Throughout the 2000s and the first half of the 2010s, Naruto was internationally the biggest title in all of anime and manga. It tells the tale of Naruto Uzumaki, a boy from the Konoha ninja village who is the village outcast due to having a demon sealed inside of him. Despite his status, he doesn’t let that stop him from achieving his goal of becoming the Hokage, the village chief. After showing his budding potential while saving his teacher, he is assigned to be the subordinate of one of the village’s elite ninjas, Kakashi Hatake. The bad news, Sasuke Uchiha, the most promising ninja of his class is now his teammate. From there, the series goes in numerous directions and introduces new friends and foes alike, which you have read to find out.
A good portion of Naruto’s appeals is the high-octane and tactical action along with its large cast of characters that readers can easily connect to. But with its praise comes along some repeated criticism. One superficial quality that is often pointed out is that Naruto is not a good representation of ninjas because of his choice in orange clothing and his brash personality. They think a true ninja needs to be silent and have the ability to conceal themselves, and Naruto sure can’t get the job done with his get up. Another common criticism is the length and pace of the series, and how it relies too much on flashbacks at critical moments. So we are hoping that our best 6 recommendations like Naruto can find a balance between what has been praised and criticized for you to check out and enjoy.
Similar Manga to Naruto
1. Flame of Recca (Rekka no Honoo)
- Author: Nobuyuki Anzai
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Comedy, Shounen
- Volumes: 33
- Publications Dates: Mar 22, 1995 – Oct 30, 2002
Recca Hanabishi is a teenage ninja otaku and often finds himself caught in mischief. He has natural cat-like reflexes and is an amazing martial artist. His destiny forever changes when he saves the life of Yanagi, his classmate, from nearly being killed in a construction accident at the cost of nearly losing his life. In return, Yanagi uses her mysterious abilities to heal Recca’s fatal injuries. From there, they start their own unique relationship where Recca serves as her self-appointed ninja and refers to her as his princess. Due to Yanagi’s gifts, mysterious forces want to kidnap her and it’s up to Recca to live up to his word. But along the way, Recca is going to discover the truth of his past and his family’s legacy.
One thing nobody can deny, both series are about teenage ninjas. What Flame of Recca does what Naruto doesn’t is that a good portion of the series does feel like an authentic ninja series. Recca relies a lot on traps and luring people into his game plan to get the advantage. Beyond that, the action itself is very tactically oriented and does not rely too much on desperation gimmick attacks. In addition, its second act tells a tournament arc, which Naruto (and other listed anime here) all shares but has its own twist and turns. The cast is very likable in their own ways and they all have a balanced chemistry. Each character as an individual has something to contribute in the way Naruto’s wide cast does from time to time.
Next, both Recca and Kurei share a relationship that combines the dynamic between Naruto and Sasuke being rivals, and with Sasuke and Itachi being troubled brothers. But if there is one thing that readers can enjoy, it is how Recca can solve the mystery of being able to again embrace his birth mother, who is unable to touch him due to an unfortunate spell she used to save his life as a baby. So if you want an emotional roller coaster with some action that’d make Sun Tzu proud, Flame of Recca is the manga for you.
2. Yuu Yuu Hakusho
- Author: Yoshihiro Togashi
- Genre: Action, Supernatural, Comedy, Drama, Shounen
- Volumes: 19
- Publications Dates: Nov 20, 1990 –Jul 12, 994
Yusuke Urameshi is the ultimate definition of a juvenile delinquent. He is largely absent from school and is always getting into fights. Heck, even the staff at his school could care less about him. Despite his rough exterior, he proves he’s not that much of a bad boy when he saves a toddler from getting run over at the cost of his own life. But what’s the worst news to come out of this? The toddler was going to survive anyway so Yusuke’s sacrifice was meaningless! But conditionally, Yusuke is allowed to come back to life once he passes some tests and if he works as a detective for the spiritual realm. In addition to his natural brawling abilities, he is given a new special move, the rei gun, where he can fire reiki, or spiritual energy, from the tip of his finger. And with the help of his former street fighting rival Kuwabara and two demons named Hiei and Kurama, they band together to fight evil spirits and fight in underground tournaments.
