The holy Shonen trilogy. AKA The Big Three. In the early 2000s, these shows were the gateway to many current anime fans. They are some of the best selling manga and most viewed shows in the last few decades. Those shows are: Bleach, One Piece, and Naruto.
The ladder most of which I’ll be tearing apart today.
I loved Naruto. I read the manga from start to end, only stopping once Boruto started (I don’t give a flying fuck about Naruto GT). The characters, story and action all sucked me in and kept me around to the end, solidifying my status as ‘Shonen Trash’.
I also watched both the original anime and Shippuden. Both of which are pretty fucking terrible.
Naruto has one of the worst anime adaptations that I have ever seen. The pacing is completely fucked, the animation is utter dog shit for 98 percent of it’s run (that goes for both series, by the way) and the filler.
Oh dear god, the filler.
Now, as the title implies, this isn’t just going to be me shitting all over Naruto for roughly a thousand words. That wouldn’t be very honest, now would it? So before we get into the shit show that is the anime, let’s start with the positives.
I’m a sucker for a good soundtrack, and this show isn’t lacking in that regard. The music is great, with each track perfectly complimenting the scene that it is accompanying. They range from chilling and creepy to emotional to adrenaline pumping and thrilling, and all of them are a complete treat to listen to.
And as I mentioned earlier, the shows animation can be good if it wants to be. Rock Lee VS Gaara and both rounds of Naruto VS Sasuke are some of the best looking and most thrilling fights in the history of anime. Fights like these are when the show is at it’s best, perfectly adapting the feelings created in the manga.
The voice performances, at least on the Japanese side of things, are also pretty great. Each characters voice feels like a perfect fit for their character, even if I may not be able to understand them without subtitles. This compliment kind of goes for the Dub to a much lesser extent, but the Sub is definitely the way to go.
That or the Neutral Spanish dub.
In terms of compliments, that’s about all I can give it. It sounds great and looks good when it wants to. Now onto ripping the anime adaptations seventeen brand new holes which I will stuff full of paper bombs and grenades.
Gotta have variety, after all.
In terms of pacing, this show (I will be referring to both the original and Shippuden as one unit in this critique, as both of them suffer from the same problems) is one of the worst pieces of media I have ever consumed. If it’s not taking a break mid-arc to launch into a pointless filler arc that lasts seventy episodes, it’s cutting back to the same flash back you’ve seen fifty seven times in the last few episodes alone.
Let’s start with the filler. This is, beyond a doubt, the biggest problem this show suffers from. The ratio of manga content to filler content is so horribly skewed that it makes me sick. Don’t believe me?
The original Naruto anime ran for 220 episodes. From that list, episodes 26, 97, 99, 101-106, and 136-219 are filler. Now, the first few gaps aren’t that bad. But you cannot convince me that the last eighty three episodes of your show before the finale being filler is at all acceptable.
(By the way, the data for that can be found right here if you want to have a more in depth look.)
And then there’s Shippuden. Oh boy, where do I start? This series lasted for a clean 500 episodes. Among those, episodes 57-71, 90-112, 144-151, 170-171, 176-196, 223-242, 257-260, 271, 279-281, 284-295, 303-320, 347-361, 376-377, 389-390, 394-413, 416, 422-423, 427-450, 464-469, and 480-483 are all filler.
(Again, you can find the data for that here.)
Oh, and did I neglect to mention that those lists ignore the mostly canon or mostly filler episodes? Because there are maaaaaaany episodes of the series that have about five minutes of canon content spliced in between fifteen minutes of SASUKE WEARING FUCKING CAT EARS AND FIGHTING A GIANT CAT!!
Still better than that god damn Curry of Life bullshit…
The percentage of filler to can content is roughly 68% filler and 32% canon. Again, that’s a rough estimate, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at math, but if it’s even remotely accurate (which it is, I’m not that bad at math) then it is still unacceptable. I mean, come on, even by Shonen anime standards that is bad.
And that’s only part of the issue. The canon content is bogged down by god awful pacing issues, especially in the latter part of the series. A good example of how bad it gets is the battle against Kaguya near the end. There are about five episodes where they show you the flashback of Obito getting crushed and giving Kakashi his eye.
I hope you really like that scene. Because you’ll be seeing it. A lot. Like, a lot a lot. I actually hate that fucking scene because of the anime.
Did I mention that the manga had been done for over a year by the time they got to that point? Or how they kept it going after they animated the ending with even more content? Or how they never animated the epilogue chapter and instead slapped in a shot that screamed ‘GO WATCH BORUTO YOU FAT FUCK’ at the end instead?
Because they did. And that should tell you a lot about how they approached this series.
These issues are only punctuated further by the animation. As I mentioned earlier, the show can look good when it wants to. Key words there being wants to. All the other times, however, the show looks like total ass. Some of the fights are so terribly animated that you’d swear you were watching a five minute fan animation on YouTube.
Oh wait. Fuck that. That implies that you feel like there’s actual passion put behind the production.
Sakura VS Sasori, Naruto VS Pain, and everyone VS Kaguya are some of the worst looking fights not just in the show, but in all of anime. And that’s ignoring the cinematography, which is so devoid of creativity and boring that it makes watching these fights an absolute chore. It’s not like these should be the most thrilling and visually interesting moments in the show.
I would make a point about it being a similar issue in Boruto, but at that point I’d be lying. I dropped Shippuden after they finally animated the ending (excluding the epilogue because fuck you and fuck me, I guess), and only hopped aboard again to watch a few episodes of Boruto.
None of which I liked. So I dropped it immediately.
I wanted to love the Naruto anime way more than I did. But after a few hundred episodes of this bullshit, I was done. I went and read the manga, and I only kept up with the anime to watch some of the later scenes get animated. I’ve stopped watching, and I have little intention to ever get back into it.
If you’ve never watched Naruto, don’t. But if you want to experience it, I’d encourage you do. Either go read the manga or play the Ninja Storm video games. Either of those are a far better alternative to watching the anime.
While the anime does have great music and the occasional well animated fight scene, all of it is bogged down by a ludicrous amount of filler, terrible pacing that pads out both the canon and filler episodes, and terribly low-quality animation. It is a bad show that does not deserve your time.
And no. Before you ask, I will not watch Boruto for the sake of a post. I am done with this series, and I will never look back. If I feel the need to revisit Naruto, I will go reread the manga or play the Storm games.
I’d rather that then watch Obito get crushed again.