I recently did an explainer where I discussed certain highs and lows of ‘Naruto‘. It was a really nostalgic experience. Something similar happened while I was writing this piece of article. The last battle between Sasuke and Naruto was just awesome. When they fought I could feel my mind running back to the earlier episodes and made me connect with the scene a lot. The animation and the direction of the scene were great and as the flashbacks from the two rivals’ childhood were brought up simultaneously with some added creativity it was sublime. I know it isn’t the best fight scene of the series but it did felt conclusive to me. Up until that point, I was critical of a lot of things that happened in the series (as you will soon see) but when I saw the fight it felt that the series was finally concluding something that started over a decade ago.
The way I normally approach explainers is by talking a bit about some of the main characters and the talking about the various arcs and how they led to the ending. Here I am gonna talk about the series in bulk. I won’t segregate the plot into arcs but rather talk about the important parts as a whole. We will discuss the parts that worked and parts that didn’t? Let’s also see why ‘Naruto’ had such a great impact.
Since you have landed on this article, I am assuming you have already watched ‘Naruto’ and are well aware of the characters and various plot points. I will talk about the characters in general from the point of view of ‘Naruto Shippuden’.
First of all, let’s talk about the design style of ‘Naruto Shippuden’. There are notable differences between the character designs of ‘Naruto’ and ‘Naruto Shippuden’. I did a little research into this and found out that it was due to the creator of ‘Naruto’, Masashi Kishimoto, making the characters easier to draw. Though the characters still had their unique characteristics details were much low. These vibrant details in the previous series gave the characters their unique feel. But anyway, the visuals didn’t affect me much. I still enjoyed the characters. They had grown up over the time-lapse and had achieved grown-up personality traits. This is one part I liked a lot about the ‘Naruto’ series. It upgraded its character throughout the life of the series. This made the series much more relatable.
Many people who started reading the manga or watched the anime were quite young. As the series was really long, it meant that the characters needed to be constantly refreshed and upgraded to suit the needs of the fan. The characters had to be relatable. The show did that by making the characters grown. Sakura who was immature and was unable to do anything because of her love for Sasuke. I have previously mentioned that this at times it became really annoying to watch. When Naruto Shippuden starts we see a much better version of Sakura. She seems mature and looks like someone who is confident. Though at later stages we do see her love for Sasuke getting in the way but it is never that annoying. Later in the series, Sakura becomes really powerful and possesses the strength of the hundred seals. She is quite like Tsunade in terms of strength and her Kunoichi skills.
Other characters have grown as well. We see Hinata in a different light over here. Earlier, she used to faint while talking to Naruto or couldn’t look him in the eye directly. But now she is all grown up and beautiful (I find her to be the prettiest in the anime) and has more confidence. She can hold her own in a fight and can even fight alongside Naruto as she proves during the Pain arc. We also see a grown-up Kiba and Rock Lee who have matured too. The best of all is seeing Akamaru, the small dog who used to sit on Kiba’s head is now a large dog who can carry Kiba on his head. Similarly, a lot of characters have had noticeable changes in their personality though at the core they still remain the same. One thing I didn’t like is the introduction of Sai. I felt that he could have been given a better character. Sometimes, he felt a little too uninteresting.
We got a taste of the Akatsuki in ‘Naruto’. They are a band of rogue talented ninjas who are tasked with capturing the tailed beasts to put them in a vessel known as the Gedo Statue. For catching a bunch of monsters you need a bunch of ninjas who have capabilities of legendary stature. We get to see this in ‘Naruto Shippuden’ when the Akatsuki members fight the powerful Jinchurikis to get hold of the tailed beasts inside them. We also get to witness the power of Itachi Uchiha again.
Let’s talk about Naruto and Sasuke now. Both of them have evolved a lot though in different directions. Sasuke being fixated on revenge chose the dark path to power while Naruto works hard with Jiraiya so that he can become strong enough to fight the Akatsuki and hopefully bring Sasuke back home. At one point Sasuke even joins the Akatsuki.
The Plot and The Ending
The main ending of ‘Naruto Shippuden’ was the aforementioned battle between Naruto and Sasuke. Then there are a bunch of episodes in which the entire village is praising Naruto while Sasuke goes into exile. Also, we get to see the villagers preparing for Naruto’s wedding. There are also other episodes where we see Shikamaru leading a mission as a Jonin.
