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Why has the ‘Naruto’ 20th anniversary anime been delayed?

The original Naruto we know and love is coming back... Just not so soon.

Young Naruto headband
Screengrab via Studio Pierrot

It seems Naruto fans are not going to be invaded by a fresh wave of nostalgia just yet. On the Japanese version of the official Naruto website, the series’ production committee announced on Aug. 29 that the four brand-new episodes of Naruto, an anime that hasn’t seen additional episodes for over six years — disregarding the Boruto series — are unfortunately, and indefinitely, postponed. The episodes were slated to start airing on Sunday, Sept. 3, with a new episode coming out each week for the whole month.

“Our sincere apologies to all fans who were excited for the broadcast,” the committee wrote, before stating that a new release date is to be announced on the official website and the official social media platforms as soon as it is determined and decided upon. Although there is reason for disappointment, fans should be understanding as the delay comes with good reason.

What’s the reason for the delay?

Naruto new episodes screengrab
Screengrab via Studio Pierrot

It is not a hot take to argue that Japanese animation studios tend to go to extreme lengths to be able to produce certain series and movies on time. It has become common knowledge within the industry that Japanese animators are oftentimes overworked and poorly paid. One of the studios that was under fire in recent years was MAPPA, proving that excellence does not come without cost, and the cost should ideally never be the workers’ well-being. Hence, as fans, we shouldn’t be too mad when learning about delays of this kind. Past news about the work conditions at different animation studios should impel us not to judge these kinds of setbacks too harshly.

What kind of setback was it this time, you ask? Well, the Naruto production team explained in their statement that they were prioritizing the episodes’ quality. Fans have waited for over six years for the knuckleheaded, hyperactive, orange jumpsuit-wearing ninja to return to our screen in all the glory of his younger years. Surely it is better to wait a while longer and have it be worth it, than to have the episodes available soon and for them to not meet fans’ standards and expectations.

According to the production committee, a recap episode for Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, which should highlight the spin-off series’ most memorable moments, is going to air in place of the new Naruto episodes. Part 2 of the Boruto manga, which has also been greenlit for anime adaptation, began coming out on Aug. 21, so there are still things that the franchise’s fans can enjoy in the meantime.

Margarida Bastos
About the author

Margarida Bastos

Margarida is passionate about the intricacies of storytelling, including its ways of expression across different media: films, TV, books, plays, anime, visual novels, video games, podcasts, D&D campaigns... She holds a BA in English with Creative Writing and is halfway through a 2-year MA program in Text Editing / Publishing. She has previously written for Collider and Looper. Her love of storytelling is only second to her love for animals.