The best meme material straddles the line between ironic and genuine affection, often with a heaping of nostalgia blurring those lines. With this in mind, Naruto has become perfect meme material. It’s been 20 years since the first manga chapter came out in Japan, and people’s feelings about the series over the years have grown complicated. With years of manga volumes, anime episodes, and now a spin-off series centering around Naruto’s son Boruto, the quality of the series fluctuated a ton, and the obsessive fervor kids and teens had for the series when it was new has sometimes become a source of embarrassment for them as adults.
Yet the series was popular for a reason. The story tapped into relatable desires and anxieties, many of the characters were lovable, and the action was often spectacular. At its best, Naruto was amazing and worthy of all the hype. Those familiar with Naruto and all its strengths and weaknesses should find much amusement in these memes. For those who can’t tell a sharingan from a rasengan, this list might still be of interest for the sake of better understanding just what all your weeaboo or ex-weeaboo friends have been joking about on social media.
MILD SPOILERS for Naruto!
15. BALANCING SASUKE
This is a meme that all can find amusement in but is extra funny if you’re a Naruto fan. This Sasuke figurine given away in Japanese and Taiwanese McDonalds Happy Meals in 2010 is notably off model. The toy’s ugly appearance earned it the nickname “Evil God Sasuke” in Taiwan. It was supposed to be able to do backflips but the design sucked at that function as well.
But evil though it may be, this isn’t just some crappy toy, for its actual powers truly are godly. Believe it or not, you can balance almost anything on this toy’s head. Anything. This was a meme that everyone who had the chance to wanted to participate in, photographing the craziest situations they could to put Sasuke’s balancing abilities to use.
14. BELIEVE IT!
The most common complaint about the Naruto dub is that Naruto’s English language catchphrase, “Believe it,” is nonsensical and annoying. Of course, his Japanese catchphrase, “Dattebayo,” is even more nonsensical (it’s a series of syllables that literally has no meaning in Japanese) and probably about as annoying, but since English-speaking viewers don’t necessarily pick up on that when watching in Japanese, hearing an English translation highlights the annoyance.
As the internet shows us, though, annoying things can easily be turned into amusing things in the right context (though of course those amusing things can and do become annoying again after constant meme-killing repetition). “Believe it” became a source of endless jokes. This particular meme makes a pun based off the product “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!”
13. BORUTO’S DAD
Wanna feel old? There are now kids for whom their main knowledge of Naruto is that he is Boruto’s dad. This factoid became the most popular Naruto meme following an August 12th, 2017 tweet by Crunchyroll that reads, “We’ve expanded availability for the original Naruto series!! Users in more countries around the 🌏 can enjoy the early days of BORUTO’S DAD🍥.”
The initial response from users on Twitter was one of disbelief, that a character they grew up following the adventures of might now be most recognizable as another character’s father. Twitter being Twitter, this disbelief quickly morphed into further meme fodder, it becoming commonplace for people to take screencaps from Naruto and edit the text or subtitles to replace Naruto’s name with “Boruto’s Dad.”
12. DYNAMIC ENTRY
Who’s the best character in Naruto? There are many ways to answer this question, but let’s be honest, the correct answer is Rock Lee. And many of the things that make Lee awesome (his mastery of taijutsu, his “never give up” attitude, his distinctive hair and fashion sense) are thanks to the tutelage and influence of his sensei Might Guy, so it’s only fitting that Guy is the subject of one of the most fun Naruto memes.
Guy’s “Dynamic Entry” technique, first used in chapter 145 of the manga and episode 85 of the anime, involves him leaping into a room and kicking someone in the face upon arrival. The simple physical comedy of it has inspired a ton of memes, either photoshopping Guy into different scenarios (as in the one above) or adding the phrase “Dynamic Entry” as a caption to similar moments of ownage.
Even the most hardcore Naruto fans will concede that, for the most part, the filler episodes of the Naruto anime SUCK. And there were a lot of them, particularly towards the end of the original Naruto series before Naruto Shippuden premiered. These episodes departed from the original manga, but since the show’s overall story arc still had to follow the manga, the filler episodes as such had to be self-contained stories that did nothing to impact plot or character development, and they could get ridiculously stupid.
Memes making fun of the filler episodes of Naruto are plentiful. The above one refers the filler arc beginning with episode #181 about Condor, an ostrich that learns to speak and use ninjitsu, a particularly absurd series of filler episodes. Naruto‘s not alone in having this problem and memes relating to it; many long-running shonen anime have filler episodes of questionable quality.
10. HANK HILL VS. KAKASHI
One popular type of meme is treating things that aren’t anime as if they were anime. Bee Movie, Seinfeld, Homestuck and Cory in the House (don’t ask) are some of the most popular targets of these sorts of memes, but perhaps the most popular for this treatment is King of the Hill. Why King of the Hill? It’s a show a lot of people like that’s both extremely mundane in comparison to action anime and rather ugly-looking in comparison to cutesier anime. The contrast breeds comedy.
This meme finds commonalities between Hank Hill and Kakashi. Most of these are actual similarities, while a few are obviously thrown in as jokes (there’s no Republican Party in Konoha Village, and nobody in King of the Hill has jutsus). If FOX and Studio Pierrot did decide to do an insane crossover episode, these two characters would probably get along pretty well.
9. THE GERMAN THEME
America seriously dodged a bullet in regards to the dub of Naruto. In 2005, 4Kids was still butchering shows like One Piece, and it was not a sure thing if Naruto would get a competent dub. While some fans had their nitpicks, Viz’s dub of Naruto was thankfully faithful to the original, released uncut on DVD and with minimal censorship on the TV airing. They even kept several of the original theme songs!