The series starts with Naruto returning from his training with Jiraiya. He is much more mature and seems responsible but as I said at the core he never changed. As soon as Sakura starts believing that Naruto has become a mature person she soon finds out that instead of scolding Konohamaru for pulling a jutsu like the Sexy jutsu Naruto is gonna teach him a new version of the jutsu. Yup, that’s the start of this series.
The main plot of the series follows the Akatsuki capturing the tailed beasts. This is quite alarming for the Nations since tailed beasts are basically like nuclear weapons. In the hands of the wrong person can destroy the entire world. The Akatsuki are quite successful at doing all this. Out of the nine tailed beasts they are able to capture 7 of them and even kill each Jinchuriki except Gaara who is saved in the nick of time by Naruto and his friends. It seems like the Akatsuki are planning to put the spirit of all the tailed beasts into the vessel known as the Gedo Statue.
Sasuke has really become powerful. He seems to have become a complete monster now. It is remarked that his aura has become completely cold. He uses other people to further his goals and doesn’t even give a single thought about their well being. Sasuke thinks that Orochimaru isn’t going to be much help anymore and betrays him. After killing him he starts to locate Itachi to exact his revenge. He finds Itachi and a battle ensues between the two. The fight goes on for a long time with each brother displaying their use of the Sharingan. Soon they use Susano to fight each other. In the end, there is only one survivor and that is Itachi. Sasuke now feels confused by Itachi’s last response.
Tobi, the leader of the Akatsuki tells Sasuke the truth about Itachi and how he was just following orders when he massacred his entire clan. Though this being the truth Tobi doesn’t let him know the true reason for Uchiha’s downfall and rather motivates him to exact revenge on the leaf village. Tobi tells him that the leaders of the village were afraid of Uchiha’s power and Itachi was tasked with killing his clan. He even adds the cherry on the cake by saying Itachi couldn’t bring himself to kill his innocent brother and left him alive because of his love for him. This makes Sasuke feel very sad and he starts grieving over the death of his brother. Tobi then asks Sasuke to help him capture one of the tailed beasts and in return, he will help him orchestrate the destruction of Konoha. This is how Sasuke joins the Akatsuki to further his goals.
Then we see Pain Nagato attack Konoha. He brings about the destruction of Konoha killing many people. Naruto Joins the fight and we get to see his sage Jutsu in action. The fight is really intense and we also see Hinata in action when Naruto is incapacitated by Nagato. Hinata loses the fight and is badly hurt. This releases Naruto’s nine tail power and he attacks Nagato wildly. But as soon as Naruto is about to completely lose himself and transform into the nine tailed fox, the spirit of the Fourth Hokage rescues him. It is here Naruto learns of his true origin and all about his parents. This is a really touching part of the series. Naruto then calms himself down and defeats Pain.
Meanwhile, Tobi lets the Kages know his plan of the Infinite Tsukuyomi. Which he will release once he gets all the tailed beasts. This is a really powerful Jutsu and will make every human fall in a deep slumber and will be able to live in a dream world of their liking. The Kages don’t agree to this and Tobi declares a war on all the shinobi. The Kages now join hands to form the great Shinobi alliance to fight what will come to be known as the Fourth Great Ninja War. The war starts as Tobi launches an army of white Zetsu. He also uses Kabuto’s Reanimation Jutsu to bring back legendary ninjas from dead and use them in the battlefield. This idea is really effective as even past Kage’s fight against the Shinobi alliance and inflicts some heavy damage.
But then Naruto visits the field and he kicks ass and tries to turn everything in his favor. But the best product of the reanimation jutsu is still there. It is the legendary Uchiha, Madara. With this Tobi breaks his character as Madara and reveals himself to be Obito. Obito was Kakashi’s teammate and was assumed dead after half of his body was crushed under a boulder. Obito is the person who gave Kakashi the Sharingan. Obito tells his backstory detailing how he was picked up by Madara Uchiha and was meant to follow his wishes of casting the Infinite Tsukuyomi. Kakashi and Obito fight. We also see a great battle between the Kages and Madara but the latter clearly has the upper hand.
