-by Joshie Jaxon
Twelve years ago, a nine-tailed fox suddenly appeared. It’s tails lashed out, smashing mountains, and sending tidal waves crashing to the shores. The ninja rose up to defend their villages. One shinobi faced the nine-tailed fox in mortal combat; he sacrificed his life to capture the beast, and seal it in a human body. This ninja was known as the fourth Hokage. As mentioned in several prior posts, I love me some good voiceover. This one was courtesy of Sarutobi, aka the third Hokage. It gives us the key event that sets up this series, as well as Shippuden that follows. This is one of my favorite anime, and for good reason, but I’ll get into that later on.
We open the series with a baby crying, surrounded by candles, an something resembling a tattoo is on his tummy. Flash forward, our titular character is running through the village escaping the adults trying to catch him for painting all over Mount Hokage. That’s not what it’s called, but as it’s four heads of the village’s leaders carved into the stone, you can see why I’d call it that. We see Sarutobi painting as he’s interrupted. Oh no, not Naruto again. This guy knows his people. Naruto manages to get away from his pursuers, but Iruka sensei pops up and tells him to get to class.
Cut to Naruto tied up at the front of the class. Iruka, being at the end of his rope, pun intended, tries to get through to him. Since Naruto doesn’t seem to care, now the whole class has to practice their transformation jutsu, and turn into Iruka. Sakura and Sasuke do theirs without a flaw. Naruto on the other hand, breaks out his sexy jutsu. He changes to a busty, long-haired, nude, blonde. Obviously distracted, Iruka falls over, which is a running gag in most anime, but not so much here in the states. When we see Iruka upright again, no pun this time, he’s got tissue in his nose. Apparently Naruto is so sexy that rather than blood rushing to his, uh, shiitake mushroom, it came out his nose instead.
On Mount Hokage, Iruka is supervising the clean up detail, and tells Naruto he’ll be there until it’s clean. Big deal, it’s not like anyone is waiting at home for him. That sentence gives us a glimpse at the fact that Naruto is an orphan. Iruka decides to sweeten the deal, and offers to take him out to dinner if he can see the sexy jutsu again. Alright, he actually says they can go for ramen when the graffiti is cleaned up. Now Naruro is motivated. This isn’t three minute cup o noodles, this is the good stuff. It’s restaurant quality. He’ll be done in no time.
Later that night, in the ramen shop, Iruka asks Naruto why he did that to Mount Hoakge, and if he knows who they are. Naruto says they were the best of the best, undefeated ninja champs. The fourth is the most amazing, for saving the village from the nine-tailed fox. Again Iruka asks him why he did it. Naruto says he will be greater than any of them. He’s gonna be Hokage one day, then people will have to show him some respect. Naruto asks to try on Iruka’s headband, and is shot down. You can only wear the leaf headband if you
pass the exam.
The next morning at the academy, the final test will be in the clone jutsu. No! That’s Naruto’s worst technique. Focus, Naruto-San. Wax on, wax off. Not even Mr. Miagi’s teachings can help. Naruto’s clone looks like he molted a shell, while looking like a frog. The other teacher wants to cut Naruto a break, but Iruka says no. He didn’t get to see sexy jutsu last night after dinner, and he’s cranky and frustrated after practicing his hand signs.
Naruto failed, and was the only one who did. We see him sitting alone while everyone else is having fun together. Two girls start to discuss him, but one shuts the other down, saying it’s forbidden. Meanwhile, the other teacher approaches Naruto for a private conversation. Seeing this, Sarutobi tells Iruka he needs to talk to him. Stranger danger, ninja style! Later that day, teacher and student are talking. We learn that Iruka is like Naruto, with no parents or family. Naruto will never be strong if Iruka goes easy on him. Yet to be named teacher tells him there is a secret way he could graduate.
