In October 2022, Maile Flanagan spoke with Crunchyroll about all things “Naruto” and, of course, her time voicing the titular anime icon. Speaking specifically on the impact the role has had on her, Flanagan explained that Naruto Uzumaki himself has taught her the importance of never giving up. As she has noticed as well, she’s not the only one that has taken a lot from the character, with fans putting their devotion to him and the show on full display. “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,'” she said of Naruto’s impact on the fandom.
Still, for as beloved as Naruto is and Flanagan is for voicing him, as is the case with many voice actors, she’s not always recognized by fans as his English voice actor. In an interview with Isaiah Hudson on YouTube, she recalled an event where she played a new “Naruto” video game against a young fan, against whom she didn’t stand a chance. After accepting defeat, she bid him farewell and moved on to her “Naruto” panel a room over. Sure enough, the kid and his father were seated in the audience for it, and when Flanagan took the stage, the young “Naruto” fan was in absolute disbelief that she was the one behind Naruto all along.
Maile Flanagan has become an animation legend for her work in the “Naruto” franchise, so it’s good to know that she’s gotten something more out of the experience — even if fans don’t always recognize her at first glance.