Letting Naruto Age Was ‘Extraordinary’ For Voice Actress Maile Flanagan
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Letting Naruto Age Was ‘Extraordinary’ For Voice Actress Maile Flanagan

Maile Flanagan didn’t come to “Naruto” an anime fan; indeed, the “Naruto” franchise is the only anime dub on her resume besides the 2003 “Astro Boy” remake. Despite her limited involvement in the industry, she’s helped shape anime’s popularity through her portrayal of the young ninja. In October 2022, she spoke with Crunchyroll about “Naruto” in commemoration of the anime’s 20th anniversary. Asked about what it’s been like following her character’s coming of age, she said:

“What’s extraordinary is that cartoon characters don’t always, or often, hardly ever grow up. As an actor, it’s so great to be able to play those different mindsets, ages and emotions that go along with it.”

Flanagan’s right about cartoon characters. For instance, The Simpsons will always be a five-member nuclear family. Bruce Wayne will never permanently pass on the Batman cowl to one of the Robins. And even in Japanese animation, Ash Ketchum of “Pokémon” has been 10 years old for more than two decades.

Despite all the time that’s passed onscreen and off, Flanagan felt it pass by.

“The 20 year thing is kind of mind-blowing. We used to joke about it, Elizabeth McGlynn and I. I was like ‘Will we do this in 20 years?’ Then it’s like…we are. [McGlynn] is not directing [‘Naruto’] anymore. She directs a lot of stuff, but not [‘Naruto’ anymore]. The other directors, Susie and Ryan, hats off to them, because I think of Suzy as newer, and I’ve been working with her forever. And then I think Ryan is newer and he’s been at the studio 10 years now. There was no sense of time with ‘Naruto.'”