Major Updates Announced for Naruto Franchise: Naruto Anime Is Returning


TV Tokyo Announces Naruto Franchise Updates: New Episodes Plans

A much-needed and long-awaited update for the Naruto franchise, in particular the anime, broke last week. That is just one of a few news updates that we have. The information is coming to us from Japan via TV Tokyo, the network that owns the broadcast rights to Naruto. So this would be Naruto, Naruto Shippuden, and Boruto: Naruto Next Generations as well.

naruto anime

To clarify, the broadcast rights and the production rights are two different things. Think of TV Tokyo as the distributor for the anime, and Studio Pierrot as the producer of the anime and the one who supplies the product to be sold to the masses. I have got to throw that out there because, in the past, when I have talked about anime technicalities, people have gotten confused about whose role is which and what the process is.

As usual with public companies, they hold meetings with their shareholders, and the transcripts are usually made available to the public afterward for transparency reasons. In the meeting, the president of TV Tokyo gave a ton of information about the future of the network, their plans for the fiscal year 2024, and what to expect. We are told here that they have a clear plan for expanding their anime business, which includes Naruto and the four special episodes, as well as merchandise, video games, and events that they are doubling down on to be attractive works.

naruto anime update

It brings us to the four Naruto special episodes. What we will do here is read the quote with context so you get the full picture, and then we will unpack what we have. So it says, and I quote:

“In addition to acquiring powerful IP, we are simultaneously expanding our anime business model. I am looking forward to it. Approximately 230 anime works are produced each year, and not all of them are hits, but we take pride in being the first to understand fan trends, and we have the knowledge of how to quickly develop business domestically and internationally. By leveraging these strengths, we will emphasize that we can expand our business significantly by partnering with our company. This new version of Boruto is currently on hiatus, but we are planning to air a new version to commemorate the 20th anniversary sometime this year. As for distribution, we will expand worldwide. We are also working in Central and South America and the Middle East, with the remaining region being Eastern Europe. Discussions are in the final stages to find a good partner and have them handle peripheral business as well.” End quote.

So, I want to clip the confusion right here because I know a lot of you just locked in on the Boruto line. That Boruto line just confirms what we already know, which is the Boruto anime is currently on hiatus. The question that was asked was, quote:

“Regarding Naruto and Boruto: Two Blue Vortex, please tell us about the trends in the latest series and their popularity in the global distribution market.”

I want to throw that out there and clear that up. That is largely due to the fact that there are production issues and a lack of material in the manga due to the monthly manga format currently only having enough material for eighteen episodes of the anime. When you factor in pacing, that is not enough to begin production on the anime itself outside of some pre-production in terms of designs, etc, unless you want random episodes of Cho-Cho in a beauty contest or Iwabe guarding a monkey at a zoo.

Moving back to the Naruto portion, the 20th-anniversary is not regarding Boruto but the 20th-anniversary special anime episodes that the Naruto series creator Masashi Kishimoto personally wrote the story for and handed over the outline to Studio Pierrot to begin building off of the story for anime material and then move into the episodes getting produced. In terms of anime production, these four episodes are going to be dealing with Naruto’s original team set where Kakashi chooses Naruto to be the squad leader for Team Seven, and it’s set during part one of the story. So this is not Shippuden or anything like that. Based on the material we have, Kakashi appears to be going off on some other important mission that takes him away from the team, which, in typical Naruto fashion, you are going to have 12-year-old Naruto calling the shots, probably having Sakura and Sasuke banging their heads against the wall over the sheer stupidity that comes from goofy Naruto making some of those decisions.

