No spoilers until the red text.
What can possibly be said about Naruto that hasn’t already been said before? It’s one of the “big three” in anime (the other two being Bleach and One Piece), and if you consider yourself an anime fan in any regard, you’ve probably seen or read some of Naruto. Maybe not the entire thing in all its 700-episode, 500-chapter glory, but you know enough to see a picture of Naruto and say, “hey, I know that guy.”
Unlike most others, I opted to read the entire manga instead of watch the entire anime. Naruto is a very special series to me, since it was my first introduction into the anime world when I watched it at age 9. I can still remember begging my mom to let me tape the fight between the Third Hokage and Orochimaru, and playing in my backyard with my neighbor pretending we had curse marks and could use jutsu.
But enough reminiscing. Is it a good anime or not? Well, given the sheer length of the series, it’s helpful to keep in mind that some sections are simply better than others. Overall, I would give Naruto a 9.5/10. It is incredibly enjoyable, the characters are extremely well-written and have a lot of depth to them (yes, even Sakura). The length of the series gives time to explore every character’s backstory in depth without it feeling like it drags out the narrative or is just a diversion from the main plot line. You want to know what exactly happened the night Itachi killed his entire clan, and you want to know why he left Sasuke alive. You want Naruto to unravel the mysteries of the Kyuubi. You want Sakura to become a strong ninja that doesn’t hide behind her stronger male counterparts.
The only thing that keeps this from being a 10/10 is the ending. It was satisfying in its own way, but failed to answer a lot of the questions we had about Naruto’s ninja way. Spoilers ahead! Sasuke’s motivations to destroy Konoha seemed unfounded after he got revenge on Danzo. Like, he literally nearly watched the world fall to an infinite genjutsu that would enslave all of mankind. Why was he still obsessed with destroying Konoha? It just didn’t quite make sense, and seemed like an excuse to have a second “Naruto vs. Sasuke” fight. Spoilers over!
In the end, I have to give it to Kishimoto for creating a world that stuck with a lot of us throughout our entire lives. I started watching Naruto when I was a kid, and only finished when I was about 20. That’s a long time to be invested in a story with so many characters and plot lines. I think the ending was unsatisfying in some ways, but tied up a lot of loose ends presented by the story. If you want an enjoyable, action-packed yet emotion-heavy shonen anime, I highly recommend you go watch or read Naruto as soon as possible!