Naruto is a manga first created by Masashi Kishimoto in 1995 and published in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1999 to 2014. It follows the story of young Naruto Uzumaki, a ninja who searches to be accepted by his village and to become Hokage, their leader. In 2002 the series was turned into an anime and hit a massive audience, inspiring many other Shonen titles and series. Naruto is a massive success that still sees worldwide fandom and spin-off series today.
Separating his younger years and his teen life, Naruto was put into two distinct series. Naruto and Naruto Shippuden. Naruto Shippuden marked the young ninja's descent into manhood and to more serious threats. There is much debate between fans on the two series and where they fail or succeed. Here are 5 things Naruto Shippuden does better than Naruto (and 3 things it does worse).
8 Better: Action
Naruto Shippuden told the story of an older, more experienced Naruto. Naturally, his prowess as a Ninja and a fighter would increase. This made for intense and higher stakes action sequences within both the manga and anime.
The more mature setting and tone of Shippuden allowed for more violence and horrific battles to take place within the world of Naruto. A heavy emphasis on more creative and wild Jutsu was put into place within the series. Ranging from killer puppets to clay come to life, the subjects of fights varied greatly within the series and definitely tickled fan's violence bone.
7 Better: Stakes
Naruto's original series had ended on a cliffhanger of Sasuke leaving the group to go find and kill his brother, Itachi, for the murder of his entire village. This led the series to follow, Naruto Shippuden to start off from a great place as far as stakes are concerned. Naruto isn't just fighting for himself to gain recognition, but also to get his friend back.
Within the series, the stakes rise greatly from the previous, whether that be single fights or entire arcs. They were older and more experienced, making determining a victor in fights beforehand hard. The darker direction of the series made for much more brutal consequences for characters spanning from death and things far worse. Shippuden really knew how to raise the bar.
6 Worse: Humor
Naruto started out as a series that was marketed towards kids, despite some of its violent and mature content. With this in mind, the series finding itself to have a sense of humor is no surprise. Series creator, Masashi Kishimoto, imbued the series with a childlike humor to appeal to this audience and to make the children within the series seem authentic.
While Naruto Shippuden also has some humor within it, it mainly strayed away from the jokes of older Naruto chapters and episodes in favor of more grounded and serious storytelling. The humor within Shippuden is in no way bad, just less frequent. Despite the decline in the number of jokes within the series, it definitely compliments the more mature tone that Shippuden puts out.
5 Better: Suspense
Naruto Shippuden sought to not only make the series more mature but darker. The shinobi of Konohagakure found themselves in much more perilous situations than they had in their younger years and this made for great suspense.
The safety of characters was never guaranteed and at the rate at which characters were hurt or killed, you really couldn't predict what would happen. Fights would drag on for chapters/episodes, becoming more intense and bloody as they went. While shinobi wouldn't drop like flies, they did enough to make fans of the series concerned with each passing episode.
4 Better: Emotions
Naruto as a whole was a great example of a series being able to balance action, humor, and of course, emotion. The manga and anime didn't stray away from intense tear-jerking moments like Iruka stating his love and admiration for Naruto. While Naruto all together did this great, Shippuden definitely upgraded this aspect of the series.
Shippuden didn't shy away from terribly sad and great moments of triumph for its characters. To death and battles won, the emotions within Shippuden were flowing greatly and steadily. Perhaps the best example of this is the series’ conclusion, seeing Naruto as Hokage and happy to have achieved this goal. Many fans definitely used up one or more tissue boxes upon this episode and many more.
3 Worse: Filler
As most manga to anime adaptations find to have, filler episodes are used as a tool to prolong a series and allow for more time and greater creative prowess to be applied to main storylines and arcs. Naruto is no stranger to this practice and is in fact, well known for it. Usually going for a more slice of life/humorous approach than regular episodes, they are loved by some and hated by others.
Naruto Shippuden, while having decent filler episodes, didn't have as much fan support for these original deviations as it did in its previous series. While the humorous endeavors of young Naruto proved to be successful, his older selves filler was widely frowned upon. Considering the great tense and suspenseful nature of the series, fans not appreciating episodes in-between makes sense. If a more streamlined version of the story is what you're looking for, then read the manga.
2 Better: Pay Offs
Naruto, as a whole, has very cathartic and relieving moments sprinkled throughout it's run. From the end results of fights, deaths of certain villains, and the reunion of certain characters, Naruto knows how to handle a fans' needs correctly.
However, Naruto Shippuden seemed to raise the bar in this area over its predecessor. Being a series of higher stakes, suspense, and action, the relieving “aha!” moments of Shippuden not only hit but hit deeper than Naruto ever did. When this series sets a goal, it seeks to finish it out, ride or die style.
1 Worse: Movies
Naruto, as most animes do, has many spin-off movies and off-beat adaptations of their characters and story. The young ninja is no stranger to film and often thrives in this area. However, despite both Naruto and Shippuden getting multiple movie versions, it's clear which is of the superior breed.
Naruto Shippuden's movies, while not bad in any sense, are a deviation from the story and plot, essentially making them big budget filler episodes. While sporting better animation and production value than the anime, many fans wanted to stick to the main story of Shippuden. Meanwhile, Naruto's movie ventures were seen as not only fun filler but the best filler, exploring the world of the shinobi in new and welcome ways. While we've had many animated movies, we've yet to see a live action Naruto adaptation, thankfully. Let's hope that Netflix doesn't get their hands on one any time soon.