Naruto Uzumaki (うずまき ナルトUzumaki Naruto?) is the primary protagonist of the Naruto series. He was the first character created by Kishimoto during the conception of the series. In the series, Naruto has ambitions of becoming Hokage, the leader of Konohagakure. Because he is the host of the nine-tailed demon fox, a malevolent creature that attacked Konoha, he is ostracized by the other villagers. He compensates for this with his cheerful and boisterous personality, and over the course of the series, manages to befriend many foreign and Konoha ninja. He develops an especially close relationship with Sasuke Uchiha and deep caring affection for Sakura Haruno, two of his fellow ninja in Team 7. Naruto's seiyū in the original Japanese anime is Junko Takeuchi, and he is voiced by Maile Flanagan in the English adaptation.
Shortly after Naruto was born, his father, the Fourth Hokage, sealed the dangerous Nine-Tailed Demon Fox within Naruto's body at the cost of his own life, leaving Naruto without a family. As a result of him being the demon fox's host, the villagers of Konoha hold a strong animosity for Naruto. Thus, he lacked a source of love or attention during his early childhood. Since his childhood, Naruto has commonly made jokes to attract attention. Desiring what he lacks in his early life, Naruto dreams of becoming Hokage, the village's leader, hoping that it will bring him the villagers' recognition and respect. In an attempt to become a ninja, Naruto is horrified to learn that the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox is sealed inside him, but finds acceptance from his teacher Iruka Umino, whom he views as a father. After learning the powerful moveShadow Clone Technique, which creates physical copies of the user, Naruto becomes a ninja. He joins the ninja group Team 7 under the leadership of Kakashi Hatake, where Naruto gains the friends he lacked during his childhood. He forms bonds with his two teammates: Sasuke Uchiha, who likens his rivalry to brotherhood and Sakura Haruno, who he has a crush on and is commited to anything for her happiness.
While going through an exam to improve his ninja rank, Naruto meets the legendary ninja Jiraiya and learns how to summon toads to aid him in battle as well as control part of the Fox's chakra. He later learns the Rasengan–a concentrated orb of spiraling chakra capable of grinding into whatever it touches–The exams are interrupted as a result of the invasion of Konohagakure, by the criminal Orochimaru and Sunagakure. Shortly afterward, Naruto discovers Akatsuki, a fictional criminal organization that seeks to extract the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox from his body. Though Jiraiya drives them off during this first meeting, Akatsuki's interactions with Naruto become a central conflict in Part II. When Sasuke leaves the village to join Orochimaru's forces, Naruto becomes part of a rescue team to retrieve him. Naruto and Sasuke ultimately have a one-on-one battle, though neither can convince himself to finish off the other. The two go their separate ways, but Naruto does not give up on Sasuke, leaving Konoha together with Jiraiya for two-and-a-half years of training to prepare himself for the next time he meets Sasuke.
Upon his return to Konoha in Part II, Naruto begins to deal more actively with the Akatsuki threat. He first saves Gaara, another host of a tailed beast, from Akatsuki's clutches, and later proves instrumental in the downfall of the Akatsuki member Kakuzu. In order to fight them, Naruto trains with Kakashi to infuse the Rasengan with his own wind element chakra, resulting in the creation of a powerful technique named Wind Style: Rasen-Shuriken (風遁・螺旋手裏剣Fūton: Rasenshuriken?), which damages anything it impacts on the cellular level. The Fox's influence over him also expands to the point that he begins to lose his rationality as more chakra in the form of tails appears. Still, Naruto dedicates himself to find and retrieve Sasuke. After learning that Jiraiya has been killed by the Akatsuki leader, Pain, Naruto trains to learn Senjutsu, a power-enhancing ability derived from frogs and involving the gathering of natural energy, for a future possible encounter. When they finally face off, he defeats Pain and convinces him to leave Akatsuki afterwards. Once learning of Sasuke's past and role within Akatsuki, Naruto decides to confront Sasuke in battle that may end in both of their deaths if he is unable to save him. In order to prepare he takes full control of the Fox's powers with help from the soul of his mother Kushina Uzumaki that has been within the seal. Upon learning that all his comrades are battling Akatsuki's army to protect him, Naruto goes to join them alongside Killer Bee, another host of a tailed beast.