When can you expect the new Naruto episodes to come out? This statement was regarding fiscal year 2024, and I’ve seen people say that it is going to be 2024. So, I am going to clear that up right now. Japan’s fiscal year runs differently than what we have here in the United States, and a fiscal year is not a calendar year, and that is where there is been a lot of confusion. So, in Japan, the fiscal year runs from April 2024 to March 2025. When the president of the company is saying that they have plans to release it this year, he is speaking in regards to the fiscal year because that is the context of this conversation. So we’re going to get the episodes at some point this year or no later than the end of March 2025.

naruto fight in anime

That might annoy some of you. However, there is a reason for this delay. When Boruto’s anime was put on hiatus, Studio Pierrot was going through some major restructuring. There are a lot of production issues, and I know some of the animators who worked on Boruto, so I have had private conversations with them, and I know about some of the nightmare production schedules that are out there. These episodes that were supposed to be out last year around August or September got pushed back due to quality issues because there were a ton of production issues at Studio Pierrot, and those episodes did not meet the quality test to get put on television. These Naruto episodes join the long list of series that have recently suffered due to the production issues at Studio Pierrot. Black Clover’s movie ended up in production, and it missed several key deadlines, delaying the movie almost a handful of months. Bleach Core 2 had production issues even though the storyboarding for Core 2 is drastically superior to Core 1, and Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Core 3 is running behind schedule and might not be out until 2025. Now we have the Naruto episodes that are running behind schedule, and it is a bit alarming when you consider that it is only four episodes, and Studio Pierrot was displeased enough with the quality that they pushed it back instead of airing it. In all honesty, it makes sense because Kishimoto was directly involved in this. The idea that two of his original stories back-to-back had production issues, with the first being that time slip arc that he wrote an outline for, which became Boruto episodes 120 to 135, which he intended to be a movie, but they made it into the anime. Now, these four episodes are based on his original story. 

It is even more so the case when you consider that Kishimoto is a hardcore animation nut, totally in love with sakuga, more involved with the production of the first Naruto anime than, say, Oda was for the One Piece anime. Kishimoto was heavily involved in picking the staff for the first Naruto anime. He weighed in on staff for Naruto Shippuden, and wait for it, the people that were picked played a huge role in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, either in animation roles, support roles, or director roles. The first two Naruto anime followed the same formula of having newbies being guided by experienced staff, people who worked on hero projects like Yu Yu Hakusho, which animation-wise still holds up, but the animation is absolutely fluid. But with willful ignorance, I don’t think that this is a bad thing that the anime episodes are getting delayed until later in 2024 or early 2025. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all; it just means that they’re taking the quality controls seriously for a pretty big project. Naruto stopped airing seven years ago, and yet it is still TV Tokyo’s top earner. That’s not because mobile games and merchandise like people are coping so much; it’s because Naruto as an IP is also being introduced into brand new markets for the first time. Mobile games, gacha games, merchandise, etc., play a huge role in it, but so does this: there are parts of the world that are finally getting to watch Naruto for the first time because, due to licensing rights, they couldn’t watch it on Crunchyroll or Netflix or Hulu. Some of those areas don’t even have those services. There are some parts of the world where pirating anime is the only option you have if you want to consume it. They have been expanding Naruto, which led to Naruto’s IP overtaking Boruto in sales two or three years ago because of that expansion. It is a huge boom because, for as many people who pirate anime, there are a lot more who wait for the official release. Your super casual fan discovers a series like that for the first time after only being made vaguely aware of it. Taking the time to get the production in order, to clean up the animation, and to present a product that doesn’t insult Kishimoto-sensei is very much worth the wait. 

Again, despite what some agenda pushers will tell you, the Naruto IP, including Boruto, has passionate staff for the series, including long-running staff. Still, the production schedule has gotten worse year-over-year, even for a weekly anime. That’s why you’ll see Boruto animators working on Bleach Core 1 and delivering some of the best cuts of the core, or you’ll see them working on Spy x Family or Demon Slayer’s Swordsmith Village Arc and the Hashira Training Arc, or you see former Boruto animators who now work on One Piece after leaving Studio Pierrot for better working conditions over at Toei Animation. If you want to learn more about Boruto: Naruto Next Generations anime ending suddenly and when you can expect it to return, you want to click here on the right for my new chains in chapter review on a very highly controversial chapter.

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