Anime ninja Naruto turns into Nyaruto for adorable figure line.

At first glance, Naruto doesn’t seem like it should have been that big of a hit. Sure, the series from creator Masashi Kishimoto ticks a lot of mainstream popular manga/anime boxes, such as “ninja,” “teen protagonists,” “young love,” and “the power of friendship,” but so do dozens, if not hundreds, of other series that come and go every year without leaving a lasting impression.

What fans will tell you really makes Naruto special is the characters. For 15 years, audiences kept coming back to see what would happen with hot-blooded, pure-hearted Naruto, friend-turned-foe-who’ll-maybe-turn-friend-again Sasuke, emotionally evolving Sakura, and mysterious Kakashi.

But just imagine how much more intense fans’ devotion would have been if Naruto’s core four had been cats?

Anime merchandiser Bandai is currently offering a set of four Naruto cat figures…wait, excuse us…Nyaruto cat figures, since nya is the Japanese version of “meow,” and Japan never misses a chance for a pun.

The quartet comes as a set, with the feline versions of Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, and Kakashi committing fully to their hybrid roles, as they’re pretty much a perfect 50-50 split between Kishimoto’s original character designs and straight-up kitty cats.

Bandai has offered Nyaruto figures before, but in much smaller sizes. The cats in the new batch are approximately 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) tall, more than three times the size of the old models, which is sure to please fans who like their ninja less stealthy and more conspicuous.

The Big Nyaruto set is being offered here through the Premium Banadai online store for 1,540 yen (US$14.40), which seems like a pretty reasonable price for all this adorableness, with shipping scheduled for November.

Source, images: Premium Bandai
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where a full remake of the Naruto anime with an all-cat cast sounds like a great idea to him.