No live-action stage spectacle covering the first story arc of the Naruto manga series would be complete without the brave boys and girls of Team Kurenai and Team Asuma. Now where's Akamaru?

Live Spectacle Naruto launches next month in Japan, gathering the most attractive actors the country has to offer and transforming them into top-tier Naruto cosplayers. These cosplayers will then act out a story based on a huge early chunk of the manga/anime series, from the early days of the titular ninja being a whiny ass to the "Valley of the End"chapter, where he's a slightly-less-whiny, incredibly powerful ass.

We've seen the main cast and tossed in some supporting characters, but no characters are more supportive than the six young ninjas that form Team Kurenai (8) and Team Asuma (10). Check out the latest official shots (via Crunchyroll) to see what an outstanding casting job the producers of the show have done.

Saki Takahashi is simply adorable as Hinata, the meek female ninja who probably won't ever play a really important role in the series (lies).


Shinichiro Ueda actually looks as if he is filled with insects.


The most impressive of the bunch, Yuta Iiyama looks as sly a dog as they come. I wonder if he's playing his canine companion Akamaru as well.

One of my favorite characters of the series, Chōji is a tubby kid with amazing power. Once he finds his self-confidence, he's a force to be reckoned with. Ryo Kata should do a fine job.


Tsubasa Hattori stands in as the shadow of greatness.


It's never easy being a blonde Japanese ninja, but Anju Inami pulls it off.

Naruto may have his name on the marquee, but it's these supporting characters that I'm always watching/playing/rooting for. It's pretty amazing to see them come to life so accurately. I can't wait to read what other people think of their performances when the show kicks off next month.