So yeah, this got posted in NF and I copied it. You maybe want to include the relevant information in the respective articles. :)
Translated by Yagami1211
Please, tell us about how Naruto started.
Kishimoto : Naruto wasn't supposed to be about ninjas.
Kishimoto : It was supposed to be about a teenager named Naruto cooking ramen. But my editor of that time told me "It will never gonna work." I had to find something else and this became a story about ninjas. After my cooking manga got refused, I created a monster/ghost story in which Naruto was a fox-man who could change others people's form. To add more variety to this magic, I decided after that to add ninjutsu. Of my first idea, only the name is still there.
So the name Naruto come from this type of surimi there is in ramen ?
Kishimoto : Yes. Back then I loved ramen. In front of my college, there was this place called "Ichiraku" where I used to eat ramen.
I never knew Naruto favorite place actually existed. So after some trying, you set your eyes on a ninja story. Do you like ninja folklore ?
Kishimoto : Nothing like that, really. But I like Japanese type stories and folklore. I tried going for a Samurai Story, I had no price and no favorable answer. From my own point of view it was more about the paper and less about the story.
What ? You're gonna give more details about that.
Kishimoto : The Paper Store I used to go didn't have B4 manga sheets and paper anymore. So the store lady cut the paper herself, but it wasn't the right size.
Too small ?
Kishimoto : No, too big. When I started to put the paper into the enveloppe, I realized thoses were far too big. So I created a custom enveloppe myself. If you ask me, I obviously failed because the paper wasn't the right size.
What a touching story.
Kishimoto : I never really had a confirmation on that. Still, I didn't gave up on doing a Japanese style story. But the samurai story didn't work out, so I figured I was gonna try ninjas. But in Jump, we had "Ninku" already. That wasn't really the best moment to create a ninja story. "Ninku" already created something quite original by fusing Ninja Arts and Karate. I had to find something else, something new to add on. That was quite the challenge. But that challenge is exactly was motivated me. I felt that, of the multiple japanese themes, ninjas was the right one to choose. I tried my luck with that.
And this year, it's been 13 years of serialization.
Kishimoto : Whatever I'm doing, before actually doing it, I use to do a full research on that topic, by searching at the library, by reading mangas on that topic etc ... I had a large stock of ideas before starting. My preparation time was actually quite long.
You mean between when Jump gave you the all green and the release of the 1st chapter ?
Kishimoto : In jump, there is 4 annual meeting where we decide the new mangas. Usually, when it's decided, the 1st episode gets published the next month. But for a reason I didn't know, Naruto started with the mangas of the next meeting, THREE months later !
You mean you had a empty 3 or 4 months between the decision jump took to publish Naruto and the actual publication of chapter 1 ?
Kishimoto : During this time, I change the "rough" multiple times. When Naruto's 1st chapter got published, I was aready done with the 8th chapter. I took a lot of advance so I could work without stress to put the series on good track. I really think if I didn't have as much time to prepare the series, we wouldn't be there talking right now.
So you did have time to thing about the characters and what is a ninja ?
Kishimoto : Yes, I did that too. My editor gave me "Kouga Ninpou Chou" and "Iga Ninpou Chou" two classic ninja stories. I read Kouga, but didn't have time to finish Iga.
When you start creating a character, do you go for the name or for the looks first ?
Kishimoto : 50/50 I guess. Sometime I draw and then I give the character his personality and name. Sometimes it's the total opposite. I give him his name and the start to draw him.
Can you give us an exemple where the character's looks came first ?
Kishimoto : Zabuza ! I wanted a name to go with that look and that terrifying gigantic sword.
Then now give us the opposite, a character you got the name first.
Kishimoto : Jiraiya ! His name only sounds really Kabuki like. I imagined a wizard like hermit with a scroll in his mouth on a frog. For Kimimaro too I got the name first. I put on him two marks on his head like aristocrats had during the Heian Period. Thoses characters were created after the names.
When you start with the name, do you have any particular care for the name itself and the vibe it gives ?
Kishimoto : Of course. For Kimimaro, I heard the name on TV, in a historical series. It gave me a very "old japan" vibe.
So the characters' name do have an influence on their nature and personality ?
Kishimoto : Yes. Neji use Kaitens, Rotations. A Screw ( Which is what Neji means in japanese. ) rotates too like a spiral when it's used, so it's very close from Uzumaki/Whirlpool. I had to actually try not to give names too close to some characters. Haku means white, he have a very white skin and a very pure and genuine personality, so at the end, I included a scene where it snows which is reference on his name. For Kiba I went to the looks first, a beast man. Since he's always with a dog I gave him the surname Inuzuka ( Inu means dog. )
The first characters in Naruto have both names and surnames, like Uzumaki Naruto or Hatake Kakashi. Then, later, characters starts having only one name. Like Gaara, why does he have only one name ?
