To catch up with Naruto, I recently spent a few hours watching the marathon with Son. It's actually quite an interesting story. Naruto appears to have whiskers perhaps because his father, the Fourth Hokage, sealed the spirit of a Nine-Tailed Fox demon in him, at least that's what I think. Most of the fighting in the show involve magic, not the typical ninja martial arts. I detected some resemblance to Harry Potter, as one of evil character was able to put himself into various bodily shell to make him harder to eradicate.
I supplemented the info gaps with Wikipedia and library books. I tried to get Son to read more and watch less by borrowing a Naruto graphic novel for him. He didn't read much but I ended up reading the whole book myself.
Perhaps subconsciously I tried to do for my son what my father did for me. To get me know more Chinese, for years my father got me my weekly supply of Oriental Heroes graphic novels. The book series was actually called 龍虎門, which is nothing close to Oriental Heroes, just something that's lost in translation. Reading 龍虎門 helped me learn a lot of Chinese. Although the story is mostly understood just by looking at the pictures, there are times knowing the key words help, so I actually looked them up in Chinese-English dictionaries.
In case you are curious, here are the meanings of the Japanese words I mentioned:
- jitsu - magical art
- chunin - some kind of exams ninjas take to advance to the next level
- hokage - village leader
- chakra - perhaps what the Chinese call qi (氣), some kind of internal energy that when properly channeled, can come outside as a ball of energy... hey it's a fantasy cartoon, don't forget.