Best Anime Like Naruto to Watch in 2021 If You Love Naruto
It should go without saying that Naruto is among a handful of legendary anime. It is a show that was not only immensely popular with its target audience in Japan but became iconic among Western audiences as well, such as the United States. Only a few other anime, such as Dragonball Z, One Piece, or Full Metal Alchemist even come close to achieving the same commercial success as Naruto.
Indeed, Naruto is so popular that, once the authors felt like they ran out of the story to tell about Naruto, created a spin-off Anime series called Baruto, a story about Naruto’s son.
For those who have finished the story with Naruto, and are looking for something similar to try out, there is a myriad of options, and the right one will mainly depend on just what exactly made Naruto so entertaining.
What exactly is Naruto?
Even though some might have recently have finished the anime, others might have watched it over the course of years, and while knowing that they want to find another anime like Naruto, don’t quite remember all of the details that caused them to fall in love with it in the first place. Therefore, a brief synopsis of Naruto is a wise place to start.
Naruto begins by following its namesake, Naruto Uzumaki. The show begins by following Naruto during his pre-teen years, starting when he is around 11. The original Naruto series follows Naruto as he seeks to become Hokage, the leader of his village.
However, this isn’t some quaint village in the mountains farming rice paddies, or a small fishing village sending young children out to sea. Naruto’s village is home to ninjas, in a world that is filled with Shinobi and other powerful fighters.
Naruto’s goal to become the Hokage of his village is one that will take much training, battling, and meditation to figure out who he wants to be in life. Even by the end of the first episode, watchers of Naruto can realize that Naruto may be a reckless and headstrong child (as most 11-year-old boys will be), but there are characteristics of honor and loyalty inside him as well.
The audience is further given a reason to root for Naruto in that he is an underdog. At the beginning of the series, the audience learns that a powerful fox, known as the Nine-Tails, had attacked Naruto’s home. When defeating the Nine-Tails, Naruto’s father sealed the spirit of the beast inside his newborn son.
This is something that many of the villagers ridicule and mock Naruto for, causing him to be an emotional outcast from many other people in the village. Everyone loves an underdog, especially one who is cast out from the onset.
That makes it all the more satisfying when that character gains friends and allies later on in the show. Naruto does just that, gaining some memorable friends like Sasuke Uchiha, Sakura Haruno, and Kakashi Hatake.
Naruto is also one of a few long term anime that has a long episode count. The original Naruto has 220 episodes, which were released over a five-year span. Not only that, but it generated a sequel series, Naruto: Shippuden, which can boast more than double the episodes of the original series, coming out with exactly 500.
It is important to recognize, however, that this number of episodes comes from numerous arcs that flush out secondary and tertiary characters, and filler episodes that make the world of Naruto a more rich and engaging place for the viewer.
Which Anime is Most Like Naruto?
Coming to an ultimate conclusion as to what anime is most like Naruto is problematic because no two anime are exactly alike. However, what is truly helpful for viewers is to begin by figuring out what exactly it was about the anime that they fell in love with or most enjoyed.
By doing this, viewers can avoid spending valuable time viewing anime that they won’t enjoy and can focus on ones that will align more with Naruto, at least in the way that they most care about. Some will likely care about the cast of characters and will enjoy characters who are like Naruto, regardless of the world they find themselves in.
Others will shonen anime, which is the genre that Naruto falls under. Others will simply enjoy longer animes, ones that they can become invested in, and that have more than the typical twelve or thirteen episodes that come with a season of any Japanese anime.
In breaking down the search into these categories, viewers will be better to find an anime that is most likely to please them and allow them to enjoy the same feelings they had when watching the original show.
Rooting for the Outcast
One of the incredible draws for Naruto is following a character who is still coming to grips with their power. When compared to the Nine-Tails, Naruto’s own power is very weak. Not only that, but Naruto is not always guaranteed a victory.
There are many times along the series where he is pummeled into oblivion before he finally finds a way to win a battle. This theme of learning and improving on mistakes is a key part of shonen anime but appears in plenty of other anime.
There is something just emotionally rewarding for the viewer to see just how far a character has come. Those who watched Naruto, and later Naruto: Shippuden, have watched a character who has taken a long time to learn the techniques and skills needed to best his opponents.
Oftentimes, even from the early onset of the show, it was not brute power that won Naruto’s battles, but ingenuity and a creative way to take on his foe.
Watching characters who win more by their wits, and what they have been through, proves for a far more enjoyable watch than a character who is overpowered from the start, or who at least seems to have it all together.
