Back in the early aughts, the "Big Three" anime series was firmly established with One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto. At the time, these three shows were widely regarded as the most popular series in both Japan and among international audiences. Not since the years of Dragon Ball Z's international debut was anime able to so successfully reach across the pond, and the Big Three readily solidified the broad appeal that Japanese animation had with fans all over the world.
As of the 2020s, "Big Three" status has been passed down to newer shows, and the original holders of that title are each in interesting places. The story of One Piece has been ongoing for nearly 30 years. The Bleach anime had a major comeback after a decade with the premiere of Thousand-Year Blood War to finish adapting the manga.
But what about Naruto? With its colleagues in the original Big Three still chugging along after all this time, is the once-popular ninja anime coming back in 2023?
Is 'Naruto' coming back in 2023?
Naruto follows the story of the titular Naruto Uzumaki. Having become the host of the demonic Nine-Tailed Fox as an infant, he eventually grows up to become a mischievous and troublesome prankster of the Hidden Leaf Village of ninjas. Despite his infamy, however, he strives to become Hokage — the most powerful ninja in the village — in order to command the respect of others. To this end, he undergoes rigorous ninja training alongside his fellow students while also facing deadly foes.
The series became a worldwide phenomenon during its initial run. The original manga became one of the best-selling manga series of all time while the international release of the Naruto anime helped distributor Viz Media earn over $200 million in licensed merchandise by 2011.
The original 1999 manga by Masashi Kishimoto ended in 2014 and the 2002 anime (which was split into Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden) ended in 2017. Each were proceeded by a sequel series in Boruto, which follows Naruto's son.
Though the character of Boruto has been in the spotlight for quite some time, Naruto himself is set to return to his roots. In July 2023, it was officially confirmed that the original Naruto series is returning with four brand-new episodes to celebrate the anime's 20th anniversary. These installments will take place during the events of the original anime and will feature Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, and their mentor Kakashi, and many others in their original appearances. The episodes will debut in Japan on Sept 3.
The new episodes come fresh off the heels of the Road of Naruto commemorative video which was posted in October 2022. The video features a collection of iconic moments from the anime reanimated for the modern era, backed by a collection of some of the most popular opening themes from across the series.
You can currently stream the entirety of Naruto on Crunchyroll.