Kishimoto : For me, Gaara's name was supposed to be Kotarou Fuuma. But my editor strongly disagreed. I objected and said it was a name fitting for a sand ninja and that went on for weeks.
Maybe he did refused because of Fuuma no Kojirou ?
Kishimoto : Even today, I still don't know the reason for that. When I said "Then how a I supposed to call him ?" My editor said "Gaara" like "An Ashura that only likes himself" ( That was the kanjis means ). I actually liked that so I kept it. Then later he told me that was the name of a Ski Resort ( Gaara Yuzawa in japan. ) and That he just returned from the place. I said "That's just bullshit !" but since I already took the name in the story and I liked it, I kept it. Later on I stopped focusing on surnames and just went for how the name sounds and what the name means.
Which names gave you more work ?
Kishimoto : This is never easy. The 1st characters were actually the hardest for me. Especially when there are a lot to find at the same time. When the Chunnin Exam started, I had to come up with names for ALL THE ROOKIES in just one week. I didn't know what to do. I remember one time, when looking at a screw, I had an idea and gave his name to Neji. That does tell you how much my inspiration was lacking. More than one name, it's finding at lot at the same times that troubles me. Then I wanted to give adjectives to the Kumo Ninjas. Like Samui ( Cool ) or Darui ( Dull ). But I could never come up with names as cool as I wanted. I later became a really hard job to find new names.
Let's get on another topic. How do you come up with jutsu names ?
Kishimoto : During meetings I say the names I came up to my editor and we think about it together. I explained to him what the jutsu does and hows does it looks with a rough drawing, since if you don't draw something it's hard to imagine what it's like. After the meeting, after we decided what the jutsu would be like, I start looking for a name. It's quite a delicate matter. I go for simple and "straight to the point" names, like Kage Bunshin/Shadow Clones. My editor was rarely conviced by that and often asked me "Can't you come up with cooler names ?" Then I start looking for something better. Like "Chidori/Thousand Birds" It wasn't supposed to be named like that.
What was the name like ?
Kishimoto : I actually forgot about that. That tells you how different it was. When I think about something linked to the jutsu itself it's far easier. "A Sword named Chidori/Thousand Birds got cut by lightning and was renamed Raikiri". I imagined a lightning jutsu right after that. sometimes, after talking with my editor, I change how the jutsu look. I visualized Chidori as Thousand Birds as many birds chirping. For Edo Tensei, I explained my editor that the jutsu was supposed to resurrect the deads, then he gave me the very bouddhist like "Edo Tensei"/'Reincarnation to the Impure World".
You took a lot of your time to creates jutsu, right ?
Kishimoto : I always prepare some time to come up with jutsu names and then I think "What's the point ? I can do that the simple way." now, with a global view, I think that's what really created the Naruto universe as we know it. Wheh I saw the characters yelling the jutsu names in the anime, I realized the names I took the time to think through had way more impact once they were said by actors on TV. But I think coming up with a "straight to the point" name is very important too. I must take a little from both.
Now let's talk about words. How did you came up with Naruto's "Dattebayo" ?
Kishimoto : I was looking for a brat like speech and I started from "Datteba" ( Roughly meaning "But I'm telling you that ..." )
So from the start, Naruto was supposed to have a verbal tic ?
Kishimoto : Of course. It's maybe a little simplistic when creating a character. But I like when a character has a definitive speech pattern and catch phrases. That way the reader remember the character very fast from the way he's speaking. Since I wanted the reader to be puzzled, maybe a little irritated, I gave Naruto a weird verbal tic.
In the 1st part you told us how Naruto was created. Now I want to talk about their speech pattern and how they talk. Let's start by Kakashi. He started very rude but he softened quite a bit after that.
Kishimoto : During the character creation phase, before the actual 1st chapter was released, I used to draw him like a Samurai. At that time, I didn't really know what his character would be like. I had this very stern and rude master image in my head so I gave him a very strict speech pattern. But after that I wasn't happy with how it turned out. I started thinking "A laid back master would be better, I guess."
So you started to think about his personality as the readers know it ?
Kishimoto : A laid back master seemed very funny to me. But when Kakashi starts getting serious, he's getting very hot blooded ! That's why I like him like that. Little by little I changed his speech pattern and gave it a laid back touch, with a bit of kindness and even a bit woman-like.
Except Naruto and Kakashi, a lot of characters have a very definitive speech pattern. Did some characters gave you trouble with that ? or some speechs you remember more than others ?