Obito fights with Kakashi and when on the verge of defeat after knowing that Kabuto has become invalid he activates the formation of an impure ten tails. More fighting occurs. Madara regains control of the situation has an awesome fight with Might Guy. Then Sasuke and Naruto independently meet the Sage of Six paths and are granted new powers. They seem to overpower Madara. He is then outwitted by Black Zetsu and Kaguya comes. Kaguya is the mother of all the things in ‘Naruto’. She brought the magic on Earth which one of her sons popularised as ninjutsu. We see a fight between her and Team 7. More fighting continues until Sasuke and Naruto seal Kaguya in a similar way Indra and Asura did.
Then We move to more fighting as we see Sasuke fight Naruto in a really nostalgic battle that ends in a draw and both becoming friends and Sasuke finally becoming sane. The trouble with this series was the War. I know many of you liked it and yeah it was great because we again got to see different ninjas shining on the battlefield but I felt it was kind of forced in to try and keep things interesting until the conclusive battle between the main characters, Naruto and Sasuke, of the series. After killing Itachi Sasuke has lost his purpose. Up until that moment he spent his entire life to kill Itachi and now he is dead. All that’s left is to fight Naruto. But well, it’s a shonen manga and the popularity of it meant the show must go on. I guess that’s why the great ninja war was put in place. At certain points, I felt that the war dragged and later became a place for a power boost and different transformations.
I know the series is about Naruto but the other characters are the reason why the series became so popular. In the latter part of the series, everything seems to be about Naruto and linking him with Sasuke. Everything was built up for their battle but somewhere along the line, I felt that the characters could have been used in a better way. They are not there just to protect Naruto and make everything about him rather they are there to hold their own. The war was entertaining to watch but fighting and fighting got me a bit off.
I was happy to see Naruto’s determination being constant over the course of the series. He wanted to become a strong Ninja to protect people close to him which he kept on doing. He wanted to bring back Sasuke back and did. He wanted to become Hokage and he might. But I didn’t like Sasuke’s point of view. At first, he is shown to be really intelligent and talented but he acts like a dimwit. He first wants to kill his brother even after being dissuaded by his friends and mentors. After killing Itachi he believes whatever Tobi says. He didn’t even know him why would he do so? Then after understanding the fall of his clan, he teams up with Naruto to defeat Madara and later Kaguya. Then again he shifts his goal to becoming Hokage and forcing his view on the world. Then I thought about it. It is actually pretty logical. I guess his character shows what will happen if one lets their soul consumed by anger and hatred. Even after fulfilling his purpose he needed another purpose so badly he was even going to trust a stranger like Tobi. Then he needed to destroy Konoha and then to destroy Kaguya and then to become Hokage. He was finally brought to his sense by Naruto. Who knows if he would have dealt with his emotions properly then he might have even become the Hokage.
I liked the way Obito was brought back. It was really interesting to see Kakashi battle his old teammate. The scene was really emotional and the characters connected while they fought each other. This kind of non-verbal communication between the characters during intricately designed fight scenes is a staple part of ‘Naruto’. We see this kind of battles at various times throughout the series. I don’t know about you guys but the story of how it all began was kinda nice. It was great to know about the history of ninjutsu. But now I am going to contradict myself by saying, I didn’t ever feel the need to know that. I just assumed they were ninjas with magical powers and it worked fine for me.
‘Naruto’ worked because it played around with its characters. It evolved them and kept giving the fans new things to root for while keeping the plot moving. This was the reason there were so many interesting characters in both the series (Naruto and Naruto Shippuden) other than the main characters. This strengthened the entire franchise a lot. It also gave the fans to select their favorite characters from a bunch of really good choices. The Akatsuki were interesting. The five Kages and even the ones brought back from dead were great. Yes, ‘Naruto’ gradually declined in its popularity but that was given. Long series’ are going to lose steam over time (Other than ‘One Piece’ of course). Producing volumes of contents in a short amount of time might hamper the creativity of the creators. This was notable in ‘Naruto’ too. But the series one fell down to number three while many anime fell way below.
Anyway, the series as a whole was really entertaining and I still watch certain bits of the show again and again. The show was rebooted and ‘Boruto’ came. Let’s see if we can talk about that sometime.
Read More: Naruto, Explained