INTERVIEW: Masashi Kishimoto

Masashi Kishimoto Sensei is the creator of the international bestselling manga series Naruto. Even though he’s quite busy creating masterpieces each week for Weekly SHONEN JUMP, he’s still a movie fanatic and a devoted father. When creating original work, artists and their creations usually have an interesting relationship, and in Kishimoto’s case, this especially holds true. (Read on to find out what we mean!) In our exclusive sit-down interview with this legendary manga creator, SJ Alpha finds out the inner workings behind his thought process and how he creates a story that captivates audiences from all over the world.

MASASHI KISHIMOTO Creator Sketch Video


Q: When was the first time that you thought of becoming a mangaka, and why?

Masashi Kishimoto: At some point between second and fourth grade I got into Akira Toriyama Sensei’s Dr. Slump anime and Dragon Ball manga. I loved his characters. I was especially attached to Dr. Slump’s Arale and Dragon Ball’s Goku. Also, his art really appealed to me. There was something about his cartoony drawing style that felt right, more so than realistic drawings. I thought to myself, I want to become like Toriyama Sensei.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration? Do you listen to music or watch movies when you are working?

MK: I do have a DVD player with a little screen on my desk, and sometimes I watch movies or listen to music. I used to do that more often when working, but not so much these days. After drawing manga for 12 years, I’ve learned that it affects my art. For example, if I was listening to a song with sad lyrics, my manga would start to reflect the sadness. And then when I would look back at the drawings, something about it felt off from what I intended. So I decided to shut off anything that could affect my drawing.

But I do love movies and do get a lot of inspiration from them. In my free time, I go to movie theaters to try and catch every blockbuster film. I also look for DVDs of hard-to-find movies in stores. I like watching big trilogies like Star Wars, horror movies like SAW, romance movies like 500 Days of Summer, and classics like The Sting.

My all-time favorite movie is Akira, but I love Hollywood movies in general. My recent favorite was How to Train Your Dragon, because the scriptwriting was so fantastic. As a fan of the original comics, I liked Tin Tin. I thought the movie was true to the comic, and CG animation made it seem more real than if it was live-action.

Q: A mangaka’s schedule is incredibly grueling. What is the secret to enduring it for so many years while maintaining such an incredibly high level of quality in your work?

MK: The only reason why I can continue drawing manga for so long is because—I love drawing manga. I really feel like this job is a good match for me, and it has really worked out. If you weren’t born with a love of drawing, it would be impossible to draw manga. You would want to run away or have an allergic reaction or something. When I was a baby, I drew on the wall with my poop even before I was able to hold a pen. [laughs] So as long as I can remember, I always loved drawing.

Q: You’ve been drawing and writing Naruto for over ten years. Compared to when you first started, how do you think you’ve grown and changed both as an artist and person?

MK: During my career as a mangaka, I got married, had kids and became a father. This directly influenced the story in Naruto. Through these experiences, I realized the things that are important in this world. Being a parent gave me a different perspective, which I didn’t have when I was single.

The character Naruto represents a little bit of myself and a little bit of my child. It was after my children were born that I wanted to write about Naruto’s parents. The way Naruto’s parents feel about him is very close to how I feel towards my kids.

But I don’t want to get too preachy because manga must always be entertaining. It has to be told from the kid’s point of view. Even if I died someday, I want to leave a work in the world that would let my kids understand what I always wanted to tell them.

Q: Naruto’s history is no longer a secret and he knows his parents loved him. How will that continue to change Naruto’s outlook on the world and his relationship with the Nine-Tailed Fox?

MK: At the beginning of the series, Naruto didn’t have parents, and all he had was the Nine-Tailed Fox inside him. He was treated like a troublemaker or loser. He had a lot of hate and anger towards the world because he didn’t have an identity. I was initially going to make the flashback about Naruto’s parents very short. But learning about his parents became crucial so that Naruto could become aware of his identity. Though his parents were no longer in this world, they were able to use their chakra to tell Naruto how they felt about him. His parents sealed the Nine-Tailed Fox inside of him to bring peace to the world. They believed in him so strongly that they thought he would be able to handle the responsibility.

When Naruto found out about this truth, he became more aware of his life’s purpose. He realized who he truly needs to become and what he needs to do to fulfill his dream along with his parents’ hope.

Love is a great thing. Since I became a parent, I truly believe (although there might be a few exceptions) that parents all over the world always love their kids. When children can truly understand the love from their parents, it greatly helps them find themselves. So I really wanted to give Naruto that experience.

Related Links:
MASASHI KISHIMOTO Creator Sketch Video
More Creator's Interview: Tite Kubo Spotlight
More Creator's Interview: Eiichiro Oda Spotlight

Interview by Misaki C. Kido (@Onnabancho_J)


Submitted by tbfoster00@veri... on Mon, 02/06/2012 - 17:18

Wow, that was great, Naruto has always been my favorite manga but I love it even more now!