Legendary heavyweight Mike Tyson once said everybody has a plan until they’re hit. But have him read Yuu Yuu Hakusho and Naruto, maybe he can be proven wrong. One foundational quality that both Yuu Yuu Hakusho and Naruto share is how their fights are largely based on strategy. Both series give readers what is going on in the heads of the characters. If they see a particular move, how do they exploit an opening? How do you lure the enemy into your trap? Both series are masters at presenting this trait but are distinct in their own ways. Both Yusuke and Naruto are by no means technical geniuses in the basics of martial arts but mostly rely on guts and big gambles in order to make their game plans to work.
Next, in their respective stories, Yusuke and Naruto are introduced as underachievers. Yusuke is a delinquent at the possible fault of his alcoholic mother, Naruto is more of a class clown who wants the attention because he lives alone. Last, both series share a great cast of supporting characters who each have their own unique relationship to the main characters and yet have their own distinguishing traits as individuals. While Rock Lee and Itachi at times can steal the spotlight in Naruto, in Yuu Yuu Hakusho, Hiei’s acts of being badass and Kuwabara’s foolishness are always going to entertain readers from start to finish.
3. Fuuma no Kojirou (Kojirou of the Wind Spirit Clan)
- Author: Masami Kurumada
- Genre: Fantasy, Martial Arts, Shounen
- Volumes: 10
- Publications Dates: Dec 22, 1981 – Nov 8, 1983
Ever wanted to go to school to become a ninja? Well, you can at the Hakuo Academy! Or you could join its rival school, the Seishikan, who has been accused of illegally snatching prospective Hakuo students. So how will the principal of the Hakuo Academy try to fix this situation? By searching for the famous Fuuma ninja clan for help. The Fuuma clan accepts Hakuo’s pleas for help when they offer the services of Kojiro, a teenage trainee. However, the recruitment of Kojiro further intensifies the rivalry with Seishikan, which happens to have the influence of the Yasha clan, the eternal rivals of the Fuuma clan.
Just like in Naruto, the kids of Fuuma no Kojiro go to ninja school in order to become ninjas. And just like how the Konoha village has rivalries with other villages, so does the Fuuma clan and the Hakuo Academy. As opposed to orange jumpsuits, green training suits, the characters in this series stick to wearing good old fashion gakurans, Mandarin collar schoolboy uniforms. To readers, it is a good representation of the school drama influence and its darker colors make it appropriate for concealment in dark places. Both Kojiro and Naruto are young men who are driven by a persistence that never goes empty and knows how to block out negativity when necessary. They are both driven by their principles and would never betray them regardless of influence. If there is someone’s ass they need to kick, they won’t stop until they prove their point.
Any Manga Like Naruto ?
4. Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas –Meiou Shinwa
- Author: Shiori Teshirogi (Story & Art), Masami Kurumada (original Saint Seiya creator)
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Shounen
- Volumes: 25
- Publications Dates: Sept 21, 2006 – Apr 7, 2011
Taking place a little less than two centuries before the events of the original Saint Seiya series, Tenma is the present bearer of the Pegasus armor and fights in that time’s war against Hades, the God of the Underworld. So what’s the bad news? Alone, his best friend happens to be the vessel of Hades himself. By using Alone’s natural painting abilities, Hades’ big plan to take over the world is to paint the world on a special canvas known as the Lost Canvas. However, Tenma is not alone as he has the other Saints from the Sanctuary to stop Hades and his forces of evil.
So if you like headstrong heroes who are mostly muscle, no brain, but still all heart, then Saint Seiya Lost Canvas might be right up your alley. Like Naruto, Tenma comes from humble beginnings but there is something special about him that will make him the greatest warrior of his generation. In addition to their orphan origins, they both don’t let that stop them from trying to have a positive outlook. While Lost Canvas does have its loose share of laughs, a majority of the series is pretty dark and gritty.
Last, both series heavily feature a solid roster of supporting characters. Like in Naruto, readers get to learn about the supporting cast through flashbacks along with their relationships with other characters. While the stories of the Gold Saints weren’t that emphasized in the original Saint Seiya manga, the Gold Saints of Lost Canvas all have their own development arcs and steal the show. If any character makes the biggest impact, it has to be El Cid who tries to fight four Gods at once! While Naruto has chakra, summons, and Rasengans and other gimmicky moves, Saint Seiya characters have moves that can transcend dimensions and/or destroy the universe itself!
5. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan (Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story)
- Author: Nobuhiro Watsuki
- Genre: Action, Samurai, Historical, Drama, Shounen
- Volumes: 28
- Publications Dates: Apr 12, 1994 – Sept 21, 1999
Taking place in the late-1880s, Japan has chosen to open its borders to the rest of the world. It is catching up with modern technology from the steam engine to mid-range rifles. Samurais are now considered an outdated concept and the ruling administration has done away with the class system. With the samurai considered no longer necessary, swords are now outlawed. But in the world of Rurouni Kenshin, Japan has banned ordinary citizens from carrying swords, but that doesn’t stop bandits and various anti-government organizations from plotting their vengeance. And who is the only one who can stop them? Kenshin Himura, a reformed assassin of the Meiji government.
Both series take influence from ancient Japanese mythologies and culture. While Naruto takes influence from ninjas, Rurouni Kenshin takes influence from all aspects of Japanese warriors including samurai and ninja. The origins of both Naruto and Kenshin share some loose similarities that they are both orphans who started from zero and were originally not considered to be suitable fighters. But with the right guidance, they become the best at what they do. Both Naruto and Kenshin share eccentric masters through Jiraiya and Hiko and have unique relationships as pupil and teacher.
Last, Rurouni Kenshin has a cast of characters both hero and villain alike that captures the readers into their worlds. A good majority of the villains in both Naruto and Rurouni Kenshin may have twisted goals, but they both do an excellent job of giving readers on what drives the villains to do what they do. So if you want some awesome sword fighting mixed with comedy and drama, Rurouni Kenshin excels at whatever your criteria may be.
6. Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple (Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi)
- Author: Syun Matsuena
- Genre: Action, Ecchi, Martial Arts, Comedy, Drama, Shounen
- Volumes: 61
- Publications Dates: Aug 9, 2002 – Sept 17, 2014
If anyone is at the bottom of the high school food chain, it’s Kenichi Shirahama. He’s so weak that even the other weak kids can beat him up! Hoping to get stronger, he joins the school’s karate club but is only used as a human punching bag. Thankfully, he finds more suitable masters at the Ryozanpaku Dojo, home to Miu Fuurinji, his best friend, and a master martial artist. Upon moving in, Kenichi is going to learn a mix of Karate, Muay Thai, Ninjitsu, Kung Fu, and Aikijujitsu, and use his skills to fight Ragnarok, a gang of teenage martial artists.
Naruto and Kenichi start out as outcasts and at the bottom of the barrel. But through hard work and having the right support, they manage to overcome their initial deficiencies and become heroes. Another common quality is their comedy styles. They are both appropriately childish and rely on perverted humor, but Kenichi is clearly much more guilty in the fan service department. As for their differences, Naruto is much more gimmicky with its characters and action sequences, while Kenichi’s fighting is based on realism. It is not about who has more chakra, but who can properly utilize their techniques.
If fight a boxer under MMA rules or in a street fight, do you trade punches with them or go for leg kicks to stop them from gaining rhythm? If your opponent is a striker, instead of trying to fight on their terms, resort to grappling tactics that can cancel out their moves. But what if your opponent is a wrestler? Learn how to sprawl when they aim for a takedown. While it is much more realistic compared to a good majority of other action titles, it does appropriately know when to use more gimmicky characters through Kenichi’s masters.
To paraphrase Mewtwo, if there is anything that a majority of these mangas along with Naruto can teach its readers, it is not the circumstances of our birth that defines us, but what we do with our life is what matters. Naruto practically raised himself with little to no parental guidance. In a realistic sense, the kid should have been put into foster care. But considering how he has a demon sealed inside of him, the people of the village isolated him. Naruto could have used his power to destroy the village, but instead stays true to his goal to become Hokage.
In fact, all the heroes featured in the mangas on this list did not come from privileged upbringings themselves. Sometimes, people like to say people do bad things because the system failed them. Does it really take a village to raise a child? We at Honey can’t say for sure but what we can say for certain is that we as individuals have to be responsible for the choices we make and how they affect others. That is what Naruto and the following mangas can teach us and why we recommend them. So if you have two cents on you, leave us a comment.