Pairing: Inuzuka Kiba/Uzumaki Naruto
Spoilers: Anime up to episode 184; manga up to chapter 282
(an Inuzuka Kiba/Uzumaki Naruto essay)
Naruto, the Series
Naruto is a manga series about ninja – but there’s far more to it than just that. The story centres around three main characters, Haruno Sakura, Uchiha Sasuke, and Uzumaki Naruto – and their sensei, Hatake Kakashi – who are, at the beginning of the series, just about to become ninja.
But the strength of the series is not just in the focal characters, but also in the supporting cast – of which Inuzuka Kiba is a part.
Naruto’s story probably begins with the Kyuubi (a demon fox, with nine tails and incredible power), who attacked Konoha on the day that Naruto was born – it was eventually defeated by the Fourth Hokage, but at the cost of both his own life, and the majority of Naruto’s childhood, because the Fourth Hokage died sealing the soul of the Kyuubi inside a newborn baby: Naruto.
Consequently, Naruto didn’t have many friends when he was growing up – those who were there on the day of the Kyuubi’s sealing were forbidden to tell their children, but the general attitude towards Naruto didn’t change, and that rubbed off on Naruto’s classmates. It didn’t help, of course, that he was incredibly loud, always dressed in bright orange, seemingly hopeless at ninja skills, and often declared that he was going to become Hokage one day.
This began to change when he was placed in Team 7 with Sasuke and Sakura, and soon enough, he found himself surrounded by people who both accepted and cared for him, and gave him the title “Konoha’s number one hyperactive and most unpredictable ninja”.
Kiba’s past, considering that he is a much more minor character, has yet to be gone into in much detail, but there is still a lot that we can know about him – for one, Kiba, like Naruto, is loud-mouthed, rude, and a show-off.
Unlike many of the characters in the series, he seems to have had no major tragedies in his life. He is part of a large family of ninja, who are distinguished by both the red tattoos on their cheeks, and the nin-dog partners that they have – Kiba’s partner is a (usually) white puppy called Akamaru.
He also has an older sister called Hana, who is a vet, and cannot sew – as we will later see.
Kiba and Naruto
KibaNaru in Pre-Time Jump Canon
We get to see Kiba and Naruto’s first meeting in episode 44, through a series of flashbacks during their fight in the preliminaries of the Chuunin Exam – Kiba is sleeping, while his class is practicing the henge (transform) technique, when he is woken by his classmates, who are laughing at Naruto’s attempt to transform into the Third Hokage. Kiba, when he sees it for himself, says, “Is this for real? You’ve been in the Academy for three years, and you still can’t transform properly?”, and Naruto yells back that he’ll be the real Hokage one day.
Okay, so perhaps it’s not the greatest basis for a relationship, but later on, we see them skiving off Iruka’s lessons together, in detention together, and skiving detention together. Though it is unclear whether or not Kiba and Naruto are at this point, actually friends, is never specified (and it seems doubtful from the way Kiba speaks to Naruto at the Chuunin Exams that they are), they do seem to be – along with Chouji and Shikamaru – part of an almost-clique in the Academy.
NARUTO: If you compete with me over the title of Hokage, you’re going to become the underdog.
~ From their fight in the preliminaries of the Chuunin Exam (episode 44)
This is the first implication we get that Kiba is going to be one of Naruto’s competitors for the Hokage title, though he seems to say it more as bait for Naruto, than as a genuine threat. However, the more significant (KibaNaru-wise) result of this exchange is that it is the first time that Kiba sees Naruto’s determination to reach his goal – granted, that determination grates on his nerves a little, but later on, when Kiba loses, we begin to see that he no longer resents Naruto quite so much, and this is certainly a part of that change.
And the fact that Kiba is coming to respect – and maybe even care for – Naruto, is shown most clearly during Naruto’s fight with Neji. Kiba, in the stands, says, “You can’t get out of this with a fart this time. [Neji] has “it”. Avoid close combat. Does Naruto understand that?” which implies that he’s worried about Naruto. However, shortly afterwards, he hears two Jounin talking about how Naruto stands no chance against Neji, and he immediately changes his tune – he smiles smugly, and thinks to himself, “You’ll be surprised if you underestimate him.”
