Fun With Names: Uzumaki Naruto (うずまきナルト)
- By hoshi-kun
- On 29/08/2018
- 0 comments
Welcome to Fun With Names, where I look into the various names in anime and pick apart their significance in relation to the respective show! Today, I'll be looking into a well-known Shounen protagonist, the host of the Nine-Tailed Fox, Uzumaki Naruto! Naruto is an incredibly popular title and many people cite the anime as their first taste of the medium. With a lengthy lifespan and a spin-off show currently airing, the anime is considered one of the legendary "Big Three" of the Shounen Jump magazine, the other two being BLEACH and One Piece. Naruto's name is peculiar, but unsurprising given how often authors of Shounen titles tend to crack the most jokes through the names of their characters.
WARNING: There are some spoilers in this, proceed with caution.
For those who are unfamiliar with the title, Naruto (and Naruto Shippuden) is a title set in a world of ninjas, where the titular and main character, Uzumaki Naruto, is first presented as a rambunctious orphan living in Konohagakure, the Hidden Leaf Village. Unbeknownst to him, Naruto is the host of an incredibly powerful and malevolent demon known as the Nine-Tailed Fox, which caused immense havoc in the village on the night of his birth. The strongest ninja in the village was known as the Fourth Hokage and he sacrificed himself in order to seal away the monstrosity into newborn Naruto. The result was the safety of the village, but unfortunately for young Naruto, the villagers ostracized him out of fear for the demon he didn't know he was hosting. Be that as it may, Naruto has ambitions of becoming Hokage one day and undergoes a long and perilous journey to achieve his dream.
Naruto as a character is known for his never-say-die attitude, his pranks and messy behaviour, but also for his unbridled love for ramen. Noted as his favourite food, Naruto is consistently seen in the Hidden Leaf Village's Ramen Ichiraku, a local restaurant which is predominantly concerned with serving... yep, you guessed it - ramen. Naruto's name is a shortened form of the word "narutomaki" (なると巻き), which is a kind of kamaboko, a processed fish product and prevalent aspect of Japanese cuisine. This product is formed into firm loaves, and sliced, the slices of which are used as topping for many different types of food. Narutomaki is the kind of kamaboko known for a definite spiral pattern - an indicator of the food's origins, the Japanese city of Naruto. The city is known for the whirlpools that form in the strait separating the city's Tokushima Prefecture from Awaji Island - the spiral pattern on their narutomaki are a nod towards these whirlpools. So, Naruto's name lines up firmly with his favourite food - ramen. Spiral patterns are also a recurring motif in the Naruto anime and naturally so, the anime is named after the titular character who is named after this particular kind of food, it all spirals out into several aspects of the Narutoverse.
What of the "Uzumaki"? Well, it's more of the same concept - "uzumaki" is the Japanese word for "spiral", which doesn't much more exploring than that, right? Wrong. Naruto's mother hailed from the Uzumaki Clan, a band of ninjas from Uzushiogakure, which literally translates to "village hidden by whirling tides", located in the Land of the Whirlpools. The village symbol was the spiral, the same spiral one will notice on baby Naruto's belly in the first episode of the show. Ultimately, Naruto's entire name constructs his identity from a somewhat humorous standpoint with regards to his first name, but develops both the character and the show's lore when the very same concept is used in his surname. Dizzying stuff, I know.
What's in a name? Only everything.