When does Naruto take place? Timeline explored
Naruto is a series that has enjoyed a lot of success over the years, and it has cemented its place in pop culture all over the world, which is why there are always constant debates, discussions, and questions regarding a lot of aspects of Masashi Kishimoto’s most popular work. In that regard, the timeline of the series might be one of the most popular discussions.
This is because Naruto, of course, does not take place in real life. One only has to look at the names of the places, the infrastructure, and so on to know that this story takes place in a fictional world created by the author. However, there are a lot of references to different points and moments in human history that are worth being explored.
Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for the Naruto series.
Establishing the Naruto timeline
It has to be said that Naruto as a whole doesn’t have a clear timeline in terms of what year something takes place in. While the events are often detailed and the world is developed to explain many of the different situations and stories that have led to key plot points, the specific dates of most of these events are unknown.
By the time the manga begins, Konoha is being ruled by the third Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen, in his second period, after the fourth one, Minato Namikaze, died sealing Kurama, the nine-tails demon fox, inside Naruto, his son. Those two facts highlight a lot of different events from the timeline until that point.
For example, main plot points such as Madara Uchiha’s defeat at the hands of Hashirama Senju, his plans for revenge, Obito Uchiha’s loss of his Sharingan (given to Kakashi) and the death of Rin; Minato and Kushina Uzumaki sacrificing themselves to stop Kurama; the Uchiha Clan massacre - all of these different events took place right before the story begins with Naruto’s journey.
Influences for the timeline
As mentioned earlier, there is no specific timeline for the events in the series and it takes place in a fictional world that is 100% created by its author, Masashi Kishimoto. However, as it happens with every single work of fiction, there are several instances where Kishimoto drew inspiration from real life.
The series takes most heavily from Japan from a couple of centuries ago when it comes to the ninjas, especially some of their designs, their weapons, and so on.
However, there is also a major influence from modern times. For example, Kishimoto himself has stated that a lot of elements from Konoha and other places were inspired by Japan in the '80s, which is something that can be shown in things like Naruto and Sasuke’s bedrooms having TV sets.
Kakashi has also been shown using wireless technology earlier in the series, which combines older time periods with stuff that are a lot more modern. This has been highlighted even more so in Boruto, because there are now laptops, screens, online calls, and many other elements that have become mainstays of the series.
Orochimaru’s continuous experiments also highlight the many different influences for Kishimoto’s timeline of the series. The legendary Sannin executes a lot of experiments that couldn’t be feasible if the series took place in Japan many centuries ago and it doesn’t fully connect with the technology available in the '80s or '90s, which is worth pointing out.
This is important because the series, as a whole, has its unique world, with its unique historical background, and a lot of different elements that make it stand out on its own.
Establishing the timeline of the story can be a bit tricky as Kishimoto never truly says when something happened in terms of the dates, but it has to be noted that the series unfolds in a reality that the author created and is not connected in any way to actual human history. It is a series that has its own reality, its own set of historical events, and it combines a lot of historical influences from real life.