Iruka lies on his bed, as Sarutobi’s words go through his head. Because of the nine-tailed fox, he’s never known the warmth of a family. Flashback to Iruka being dragged away while his parents went to fight the fox. The flashback is interrupted when the other teacher tells Iruka that Naruro stole the sacred scroll. The scroll of sealing? Oh no! Relax guys, Naruto is just trying to study. First technique, multi shadow clone jutsu. No, not clones! It’s still his worst jutsu! We see a group meeting with Sarutobi. This is more than just a prank. That scroll contains secrets that were sealed by the first Hokage. Secrets known only to their village. Sarutobi sends them to retrieve Naruto.
The unnamed teacher thinks to himself about how he’ll take the scroll for himself once Naruto is out of the way. Low blow setting up a kid to take the fall. Let’s think this through though; a kid was able take something, under assumed guard, and get away with it. Not only that, he was able to just open and read the scroll with no on-screen consequences. Now, I know this is episode one, but if that scroll contains such powerful secrets, a kid that can’t make a decent clone shouldn’t have been able to take it, where a teacher presumably failed, despite being a fully trained ninja. Just thought I’d point that out. Back to the show.
In the forest Naruto is panting, as Iruka shows up. Naruto praises him for catching him so fast. He only had time to learn one technique. Iruka can see the progress he’s made. Naruto says he’s gonna show him what he learned, and then he’ll pass. That’s what Mizuki said. Anyone who learns a technique from the scroll, passes. As Iruka realizes that Mikuzi is a traitor, multiple kunai are flung at him. He shoves Naruto out of the way, and is hit by several. Iruka tells Naruto to keep the scroll from Mizuki, since it contains forbidden jutsu.
Mizuki tells Naruto that Iruka is lying. That Iruka is afraid of him because of the decree. What decree? I’m glad you asked. The nine-tailed fox is inside Naruto! That’s why they treat him like dirt, he contains the fox spirit that cost so many their lives. Naruto’s anger flares, and so does his chakra. Iruka remembers what Sarutobi told him. Naruto always thinks about the family he doesn’t have. He’s always in pain. That’s why he gets in trouble, so people will notice him and pay attention to him. Mizuki tells Naruto to die, and throws a giant shuriken at him. Iruka intercepts it, in the back. Naruto asks him why. Iruka says they’re the same. After his parents died, people ignored him. He became the class clown just to get attention. No one should have to be alone like that. Mizuki tells Naruto that Iruka hates him because the fox spirit that killed his parents is inside him. Naruto takes off running.
Iruka throws the shuriken from his back at Mizuki. It misses. Mizuki will come finish him off, after he has the scroll. Mikuzi has a big mouth. If Naruto unleashes the nine-tails, they’re all in danger. We see Iruka catch up to Naruto, but Naruto tackles him. It was Mizuki in disguise. That’s ok though, Naruto was Iruka in disguise. You can’t trust a ninja. Mizuki says Naruto is a beast, and will pour his revenge into the scroll. Iruka tells him that’s not who Naruto is. He’s got a big heart, and tries his best. Naruto overheard all of it. He’s so moved, that when Mizuki goes to finish off Iruka, he intervenes. Naruto threatens that if Mizuki lays a hand on his sensei, he’ll kill him. Mizuki laughes. He could finish Naruto with a single move. Naruto says he’ll get it back a thousand fold. Multi shadow clone jutsu!
Mizuki is surrounded, and Iruka comments that these aren’t illusions, and are solid clones. A lot of progress in one night to master such a technique. We hear the sounds of fighting, then are shown Mizuki unconscious and bruised on the ground. Naruto makes sure Iruka sensei is alright. Iruka calls him closer, he wants to give him something. Back in the village, the search party is baffled that they haven’t found Naruto yet. Sarutobi tells them that the scroll is fine, and Naruto will be back soon. In the woods, Naruto opens his eyes, and is wearing a Leaf Ninja headband. He graduates! Iruka says he’ll take him out for ramen to celebrate.