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Top 5 Reasons Naruto is Better than Bleach

VO: Dan Paradis
Written by Garrett Alden The Ninjas outlived the Death Gods… and these may be the reasons why. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be comparing the anime and manga series “Naruto” to “Bleach,” to see why it’s the superior shōnen battle series. As some of the most popular series of their time in Japan and the West, these two are juggernauts of the industry, yet their approaches and success are far different from each other. Special thanks to our user Ashjbow for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 5 Reasons Naruto is Better than Bleach



The Ninjas outlived the Death Gods… and these may be the reasons why.
Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be comparing the anime and manga series “Naruto” to “Bleach,” to see why it’s the superior shōnen battle series.

As some of the most popular series of their time in Japan and the West, these two are juggernauts of the industry, yet their approaches and success are far different from each other.

#1: Characters


“Naruto” has a large cast full of colorful characters, not the least of which is its hero, the titular Naruto Uzumaki, along with his friend and eternal rival Sasuke, teammate Sakura, and teacher Kakashi. The extended cast includes ninjas from their village, as well as other, rival villages and various rogue ninjas. While Naruto acts as the focus most of the time, several are given surprising complexity, with backstories and side stories of their own. As with any large cast, giving depth to all of them can be difficult, but “Naruto” still manages to integrate them into the story it’s telling.

“Bleach” also has a massive amount of characters, first and foremost its protagonist, Ichigo Kurosaki. Along with his immediate group of friends and allies, the series features a staggering number of supporting characters, from the soul reapers, a.k.a. Shinigami, of Soul Society, to the assorted villain groups and monstrous hollows. Although plenty of them have their own backstories and flashbacks, too often “Bleach” feels as if it’s spreading itself too thin with too many characters that contribute little to the central plot; leaving some of them feeling empty and Ichigo, the nominal hero, like a secondary character. The very similar design of many male characters doesn’t help either.

“Naruto” manages its sprawling cast better than “Bleach” does, while also keeping a tighter focus on its central hero.

#2: Story


The setup of “Naruto” is simple – Naruto is a young ninja who wants to become the Hokage, his village’s leader, and to earn the respect and friendship he never had as a child outcast. Along the way, Naruto and his friends become wrapped up in a long brewing scheme to bring about world peace at a terrible cost, along with a recurring cycle of hatred that spans centuries. However, while the larger story is complex, and longwinded, it still serves to further Naruto’s goal of protecting those he cares about and becoming worthy of the title Hokage, while also offering commentary on the futility of war and revenge.

The story of “Bleach,” on the other hand, is not quite as tidy or well integrated. Ichigo also wants to protect his friends, but beyond that, he has no larger goal. He and his friends also become involved in an ancient conflict and conspiracy, but Ichigo feels somewhat disconnected from many of the major events of the storyline and the story itself has little in the way of deeper themes. “Bleach” has plenty of flash and attitude, but it’s ultimately rather shallow, with neither its main plot nor protagonist offering much in the way of substance. The story wasn’t helped by the anime being cut short before the manga ended.

While “Naruto” and “Bleach” each have epic storylines, with plenty of filler sprinkled throughout, we feel the former series has greater depth and a more compelling story to tell.

#3: Villains


“Naruto” has a legion of villainous ninjas opposing the protagonist and his allies. Most of them consist of rogue ninjas, such as the group Akatsuki, or else ninjas from other villages who come into conflict with Naruto and company. However, just because they’re antagonists, doesn’t mean they aren’t fleshed out characters. Many of “Naruto”’s villains have extensive backstories devoted to them; fleshing out their motivations and helping the audience and characters understand or even empathize with them. “Naruto” also benefits from having consistent central antagonists throughout most of its run, even if the final one does have little in the way of buildup.

“Bleach” has a great deal of memorable villains as well. From the duplicitous, overpowered Aizen, to his Hollow allies, the Espada, the series features some intimidating and iconic bad guys. However, their individual complexity and character depth is not very consistent, and while some receive detailed backstories, others suffer from what we’ll call “disposable villain syndrome.” Characters will be introduced for the heroes to fight against to show off their new abilities or powers and then have little impact or consequence to the story; acting as proverbial punching bags. The series also abandons its apparent central antagonist and switching to other, less impressive villains, particularly in the manga.

While “Bleach” does have some outstanding antagonists, ultimately, we prefer the greater depth and consistent narrative presence of those in “Naruto.”

#4: Fight scenes


Every shōnen battle series needs good action and fight scenes, and “Naruto” has some excellent fights. Although stealth is rarely an option, despite being about ninjas, many fights in the series involve strategy, as the combatants have to learn the strengths and weaknesses of their respective abilities and powers in order to win. Guts and determination have their role too, especially given Naruto’s personality, but even the orange-clad ninja is not without the ability to strategize. Even so, some of the fights towards the end of the series do tend to rely on pulling abilities out of nowhere or relying on overwhelmingly strong powers or moves.

“Bleach” has some intense battles as well, although they tend to rely on raw power, as well as unexpected, previously unknown abilities throughout. The characters’ abilities are primarily one trick ponies, with fights often being decided by how much spirit energy they have or their access to levels of power unlocked from their particular race’s special powers. That isn’t to say there aren’t any good fights in “Bleach,” there are plenty. However, their choreography and intensity can be undercut by a lack of depth and/or use of deus ex machina.

Despite “Bleach”’s excellent fights, “Naruto”’s battles offer a greater degree of intricacy, variety and often incredible animation.

#5: Impact


At over 200 million copies sold, “Naruto” is the third bestselling manga of all time, only narrowly missing second place to “Dragon Ball.” Its influence over the popularity of anime and manga worldwide has been tremendous, and its imaginative setting, compelling characters, and coming-of-age story have appealed to people of many ages and backgrounds. The series’ popularity has also been great enough that it got its own sequel spin-off, “Boruto,” which follows the adventures of Naruto’s son and the rest of the next generation of ninjas. And you gotta admit, even you had one of those nifty headbands back in the day…

Although not quite as well selling as “Naruto,” at around 90 million copies sold, “Bleach” has made a significant impact on the industry. For a while, it was right up there with “Naruto” and “One Piece” as one of the biggest hits in anime and manga. However, its legacy has not been quite as lasting, in part due to the significant pacing issues that affected its story, which led to a drop in ratings and the anime being canceled before the manga had been concluded.

All in all, “Naruto” managed to secure a longer lasting and well-received legacy for itself than “Bleach,” and while there are aspects of the latter series we enjoy a lot, as a whole, “Naruto” is its superior; although you’re free to “believe” differently. Get it?
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