Naruto remake by MrBeast teased, but is the episode cost for a reboot realistic for Jimmy Donaldson?

MrBeast Naruto
MrBeast may be a rich YouTube but the cost of making an anime season in 2022 is higher than he’s been told. Pic credit: Jimmy Donaldson/Studio Pierrot

A Naruto remake or reboot is being teased by Jimmy Donaldson aka MrBeast, who said it was a “deal” after hearing a rough estimate for the cost of a Naruto remake that re-animates the first season without filler episodes.

It all started when the new YouTube video Road Of Naruto was released in order to celebrate the Naruto anime’s 20th anniversary. The 10-minute video from Studio Pierrot re-animated iconic moments from the anime TV series with higher-quality scenes created by a variety of animators and artists.

The Road Of Naruto PV trailer generated many rumors that a full Naruto remake might be announced soon. Anime news leaker Jaymes Hanson addressed such rumors by pointing out, “Why does Twitter keep assuming there’s a Naruto Remake? Commemorative Specials happen all the time. Nothing indicates a full anime remake. … I don’t think they would have a justification to do it. Unless it’s like the One Piece OVA route”

Regardless, when popular Anitwitter news leaker Shonenleaks posted the video, MrBeast asked, “How much do I have to pay to get every episode like this?”

In response, one Twitter user called Leonidus1989 attempted to give an answer. He claimed that the original Naruto cost around $95,000 per episode, so if the Naruto remake had a higher animation quality similar to Attack On Titan Season 4 it could cost $150,000 per episode.

Assuming that the Naruto remake removed “all the filler and redundant moments”, Leonidus1989 argues that a higher-quality reboot could be around 60 episodes for Naruto Season 1. As such, he estimated that the total cost of the Naruto reboot for a single season would be roughly $9 million.

Upon hearing this price tag, MrBeast simply replied, “Deal.”

How many Naruto filler episodes are there, really?

Leonidus1989 estimated that Naruto Season 1 would be only 60 episodes. He extrapolated that number by removing so-called Naruto filler episodes, which is anime original content that Studio Pierrot created that wasn’t part of the original Naruto manga.

The original Naruto anime was broadcasted from 2002 through 2007 and had 220 episodes. While the first half was a mix of Naruto canon and episodes that expanded the manga’s story with original content, starting with Naruto Episode 136 the anime became mostly filler.

Still, only 90 episodes out of 220 were completely filler episodes, which leaves 130 episodes. If the story were to be condensed to focus on only the best parts then it’s conceivable that the Naruto remake Season 1 could be only 60 episodes.

But the story adaptation pacing would certainly be optimal if the Naruto remake project was broken up into multiple seasons. However, if a Naruto Season 2 remake were made that’d double the cost, so we’ll just run with 60 episodes for analyzing the projected cost.

Art for the Naruto 20th anniversary. Pic credit: Studio Pierrot

How much would a Naruto reboot episode really cost per season?

The American YouTuber channel is well-known for giving out large cash prizes. With tens of millions of subscribers, MrBeast certainly generates enough ad revenue as one of the top highest-paid YouTubers. MrBeast’s net worth is estimated at $25 million so it’s likely he could afford to foot the bill for only part of making the Naruto remake.

Unfortunately, the $9 million price might be an underestimate based on today’s costs in the anime industry. Experts do indeed estimate that back in the day Naruto Shippuden episodes cost north of $90,000 per episode, but you have to keep in mind that all 21 seasons aired from 2007 through 2017. Since then inflation has greatly increased, even in Japan where consumer prices have risen at the fastest pace since 2014.

The projected $150,000 per episode cost as estimated by Leonidus1989 is definitely lowballing. Leonidus1989 claimed that was the cost per episode for (presumably WIT Studio’s) Attack On Titan, but in actuality, each Shingeki no Kyojin Season 4 episode costs Studio MAPPA around $300,000 to $350,000 USD (or ¥35 to ¥40 million yen), which means that 12 episodes cost around $3.6 to $4.2 million USD.

(To be fair to Leonidus1989, the average budget per season of Attack On Titan was reported in the past as being at least $5 million dollars, which indeed meant that WiT Studio spent at least $150,000 USD per episode if not higher. But we’re trying to roughly estimate the actual cost of a high-quality Naruto remake in current dollars.)

To put these numbers in perspective, even the recent Dropkick on My Devil! Season 4 crowdfunding goal is around ¥300 million yen (approximately $2.072 million USD) for 12 episodes. That comes out to be ¥30 million yen (approximately $207,200 USD) per episode. The Dropkick on My Devil! anime TV series is not exactly an example of stellar, high-action anime, but the required cost is still higher than the previous estimate of $150k per episode.

To understand just how much the cost has increased over time, back in 2011 Crunchyroll News reported that a 30-minute episode of a TV anime in 2010 cost about ¥11,000,000 yen (about $145,214 USD at the October 2011 currency exchange rate).

By 2015, Anime News Network reported that CGI artist Masamune Sakaki (his recent credits include 3D work on Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation) was claiming that an average 13-episode anime season cost around ¥250 million yen (or $2 million).

Back then a producer estimated ¥500 million yen (or $4 million USD) for 2 cours composed of 24 episodes. Veteran animator Shinji Takamatsu (Gintama, Mobile Suit Gundam series, School Rumble, Nanbaka) claimed ¥150 to ¥200 million yen ($1.2 to $1.6 million USD) per season.

(Keep in mind these numbers are as originally reported back in 2015. They have not been adjusted for inflation or for changes in the currency exchange rate between the US dollar and the Japanese yen.)

Art for the Naruto 20th anniversary. Pic credit: Studio Pierrot

Let’s assume for a moment that a Naruto Season 1 remake without fillers is only 60 episodes. If we match the estimated per-episode cost of $350,00 for Attack On Titan: The Final Season, that means MrBeast’s Naruto will cost around $21 million, not $9 million.

So MrBeast will need more briefcases full of cash in order to afford a multi-cour Naruto reboot. But it’s not like he would be going it alone. After all, he would not be the only stakeholder in such a project.

The rights to the Naruto franchise are owned by multiple companies including VIZ Media (which also holds the rights to Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War). MrBeast would have to first convince the rightsholders that he’s serious and then an anime production committee would be formed to oversee and produce the project.

A secondary issue to the cost is the main staff. A high-quality Naruto remake needs the right people working at the right studio. Animators are typically independent contractors who are scheduled out years in advance for projects. So even if MrBeast could get the ball rolling on a Naruto remake project it may take years before all the necessary people are available at the same time.

All in all, a MrBeast Naruto remake is certainly possible even if it’s more expensive than he was originally told before declaring, “Deal.” Let’s just hope momentum builds into the future for a real Naruto reboot. Stay tuned!

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