Maile Flanagan Knows How Much Naruto Signature Phrase Means To Fans

If you grew up watching "Naruto," or caught up with a few episodes in the original Japanese dub later in life, you will know that Naruto repeats "Dattebayo!" like a mantra. The word translates to "Believe it!" in English, and the anime's English dub features this phrase heavily since it was first introduced during the Chunin Exams arc. "Believe it!" has become a generational phrase for the Uzumakis, as it was initially uttered by Kushina, and then passed on from Naruto to his son, Boruto. While this remains a staple Naruto catchphrase, there's another signature staple phrase that inspires fans to this day.

In one of the episodes of "Naruto," the titular knuckleheaded ninja said the following: "I am a nobody, but I never gave up." This philosophy of never giving up shapes Naruto as a protagonist, as he abides by this mantra throughout his long, eventful arc. In fact, it is dogged determination and persistence that fuel Naruto to fulfill his dream of being the Hokage of the Hidden Leaf Village. Despite undergoing intense loneliness and trauma, Naruto pushed forward to become the respected ninja that he is as an adult.

Maile Flanagan, who has been voicing Naruto in the English dub for over a span of 20 years, recently spoke to Crunchyroll about the power of this signature phrase. "Never give up" is not only easily quotable while being associated with one of Naruto's core strengths but also means a great deal to fans on a personal level. Flanagan explains this in some detail while also revealing how what it means for her personally.

How Naruto Uzumaki became an inspiration

In the Crunchyroll interview linked above, Flanagan talked about the effect "Never give up" had on her and what the phrase truly means to a global fanbase:

"...To never give up" is certainly inspirational. I think it means a lot to people. I do appearances and conventions, and the guy who was helping me out this last week said, 'Okay, I counted four grown men that cried.' I think it's taught me to never give up. I say it so much that maybe it's subliminal."

As described by Flanagan, "Naruto" holds a special place in the hearts of fans, especially those who closely followed Naruto's arc since he was a child. A bittersweet sense of nostalgia is attached to the popular anime series, as countless fans find inspiration in the antics of the titular character. To provide a personal example, this speech never fails to hit me in the feels, as this segment perfectly encapsulates the kind of person Naruto is.

While conversing with Jiraiya, Naruto explains that he will never give up on his friend Sasuke, even if the latter is considered a lost cause by the shinobi world. He goes on to say that he would rather be considered a fool than abandon his friend, and commits to mastering some kind of "incredible jutsu" to save Sasuke, "no matter what." Although Naruto is as knuckleheaded and impatient as it gets, he is also immensely loyal, driven, and does everything in his power to keep his word. And in this context, he does keep his word, as Naruto played a significant role in bringing Sasuke back to the light after he had gone rogue for several years. In short, he never gave up on his friend.

Anything is possible

Flanagan began voicing Naruto when the character was a child. As Naruto aged over the years, his complexities intensified, despite the fact that he preserved some core characteristics that defined him. Currently, Flanagan voices Naruto in "Boruto," wherein the once-quick-tempered ninja has evolved into someone more emotionally mature and grounded. Naruto still engages in the occasional dumb shenanigan, but he has changed a lot over the years, becoming more even-tempered as the current Hokage of the Leaf Village. Naruto's arc is inspirational, to say the least, as he goes from being a boy endlessly mocked and demonized to becoming a heroic shinobi who helped stop the Great Shinobi War.

Flanagan mentions that she had no idea that "Naruto" would become a global sensation over the years, and that its titular character would emerge as a source of inspiration for fans. In the interview linked above, she says that the biggest lesson that "Naruto" taught her was that "anything is possible," as the success enjoyed by the still-running anime series has been unprecedented:

"The series as a whole, that's a whole different deal. I was in the van coming back from a convention last night and I said, 'Well, never in my wildest dreams did I think, my future is gonna be riding in a van to San Jose airport because I'm talking about being like a Japanese ninja.' [laughs] What did it teach me? I don't know, anything's possible?"

As Flanagan brought Naruto's character to life in the English dub, she finds herself emotionally connected to his arc and his growth as a human being. She never envisioned her voice role would span 20 years and counting, which is testimony to the anime's enduring appeal, and that of Naruto Uzumaki. Believe it!