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New York Comic-Con 2011
Naruto Shippuden Panel

by Crystalyn Hodgkins,

Viz Media Director of Marketing Candice Uyloan hosted the Naruto Shippūden panel. While waiting for the panel to start, Viz handed out Naruto headbands to the audience. Fans who were in line early for the panel, which was completely packed and very energetic, were able to write questions for voice actress Junko Takeuchi on index cards. Those questions were later asked to Takeuchi.

Uyloan first mentioned that Naruto Shippūden the Movie: Bonds will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on October 25. The movie will also be available on Viz's download-to-own service. NYCC will show a premiere of the film on Saturday.

All the Naruto movies are available now on Hulu and VizAnime in both subbed and dubbed format. The subbed version of Naruto Shippūden the Movie: Bonds will also be available streaming on VizAnime between October 20-23. Naruto box set #9 is coming out in January 2012 on DVD for $49.95, but episodes on that set will be available in October on download-to-own.

The video game Naruto Shipuden Ultimate Ninja Impact will be released on October 18 on PSP for $39.99. Each Naruto game has sold more than 8.5 million copies worldwide. Those who attend the premiere of the Naruto film at NYCC will get a copy of the game.

Uyloan mentioned that Bandai will release new Naruto trading card tins for the holiday season, and new figures of Naruto and Sasuke will be released at that time as well. In addition, Viz mentioned that Naruto volume 53 is available now digitally for $4.99. The print volume will not be released until December. Also, an official character data book will be released in January 2012, which will cover up through manga volume 43.

Uyloan then introduced Junko Takeuchi, the voice actress of Naruto. Attendees helped call Takeuchi to the stage, and she arrived to thunderous applause as she answered the call in Naruto's voice.

Then Viz played a preview clip for the Naruto Shippūden the Movie: Bonds film of Naruto turning into the nine-tailed fox. Viz then asked Takeuchi how she felt when she recorded that clip, and Takeuchi noted that it had been four years since she recorded that scene so she didn't remember much, but said it was an important scene. Takeuchi mentioned it was tiring for her to play the nine-tails, so she thought "oh god, come on, do I have to?"

Viz asked how recording for a movie was different than recording for an episode, and Takeuchi said the time it takes to do the recording is different, but otherwise it is the same.

Fans then requested Takeuchi to act out some phrases from Naruto, such as Naruto's catch phrase (dattebayo!), what Naruto would want to do on his day off (have a date with Sakura), what was the best thing he learned from Kakashi (1,000-year punishment, but more seriously, that those who do not treasure their companions are worse than trash), and what was Naruto's most powerful jutsu (Rasengan).

Next there was a special video greeting from Maile Flanagan, the English voice actress for Naruto. Flanagan asked Takeuchi some questions. When asked how she identifies with Naruto, Takeuchi said she is random and free spirited like Naruto, and she likes ramen, but probably not as much as Naruto.

Then there were some techical difficulties, and during that time Takeuchi answered some questions from the audience. When asked which scene influenced her the most, she said it was the scene where Jiraya is singing by a lake. When asked what she would do if she were Naruto for a day, she said she would use the shadow clone jutsu to have the clones clean her house, take trips around the world, visit her parents, and continue working.

The technical difficulties were then fixed, and the video message from Flanagan then asked Takeuchi if it was hard to change from the younger Naruto to the older Naruto. Takeuchi responded that it was hard, and she had to record the first episode after the time skip only one week after playing Naruto before the time skip, and it was the first time she voiced a boy adolescent, so she had to study it a lot to get it right. She added that she is still honing her craft.

Flanagan asked what Takeuchi thinks of her performance, and Takeuchi responded that she is not good at critiquing others, but she thinks that Flanagan's way of portraying Naruto is her way, and Takeuchi's way is her way, and as long as they both do their best work, that would be enough.

Flanagan mentioned that the big fight between Naruto and Sasuke was one of her favorite moments, and Takeuchi said she didn't like the scene much because it was painful for her because that was when the two characters split ways.

Viz then began to ask questions from the index cards from the audience. They asked how Takeuchi came up with the voice for Naruto, and Takeuchi responded that when she first got the script, she noticed there were exclamation points at the end of every line of dialogue for Naruto, and she first thought, "what a loud-mouthed brat!"

When asked how often people recognize her voice when doing daily chores like going grocery shopping, Takeuchi responded that even if it was embarrassing to admit, she loves eating hamburgers, and a couple times a year the person at the counter where she eats will look at her and ask: "Naruto?"

Viz then hosted a prize giveaway. All audience members dressed in Naruto-related cosplay came to the front of the room and Takeuchi picked her favorite two (after she immediately asked anyone dressed as an Akatsuki member to sit down because she couldn't pick them as a favorite on principle). Takeuchi picked a Kabuto and a Tsunade cosplayer, adding that while Kabuto was in Akatsuki, he also wasn't always in Akatsuki and she liked the darker side of Kabuto. And with that, the audience again gave Takeuchi a huge round of applause, and the panel was over.

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