No matter how tame an anime may seem, there is a good chance U.S. censors have still given it an overhaul. Shows like Sailor Moon and Pokemon have had several notorious edits made to them, but the censorship Naruto endured was just plain weird.
The series was created back in 1999 as Masashi Kishimoto began serializing it in Weekly Shone Jump. The shonen title was an instant hit, and Studio Pierrot was quick to call dibs on the series. The first Naruto anime debuted in 2002 over in Japan before Cartoon Network could import it to the U.S. in 2005. When news about Naruto's overseas travel did finally hit, fans resigned themselves to plenty of odd censorship quirks.
Anime has a rather long, convoluted history of censorship in the U.S, and it is not something fans forgive easily. Cultural shifts between Japan and America have prompted overly sensitive censors to simply draw out certain anime sequences before, and Naruto was no exception. Much of Naruto's U.S. debut did pass by without many red flags, but there were some notable changes made which fans couldn't overlook.
If you want to know more about Naruto's strangest censorship moments, you can check out the slides below. Just, be warned; Some of them are a bit NSFW.
You can check out Viz Media's synopsis of Naruto below:
"Naruto is a young shinobi with an incorrigible knack for mischief. He's got a wild sense of humor, but Naruto is completely serious about his mission to be the world's greatest ninja!"
Author/artist Masashi Kishimoto was born in 1974 in rural Okayama Prefecture, Japan. Like many kids, he was first inspired to become a manga artist in elementary school when he read Dragon Ball. After spending time in art college, he won the Hop Step Award for new manga artists with his story Karakuri. After considering various genres for his next project, Kishimoto decided on a story steeped in traditional Japanese culture.
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Shikamaru’s Smoking Habit
Shikamaru Nara finds most things in life troublesome but smoking is not one of them. The character is one of the core Naruto ninjas, and he becomes a close ally to the anime's titular hero. Shikamaru is his generation's strategist, and he trained with Team 10 under a chain-smoking teacher named Asuma. It's not really surprising Shikamaru picked up his mentor's bad habit, but American censors didn't like it.
Shikamaru began smoking in Naruto after the boy watched Asuma die before him following an Akatsuki encounter. The ninja began to smoke to remember his teacher, but the English dub couldn't let that stand. As a teenager and fan-favorite character, powers at be felt it would be inappropriate for Shikamaru to start chain-smoking. As such, all of the boy's cigarettes cut down and made to look like a lollipop stick instead.prevnext
Naruto & Sasuke’s First Kiss
Naruto and Sasuke are the uncontested leads of Masashi Kishimoto's anime, but that was not enough for some fans. As the series grew, parts of its fandom began to ship Naruto and Sasuke as a couple. The anime didn't do much to discourage that thought since Naruto and Sasuke did accidentally kiss in an early Naruto episode.
When the English dub of Naruto was being made, censors felt the lip-lock scene was a bit much. The scene was completely removed from most English dubs, but it did eventually come to light. The kiss was featured in a flashback sequence later on in Naruto, and censors did not feel the need to scrub it away.prevnext
Rock Lee’s Underage Drinking
When it comes to martial arts, Rock Lee is the best; However, the same can not be said for the boy's alcohol tolerance. Rock Lee is very sensitive to alcohol since just a few sips can get him plastered. In the Naruto manga, a drunk Rock Lee becomes an unstoppable one thanks to his Drunken Fist technique. Sadly, the series' English dub never got to see such a thing.
When Naruto was brought to the U.S, the censors did not want to show an underage ninja getting wasted. As such, the show simply had Rock Lee drink an unnamed drink which made him 'loopy.' The drink did the same to Rock Lee as alcohol would have, allowing fans to fall for the character's erratic fight style. Apparently, the censors just wanted to ensure fans didn't think Rock Lee was an alcoholic.prevnext
Sexy No Jutsu: Boy Edition
Naruto is no stranger to perversion, and censors all but gave up on trying to reign in the show's raunchy jokes. Still, its English dub refused to let one instance of Naruto's Sexy no Jutsu get past them.
In Naruto Shippuden, fans discover that Konohamaru has created his own take on the Sexy no Jutsu. Rather than turning into a naked lady, the young boy's jutsu transformed him and a Shadow Clone into two naked men canoodling. The original manga introduced the Sexy: Boy on Boy Technique when Konohamaru used it against Sakura. The attack made it look like Sasuke and Sai were getting it on, and the anime's English dub chose to cut out the scene entirely.prev