In 1999, in the cult prepublication magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump, the Japanese public discovers the adventures of Naruto, a joker orphan carried by high hopes for his future. The enthusiasm is immediate. Masashi Kishimoto signe a manga shōnen nekketsu (that is to say, a work whose ultimate goal is the accomplishment of a quest by surpassing oneself) which marks history and which continues to make the news in France even more than four years after the publication of its last volume in the country.
Series Naruto in manga, it is seventy-two volumes, the last of which was released in French bookstores in November 2016. In 2020 alone, the series has 1.1 million copies sold in France. A copy of the first volume is still purchased every thirty seconds, which comes close to the record numbers for the series at the time of publication.
In 2020, the first volume of Naruto still sold 90,000 copies, making it number 1 in manga sales for the past year. Even today, several elements make it a resolutely topical manga.
Genre nekketsu is particularly inspiring for a readership in the throes of life: young people in high schools who are pressured, as well as employees in costume, are particularly crazy about these stories where a hero who looks like them ends up accomplishing great all thanks to hard work and the support of a great team.
2020 having been a sometimes difficult year and which pushed many people to question, the adventures of this funny ninja apprentice have the advantage of giving meaning to a daily life that has sometimes lacked.
Manu, 37, is one of those readers who needed to come back to reading this cult series to get away from it all: “I started to buy the volumes of Naruto when it was released in France in the early 2000s. It’s a story that took hold of me and I remember how much the loser character of Naruto had touched me at the time. I think I can say that I grew up with the character, throughout the release of the manga. ”
The spring 2020 confinement prompted Manu to plunge back into this universe with delight: “When I found myself locked in my home with a lot more free time than usual, I pulled out the whole collection. And I rediscovered the epic breath, the humor, the trials, the tension and the joy that had thrilled me at the time. We can say that Naruto Once again, accompanied me through a not very funny period of my life. ”
The shock trio in episode 6, Sasuke, Naruto and Sakura. | Screenshot via YouTube
The humanity of the character that Manu liked so much is also highlighted by Christel Hoolans, General Manager of Editions Kana: “Naruto is an extremely endearing character, with whom we want to identify, that we want to follow for what he sends back to us: we may not be the best of the class, we can be the one who is aside by the others and despite everything, overcome the trials and become the first of all. Not by crushing all his opponents one after the other, but by forging links with them. “
And add: “The human dimension of this story is quite striking. Yes, human relationships are complex, difficult, sometimes cruel, even within a family, a clan, or between friends. And Kishimoto addresses that instead of hiding it from his young readers. ”
For Christel Hoolans, it is also the talent of the manga artist that makes this work a must-have for manga fans of all ages: “He has an outstanding storytelling talent. It takes us into a rich universe, populated by characters with real personalities, varied, often complex, very endearing, whether they are heroes or secondary characters. The scenario is very well thought out, original while respecting the codes of the shōnen, always starting from a simple base, towards a complex course. “
The director of Kana is full of praise for this Midas from the manga, whose merits she also praises as a designer. “Nothing is left to chance, whether it is the characters or the settings. The fights are extremely well done, always readable, and always different. He’s a real “page-turner”! He manages to keep us going throughout the seventy-two volumes, which is a feat when you know the pace of work that publication in a weekly newspaper represents for years. Naruto is very addicting. You just have to start it to get on board. ”
For Christel Hoolans, Naruto changed the face of the manga market in the country: “Without him, the manga landscape in France would probably not be the one we know today. Naruto remains a sure value and an essential base of the French market, which is transmitted from generation to generation. Until then, alone Dragon Ball had succeeded in this bet: to remain in the tops, even after the end of the series. Let us not forget that until now, the manga market was above all a market for novelties. “
Today, the sector seems more mature: “Finished series can also become timeless classics. We must also underline the renewed interest of television channels in broadcasting the animated series. This again very strong exposure of Naruto on screens maintains the machine for success. ”
From generation to generation
This transmission between generations, Julien lived it with his 9-year-old son, to whom he was very happy to introduce the manga this year: “I read Naruto at the time of its release, but I hadn’t kept all the manga with me. As I moved or loaned out to friends, I think I had about half of the series left in disorder, which made me want to get rid of it mostly. “
And then the first confinement happened there: “I started to take a serious interest in what my son was reading. I felt that Naruto it would like it and I recomposed my collection as I read it. Finally, I reread them all too. We talked about it a lot. And that brought us together a lot. Now we’re running around like ninjas. I never thought I was going to share this with him… but I’m very happy. ”
Over 3 million people have seen the 1is free episode of Naruto available on the Youtube channel official, where the first fifty-two episodes of the series are available for free. The episodes of Naruto and Naruto shippuden, two critically and fan-acclaimed series, are also available on Netflix.
Naruto, in episode 3. | Screenshot via YouTube
It is also on this platform that Christophe discovered the series, during the first confinement: “I have never seriously read manga. I had friends in middle school and high school who consumed a lot of it but I personally never took the bandwagon. During the first confinement, I couldn’t stand going around in circles anymore so I wanted to tackle a big piece to occupy my mind after work. This is where I started watching the anime Naruto.»
Christophe ended up wanting to buy the volumes of the manga: “I kinda feel like I’m having my teenage crisis when I’m over 30, but frankly it was a really good idea. I’m not going to become a manga and anime specialist at my age, but I got used to singing episodes in times of stress and that’s fine. ”
With such continued success, Kana editions are determined to continue to promote the manga in France: «Naruto is a shōnen, recalls Christel Hoolans. It is a manga originally created for an audience of boys aged 10 to 15. The shōnen segment, which is read 50% by readers here, is the king segment of the manga. Whether in Japan or France. ” Kana then went further in this genre and made it the basis of its catalog, Knights of the Zodiac at Detective Conan Passing by Death Note, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Shaman King.
“Building on these successes, conclut Christel Hoolans, and because the original intention was to show the diversity of the manga, ignoring the bad reputation it could have at our beginnings, we edited other titles from other segments in order to introduce the manga in all its diversity, its richness, to our audience. We wanted to open up to this other form of comics that is manga. And we will of course continue our editorial policy aimed at all audiences. ”
In 2020, a chaotic year, Naruto has established itself as a safe haven for many readers. When it was a question for some of reliving the emotions of childhood, others discovered an entire universe. And the children of these conquered adults have also adopted the ninja hero. Naruto continues and will continue to inspire the French public with its inexhaustible energy and hope.
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