KibaNaru in the Fillers
The filler episodes in the anime, while still an annoyance, become slightly less irritating to KibaNaru shippers, simply because of the sheer amount of interaction we get to see between the two them – Tsunade seems to delight in throwing them into mix-and-match teams together, usually with Hinata as their third member.
Over the course of their various missions together, Kiba expresses his desire to help Naruto find Sasuke, and Naruto admits (with no small amount of terror), that he also respects Kiba. We see clips like these two, and hear exchanges like this one:
NARUTO: Come to think of it…
KIBA: If we paid more attention to that, we might become a better team.
NARUTO: I got it.
~ episode 176
And best of all, neither characters are made wildly OOC (ie. They still bicker all the time).
The most Kiba-and-Naruto-centric episode in the fillers, though, is probably episode 184, where Akamaru becomes infected with a virus, and Naruto is told by Tsunade to dogsit both Kiba and his partner – which Naruto takes to mean that he should start stalking Kiba.
Soon enough, though, he gets discovered, when Akamaru bites him, taking a large chunk out of his trousers. Kiba comes outside, and the following conversation ensues:
KIBA: Rather, what are you doing in someone else’s garden?
NARUTO: U-uh… Uh…
KIBA: Anyways, come in. I have to take responsibility as a pet owner, after all.
Inside, Naruto says to Kiba, “Seriously! There’s no way that I should be bitten by a comrade from the same village! Have you been properly disciplining him, Kiba?” and Kiba makes a sad face – in a rare moment of clarity, Naruto seems to realise that that was perhaps not the most tactful thing he could have said. Luckily (or not-so-luckily) they are then distracted by Hana’s disastrous attempt at sewing up the hole in Naruto’s beloved orange jumpsuit. Kiba looks horrified, and Naruto merely sweatdrops, before Naruto goes off to see is Sakura will help him to fix them properly.
Of course, while Naruto is gone, a group of ANBU come and take Akamaru into custody. Kiba then goes to see Tsunade, only to overhear this conversation between her and Naruto:
TSUNADE: The culprit from last night’s incident was Akamaru. The evidence has been gathered. Under the current situation, this had to be done. Right now, the medical team is gathered and is desperately working around the clock to find a way to save Akamaru. Don’t panic!
NARUTO: If that doesn’t work, what will happen to Akamaru?
TSUNADE: If that happens, we will have no choice but to kill Akamaru.
Kiba, as could be expected, promptly kidnaps Akamaru, and runs away with him. Naruto follows, in order to warn Kiba that a retrieval group is coming after him, but Kiba is at this point unwilling to believe that Naruto hasn’t come to kill Akamaru. In fact, they spend so long arguing over the situation, that eventually the retrieval team – headed by Hana – manage to track them down. There follows a long fight scene, wherein Kiba is incredibly stubborn, and Akamaru suddenly becomes enormous, and attacks Kiba. The whole situation escalates to the point where we are struck by the look on Naruto’s face when he thinks that Kiba has died – he hasn’t, though, and the episode finishes with Akamaru finally being cured.
KibaNaru in Post-Time Jump Canon
Kiba and Naruto have only met once so far in the post-time jump manga, so there’s not really much to put here, except for their brief reunion, where Naruto utterly fails to recognize Shino, but can identify Kiba on the spot – which irritates Shino to no end. Make of that what you will.
But Why KibaNaru?
Because it makes a strange amount of sense, when you think about it – they have similar interests and attitudes, and though they argue a lot, they still manage to get along and work together when it really matters. The bizarre rivalry between them is fun to work with, as are the animal connections that they both have – Kiba’s to dogs, and Naruto’s to foxes.
Overall, they’re interesting and explosive, and great friends – what more could you want?
KibaNaru in Fanon
They Say It’s Warm by candestroy
Simple Addition by FlamesEmbrace
Revealing A Kitsune by Kanemoshi
Restricted by Nozama
A Childish Word by Sunfreak
30 Kisses: Puppy Love and Animal Instincts by TheArchives