Naruto anime vs manga, where to start?

The Naruto manga vs anime debate is strong for both sides, but which is better for new fans?

Whether it’s movies or TV shows, adapting a novel or a comic can be difficult. Some moments just don’t hit as hard in one midrange or the other, and sometimes the pacing can feel off after the jump. On top of that, more than a few series end up diverging wildly from the original source material.

But how do the Naruto manga and anime fit together? Here are the main differences between the two and the one worth discussing by fans of the series.

Naruto manga vs anime: what’s the difference?

The only difference between Naruto anime and Naruto manga is the overwhelming amount of filler in the anime.

The anime faithfully follows every story beat of the manga and takes very few liberties with major plot elements. The main difference is that it takes a lot longer to reach those story beats.

There are several complete filler seasons in the Naruto anime. On occasion, it adds to the overall story. For example, there is a pivotal moment in the first Naruto series where a character makes an important decision based on some brutal defeats he has suffered. The anime has a filler arc that further reinforces this by adding another blot to their record.

The problem is that a significant portion of the loadout doesn’t relate to the story at all and can be skipped by missing any character development or story progression. Looking strictly at Naruto Shippuden, fans rank nearly 200 of its 500 episodes as fillers.

Another important distinction is the artwork of the manga Naruto versus the animation of the anime Pierrot. Masashi Kishimoto’s artwork still holds up, though the end of the series has significantly less diverse character designs.

The animated version is a bit of the opposite, with less detailed animation for the early seasons that quickly ramps up in quality. Some of the early fights, especially Gaara and Rock Lee, still look great.

Is the Naruto anime better than the manga?

The Naruto manga is generally better than the anime. This is due to its greater focus on the important story elements and its more manageable length.

There are actually more Naruto anime episodes than manga chapters, but the story as a whole isn’t really developed in any meaningful way. That’s not to say there aren’t redeeming facets to the charge.

Naruto has a huge cast of characters and many of them come out unheralded. Many of them get more attention in the anime. If a manga character resonates but doesn’t get much attention, chances are there’s a filler episode or two about them.

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