Kishimoto : I'd say Orochimaru. I wanted him to give a very creepy androgynous vibe. But since I wanted him to be a terrifying opponent, I wondered if that was really the way to go to make him sound strong. Then I started thinking it was good like that, he's strong and creepy, and the creepyness kept growing and growing. For Jiraiya I have him an incisive and energic speech pattern like in old kabuki plays. And since, except him, there has been few characters who really like to talk, he makes everything more colorful.
When you create actual speeches and lines, what do you take care of ?
Kishimoto : I try to "bend" the sentence/line, to make it hermetic. I always do that.
Please tell us more about that, in details.
Kishimoto : Before the chapter rough, I write the dialogue properly and then change it. At first I write in a very simple way, that where everything lies. Then I try to put up some originality in it but it's not easy.
What kind of changes are you talking about ?
Kishimoto : I rewrite the dialogues to make them more strange, more different. But I sometimes go way overboard and my assistants can't understand whatever the hell I'm writing. In that case, I go back to the original simple dialogue.
So you want the reader to be puzzled ?
Kishimoto : Yes ! I want to write speeches to be remembered even If they don't like them. For exemple, Naruto is a ninja, but his outfit doesn't have anything to do with traditional ninjas.
How did you came up with this unique universe ?
Kishimoto : From the start, I was suppose to get far from the traditional ninjas, dressed in black and living in shadows. This kind of thing has been seen countless time in mangas. I wanted them to be seen. Well, they're supposed to be hidden. But Naruto doesn't do that, he shows up in front of everyone, he gives his name to people ... Unlike usual ninjas, he likes to be seen and noticed. Then his blond hairs and blue eyes make him seems like a foreigner, not what you would expect from a ninja.
This is kind of surprising, to say the least.
Kishimoto : It's the same for the context. I didn't wanted people to know where the story takes place. The ninjas wears vests with zippers. In other worlds, I purposely went far, far away from any ninja stereotype. I just gave them sandals to look like the straw shoes of the old times.
I noticed this "international" kind of thing in Naruto. But I never noticed Naruto looked like a foreigner.
Kishimoto : Even with that, the manga bathes in a japanese atmosphere, with past and present. There are electric poles but there are wooden houses like in old times. At the start, I was drawing a lot of strange things. Like Drinks Vending Machines. But when I put cars in the pilote, my editor told me "They can't have that, it's too convenient." The firearms that rendered all Shurikens uninteresting were removed too. Little by little, objects that had no place in the story were removed.
When I listen to you, I feel like I'm listening to how foreigners see japan.
Kishimoto : Yes, I had that in mind from the start. In "Far East Of Eden", one of my favorite video game ever, the context seems like what the foreigners see in japan. I always found that very interesting. I also added a lot of elements from Kabuki. In our everyday life, we don't see that kind of makeup or outfits, but this is a large part of traditional japan. I wanted to add this spectacular side that gives impact to the picture.
Today Naruto is very very famous in a lot of other countries. Do you think this haves something to do with what you just said ?
Kishimoto : It obviously is one of the reason.
Your character have very simple souding names. Do you think about foreigners too about that ?
Kishimoto : I choose mostly names that are easy to remember, even if it's not an easy thing to parody a traditional ninja's name. I look for names that sounds like japanese and sounds cool, like "Wasabi" or "Kakashi".
Did you started thinking about non japanese readers at some point ?
Kishimoto : Yes, when my editor told Naruto was strong outside japan. I made the reading easier by making the order of the koma easier to read. That way of thinking had a very large impact on the series as a whole.
Who do you think foreigners like the most in Naruto ?
Kishimoto : The hero is far from being the most clever fella on earth. He's not a genius. He starts from 0 and starts climbing his way. Everyone can relate to this kind of story, japanese or not. Other Important fact : Everyone in the world like ninjas.
I would like you to tell me about the bonds in the story. There are a lot of time where you talk about that. Is there some moment you remember ?
Kishimoto : I'd say Jiraiya's death. With a strange force, let's call that "willpower", he comes back to life to give Naruto the secret of Pain. I think I really managed to put his determination on paper this time around and the bonds that link his to his student. But since I draw on the spot, very spontaneously, I rarely pause myself to think "wow, I just rocked."
Since the series started, did you even think "This ! This moment is just awesome ! That's what I wanted to draw."
Kishimoto : I wanted to talk about aknowledgement, the one you give and the one you get. That's what I wanted to say and wanted to do.
In the story, you say it's being aknowledged by others that drives people to act. By the battles, training and such.
