"Naruto," creator Masashi Kishimoto’s wildly popular weekly ninja series, is just weeks away from its final installment.
When "Naruto" made its debut in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump in 1999, it’s doubtful that even the most optimistic editors at the magazine expected it to last as long as it did. Stories about a plucky warrior in training, who teams up with his friends (one he has a rivalry with, and the other he has feelings for) to face evil foes and overcome challenges had already been done by numerous other series before Kishimoto ever drew sketches of main characters Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura.
The devil’s in the details, though, and while readers may have seen the broad strokes before, the fine points of Naruto struck a chord with readers and drew them in. It has had such a strong hold on fans that the manga now stands at 694 chapters, with 70 collected volumes that have sold more than 130 million copies in Japan, and another 70 million overseas.
And now, after 15 years, it’s all coming to a close. Kishimoto announced two years ago that "Naruto" would be winding down, and this week publisher Shueisha announced that the manga’s 699th, and final, chapter will be published in the issue of Shonen Jump that hits newsstands on November 10.
Given that Kishimoto is just 39, it’s likely we’ll more manga from the artist after he takes a well-deserved break. Naruto and company aren’t going to immediately disappear altogether either, as there’s a new anime movie, "The Last – Naruto the Movie" scheduled for release on December 6. Shueisha has also promised some form of “Naruto entertainment” is coming in 2015.
But even though November 10 isn’t going to be a complete and final goodbye, it still marks a big change for fans who have become used to getting together with their ninja buddies once a week for the past decade and a half.
Sources: Shonen Jump, Asahi Shimbun
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