My Hero Academia
One anime that really recreates this vibe, and perhaps does it even better, is My Hero Academia. Now, most people would not think to compare the shows too much, but regarding the characters, Naruto and My Hero Academia have similar arcs.
My Hero Academia follows the story of Izuku Midoriya. Midoriya lives in a world where around eighty percent of people have some sort of superpower, called a “Quirk.” These Quirks range from relatively innocuous things, like minor prestidigitation or having a tail, to having the ability to disintegrate anything you touch or arrange the molecular structure of anything you touch.
In this world, the viewer comes across Midoriya, who from the get-go wants to be like All Might, the “Number One Hero” of this world. However, Midoriya is told as a child that he has no quirk and that he can never be a hero. He doesn’t let this stop him.
He applies to get into UA High School, the best school for anyone who wants to be a hero. Through a series of events, Midoriya does get powers, but for most of the first season, he struggles to use them. Oftentimes Midoriya is left as a complete physical wreck by the end of a fight, complete with broken bones.
Even though he gives his all in these fights, it doesn’t always allow him to turn out on top. Nevertheless, he still finds victory through the help of friends — if he finds victory at all.
Following Midoriya will be similar to following Naruto for many viewers. Though the world is different, both characters have immense trouble figuring out how to use the power within themselves. Many times a personality change is needed before the characters can access a change as they desire.
Supporting Characters in My Hero Academia
In addition, My Hero Academia hosts an equally impressive slew of side characters, just like Naruto. It must be said that since My Hero Academia only has a fraction of the total number of episodes that Naruto does, some of these characters have yet to be fully flushed out or have a very brief one or two-episode arc that gives viewers a better glimpse into who they are.
However, those glimpses into characters are always dynamic revelations that better show the audience why the characters are acting the way they are and allow us to better empathize with them.
Indeed, by the end of the most recent season, over a dozen of Midoriya’s classmates have had some degree of backstory covered, showing why they are fighting to become a hero. There have been some particularly tear-jerking episodes in which this is done, and the build-up of why a character fights is not always rewarded with victories in the present.
In fact, one episode revolves around one of Midoriya’s close friends and why she wants to be a hero. We see how she wants to earn money for her parents, to create a world where they don’t have to work so hard for her. We see a younger version of this character crying, saying that she wants to make her parents proud.
We then transition to watching this character fight another character who, up until this point, is one of the most powerful students at the school. Even though she fights hard and reveals a whole slew of impressive moves, she is ultimately defeated in the long run.
My Hero Academia, much like Naruto, doesn’t allow the characters to win just because the audience would like them to. Every victory is hard-won, and sometimes, it is more satisfying to see how the character picks themselves up after a loss than seeing them win.
For those desiring an even more hard-pressed underdog than Izuku Midoriya, they need look no further than Noriko from Gunbuster. While it is an older anime, and one with not many episodes, its brief run does justice to underdog anime.
The show revolves around Noriko, whose deepest desire is to be a space pilot just, like her father. However, at the beginning of the show, Noriko is a downright awful pilot, and she is bullied relentlessly at the training school by the other students.
Noriko is frequently compared to her father, who was one of the admirals among the space pilots. However, Noriko pushes herself nonstop to try and become a good mech pilot. Even halfway through the series, she isn’t very good compared to the stars among her classmates.
By the end of the series, though, Noriko has become a respectable mech pilot in her own right. Unlike Naruto, who eventually goes on to become the Hokage, Noriko never becomes the “best mech pilot.” However, she becomes a good one, and that in itself is deeply satisfying for the viewing audience.
Shokugeki no Soma
Finally, one more show that might have an underdog character would be Shokugeki no Soma, or Food Wars!, as it is called in America. This show is drastically different from the others in that it is not very action-based, and there is no fighting…well, at least with fists or mechs.
In Food Wars!, the characters fight a battle of palates, each seeking to become the best cook that they can be. The story revolves around Soma Yukihira, the son of a diner owner.
Yukihira, ever since he was little, has learned under his father Joichiro, and seeks to become a great chef. His dream in life is to eventually run their diner. However, the show starts with Soma losing something like his 700th cook-off against his father.
His father, fearing that Soma will stagnate as a chef if he stays at home, sends him off to Totsuki Academy, a place where the world’s best and richest chefs train. It is a brutal environment, and we often see Soma compete against others who are stronger than him. This show tones down the number of defeats compared to My Hero Academia and Gunbuster, but Yukihira does continue to get shot down.
So, if you are looking for an anime to inspire this week’s dinner or that showcases amazing food and an amazing underdog, Food Wars! would be a good place to start.
Show Me Some Shonen
For many, simply finding another shonen would allow them to find the same feelings they felt when watching Naruto. Shonen is a style of anime that has a little bit of everything.
It is the buffet platter of anime. It has a little drama, fighting, action, and some adventure. In Naruto, this comes in the form of an epic adventure, with a lofty goal of becoming a Hokage, and the many battles that will need to happen between then and now.
For those who watched Naruto as a teenager, pre-teen, or sometimes during school, this is likely why you enjoyed it so much. The shonen genre is specifically aimed at pre-teen to teenage men, but it can also still be appealing to women of that age as well.
Luckily, those looking for a gripping shonen won’t have to search very far, as the genre is filled with anime classics that have spanned the ages.
If you enjoyed Naruto at a younger age, but perhaps are looking for a little more realism or serious tone now, Demon Slayer may make for the ideal anime. In many respects, it is very similar to Naruto, except that the level of grit has been turned up. Demon Slayer follows Tanjiro, a boy living in Japan sometime in the 1910s-1920s. Tanjiro lives in the mountains with his mother and siblings.
One fateful day, however, Tanjiro returns to his house to see that his mother and all his siblings have been butchered by a demon. Only Nezuko, the oldest daughter and Tanjiro’s younger sister, has survived. Tanjiro tries to help the injured Nezuko, only to realize she has been infected and has become a demon, as well.
Tanjiro then takes the path of becoming one of the mystical samurai — called Demon Slayers — those who hunt down the demons and end their reigns of terror. Tanjiro does this in hopes to find a cure for his sister, who accompanies him on his missions and to return her to normal.
This anime is very similar to Naruto because of the focus on martial arts, specifically revolving around cloak and dagger, swordsman type fighting. In addition, Tanjiro’s family has been killed, and he has to deal with a curse (Nezuko’s demon transformation) just like Naruto lost his parents and had to deal with having the Nine Tail’s spirit inside of him.
For those who loved all of the techniques of fighting in Naruto, they are very likely to enjoy Demon Slayer as well.
Another shonen that many Naruto lovers might enjoy would be Soul Eater. Soul Eater is a solid shonen in its own right and has a very compelling set of characters, each with detailed backstories and motives.
The story follows Maka and Soul, one of many pairs of students at Death Weapon Meister Academy. Maka, a young girl, is a meister, who is an individual who wields a weapon. Soul, her male counterpart, can transform into a giant scythe.
The goal of the pair is the same goal every meister/weapon pair has: for the weapon to devour the souls of 100 keishins and 1 witch soul, and to become a Death Weapon.
The show begins with the two devouring their 100th soul, and then pursuing a witch. Lord Death, the pseudo-principal of the school, warns the two that if they mess up they will forfeit the 100 souls they earned up until now. Needless to say, they mess up, and the two must start from scratch.
Soul Eater makes for a particularly interesting shonen because Soul, one of the two protagonists, is inseparably paired with Maka, his counterpart. Their relationship, and the way they have to team up during combat, makes for an interesting premise.
Not only that, but the overall animation style of Soul Eater is utterly unique, finding ways for the background and characters to be unique in their depictions.
Finally, one other classic shonen that Naruto fans would enjoy could be Fullmetal Alchemist. Fullmetal Alchemist revolves around the brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric. They live in a society akin to Industrial Era England, save that alchemy has become the predominant power in the universe.
Both brothers are horribly scarred by a failed alchemy attempt to bring their mother back from the dead. Alphonse dies during the process, and Edward has to literally give an arm and a leg to bring his brother’s soul back.
The two brothers then go on an epic journey to find the Philosopher’s Stone, the only thing that can restore Edward’s missing limbs and Alphonse’s body. This series is similar to Naruto, in that the main characters both have a tragic backstory.
The Elric brothers lose their mother early in the show, and their father is never in the picture. Likewise, Naruto never knows his mother or father. In addition, the alchemy used in Fullmetal Alchemist gives off the same level of magic as many of the ninjutsu techniques in Naruto.
Each character in Fullmetal Alchemist has a very unique style of alchemy that could be well-suited or ill-suited against any given opponent. Also, much like Naruto’s journey, Edward and Alphonse grow as individuals during their journeys and learn many valuable lessons that help them grow into adulthood.
Let’s Hit Those Triple Digits
One of the biggest faults many find with the anime industry is how every year, new anime is treated to some sort of frenzied cage match. Numerous new anime enters the ring, and only a handful exist, leaving some solid and popular animes never seeing a second season — let alone a solid conclusion. Many are frustrated to start an anime, only to see that it has only one season, and was released in the mid-2010s.
