In the world of anime, there are three shows that stand as unbreakable pillars of the genre. They are, in no particular order, One Piece, Bleach, and Naruto, known as the “Big Three Shounen.” These three shows have transcended the Japanese anime landscape and have become staples in not only mainstream media, but internet culture as a whole. No other show is a better example of this than Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, which tells the story of a young ninja on the road to becoming the greatest ninja warrior ever, the Hokage of the Hidden Leaf Village.
The internet understands the influence and importance of the show, and, as a result, has created just as important and influential memes to accompany it. The most popular of them all has to be the “Naruto Run,” where people run just like the characters in the show do, with their arms behind their backs and their heads down, making sure they get optimal running aerodynamics. These memes showcase the wide variety of people, from all kinds of backgrounds, who get the importance of such an influential piece of anime pop culture.
10. The Area 51 Raid
The date was September 20th, 2019. The sky was clear, the sun was bright and the internet decided to raid Area 51 in search of aliens. An event that was broadcast originally on Facebook, the aptly named, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” mission brought thousands—in actuality, it was only several dozen—of internet and anime fans to the United States Air Force facility within the Nevada Test and Training Range where they went in search of alien cheeks.
One of the main aspects of the raid? The use of the “Naruto Run” as the primary method for searching. The result was several hundred pictures and videos of fans running, all looking for the secrets that the base hid, and it eventually garnered national news attention. Needless to say, the memes were quite strong that day.
9. The “Main Quest”
One of the most popular memes to come out of the historic Area 51 raid is this one, featuring a reporter at the Test and Training Range reporting to the camera while a raid member “Naruto Runs” right past him. This one in particular hits close to home, especially for any RPG gamer. More than ever in recent games like The Witcher 3, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Cyberpunk 2077, one of the main game designs is the ability for the player to choose exactly what plot lines they want to follow and when they want to do them.
This means that, if the player would rather do side missions instead of the main questline, they are more than welcome to. Sometimes, those missions are way more fun too, allowing the player to explore more of the worldbuilding that the game creators took the time to develop. Sometimes, they are just much more intriguing, especially in comparison to another trailing mission in the main storyline.
8. Dodging Bullets
Part of being a ninja means being able to have incredibly fast reflexes, reflexes that allow someone to move far faster than the average person. Naruto running is no different, as its shape is supposed to allow a person to move far faster by reducing wind resistance. Less resistance equals greater speed.
However, this meme does a great job summarizing the harsh reality that may come with the territory: bullets. Maybe back in Naruto’s village, it would be easier to dodge shuriken thanks to intensive training and practice, but, when introducing bullets into the formula, things probably wouldn’t work out as planned.
7. Running Late
It’s natural to oversleep. At one point or another, everyone has been in this situation: the alarm clock goes off for the hundredth time, and, upon rolling over to check it, the realization of needing to be in school in a few minutes begins to dawn. What’s the fastest way of getting to class then, knowing there are only 20 seconds left to get there? The Naruto run, obviously.
6. Free WiFi
Finding free WiFi not as easy as it looks. However, when stumbling into the right coffee shop that has it, it is normally packed to the brim with people who are ready to get work done with some free internet.
The sad part is when free WiFi networks have passwords, and, most likely, those looking for a free spot to browse their favorite sites are not going to stick around for long: hence this quality meme of the Area 51 Naruto Running getting out of there before his coffee gets cold.
5. Shredded Cheese
This meme is relatively self-explanatory, but it gets brownie points for its simple humor. Starring the internet legend of the “Naruto Runner” himself, the man has one run-in with the shredder before he is completely split apart. Maybe he used the Shadow Clone Jutsu? Either way, Naruto would be proud.
4. Boruto Reviews
In 2015, the sequel to Naruto released. Entitled Boruto, it chronicles the escapades and adventures of Naruto’s son as he attempts to fill the shoes of his father, who had ascended to the role of Hokage. The show features a whole new cast of characters, as well as appearances from characters from the original show, now fully grown up.
However, as the meme suggests, Boruto released to mixed reviews, with many fans of the original series, saying that the new show lacked the charm that Naruto had. Despite the mixed reviews, the show is still running strong, coming up soon on its 200th episode.
3. Jurassic Park Area 51 Raid
Because the Area 51 Naruto runner is just too good, many fans continually made meme after meme highlighting his five seconds of fame on national television. This includes this Jurassic Park inspired meme with Jeff Goldblum, who, like many people who watched the raid unfold, did not think fans would seriously get onto the testing site.
2. Lord Of The Rings
In Naruto: Shippuden, the follow-up series to Naruto, there is an arc near the end of the show known as The Fourth Great Ninja War in which the allied ninja forces must ban together to defeat Madara Uchiha, the arc’s big bad. In terms of epicness, it falls right in line with another pop-culture war, and, more specifically, the legendary Battle of Helms Deep from Lord of the Rings.
Appropriately, this meme combines the epicness of both: the intensity of war, the fight for justice, and Naruto running. Leave it to King Théoden to announce the beginning of an epic battle, one where soldiers must fight off a horde of enemy ninja.
Guarding Area 51 likely isn’t all that stressful, as the clandestine military site is fairly isolated, and most visitors can be seen coming from miles away. That said, this internet gag likely caused them a ton of headaches, and this Spongebob meme probably encapsulates what a lot of them were thinking that day.
However, it could be that some of these guards are accustomed to seeing strange, alien phenomena within the site. If that’s the case, then a group of twenty-somethings re-enacting anime outside the base probably wouldn’t be all that weird.