For 19-year-old Nur Izzah, a Singapore Polytechnic student, consuming Naruto content is something that she “cannot go a day without” since the start of the year.
“I finished the entire Naruto series in a month,” she said. “I watched 720 episodes in a month, which is 35 episodes a day, 12 hours a day.”
Besides eating, sleeping and breathing Naruto fanfictions and videos, she even tries to live like the main character, Naruto Uzumaki.
“I incorporate him in my life [by] adapting my hobbies to fit Naruto.”
Izzah combines her passion for designing and her love for Naruto.
Video Credit: Nur Izzah
Izzah also said “he” has inspired her to be a better person.
“Whenever I’m facing a bad situation, I will just take the positives and throw out the negatives, which is something Naruto does,” she added.
“I’m always giving up on the littlest things, but they (fictional characters in Naruto) put in so much effort after everything they have been through … [If] they can do it, why can’t I?”
Izzah isn’t the only teenager who’s overzealous about manga heroes.
Goh Xuan Ling, 18, is a Temasek Polytechnic student who’s obsessed with fictional character Reki Kyan from the popular anime SK8 the Infinity. Because of this, her friends always ask her to “go outside and touch grass”.
The phrase “touch grass” is often used, in jest, to encourage people to leave their house to reconnect with the real world. The phrase is popularised by TikTok users during the onset of Covid-19, a period where many people were hopelessly hooked on their screen.
Xuan Ling is part of an online community on Discord, which connects members who share the same interest.
She said she “likes all the characters” from SK8 the Infinity because she finds them “physically good-looking”, but if she has to pick her favourite, it would be Reki.
“I feel like Reki is an extremely relatable character,” she said. “He is a very understanding person and I would want to be friends with him if he were a real-life person.”
Reki also acts as a “comfort character” for Xuan Ling.
“Sometimes I feel misunderstood and I want to be comforted. But people in real life don’t understand how you feel,” she said, adding that that’s when she would turn to Reki.
Similarly, whenever Izzah’s feeling down, she likes to think of Naruto to cheer herself up.
“When I don’t want to talk to anyone, I just imagine that [Naruto is] there talking me out of [my problems],” she said.
Mr Donavan Teo, 36, a student counsellor from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said it’s natural for teenagers to have “more emotions attached to a fictional character” if they “spend more time watching them”.
However, he advises young people to strike a balance. “It’s definitely not a good thing if someone spends 70 per cent of [his/her] time with a fictional character,” he said.
“We need to continue to build relationships and successes in the real world,” Mr Teo said, adding that it’s especially important for teenagers who are “still developing their social interaction skills” to “interact with real people”.
Xuan Ling and Izzah said they do know where to draw the line and continue to have healthy social lives.
“Ultimately, we have to remind ourselves that fictional characters are fictional for a reason,” Xuan Ling said. “They are all created to be likeable.”
“People in real life are definitely not going to be as perfect as fictional characters are,” she added. “If you keep expecting [people] to act like a certain fictional character, it might ruin your personal relationships because you are holding [them] up to unrealistic standards.”