WARNING: Naruto manga spoilers ahead!
Last weekend in Japan, the Jump Festa 2014 took place. The annual event is held by Shonen Jump publisher Shueisha to celebrate all of our favorite Jump heroes in the form of anime, manga, video games, toys, and more. As one of the prominent Jump heroes featured, there was a dedicated Naruto Jump Festa 2014 panel!
Naruto’s creator Masashi Kishimoto was at the event and panel. Joining him were Junko Takeuchi (Japanese voice actress for Naruto), Noriaki Sugiyama (Japanese voice actor for Sasuke), Chie Nakamura (Japanese voice actress for Sakura), Kazuhiko Inoue (Japanese voice for Kakashi), and Kenji Taira (Kishimoto-sensei’s assistant and creator of Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals).
The voice actors performed scenes from the manga with music and sound effects. Among the scenes performed included the reunion of Team 7, the conversation between Kakashi and Obito in the Kamui space, and the interaction between Ten Tails Obito and Naruto! Obito’s voice was pre-recorded as his voice actor was not in attendance.
For the voice actors who were present, they also each drew the scene they felt was most memorable from the 4th Great Ninja War, to which Kishimoto-sensei gave his opinions on. Takeuchi-san drew a toad, snake, and slug to represent Team 7’s summonings. Sugiyama-san drew Sasuke standing when he made his declaration to be Hokage. Nakamura-san went a bit further, drawing Sasuke wearing a sash that had his Hokage declaration on it and with the reactions of Sakura and Naruto. Inoue-san drew the boulder crushing Obito with Kakashi trying to push it off of him. Kishimoto-sensei said he liked all of them.
Additionally, after seeing Sugiyama-san and Nakamura-san’s drawings, Kishimoto-sensei mentioned there will be more information revealed behind Sasuke’s declaration in detail. To Inoue-san’s drawing, he had said the Kakashi and Obito scene was in his mind since he started Naruto, and enjoyed sharing it in the manga.
The voice actors all teased Kishimoto-sensei that he should do some voice acting at next year’s Naruto panel since drawing to them is like voice acting for him [Note: because he lacks experience in that area]. Kishimoto-sensei strongly, but in a joking manner, refused saying he won’t come to Jump Festa next year if he has to do any voice acting!
Kishimoto-sensei then gave tips on drawing and later showed his talents by sketching Naruto. Taira-san also shared expertise on designing Rock Lee and joined in on the drawing action by sketching him.
There was also discussion on creating a mascot for the Naruto series. Kishimoto-sensei initially had planned for Akamaru and then Gamakichi, but neither were received as well as he hoped so he decided against it. He also drew others as potential mascots, but those didn’t receive the response he was looking for either, so he canned them.
Kishimoto-sensei addressed curiosity on whether Madara can be defeated. He responded that while he did make him really strong, Madara has to be defeated somehow otherwise the story won’t be able to progress. He continued by saying that he has to figure out how to defeat Madara and that he’ll have to think it over with his editor.
The special ANBU Kakashi arc was discussed and Inoue-san said he would be doing his best as the lead. The special arc will shed some additional light on Kakashi’s backstory and the ANBU organization. The topic of Naruto Movie 2014 was touched upon and Kishimoto-sensei said development of it was going well. As for his original character for Namco Bandai Games and CyberConnect2’s Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution, Kishimoto-sensei said he was requested to make an original character. He wasn’t sure what to do, so he created Mecha Naruto because he liked Godzilla and Mecha Godzilla.
Nogizaka46, the Japanese pop idol group behind Naruto Shippuden 14 (the latest opening), took the stage during the panel and performed their song Tsuki no Ookisa.
The event ended with a few closing comments by Kishimoto-sensei and Taira-san. Kishimoto-sensei closed by saying the story of Naruto is coming closer to the end. He will try his best to make a convincing conclusion to all fans, so he would like everyone to continue to read Shonen Jump on a weekly basis!