On Friday, September 29 from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., hundreds of students gathered on the 6500 block of Del Playa drive to run like ninjas from the popular anime “Naruto.” A Naruto-run involves sprinting with your head thrust forwards and your arms raised high behind your back. Of the many ninjas that attended the Naruto-run event, a great majority were fans of the well known series who came out to show support. Similarly, a lot of curious students simply looking for something to do decided to join the event.
The “Run like Naruto down Del Playa Drive” event page was created on Facebook by Liza Benabbas. From a glance, the Naruto-run seemed to be a whimsical opportunity for any anime or non-anime enthusiasts to show off their ninja speed. Indeed, for many people their reason for going was nothing more than for the fun of it. With runs popping up everywhere, from UCSD to NYU, is there a larger theme behind it all?
The term “Naruto-run” began appearing in social media as a way for fans to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the Naruto series by running like the characters in it. Naruto began with the 1999 manga series, which was soon followed by an anime in 2002. The show aired for about fifteen years until coming to a close on March 17, 2017. Though the long-running anime has ended, the fanbase continues to support the future of Naruto in lieu of a new spinoff series, “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations.”
Numerous students on campus take part in organizations revolving around shared interests. The positive effect of having people congregate together with others that share similar views, ideologies, and beliefs is that it brings them closer within the community. The Naruto-run brought like-minded students together to connect with one another, either through their fandom or by random interactions.
I talked to several UCSB students, all of whom preferred to remain anonymous, to figure out what all the excitement was about. UCSB student Michael said, “I’ve basically grown up with the show. I’m glad to see a lot of other Naruto fans out here.” Another Naruto fan named Michelle commented, “Just showing off my Naruto pride. I crushed on Itachi Uchiha a lot when I was younger. I still kind of do.” Michelle wore the Akatsuki cloud cloak over her outfit. A third student, Daniel, said, “Naruto has been there for me as a kid. The show was my childhood. I’m sad the series ended but there is going to be a new one based off of Naruto.” Daniel worn a zipped-up hoodie over a T-shirt during the event.
While the number of Naruto Run participants started to dwindle after the first hour and a half, groups of dedicated ninjas continued to run down Del Playa drive during ten minute intervals. While there may be no deeper significance, the moment when everyone ran like Naruto was sweet. Leaning forward and with arms thrust behind them, the moment brought a lot of people closer. It doesn’t matter how distant people may feel about each other when they are sprinting and yelling together. When everyone bands into a crowd, they do so with the comfort of being with others.