For many viewers an adaption of a beloved piece of fiction, whether it be a novel or comic, can spell utter disaster. Adaptions often seem to leave much to be desired, but for a select few I would argue adaptions have the capacity to substantially enhance a work as a whole.
Another fellow blogger, mkarrs, elaborates further on particular aspects that can make or break an adaption, but I want to focus more on the benefits of adaption for certain genres. Speaking for myself as an avid reader of manga, I often find myself disappointed when anime adaptions leave out characters or large pieces of the story or just completely disregard the plot’s ending all together.
However, this has not been the case with Naruto.
Well, not completely.
For some manga genres, such as shoujo manga, the plot is the heart and soul of the entire work and without it the story would be completely lost. But for shounen or action series like Naruto, while the plot is indeed very important, the fight and battle scenes make up a large portion of the storyline as well. And for a work such as Naruto, that at its core is literally about ninjas battling other ninjas, those fight scenes become pretty vital.
Now that is not to say it isn’t fun to watch a shoujo manga come to life on screen in an anime adaption. But I would argue the impact of the action scenes depicted in Naruto as an anime versus the manga gives the sequences so much more depth and intensity, which allows the viewer to get truly immersed.
As an example, towards the end of the series in chapter 636, a fight between Kakashi Hatake and Obito Uchiha takes place. These are a few pages of the scene from that chapter:
Now here is the anime adaption, a portion of Naruto Shippuden episode 375, of the same scene:
Just for kicks I decided to time myself on how long it took me to read the chapter. I was generous and allowed myself to fully take in the artwork as well as the written dialogue, which isn’t as present during the anime clip in this post, but is present if you watch the first half of the episode. The first twelve minutes of the episode covers all of chapter 636 and it took me at most three minutes to get through the chapter.
I know there is quite a large portion of the fan base that would point out that one of the flaws of Naruto as an anime is that some scenes are drawn out for far too long and much of the series becomes repetitive. Putting that argument aside, I personally found that fight scenes were far less confusing and hectic in the anime when compared to the manga and didn’t mind having the scenes extended if it meant well animated and constructed action sequences.
In conclusion, whether you enjoy the anime or manga version of Naruto more, both are going to have their drawbacks. But for me personally, I really enjoyed watching the anime after reading the manga because I think the animation enhanced the already complex fight sequences and storylines while still maintaining the intensity found in the original manga.