Hello, everyone, this will be a new post in the things you should know series. Today I will be talking about why Naruto was taken off Disney and why Disney held on to the rights for so long before giving it to Cartoon Network.
For anyone that is old enough probably a junior or senior in high school or a college student if you followed anime on TV, you knew Disney got the rights to Naruto in 2008.
It came on Disney there extended cable channel at nine o’clock pm. This was before it came on cartoon network. The series aired the first six seasons from that first year up to about near the end of 2010.
They stopped the series before the Pain Arc. Keep in mind this was the English Dub so it was behind the Japanese series and it was censored.
So why did they stop it? They stopped it because of where Naruto was going and the themes it was representing.
It all began with the Jiraiya, Sasuke, Itachi Arc. Though these themes were prevalent early on in even part one they were not focused on as much. What are the themes explored? Racism, genocide, terrorism, corrupt government, hatred, and war.
Season six started to delve deeper into how governments treated its people in the series. Showing the consequences of decisions for the betterment of a society even through immoral means can create terrorists or make people do terrible things.
It also dealt with genocide and discrimination. We know in this arc it was the beginning of the seeds being sown for these themes throughout the rest of the series. Basically, Naruto was becoming more mature but at the time Disney didn’t mind airing that arc.
When Disney bought the rights to Shippuden the Japanese version was just getting to the Pain Arc. Naruto was popular in the U.S. and had the same recognizability even with mainstream people like DBZ did.
Thanks to part one airing on Cartoon Network both on Toonami and by itself at an early time. So it made sense that Disney wanted to cash in.
They probably had no idea where the series was going and thought there censorship could handle it. We know Disney has always had that image in everything it does as kid friendly around the world. The majority of their programs reflect that. So it became an issue when Naruto started to get into these themes about war and so on.
The themes are not for kids at all, and even though Naruto is fiction and shonen it touches on some real-life themes which I will get into.
I live in America and we all know how the issue of terrorism is a touchy topic. Anyone that watched or read knows this is a theme Naruto explores.
During the Pain Arc, we see the threat of Akatsuki a terrorist organization in the series become a legitimate threat when Pain attacks the Leaf village. They were always a threat but most of the villages didn’t take them seriously.
The leaf village is a powerful state in the Naruto world it’s symbolic. It was the first ninja village. It had two of the most powerful clans in the Shinobi world. It brokered peace with the other clans and created a system of government that other nations and villages wanted to emulate. Even though we learn this later in the series. We already know the Leaf Village is extremely powerful and influential.
We also know the Land Of Fire sits at the top. There are hints and things shown early in part one and even early part two. Basically, the leaf village is like America though it is also similar to other powerful nations throughout history.
So when Pain attacks and destroys the village it is a significant event. Though that’s not the problem for airing the arc and later arcs. The problem is Pains motivations. From season six to seven and continuing on we learn the problem for all the cause of suffering in the ninja world. The Leaf Village is a key symbol for this.
Pain became a terrorist because of what happened to him and many others. The Leaf Village and other powerful nations were fighting each other in a war. The smaller villages and countries were caught in the middle.
They had to pick sides or risk being wiped out. In most instances, they were collateral and wiped out for resources or whatever the other powerful villages wanted the reason to be.This was also the case for those who were neutral.
Pain and many other people’s families were killed in these conflicts. The Leaf Village just like many others were responsible but it really culminates when Hanzo of the Hidden Rain kills Yahiko Pain is childhood friend trying to wipe all of them out.
The Akatsuki were good at this point and just wanted to bring peace. However, Danzo
who was one of the leaders of the Leaf Village thought they were a threat and manipulated Hanzo into killing them. So the Leaf Village could have leverage in the region. He really wanted to weaken the rain.
We all know Pain survived, but the loss became too much and he thought of a new plan. He eventually killed Hanzo and also knew of what the Leaf did to his village and the surrounding region. He wanted revenge. Plus his plan to bring peace to the world was to get the tailed beasts and make a super weapon that would cause great destruction and then there would be peace for a while.
Pain feels justified in what he did. You see where he is coming from and why he does what he does he is a sympathetic villain. He is a broken man that has seen a lot of death and his loved ones killed. He has lost all faith in humanity.
He knows how all the systems of government work including his own nation and village and hates the corruption and evil that is prevalent.
The truth is the Leaf Village and other powers that be to protect themselves and keep their power used people and groups of people. They killed those who disagreed or posed a threat. They stole resources and other valuable things.
They want their nation and villages to prosper. They want power and control. Things that are very human and affect us even in our reality. They all have blood on their hands.
This compels Pain to do his terroristic acts. He wipes out the Leaf village which is a symbol of power and what once represented progress in the ninja world.
Meanwhile during all this in season six and past the Pain arc we learn of what was going on inside the Leaf Village. We learn there is a hierarchy among the clans. This affects who has a say in the village. The Uchiha are feared because of their power.
This causes people not to trust them and is also perpetuated by other clans that don’t like them because of their past family history. The Uchiha though powerful have little influence in how the village is run. They’re seen as the lap dogs who protect it.
The constant discrimination makes them bitter. They want to do an uprising so Danzo and the elders decide to have them killed. Using an Uchiha that is loyal to the village they get him to wipe out an entire clan. Pretty much it is mass genocide and you only have one survivor.
Sasuke decides to kill his brother who is responsible and the truth of what those in power did is revealed to him. After learning that his brother is hand was forced he chooses to become a terrorist.
I could go on and on but I think some of what I covered is enough to get my point across which I will do now.
So why is all this important in regard to Disney?
Those themes are prevalent even in our world and societies. Some take a few varied forms but they are there.
If you have studied world history past and present. Then you know some of the things world governments and powers have done. You can see the problem nations have fought and other countries have been caught in between.
Thousands to millions of people have died in these conflicts and world powers have enslaved or taken other countries wealth and resources. There have been mass genocides several times throughout history. Some similar to what happened to the Uchiha with innocent people suffering.
People have killed each other because of hatred and some nations still perpetuate it. Even our current modern governments do some shady things some for the good of the country and sometimes not.
Theses things have happened to create terrorists and made good people do bad things. It’s part of our history and though things are getting better some cycles still repeat.
Naruto explores things like this even though it is fiction. This causes quite a problem for Disney. Now you can say young people don’t care. However, Disney is target audience is not just older teens.
They didn’t want problems arising from continuing to air Naruto. The Pain Arc makes you have sympathy for a terrorist. The series presents ideas that are not black and white. Our world is not black and white with evil and good changing depending on the situation and the reasons why.
This is something I believe they didn’t want their audience to confront or ponder or god forbid ask their parents about. The show was airing at nine o’clock pm prime time at night. Young kids were going to see it.
Disney has a reputation to uphold so they canned it. They held onto the license because they thought the story might change but it didn’t. So they eventually gave it to Cartoon Network. Which is a more liberal and risky channel cartoon wise.
Their solution was to put it on Toonami at midnight. So parents can’t complain and those that want to watch it can watch it.
I really believe this is why Naruto was canceled. Disney never gave an official reason why they canned it but it’s obvious. That ends it for my post till next time.