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Naruto isn’t Masashi Kishimoto’s Only Masterpiece: 3 Lesser Known Hidden Gems You Need to Know

3 Lesser Known Hidden Gems You Need to Know

Masashi Kishimoto is a renowned name in the world of anime, especially due to his groundbreaking manga, Naruto. The Shonen series based on Naruto Uzumaki’s dreams of becoming a Hokage was first published in 1999 and has since gained a huge fanbase. Besides the anime series that consists of over 720 episodes after including the Shipudden storyline, there are also films and spin-offs in the franchise.

Masashi Kishimoto
Masashi Kishimoto drawing Naruto’s biggest rival

Most of Kishimoto’s works feature characters that are driven by unique motives such as Uchiha Madara’s vengeful need to destroy the Senju clan in Naruto. This complicates the plot. Meanwhile, he uses his protagonists to explore the power of friendship and bring about a strong sense of justice. Kishimoto’s heroes in Naruto are inspirational and they share a few characteristics with other heroes from his yomikiris.

Also Read: The 2 Technologies Masashi Kishimoto Refused Having in Naruto

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Masashi Kishimoto started his career by writing yomikiris, aka one-shot mangas, to gain prominence in the Shonen genre. Even though Naruto is his bestseller manga, there are a few stories by the 48-year-old writer that have seemingly been lost in time. Here are three lesser-known mangaka scripted by Masashi Kishimoto that deserve your attention.

#1. Masashi Kishimoto first one-shot, Karakuri

Masashi Kishimoto’s debut one-shot manga, Karakuri was published in 1995. The plot revolves around a deadly virus outbreak in Japan that results in mass death and devastation. Adding to the problems are certain businessmen who weaponize the cure for the virus which the Ministry of Health and Welfare had prepared to accidentally create destructive ‘Androits.’

Set in a dystopian world where androids run amok and a virus puts half the humanity into extinction, the only hope is a bunch of heroes gathered by the Defense Agency. The D.A. names the group ‘Karakuri’ and it includes the main hero, Kiru, and his animal partner, which is a rat. They are given the task of destroying the Androits and ending the capitalist mechanism of creating the latter machines.

Comparisons between Kiru from Karakuri and Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto mainly arise from their resembling appearance and struggle story. Although, unlike Sasuke, Kiru has a more noble purpose of defending the country. Masashi Kishimoto’s newcomer manga Karakuri won the ‘Hot Step Award’ hosted by the Shonen Weekly Jump in 1996.

#2. Bench

Fun Fact: Tsutomu Yamaguchi is not in the picture.

Masashi Kishimoto originally published the one-shot in the Japanese Weekly Shonen Jump print magazine in 2010. Bench is Kishi’s first and only sports manga. The plot is based on transfer student Tsutomu Yamaguchi, an overweight but highly enthusiastic baseball player, who makes it a mission to make it to the talented Team A rather than being in the worst section – Team D.

In a school baseball club that is divided into teams based on the player’s ability, Bench explores the themes of alienation and determination. Players in Team D are neglected and frowned upon by coaches, which highlights the compartmentalization of athletes based on their skills. Flashbacks and flashforwards are used to peek into the will of each main character in the story.

Also Read: Masashi Kishimoto Revealed Hardcore Ninja Fans Despised Naruto for One Reason

Yamaguchi is joined by a fellow rookie baseball player and they practice until they finally muster the courage to challenge two of the school’s elites. Bench is a short and simple story running for about 45 pages that includes baseball along with a few fistfights.

#3. Mario

Masashi’s first mafia manga Mario

Mario is not based on the mustache man who makes it a mission to save a princess and commits mass animal slaughter in the process. Although, Masashi Kishimoto’s Mario Shonen manga does have violence. The story is based on the titular character, who is a hitman working for the Mafia in New York. He gets to work with a female colleague named Saori.

Son to Yakuza member Sicilian Mafioso, Mario commits murders with ease while working in tandem with silent killer Saori. However, they soon find themselves to be pawns of a larger criminal network. Both try to get themselves out of the upcoming gang fights for power but slide deeper into the mess.

Kishimoto’s protagonist in Mario could have been the inspiration for the character of Uchiha Madara in Naruto. After all, both have a cynical approach to life because of their troubled childhood. They are also ruthless killers who always bring scenes of blood into the manga.

Also Read: Dumb Madara Uchiha Moments That Forced Us To Ask “Is This Really The Power Of A God?”

Released in the June 2013 issue of Jump Square, Mario was Masashi Kusagishi’s first dabble in the world of seinen and in mafia manga. He later fully committed himself to developing Naruto.

Source: YouTube

Written by Spandan Chatterjee

An eight-year-old Spandan Chatterjee got coaxed by his cousin to watch Bleach anime and thus began his otaku conversion. Now aged 22 and pursuing a Masters Degree in English, Spandy refuses to grow up and continues watching and reading One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto.