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Best Anime Series Like Naruto

by Tanya M.
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First of all, I’d like to note that Masashi Kishimoto managed to create an incredibly diverse universe with great history and well-developed conception dating back times but on the whole Naruto turned out quite typical in terms of the structure. The plot is centered around the protagonist and his friends who have to defend themselves against emerging treats. We see that Naruto is quite a standard piece and there is a great number of anime with the similar storyline.

Well, the plot is quite typical, that’s true. However, there is something that makes Naruto stand out from the rest of the similar titles. I’m talking about the detailed system of the characters’ fighting characteristics and a vast number of the characters’ various techniques and abilities. In addition, the action scenes are really spectacular in terms of the massiveness of the fights as well as the power of the characters’ abilities, their uniqueness and specificity. The fights in Naruto comprise multiple stages and tactics, which is quite rare in shonen. Moreover, the author shows all the sights of the hired ninjas’ work and tactics (before the level of destruction in Naruto went over all the reasonable limits and secrecy together with strategy had to be left out). Thus, I think it’s reasonable to search for the anime similar to Naruto guided by these criteria.

One more thing. If we’re talking about the anime series, I can’t pass by the fillers. The number of fillers is over 250 which is more than a third of all the episodes as for now. And they are not only separate episodes but also whole arcs. As a rule, the fillers hardly fit in with the whole narration and are not of any great value for the story. And there is an endless amount of them! For example, there are 220 episodes in the first season and the storyline finishes with the 135th episode, then there are ONLY the fillers. The anime creators’ greed is the main reason not to watch the series and read the manga. However, if you like watching anime more, I recommend you to find the list of the episodes-fillers and just skip them all. You won’t miss anything, that’s for sure.

Contents

First anime like Naruto is Dragon Ball

# 1.1

Information about Dragon Ball Anime Series

Original run: 1986 – present

Seasons:

  1. 153 episodes. 1986 – 1989
  2. 291 episodes. 1989 – 1996
  3. 64 episodes. 1996 – 1997
  4. 97 episodes. 2009 – 2011
  5. Over 84 episodes. 2015 – present

+ a great number of full-length films, OVAs, spin-offs, and special editions.

# 1.2

Dragon Ball Plot

Son Goku is a monkey-tailed boy who lives in the backwoods and practices martial arts. His grandfather dies leaving him a magical Dragon ball that has another six “brothers” waiting to join together to grant a user one wish. Goku meets a girl named Bulma whom he joins to find all the Dragon balls. It’s the start of their thrilling adventures.

# 1.3

My Opinion about Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball is for those who want to see how everything began. It’s a father of the shonen genre, a trendsetter of the “power measurement” among the characters and lots of mems. Comprising a vast amount of episodes, the series is still coming out so it’s for those who have a lot of free time.

The artwork is quite old-school so you’ll have to get used to it.

# 1.4

What are the similiraties between Dragon Ball and Naruto

Сriteria Similarity
Story What the both series have in common is a general shonen style: an arc – an adventure. The plot in Naruto is quite straight.
Fascination of story You need to wait until something really cool begins.
Artwork Very different.
Atmosphere Very different. In Dragon Ball, there is the spirit of adventure and a lot of humor. Naruto is more serious and the characters have definite goals.
Characters There are very similar types and this is not surprising since Dragon Ball is the father of shonen. The main characters’ personalities are very similar, they’re such foolish nice guys.
Drama There is drama in both series.
Logic and Balance We can see logic and balance only in Naruto.
Action Many characters have the same abilities which is not surprising since there is a great number of episodes and characters in Dragon Ball. However, the fights themselves are different.
Narrative Organization Every new arc is logically connected with the previous one. Besides, the flashbacks give us the greater part of information, so the action started before the main character was born.
Humor The humor is often based on the main character’s slow-wittedness.
# 1.5

What are the differences between Naruto and Dragon Ball?

Сriteria Dissimilarity
Story In Naruto, every new arc is logically connected with the previous one and Dragon Ball is ful of chaos. There are also children and grandchildren. There are only several main characters and each of them has their own adventures.
Fascination of story In Naruto, the most part of the story revolves around the main characters and you can get tired of them. Dragon Ball is better from this perspective as there is a variety of personages.
Artwork Extremely different. In Dragon Ball, it’s old-school.
Atmosphere The locations are quite boring.
Characters The antagonists in Dragon Ball don’t remain in memory while in Naruto the antagonists are often charismatic and their personalities are well-developed.
Drama Nothing to say.
Logic and Balance There is no balance in Dragon Ball.
Action In Dragon Ball, the scale of actions eventually gets higher although we can’t see that in fights. Naruto has its own boundaries.
Narrative Organization Dragon Ball must have been finished earlier than it actually did. To earn more money, the author had to pass off a planned, well-thought final as just a simple ending of another massive arc and a completion of another story line. Nevertheless, if the series is popular, it will continue to come out for a long time.
Humor In Dragon Ball, the humor is mainly obscene as opposed to Naruto.
# 1.6

Illustrations from Dragon Ball Anime Series

Second anime like Naruto is Nabari no Ou

# 2.1

Information about Nabari no Ou Anime Series

Original run: April 6, 2008 – September 28, 2008

Number of episodes: 26

Based on the manga Nabari no Ou written by Yuhki Kamatani

# 2.2

Nabari no Ou Plot

Miharu Rokujo is a 14-year-old student apathetic to everything surrounding him. His body carries the Shinra Banshou, a powerful technique which many ninja clans desire to possess to become the ruler of Nabari. Miharu’s classmate, Kouichi, and his English teacher, Kumohira, are the ninjas of the Banten clan. They persuade Miharu that they have to protect him from his many attackers as the Shinra Banshou is awakening and he is in danger. Miharu joins their group as a means for his survival and gets to know the world of Nabari.

# 2.3

My Opinion about Nabari no Ou

In Nabari no Ou, the atmosphere of the world of ninjas at the present time is well-conveyed. The series is dynamic with good artwork. For the fans of Naruto it will be an engaging shonen with all the “ingredients”: chasing of the powerful technique sealed in the main character, ninja fighting, ninjutsu, hijutsu, kunais, etc. It’s easy and pleasant to watch.

It should be born in mind that the plot of the anime is a little deviates from one of the manga, especially the atmosphere is different. As a matter of fact, the manga is a shonen through the eyes of a woman. It’s a psychologic piece with a touch of shojo, highly emotive and very long (72 chapters). No, I’m not trying to say that it’s bad. It’s just different from the anime which will be more interesting for boys. Choose whatever is closer to you.

# 2.4

What are the similiraties between Nabari no Ou and Naruto

Сriteria Similarity
Story Not much in common except the world of ninja and struggle for the power technique sealed in the main character.
Fascination of story It’s interesting to watch the personages. As new characters appear, the story unfolds more and more.
Artwork In both series, the characters are depicted with normal proportions.
Atmosphere Both series convey all the ruthlessness and violence coming from the ninjas who are ready to die carrying out their tasks.
Characters The protagonists are very similar, which is typical for the genre. Nothing new on the whole.
Drama Minimal similarity.
Logic and Balance Minimal similarity.
Action In the beginning, the fights are very similar until the moment when the level of power becomes higher in Naruto.
Narrative Organization Quite a coherent narrative. The main characters have definite goals and do everything to achieve them as the plot unwinds.
Humor Minimal similarity.
# 2.5

What are the differences between Naruto and Nabari no Ou?

Сriteria Dissimilarity
Story The main characters have completely different goals.
Fascination of story Watching Naruto, you can eventually get tired of the characters and everything that happens. Nabari no Ou isn’t very long so you just watch it at one sitting.
Artwork In Naruto, there is a great amount of various monsters and mutants as opposed to Nabari no Ou.
Atmosphere In Nabari no Ou, the personages rarely demonstrate supernatural abilities, they are close to classical ninjas. In Naruto, the characters are powerful magicians.
Characters The antagonists’ personalities, goals, and methods are very different.
Drama The drama in Naruto is incomparably more touching (although the manga Nabari no Ou is quite depressive).
Logic and Balance It’s difficult to characterize the balance in the manga where the characters are a little stronger than ordinary humans.
Action In Naruto, the fights are more interesting due to the great arsenal of ruses and techniques.
Narrative Organization Minimal similarity.
Humor Although there are funny moments in both series, humor is very different. In Nabari no Ou, humor is based on trolling and manipulation of the personages at the hands of the protagonist, which is very different from foolish and simple-minded Uzumaki.
# 2.6

Illustrations from Nabari no Ou Anime Series

Third anime like Naruto is Hunter × Hunter

# 3.1

Information about Hunter × Hunter Anime Series

  1. The first season

Original run: October 16, 1999 – March 31, 2001

Number of episodes:  62

  1. The second season

Original run: October 2, 2011 – September 23, 2014

Number of episodes:  148

# 3.2

Hunter × Hunter Plot

The anime is set in the world where Hunters travel the world doing all sorts of dangerous tasks like capturing criminals and searching for lost treasures in uncharted lands. Twelve-year-old Gon Freecs, who’s been told all his life that his parents died in a car accident, finds out that his father is alive and has become an accomplished Hunter. Gon decides to become a professional Hunter and eventually find his father.

# 3.3

My Opinion about Hunter × Hunter

I’ll start with the first season. Hunter × Hunter is very similar to Naruto regarding a difficult fighting system, a great amount of various techniques and the usage of tactics which influence the course of action. Many people think of Naruto as almost plagiarism of Hunter × Hunter (which came out earlier than Naruto) because of the thorough representation of the systems of Chakra and Nen. Moreover, the character types are very similar: a little bit foolish but brave protagonist, a red-eyed avenger, and a lightning release specialist. Additionally, there is a detailed description of the characters’ techniques, tricks, and deceptive maneuvers. Almost a whole chapter can consist of explanations for what happened during a fight covering several pages, which is also very similar to Naruto. However, the style and atmosphere of Hunter × Hunter are different.

On the whole, Hunter × Hunter is a good shonen about a team of friends who take over the world and get into trouble at the same time. It’s quite interesting to watch how the personages are developing into strong individuals and follow their adventures in a dangerous and cruel world.

As for the second season, it covers practically all the plot of the original manga, which is being written quite slowly because of the author’s (Yoshihiro Togashi) illness. The two seasons almost duplicate each other. The first one is thought to be more detailed with well-developed characters while the second one is closer to the manga, with minimal changes. If you decide to read the manga, be careful because you may not live till the ending…

# 3.4

What are the similiraties between Hunter × Hunter and Naruto

Сriteria Similarity
Story Harks back to the past times, which is a mover of the plot.
Fascination of story It’s interesting to watch the main characters but sometimes the author shows other personages who play essential role in some events. The main characters are not everything.
Artwork Minimal similarity. In Hunter × Hunter, the artwork is quite old-school.
Atmosphere The hardness of adventures, getting knowledge of the world step by step, and a detailed description of the fighting system – all these things bear strong resemblance in both series. The author does his best to involve viewers into the laws of the world.
Characters The character types have much in common.
Drama There are very touching moments. The flashbacks are well-thought-out.
Logic and Balance Quite similar and remain the same during the series in Naruto at least. Hunter × Hunter is far from the end.
Action There is a great variety of techniques. The series focuses on a detailed description of the characters’ abilities, tactics and strategies, which makes it less dynamic. However, the fights themselves are at the highest level.
Narrative Organization In my view, the series have similar conceptions of a gradual increasing of the main characters’ strength and their involvement in the global events through that.
Humor Very similar.
# 3.5

What are the differences between Naruto and Hunter × Hunter?

Сriteria Dissimilarity
Story The final goals and the actions themselves are quite different.
Fascination of story In Naruto, we get a great part of information from the flashbacks. In Hunter × Hunter, everything is happening in the real-time “mode”, so the team is in the center of the action and it’s interesting to watch the characters.
Artwork The artwork is old-school and close to Dragon Ball (even some personages are drown practically in the same way).
Atmosphere As the atmosphere in Hunter × Hunter is quite tense, the extras’ deaths just shock and bring out strong emotions. That happens due to the effect of emotional involvement and detailed elaboration that are put in the forefront while the scales of events and abilities are reduced.
Characters Minimal differences. In Hunter × Hunter, we see the same foolish protagonist surrounded with good tacticians and strategists who have to put up with his emotionality and impetuosity.
Drama The series is really dramatic. You empathize even with the supporting characters.
Logic and Balance Minimal differences.
Action Compared to Hunter × Hunter, the scale of actions in Naruto eventually gets higher and reaches an unimaginable level.
Narrative Organization Hunter × Hunter is more chaotic and it’s difficult to predict what happenы next.
Humor Minimal differences.
# 3.6

Illustrations from Hunter × Hunter Anime Series

Fourth anime like Naruto is O-Parts Hunter (666 Satan)

# 4.1

Information about O-Parts Hunter (666 Satan) Anime Series

Original run: 2001-2007

Number of volumes: 19

Number of chapters: 76

The manga series O-Parts Hunter, also known as 666 Satan in Japan, was written and illustrated by Seishi Kishimoto. It was published in Monthly Shonen Gangan magazine from 2001 to 2007.

# 4.2

O-Parts Hunter (666 Satan) Plot

A teenage girl named Ruby Crescent becomes a treasure hunter as her late father was. She needs to find O-Parts which are relics from an ancient civilization. They grant people supernatural powers and can be used by an O.P.T. (O-Part Tactician). She meets a mysterious boy named Jio Freed who becomes her bodyguard. To save Ruby from an O.P.T., Jio releases his true power and is revealed to be not only an O.P.T. but the real Satan. Together, Ruby and Jio decide to take on a dangerous quest to discover as many O-Parts as they can.

# 4.3

My Opinion about O-Parts Hunter (666 Satan)

The manga was written by Masashi Kishimoto’s brother. Masashi Kishimoto is the author of Naruto, so it’s not a surprise that O-Parts Hunter bears resemblance to Naruto. Actually, the manga wasn’t adapted into an anime series and here you’re searching for something to watch but not to read. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for the piece similar to Naruto, O-Parts Hunter is the first one to spring to mind. The artwork is very much alike. The plot is similar: the main character has a powerful monster sealed into him. The final battles are of the same level as the battles with Juubi.

# 4.4

What are the similiraties between O-Parts Hunter (666 Satan) and Naruto

Сriteria Similarity
Story The protagonist tries to achieve his goal while learning how to use his tremendous power and meeting new friends as the plot unwinds.
Fascination of story It’s quite interesting to watch the main characters as the mangaka pays a lot of attention to them.
Artwork As like as two peas with minimal deviations.
Atmosphere The action takes place in a cruel world where a man’s life is not valuable and everybody is on their own. That’s typical for many shonens.
Characters There is a great deal of similar characters with practically the same behavior and motivations. The protagonists and antagonists are very much alike.
Drama Naruto is much more dramatic.
Logic and Balance The same idea of having monsters sealed into characters and granting them an incredible power.
Action Close to the final part of Naruto when there is the change from tactics and ruses to the beating an opponent with destructive power.
Narrative Organization Minimal differences except for the time skip which is longer in O-Parts Hunter.
Humor There are jokes in the beginning but then the story becomes very serious as the plot unwinds.
# 4.5

What are the differences between Naruto and O-Parts Hunter (666 Satan)?

Сriteria Dissimilarity
Story In Naruto, the most part of the story is represented through flashbacks or in another way. The world of O-Parts Hunter is not so detailed.
Fascination of story Minimal differences.
Artwork Minimal differences.
Atmosphere The world of Naruto is quite detailed and even the extra characters are well-developed. That’s why Naruto is more enticing than O-Parts Hunter where there aren’t so many personages.
Characters Minimal differences. After the time skip, the main character becomes smarter than Naruto Uzumaki.
Drama Very few dramatic moments and lots of action.
Logic and Balance Minimal differences.
Action Wanting shinobi’s intricate techniques. The action is simpler and dynamic.
Narrative Organization Flashbacks are the most interesting part in Naruto. By contrast, there aren’t any flashbacks in O-Parts Hunter.
Humor Nothing to say.
# 4.6

Illustrations from O-Parts Hunter (666 Satan) Anime Series

Fifth anime like Naruto is D.Gray-man

# 5.1

Information about D.Gray-man Anime Series

Original run: October 3, 2006 – September 30, 2008

Number of episodes: 103

D.Gray-man is a manga series written and illustrated by Katsura Hoshino. It was first published in 2004 in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine and has been being published up to now. The series has over 200 chapters.  There is a spin-off novel series called D.Gray-man Reverse written by Kaya Kizaki that narrates a history of the characters. The anime series aired in Japan on October 3, 2006. It numbers 103 episodes. In 2013, they stopped publishing the manga for two years. Since July 17, 2015, the series has been being published in the Jump SQ. Crown magazine.

# 5.2

D.Gray-man Plot

Allen Walker is a 15-year-old exorcist with a cursed eye. His left arm can transform into a monstrous claw and destroy Akumas which are machines created by The Millenium Earl to help him destroy humanity. Having got trained by one of the Black Order generals Cross Marian, Allen travels the world fighting Akuma and searching for Innocence, the Anti-Akuma weapon.

# 5.3

My Opinion about D.Gray-man

At first I saw D.Gray-man as an anime similar to Naruto and even exceeding at some point. It was more of a horror (not for everyone’s taste though). Then the whole impression was spoiled as the amount of clichés increased greatly and numerous plotlines just couldn’t develop into something good.

D.Gray-man is one of the series that hold forth a hope in the beginning but fail in the end. Nevertheless, it’s just my opinion, so you can watch and judge for yourself.

# 5.4

What are the similiraties between D.Gray-man and Naruto

Сriteria Similarity
Story Gradual development of the story and characters with an explicitly represented start. As usual, the main characters are the guys who are “not like all the others”, i.e. they can be exorcists or shinobi, whatever. The main thing is that the pattern is the same.
Fascination of story Each arc produces new characters. The narration is unstable: at one moment it’s captivating action, at another it’s boring. And I just can’t help but mention (although it’s not the main thing) that there are two exorcists – two rivals.
Artwork The artwork is accurate as opposed to many other anime and manga where you need to stop and figure out who did what.
Atmosphere Feels like the characters are far from being immortal so the fighting scenes look realistic.
Characters In both anime, there are personages that you either like or dislike in all ways.
Drama Nothing special.
Logic and Balance The similarity is in the well-constructed system of the strength levels.
Action Both series are a little dragged-out and contain some absurd things.
Narrative Organization In both series, the scale of actions eventually gets higher. Moreover, the great similarity is in their “clandestine organizations”.
Humor Seems like both series are not funny at all.
# 5.5

What are the differences between Naruto and D.Gray-man?

Сriteria Dissimilarity
Story In D.Gray-man, the whole story revolves around the protagonist. In Naruto, the author gives place for the second main character and shows a more explicit picture of the world.
Fascination of story In D.Gray-man, there are arcs-fillers that could be simply removed as opposed to Naruto.
Artwork Difficult to say. The style is obviously different since each anime was made by different mangakas. I think that in D.Gray-man the characters are more sophisticated like bishonen.
Atmosphere In Naruto, you quickly forget that the anime is about shinobi but not about wizards. In D.Gray-man, you forget it well after.
Characters There are just a few unique and interesting personages as opposed to Naruto.
Drama Drama in D.Gray-man? Come on!
Logic and Balance Nothing to say. Everything is ruined…
Action There isn’t so much twaddle in D.Gray-man.
Narrative Organization The main character in D.Gray-man has quite logical, accessible ups.
Humor What humor are we talking about?
# 5.6

Illustrations from D.Gray-man Anime Series

As you can see, the list of anime like Naruto can be increased. However, it’s impossible to find a completely similar series as the essence of a good anime is in its story and unique characters. Despite the fact that I love Naruto very much, I must admit that it didn’t live up to my (and may be your) expectations as an original piece. It reminded me of Hunter × Hunter and sometimes of Dragon Ball. A complete rethink of established standards and a fresh approach to the use of threadbare clichés are also the things that define an author’s talent and the value of his work. Kishimoto created an exciting story and the whole big world full of adventures.

Nevertheless, I think it’s better for us to learn more and broaden our horizons but not to focus narrowly on the same pieces. Although many of us got to know the world of anime starting with Naruto, this world is immense and diverse. Who knows? You may find something more interesting in a completely different direction.

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Can you think of any anime series similar to Naruto? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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