The Man Behind the Shadows
Born in the Okayama Prefecture in 1974 as the older of two twins, Masashi
Kishimoto sprung on to the scene as one of the greatest mangakas in all of history just within the couple past years, with
his beloved and ever popular manga of Naruto. Naruto has quickly become one of the most popular and best selling mangas of
all time, read by millions worldwide each week.
As a pre-schooler Masashi Kishimoto was fixated with the TV show
"Doraemon", all of his friends at the time were in to the show as well, and everyone would draw pictures of the characters.
Kishimoto was always the perfectionist, pointing out obvious mistakes in other people drawings and showing them the way to
draw it. "Now that I think about it, I sure was an annoying kid!" wrote Kishimoto.
In his elementary days, it would
be safe to say that Masashi Kishimoto was obsessed with drawing (and are we sure glad that he stuck with it), during school
he filled his notebooks with drawings, and he even would draw while playing hide and seek with his friends while he waited
to be found. As previously stated, Doraemon was always the anime of choice for him until one day he saw an incredible show
on TV, Mobile Suit Gundam, all his drawing time was now dedicated to drawing characters from that anime.
of drawing Mobile Suit Gundam characters, Kishimoto once again found a new anime, Akira Toriyama's famous creation: Dr. Slump.
Masashi Kishimoto recalls how he couldn't believe how "super duper good" the art was and he began to draw the Dr. Slump characters
and even submitted a crayon drawing of Arale-chan to a contest.
In his latter Elementary school days, Akira Toriyama's
most famous creation, Dragonball became an anime and for Kishimoto this spawned a whole new interest in Manga and Shonen Jump.
Before this though there was another Jump anime entitled, Kinnikuman. Kishimoto and his brother would often play around trying
to think their own character names. At the time they mostly revolved around condiments they could find in the refrigerator,
Near the end of Elementary school, Masashi Kishimoto was strictly a Dragonball fan, he recalls
how he was so obsessed with Akira Toriyama, "He was like a god to me, I was constantly drawing characters that appear in Dragonball."
At this stage in his life Kishimoto did not recieve an allowance to buy the 190 Yen Jumps, and would have to rely on a friend
to show him jump to get his Dragonball fix.
It was at this stage in his life that Masashi Kishimoto made a decision
that he is not regretting now, and many of his fans are thankful for. He started to think to himself that "Manga sure is great"
and that he wanted to become a famous Mangaka like Akira Toriyama. Kishimoto created his first manga around this time entitled
"Hiatari-kun", a story revolving around a "Shadow ninja boy".
Still in elementary school, Kishimoto was still obsessed
with Akira Toriyama and would spend all of his extra time making his drawings look exactly like his idols. It was then that
he saw a game that Akira Toriyama helped develop called "Dragon Quest". The drawings were amazing, but unfortunately for Masashi
Kishimoto he did not own a Famicon (Nintendo), which every other kid in his class seemed to own. He certainly could not ask
his parents for something of this nature, everytime his father heard the word "Video Game" he would tell Kishimoto to go study.
It was then that his twin brother devised a plan to get a Famicon from someone else, but could someone willing to give away
something worth 10,000 Yen possibly exist, he did and Masashi Kishimoto began to view this friend as a god.
begging his father over and over repeatedly, Masashi Kishimoto finally recieved the game "Dragon Quest" the first game he
had ever owned and the first time he had played an RPG game. His father that was so against video games began to play Dragon
Quest as well, and just recently Kishimoto called his father, who had apparentally just beaten Dragon Quest 7.
Junior High School, Kishimoto began to focus on things other then drawing. Baseball had become a big part of his life, and
naturally there was alot more studying to do, which meant little or no time for drawing. He pondered to himself if he was
"Too old to draw", at this point an unbelievable event occured in his life. As he walked home from school he saw a movie poster,
one of the best drawings he had ever seen, how could a person draw this good? The drawing was for Katsuhiro Ootomo's "Akira".
This drawing rekindled the flame and passion to draw, and to this day he continues to draw continously in hopes of one day
getting close to that picture.
After he learned of "Akira", Masashi Kishimoto's drawings changed in a big way. He
spent hours studying and trying to understand the style of Ootomo, but couldn't. He then had a revelation that this was totally
original, and nothing else was like this. It would be impossible to copy, much like a persons DNA. He couldn't understand
what was great about the drawings of both Ootomo and Toriyama, but there was a few things he could understand. The effects,
designs, every small detail was perfect and different from other artists. Kishimoto then began thinking to himself that an
attractive picture is an original one, learning how to copy other artists was pointless.
Kishimoto began to try and
create his own style, but he found himself always copying someone elses style to some extent, finding or creating an original
style would be very rare and near impossible. With this new belief, and the thought that Ootomo's style was unbeatable, Kishimoto
began to try and make his drawings look exactly like his. As he entered his final year of Junior High, he would buy up all
of the "Akira" material he could find and spend his time trying to draw the pictures exactly like Ootomo.
In the Eleventh
Grade, Kishimoto created his first 31 page manga, he couldn't tell if it was any good so he showed it to his brother. "Great
isn't it?!!" he asked. Only to get a reply of "This sucks!!", naturally he couldn't take his brothers word so he showed his
father, and got the same reaction. Up until then Kishimoto had been really excited about submitting it for a Jump Magazine
Award, but after that he lost the nerve and that manga will forever sit in the bottom of his desk drawer.
As a "simple,
blind and stupid young man", Kishimoto did not lose sight of his dream and thought to himself that if he wants to win the
contest he will have to just keep creating mangas. His thinking may have been odd then, but looking back on it he reflects
how it made excellent practice, plus he was so young his train of thought couldn't be helped. After a few more manga projects,
and being told that "This is no good" he began to wonder to himself why his mangas weren't? What made other peoples better!?
Dedicating all of his time to figure this out, Masashi Kishimoto graduated high school ranked 38th out of 39th in
his class, it quickly became obvious that with grades like this, he wouldn't be getting into any college. No good at manga,
no good at school, what would he do in life? Masashi Kishimoto didn't give up, he got right back to drawing Manga, and inspiring
to become a Jump mangaka. He reflects back on how his thoughts didn't go to deep, "Well, things will work out!" was the extent
of it. "Thank god for being stupid!"
Today everything has worked out for Masashi Kishimoto, his dreams of becoming
a famous Jump mangaka have come true, his story about that shadow ninja boy, Naruto has become one of the best selling and
most popular mangas worldwide. He has certainly shown that he can draw with the best of them, and despite all the adversities,
he has succeeded. Masashi Kishimoto is a true inspiration, a true role model, and will go down in history as one of the best.