Submitted by lolface111 on Wed, 02/08/2012 - 08:52

I think Naruto is okay, but geez. Its all about trying to rescue Sasuke. BORING

Submitted by masashikishimoto on Thu, 09/06/2012 - 10:42

you havent read enough naruto

Submitted by Naru10hokage on Wed, 02/08/2012 - 07:20


Thank you.

Submitted by themistern on Wed, 02/08/2012 - 09:19

Dude, why?

Watch yourself and please don't post spoilers here
--especially since the official translation isn't out yet.

It's unfair to other SJ Alpha readers and the Jump editorial team in general.


Submitted by RichardTizo97 on Wed, 02/08/2012 - 10:16

This interveiw is cool it inspiers me to work harder on drawings

Submitted by Anabel on Thu, 02/09/2012 - 15:45

WOW!! I didn't know Kishimoto-sensei got married and had kids =0!! That is so cool. I wonder how many children does he have. Congrats Kishimoto-sensei. LOVE NARUTO!!! Keep up the good work. It's great to finally read an interview on Kishimoto.

Submitted by xxnarutofreakyg... on Fri, 02/10/2012 - 05:10

Thank you Kishimoto for creating Naruto!
The best anime ever!
My favorite character is Naruto Uzumaki<3 Hopefully he could bring Sasuke back and live happy ever after. ^-^

Submitted by zackhunter on Sat, 02/11/2012 - 08:31

naruto is DEFINETLY not the greatest anime ever

Submitted by WolfHeart1 on Mon, 02/13/2012 - 16:49

Diffrent manga appeals to diffrent people, I, for one will never like shojo and romance, but I know multiple people who think shonen (the kind of manga I like) isn't even worth their time.

Submitted by zackhunter on Sat, 02/11/2012 - 08:31

naruto and sasuke both kill each other anyway

Submitted by MagicarpPower on Fri, 02/10/2012 - 19:14

Wow! Kishimoto's words are so deep. Here I thought that Naruto was just a quick form of entertainment yet such important themes are incorporated into the work. Good job Kishimoto and thank you for creating Naruto!

Submitted by zackhunter on Sat, 02/11/2012 - 08:23

that was ok, i wonder if the naruto creator had the entire plot sorta figured out when he first started writing naruto. or in completly changed throughout. mabey he never intended for the "shippuden" arc.

BTW theis is how naruto ends. naruto kills the madara guy, then him and saske have a giant fight and both end up killling each other. then sakura is so sad that she lost both her friends she commits suicide.

Submitted by WolfHeart1 on Mon, 02/13/2012 - 16:46

But one highlight of shounen manga is they have a happy ending.........

Submitted by kennynaruto on Tue, 02/28/2012 - 14:51

um does tht really happen ???

Submitted by kennynaruto on Tue, 02/28/2012 - 14:51

um does tht really happen ???

Submitted by FrankyCenaur on Tue, 02/28/2012 - 16:23

Naruto hasn't ended so this guy can't really know xD

so it's false!

Submitted by FaithfulAizen on Mon, 02/13/2012 - 10:17

i dont see the interveiw

Submitted by WolfHeart1 on Mon, 02/13/2012 - 16:53

I can't seem to see the video........ I'm using Chrome now, but IE didn't work either. I also have this problem w/ the magazine, any tips?

Submitted by John Bae on Tue, 02/14/2012 - 14:17
Submitted by ronalduchiha on Wed, 02/15/2012 - 08:50

hi,, really hope that Naruto and Hinata to stay together ... please do. are much better than sakura & naruto

Submitted by BARDOCK7 on Thu, 03/01/2012 - 07:36

I can't read the interview. I already signed in, but still can´t! >o<'

Submitted by John Bae on Thu, 03/01/2012 - 10:59

Do you have an annual membership (or did you have your print subscription transferred)? If so, then email with your issues. If not, you need to be an annual member to read this interview.

Submitted by Naru10hokage on Wed, 03/07/2012 - 11:17

EEEE! Naruto! It's awesome, better than my drawings! ... (Duh ^^") xDD

I <3 Masashi Kishimoto~!!!!!!

Submitted by peanut511 on Tue, 03/13/2012 - 21:23

the game is great its just the subtitution bar that i hate, it takes the fun out of the game PLEASE don't put a subtitution bar on storm 3.

Submitted by BARDOCK7 on Wed, 04/18/2012 - 15:03

I agree with you! the game still has lots of problems, i really hope STORM 3 be the very best NARUTO game ever!! >0<

Submitted by YagaOtaku77 on Fri, 03/16/2012 - 13:30

Masashi Kishimoto-sensei ur the best mangaka ever~~!!!
Keep Working hard~~~!! ;3

Submitted by KUSI5553689 on Fri, 05/25/2012 - 11:40

this is the best show amd manga i've ever read i hope it never ends! you rock masashi kishimoto.

Submitted by masashikishimoto on Thu, 09/06/2012 - 19:07

I got a 4 week subsciption This is the only reason i got this subscription to watch this.