This is something especially frustrating for American viewers, who are unfamiliar with the cutthroat nature of anime studios. So, this leaves a large chunk of people who don’t want to invest their time into any short animes. Naruto was anything but.
Counting the original series, the follow-up series, and the new series about Naruto’s son, the show looks like it may cap out with over 1,000 episodes. With each being a half-hour long, that is 500 hours of content, not to mention the half dozen or so movies that follow independent storylines. With a show this long, it is very easy to get invested in the world, and it is possible that quite a few are looking for another show to be their new show.
With that being the case, there are quite a few long shows that could fill the void left by Naruto. One such show that could fill the void would be Fairy Tail. Fairy Tail follows the story of Natsu Dragneel, a Dragon Slayer and a powerful fighter.
Natsu, along with his Exceed partner Happy, stumble across a female wizard, Lucy. After befriending her, the pair convince Lucy to join their guild, Fairy Tail. The trio then go on a myriad of quests and adventures, picking up new friends and followers along the way.
This show can boast a whopping 339 episodes, although the end of the show is definitively insight. This show also has other similarities to Naruto, such as epic battle sequences, magic (in Naruto the fighting styles can become magic in all but name), and a humorous main character.
Dragon Ball Z
Whenever talking about anime with lots of episodes, Dragon Ball Z looms like a titan among men. The show has nearly 300 episodes but can boast an additional 13 movies to go with it, mostly aimed at the American audience that gave it so much of its popularity.
The show follows Goku, a fighter of a bygone race. Goku stands as a protector of the Earth but oftentimes comes to blows with entities from various planets, each with their own designs and desires for the planet. Dragon Ball Z is also known for its over-the-top combat, with environment annihilating effects.
Answer: To be sure, Naruto finds himself in some tough spots, but he doesn’t die. However, in the new series Baruto, Naruto is much older and gives off “Old Man Logan” vibes. If the show follows the manga, some very tough stuff might be in line for Naruto.
Answer: Due to its age and popularity, Naruto can be enjoyed on a variety of platforms. Websites like Crunchyroll and Funimation offer all the episodes of Naruto, but with commercials scattered throughout. For those who already own a Netflix subscription, Naruto is a new appearance on their line up and will have its seasons added periodically over the coming months. Naruto is also available for purchase on Bluray and DVD, for those who like to binge offline.
Answer: Naruto is not a true story. However, much of the inspiration for Naruto comes from the historical ninjas that find themselves within the pages of Japanese culture. Many of the costumes, clothing, and styles have some sort of basis in the fighting and espionage styles of the historic ninjas (even, arguably, Sexy Ninjitsu).
Answer: Naruto is a solid show that has a lot going for it. That being said, it might be very daunting for those who have never watched an anime that long before. Good advice would be to watch the first 100 episodes of the main show. After that, try and skip over the filler episodes. Shows like Naruto oftentimes have filler episodes so that they can keep pace with the manga that is being made back in Japan. If those initial 100 episodes are super gripping, then you can watch fillers (and maybe consider Shippuden when you’re done!).
Just Pick One, Already!
Now, some might feel cheated by the above divisions. They might complain that all of those factors were what they loved about Naruto. They want one single anime that best fulfills all those roles. Well, while that is a heavy burden to bear, there is one anime that does a decent amount of justice to all the above-mentioned categories.
Hunter X Hunter
Hunter X Hunter follows the story of Gon Freecss. Gon, a young boy of about 11, wants to follow in the footsteps of his father and become a Hunter, one of a legendary few who travel the world in search of riches, monsters, artifacts, and more. This show hits all three qualifications.
Firstly, Gon is very much like Naruto, in that a lot of the show is him getting stronger and stronger. He starts off as a promising young boy, sure, but he is fairly weak compared to the other people he faces.
Also, just like Naruto, Gon is accompanied by his friends Killua, Leorio, and Kurapika. Not only that, but Hunter X Hunter is a solid fit for the shonen genre, being a show many could flock to from all around. Even better, it boasts a modest 148 episodes, of which 139 have English dubs.
Now, the only precursor is that the anime left off on somewhat of a cliffhanger. This is largely due to the fact that the manga writer had a nervous breakdown, and only releases a dozen chapters every year or so.
However, he has firmly committed to finishing it, so sometime down the road, the anime might be fully completed as well. However, for those who want a definitive answer for which anime would be most like Naruto, Hunter X Hunter is it.