Easily one of the most popular shounen in the genre, Naruto has captivated many people over the years. Despite the number of filler episodes and some poor animation, the original 220-episode series was what made people want to delve even deeper into this world of ninja. And for those moments when Naruto dragged on, it was even clearer when the show really hit its stride! This was when we were introduced to many of our favorite characters and how we got to see them grow into the people they became later in Naruto: Shippuden. Today, we would like to take a look back at the best moments from Naruto. We’ll go through a few of the best arcs in the series and even compare the early days of Naruto to that of the latest series in the franchise, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations!
The Land of Waves/Zabuza Arc
The first real mission that Team 7 goes on together, the Land of Waves arc set the tone for the rest of the series. Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, and their mentor Kakashi are hired to escort a bridge builder but soon discover that the job will be a lot more dangerous than expected when the first real villain of the series shows up, Zabuza Momochi. Even as the team is still learning the basics skills for being a shinobi, they have to learn that not all conflict is drawing lines between the good and evil – sometimes, the enemy just happens to be someone who ended up on the opposing side. We also get some of the first real emotional turmoil of the series from the deaths of Haku and Zabuza, who die with their goals unfulfilled.
Chunin Exams Arc
The Chunin Exams arc is popular for a reason. Each one of Naruto’s classmates gets a chance to show off their skills, regardless of how important they have been in the series thus far. We get to know each one of these characters for their personality and abilities a little bit more, including Gaara and his Sand siblings.
We also get to watch Naruto grow up quite a bit during this arc, as he learns his own unique skills and manages to defeat ninja that are seemingly above his level. We have seen Naruto overcome great odds before now, but facing off against other shinobi his own age just emphasizes the gap between Naruto and his classmates – yet he still manages to succeed in the Chunin Exam. He has another big moment when he is able to fight/talk down Gaara, a rampaging jinchuriki who has faced many of the same hardships Naruto has.
Sasuke’s Departure Arc
To Naruto, Sasuke is an important part of the family he has built up, but Sasuke doesn’t see their relationship the same way when he leaves to study under Orochimaru. Naruto believes he must set out to stop Sasuke and show him how much a part of Konoha he really is, so he sets off with a group of other shinobi to “rescue” Sasuke. This is another brilliantly emotional arc, one where several side characters get a spotlight yet again, and culminating in an epic battle between Naruto and Sasuke where they show off their unbridled strength.
While the characters in Naruto can be somewhat predictable, watching them face off in their own one-on-one fights is quite satisfying! Some highlights include Choji’s literal growth from a cocoon to a butterfly, Rock Lee’s drunken fight, the return of the Sand trio and, of course, Naruto and Sasuke’s battle. This arc is a perfect example of what is great in the original Naruto series, with plenty of epic fights combined with an emotional element. When Naruto and his friends fail to bring Sasuke back after all their efforts, it is a blow that we all feel deeply, realizing that you can’t always win. This theme of loss is just the beginning for Naruto, as he struggles to bring Sasuke home the continuation of Shippuden.
Then vs. Now – How Does Boruto Stack Up?
It is interesting to compare Naruto’s start to his journey to that of the new series with his son Boruto. While Naruto began his journey mostly alone, Boruto has a host of characters surrounding him, making it easy for the series to introduce others early on and switch effortlessly from serious plot to comedy. Boruto also offers a better quality of animation; Naruto had spotty animation style until the creators started to figure out the series in Shippuden and struggled with tons of filler episodes early on, something Boruto has been lacking in so far. However, much of Boruto’s improvements are due to Naruto having already built the world before its time, allowing Boruto to jump into the story without introducing the audience. And, let’s be honest here, the Chunin Exams arc in Naruto was much more exciting than in Boruto!
There are a few more arcs in Naruto that deserve an honorable mention, such as the search for Tsunade and even the brief but hilarious Kakashi Sensei’s True Face! episode. Naruto will always be considered a classic, despite how far we’ve moved on in the franchise. Whether you’ve been a fan since day one or you watched the series when you were older, we hope you enjoyed this look back at our favorite shounen!