The German dub is a different story. The German Naruto theme song is like looking into an alternate universe where 4Kids got their filthy mitts on the show. The lyrics to the rap opening are so bad they make the infamous 4Kids One Piece theme look like a Kendrick Lamar track in comparison. Naturally, cringy lyrics like “Sasuke, is really cool! Sakura, the beautiful!” have made their way into the world of memes.
8. IF OTHER SHOWS WERE LIKE NARUTO…
Sorry. You clicked this list looking for dank memes appealing to your cool nerd sensibilities, and now you are being reminded of those uncool unfunny nerd-embarassing (yet still super popular) trainwrecks, like The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon. But this is all in the service of Naruto memes, so please forgive our transgression!
The joke here, for those who don’t get it, is that the sequel anime Naruto Shippuden takes place a few years after the original Naruto, and since there’s also a gap in time between Young Sheldon and TBBT, TBBT is being called Young Sheldon Shippuden. Not the deepest joke, but a mildly amusing entry in the “treating things that are not the least bit anime as if they were anime” genre of internet comedy.
7. MADARA COPYPASTA
Copypastas are a type of meme where people copy and paste extremely long and ridiculous blocks of text, posting them in different places to see the reactions (“creepypasta” refers to a popular horror-themed subset of copypastas). The Madara Uchiha copypasta originated in 2013, happened when a user on an anonymous forum asked, “Is there a video game character who is stronger than a Rinne Tensei Madara Uchiha using the Rinnegan and Mangekyou Sharingan with a Susanoo armored Kyuubi?”
This sentence would make no sense to anyone unfamiliar with Naruto, and even for Naruto fans the extreme detail and awkwardness made the post amusing. So naturally, the internet took this and extended the original query into even more longwinded and elaborate copypasta paragraphs, such as the one showcased on the right side of the above image.
6. NARUTO RUN
Even if you didn’t keep up with Naruto, you still might recognize the “Naruto run.” The characters in Naruto all run in a distinctive way, with their chests bent forward and their arms held up behind their back at a 30 degree angle. Thanks to the magic of social media, fans have been organizing “Naruto runs” around the world in real life.
Actual attendance at these events tends to be lower than the huge response their Facebook event pages get, but they do happen, often with attendees in cosplay. They’re funny to watch, and probably fun to participate in as well. They’ve even been used as a bizarre form of political protest, as when a Naruto run was organized outside of Trump Tower in Chicago.
The animation quality in Naruto has both extreme highs and lows. Episode 167 of Naruto Shippuden is… one of those two things. The fight between Naruto and Pain is notable for not looking like any other episode of the series, with extremely distorted art and loose animation. Some will defend its fluidity and experimental style, but for most it’s just terribly ugly and the over-the-top expressiveness too out of character for the usually stoic Pain.
Screencaps of Pain’s convulsing face from that episode make for great reaction images, and have been photoshopped into various memes. These memes often utilize Pain’s line of dialogue from the fight scene, “My pain is greater than yours,” or otherwise they make some sort of joke involving the word “pain.”
4. SASUKE SEES YOU
Sometimes a funny looking screenshot is just a funny looking screenshot. The still frame used in this meme, with Sasuke’s head bent at an odd angle, might look out of context like an example of bad art. Looking at the scene in full motion, however, shows this to just be an in-between frame in a well-animated fight scene. Unlike with the infamous distorted Pain fight, you wouldn’t even notice this weird drawing without freeze-framing.
Once you do, however, it is pretty funny, and made even funnier by the “I can see you!” subtitle. So even if “Sasuke can see you” memes are sometimes dishonestly used as animation quality critique, there’s no shame in laughing at them. Just be aware that most quality animation will look bizarre when you freeze in certain places.
This meme mocks the spotty and unbelievable character development in one of the weaker parts of Naruto. Sasuke Uchiha, Naruto’s pretty-boy rival, became a villain for a good chunk of the series, betraying his village, teaming up with other villains and attempting to murder his former teammates all in pursuit of a single-minded revenge scheme.
And what does Sasuke have to say about all his crimes after being pardoned for them in chapter 699 of the manga? “Yeah… sorry.” The understatement of the century. Maybe you could argue that Sasuke’s return to the good side in the Fourth Shinobi War, the actions which got him pardoned, were enough of an apology that not many words were needed. Still, considering just how bad Sasuke’s crimes were, it’s no wonder this underwritten apology became the subject of such memetic mockery from the fandom.
2. TOBI IS A GOOD BOY
There’s always that one character in every series who’s treated in such a positive light by the fans that you might forget that they’re actually villains. In Naruto, Tobi is one of those characters, though that’s exactly what Masashi Kishimoto intended him to be. When first introduced, he’s a member of the Akatsuki criminal organization, true, but he’s a total goofball. Later in the series, he turns out to actually be a mastermind and a major threat.
One line from the series back in his goofball days, where Zetsu calls him “a good boy,” became something of a catchphrase and a meme among the fandom. The more was revealed of Tobi’s villainy, the more ironic this catchphrase became. Yes, he tries to destroy the whole world. But isn’t he such an adorably good boy while doing it?
“Conspiracy Keanu” is a classic meme that can be adapted to discuss pretty much any subject. All you need is to come up with a mindblower of an idea, attach it to that Bill and Ted picture and then WHOA. This particular “Conspiracy Keanu” meme frames Naruto’s mastery of ninjitsu into a completely new light.
One thing that’s easy to make fun of about Naruto as a character is that, for a ninja, he certainly doesn’t blend in with his surroundings very much, what with that orange jumpsuit and his constant screaming and all. But what if he was actually so good at blending into his surroundings, such a skilled ninja, that nobody noticed… that he’s here in the real world with us? WHOA indeed!
What are your favorite Naruto memes? Let us know in the comments!
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