovery are especially prevalent when it comes to Naruto and his main rival, Sasuke. They learn more about themselves and their families, and for Naruto this widens his worldview. The people he meets help grow his self-confidence, which helps expands his connection to the people around him.
Unsurprisingly, as Naruto seeks to be the strongest ninja, we see him constantly looking for new ways to get stronger. The long list of opponents (and new friends) he encounters adds to an incredible array of fantastic weapons, new types of jutsu, and special bloodline abilities. Most of these rely heavily on the character’s chakra, though some bloodlines dip into sorcery, though some exceptional ninjas have turned to cultivation to reach new levels of power.
Essential Wuxia Score: 12/15!
Missed points: I did feel there were a few Essential Wuxia points that Naruto missed. First, not everyone can be a hero. While Naruto’s hidden ninja villages are full of exceptional people, it is emphasized that without being born with some degree of talent, it is virtually impossible to succeed in that world. The only character to do so is seen as an anomaly, someone pitied by many. As far as truthfulness and justice, Naruto is a kid, who likes to twist the truth to avoid culpability (or just to make himself look cooler), and his extreme loyalty to his friends often closes his eyes to the things they’ve done.