In an interview given to Mantan Web, on the occassion of Naruto series completing 20 years, Naruto’s Japanese voice actress, Ms. Junko Takeuchi, got pretty candid and revealed her innermost desires. She emphasized on her journey spanning across 2+ decades as the voice of Naruto and how close he is to her.
Furthermore, she dwells into her journey in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations.
Let’s see what she says.
Ms. Takeuchi started her journey when Naruto was just 12 years old. He later grows into a 16 year old in Shippuden and then in Boruto he is a father and 30 year old man.
She said, “When I hear that 20 years has passed, I am deeply moved, thinking ‘how much time has passed,’ but frankly speaking, I feel that I have been around for so long that I don’t even think of it until I hear the word ’20 years’ again.“
She further added that when the show first began airing she was determined to play the character and would go into recording sessions thinking, “I can’t lose“.
Which may have been helpful for her to portray the character who also has the same attitude throughout his 20 year journey.
“Naruto-kun is a very energetic character who often shouts and disturbs the audience and he is very powerful. At that time, Naruto was about 12 years old and full of energy, but I, the actor, was getting older and older, so at first I often thought, “I can’t lose! I was thinking”, “I’m not going to let him beat me!” she said.
She also said that she had great bonding with other voice actors who portrayed several main characters in the series. Mainly they were, Takeuchi, who played Naruto, Noriaki Sugiyama, who played Uchiha Sasuke, Chie Nakamura, who played Haruno Sakura, and Kazuhiko Inoue, who played Kakashi, who taught Naruto and his friends. The voice actors’ bond also grew as the story of Naruto and the other characters grew.
She further emphasized on how other voice actors who were part of a team in the Naruto series known as Rookie Nine had great bond amongst themselves. Pointing out to one such memory she said that the actors who played Ino-Shika-Cho (Ino Yamanaka, Shikamaru Nara, and Choji Akimichi), were very close, and the way they talked to each other looked like Ino-shika-cho.
She further added, “My biggest involvement was with Kakashi-sensei, so Kazuhiko-san was pulling me ahead as Naruto, Sugiyama-kun as Sasuke, and (Nakamura) Chie as Sakura, all the while relaxing. The teachers helped us grow in tandem with the production. Looking back on it, I think it was a work filled with very interesting experiences.“
She further emphasized on her conflicts of playing Naruto who is no longer a boy.
Takeuchi recalls, “There were plenty of times I hit a wall. At first, I was like, “I’m not going to let Naruto-kun beat me,” but he grows up so fast that I was like, “Don’t leave me behind. It is often said that a character and oneself go hand in hand. But in my case, Naruto kept moving ahead of me, so I kept saying, “Wow, don’t leave me behind.”
When Shippuden started, he was even further ahead of me. I couldn’t see his back anymore! I couldn’t see his back anymore! But I was still trying my best to keep running toward Naruto-kun. Naruto-kun and I are not running side by side, but he is running ahead of me all the time.“
When it came time to play the 16-year-old Naruto in Shippuden, Ms. Takeuchi was troubled by the idea and consulted Inoue-san, who played Kakashi Sensei.
She said, Inoue-san her that, “I thought it was too much for me to handle the vocal cords of Naruto, who had become taller, had reached the age of voice change, and had become a man instead of a boy. However, the “Naruto” team allowed me to play the role. I didn’t know what to do, so I asked Kazuhiko-san, “What should I do?
And Inoue-san told her, “Imagine. If you think you can’t speak because your body is too small, you have made up in your brain that your body is too small, so you should make your body bigger in your brain and speak louder.
That’s what he told her, so she did it just that way and she further remarked, “Every time I did it, I would make my body bigger and bigger in my brain every time I went to a recording session. By expanding my imagination, the barriers to playing a male character slowly began to fade away.“
Ms. Takeuchi also added that “Naruto is “the man closest to me in my life“” and that she “will always be chasing after him.“
However, she was sad when she realised that Naruto has grown closer to Hinata, “Just when I thought it was natural for him to be close to me, he suddenly disappeared. When I heard that Naruto and Hinata got along well, I felt as if I had lost my heart on my own (laughs). I never thought I would feel this way, but I guess I felt that (because) Naruto was that close to me. Even so, he is someone I want to be close to for the rest of my life. To be honest, I have never been saved. Naruto-kun always puts a lot of pressure on me. So, I wonder if my efforts are still smart. He is a barometer (a measuring device) for me to see if I am still doing my best. I really want to be his “partner,” but unfortunately, I am not his partner because Naruto-kun is amazing. I’m just someone who follows him around as hard as I can.“
When she was asked about how Naruto is loved by everyone in the world, she said, “Naruto has immeasurable power. It’s not just physical power. If I were to describe him in terms of colors, he would be gold and orange. He shines and is like a mass of power. If a person were to shine so brightly, the viewer’s eyes would get tired, so I think they would diminish the brightness a bit more, but he is normal with that brightness, and his original power is amazing. I think that’s why he is something that people around the world admire.“
She further added that, “when the completely new PV “ROAD OF NARUTO,” which was produced to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the “NARUTO” anime, was released in October, the YouTube comments section was filled with comments in various languages, not to mention Japanese. Perhaps it is the overwhelming power of Naruto, that continues to capture the hearts of fans around the world.“
To commemorate the 20th anniversary, the exhibition event “NARUTO THE GALLERY” will be held at AKIBA_SQUARE (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo) from December 10 to January 31, 2023. About the event, Takeuchi said, “It’s all the best parts of ‘NARUTO’! What I would like you to see is the powerful screen, where you can see the battle with Kaguya (Otsutsuki) and the climax scene of the ultimate “brotherly quarrel” between Naruto and Sasuke on four screens. I have seen the footage and was very impressed. I think that children who watch “Boruto” will be able to see the activities of the fathers’ generation of Boruto and think, “My father and mother are amazing, too”.”
The NARUTO anime series, based on the popular manga by Masashi Kishimoto, celebrated its 20th anniversary since its first broadcast in 2002.
NARUTO Shippuden finished airing in 2017, but since then, Uzumaki Naruto’s son, Boruto has become the main character of BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS.
It has been broadcasted since then and continues to attract fans around the world.
Naruto is a manga serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump” (Shueisha) from 1999 to 2014. The manga depicts Naruto, a troubled boy from Konohagakure no Sato, as he struggles and grows to become the best ninja in his village, the Hokage.
The total number of copies sold in Japan is over 153 million copies. The total number of copies sold overseas is more than 97 million.
The TV anime Naruto ran from October 2002 to February 2007, and its sequel Naruto Shippuden ran from February 2007 to March 2017. BORUTO NEXT GENERATIONS featuring Naruto’s son, Boruto, is currently airing on TV Tokyo from April 2017.