Kishimoto : Everyone want to be aknowledged, and me the first. That's what I strived for when I started, and still is. I fight to be aknowldged by my peers. Because in the past, I wasn't the one of the admired ones. This feeling I know so much, I think I managed to put in on paper.
I don't want to sounds like that, but what kind of aknowledgement did you seeked ?
Kishimoto : In school, nothing went the way I wanted. I sucked in school, I sucked in sports and I had almost no friends. I had the feeling nobody aknowledged me for who I was.
But if you went to draw manga, you surely had self confidence about that, right ?
Kishimoto : Yes, thanks to mangas, and drawing, I knew I could get aknowledged by people and so could live thanks to mangas. Even if my editor back then didn't really had faith in me.
So, all thoses years you just wanted to do a manga to be aknowledged ?
Kishimoto : It's very hard to please all the readers, but I had a huge need for aknowledgement. When I started, nothing I did ever gave me that, so I continued to draw anyway just for the hell of it.
But aknowledgement is a step by step process, right ? You publish a one shot manga, then a series and only then aknowledgement comes.
Kishimoto : When I started, my meetings were in the first floor of the building and then went to the last floor, the floor of the director. I could felt I was being aknowledged, but when my One Shot went published. I knew it was happening. But people didn't really liked this one shot, meetings went back to the 1st floor and I strived even more for aknowledgement. Thoses events made a very vivid impact on me and as such, have a strong impact on Naruto.
Naruto has many masters. Jiraiya, Iruka, Kakashi. Who is the ideal master for you ?
Kishimoto : A protecting master who, instead of yelling at you, explains you want went wrong and how to fix it. Someone like Kakashi. I wish I had a master like that.
So you didn't get inspiration from someone you know ?
Kishimoto : No, he's just the teacher I never had. Someone who push his student forward instead of yelling him back to square 0.
It's with thoses bonds that you try to explain mutual gratefulness. Can you explain more about that ?
Kishimoto : There's no real bond without gratefulness. Today I'm trying to put friendship, Parents/Children Love and all that. Since I'm now a father myself, I learned a lot about that.
Between friends and rivals, aknowledgement is done by fighting. But with Parents and Children, Brothers and Sisters, bonds already exists. How you explains bonds varies between types of bonds ?
Kishimoto : Since readers already know what is a family and what are those bonds, I don't have to really write about that. Friendship can be hard to explain. Like brothers without blood relation, "Brothers of hearts" I call them. In Naruto there is multiple type of bonds. So what if they are not of the same blood, if the father sees the kid as his son and the kid sees the man as his father, then it's ok. I did that with Iruka and Naruto, I wanted to intruduce them like father and son. In part 2, this is less obvious.
That's right, Iruka started in the manga as the father Naruto never had.
Kishimoto : Since Naruto hadn't any parents at the start, I wanted him to see Iruka as his father.
During a chapter, Naruto tells Itachi that Sasuke is like a brother to him. Is that what you were going from the start ?
Kishimoto : I wanted them to be more brothers than blood brothers. I can tell you that is for me the hardest thing to put into words in this story. And still is. People who actually lived through harsh separations and death of loved ones often write me and tells me they can actually relate to them. When I am close to someone, I’m scared shitless of one day that bond will be severed. Loneliness does scares me to death. This may be hard to put into words, but I’ll still try to make my point stand to the readers.
So you think you still didn’t really managed to put into words what is the relation between Naruto and Sasuke ?
Kishimoto : I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t as well as I wanted to, and because of that almost everyone thinks both of them are crazy lunatics. From on now, everything will depend on how well I can put their relationship into words.
You're talking about both of them, right ?
Kishimoto : Yes. If you want me to talk about their bonds, I created Sasuke as a rival to Naruto who does not see Naruto as a rival at all. I found it interesting to have Naruto next to someone who couldn't care less about him. As the story advances, Sasuke starts to see, little by little, Naruto as a rival. But he leaves the village without really aknowledging Naruto.
When he watched Naruto growing up, Sasuke started to grow a very vivid rivalry with someone he barely noticed before.
Kishimoto : After the Valley of the end, the gap gets larger. But when someone who just started to aknowledge you, brutally reject you, you strive for even more aknowledgement. But Sasuke still doesn't see Naruto as his equal. I think and I hope Naruto will fight to the bitter end until Sasuke sees him as his closest ally.
In the manga, their final battle with start soon. As a reader, I can't wait to see what will happen before the end.
Kishimoto : The story gets to its climax and but I'm still thinking about a lot of plot twists.
This is very exciting. Can you give a message to the readers ?
Kishimoto : Those two books have a lot of famous scenes and lines. If one of them can make you feel better about yourself, I will be happy.