Naruto Shippuden is one of the giants of shonen anime. With 500 episodes, Shippuden covers a huge part of Naruto Uzumaki’s epic ninja journey.
If you only know Naruto as Boruto’s Dad, this Naruto Shippuden anime review will help you gain a better understanding of the Naruto universe. We’ll also see if Naruto is truly worthy of all the hype.
Table of Contents
- The Basics
- Main Characters
- Important Story Arcs
- Voice Acting and Animation
Naruto Shippuden is part of Masashi Kishimoto’s shonen tale of a young ninja who slowly rises to the top. The franchise started with a manga in 1999. Naruto’s story can be divided into three parts — Naruto (2002-2007), Naruto Shippuden (2007-2017), and Boruto (2017 onward).
Shippuden covers the middle third of Naruto’s evolution from underdog ninja screwup to village leader and father. In a sense, the series is similar to Dragon Ball Z. Both are long-running shonen anime fighting series. And both feature time skips where young heroes become older, wiser, more serious, and more powerful.
Naruto Shippuden has dozens of characters. These include Naruto’s friends, teammates and mentors; allies from other villages; Konoha villagers; assorted villains; and more. Some of the more important names include:
Naruto Uzumaki — In Shippuden, the knucklehead ninja learns updated versions of the Rasengan, as well as the extremely powerful Sage Mode. He also gains more control over Kyuubi/ Kurama, the Nine-Tailed Fox. Although older, he still retains the same goofball personality as before.
Sasuke Uchiha — Naruto’s dark rival starts Shippuden as a rogue ninja. Sasuke kills his former mentor, Orochimaru. Driven by his desire for revenge, he also battles his brother, Itachi. During the Five Kage Summit arc, Sasuke kills militant, scheming Konoha village leader Danzo. Eventually, Sasuke returns to help Naruto defeat Kaguya during the Fourth Shinobi World War.
Akatsuki — These renegade ninjas serve as the primary villains for several story arcs. Itachi is one, and the group is led by Pain. Naruto battled Pain to earn one of his better, more satisfying heroic victories. Eventually, the true leader of the Akatsuki is revealed to be (spoiler), a.k.a. Obito Uchiha.
Jinchuriki — These special ninjas include Naruto, Gaara, and Killer B. They have powerful Tailed Beasts sealed within them. Obito wants the Tailed Beasts so he can revive the Ten-Tailed Beast.
Important Story Arcs
Kazekage Rescue Mission — Naruto returns home. The Akatsuki capture Naruto’s friend Gaara, the leader of the Hidden Sand Village. This sets up the whole Tailed Beast plotline.
Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission — We meet Naruto’s new teammate, Sai, and Sai’s boss, Danzo. Naruto unleashes an uncontrollable four-tailed fox demon form. Sasuke appears.
Itachi Pursuit Mission — Sasuke attacks Orochimaru, and forms his own team. Kabuto emerges as a potential threat.
Tale of Jiraiya the Gallant — Pain kills Naruto’s mentor, Jiraiya. We learn more about the Tailed Beasts.
Fated Battle Between Brothers — Sasuke kills Itachi, and learns (a biased version of) Uchiha clan history.
Pain’s Assault — Pain destroys Konoha. Naruto nearly goes into full Nine Tails monster mode. His dead father, who is revealed to be the Fourth Hokage, calms him down. Naruto talks Pain into surrendering.
Five Kage Summit — Danzo becomes acting Sixth Hokage. After Danzo’s treachery is revealed, Sasuke kills him. Sakura then tries to kill Sasuke.
Fourth Shinobi World War — Shippuden reaches its climax, with a lot of battles and more history. Kabuto creates an army of powerful, undead ninja. Sasuke and Itachi team up to fight Kabuto. Orochimaru returns, and becomes a good guy. Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, and Kakashi reunite.
Birth of the Ten-Tails Jinchuriki — Obito plans to trap everyone in an endless dream world. Naruto and Sasuke fight Madara Uchiha. We learn ninja history from the Sage of Six Paths, the first ninja.
Kaguya Otsusuki Strikes — Madara creates the Infinite Tsukuyomi dream world. Moon Princess Kaguya is revealed to be the final boss. Obito helps Naruto save the world. Naruto and Sasuke have one final, epic fight.
And that’s the end — except for some filler episodes, and a movie which leads into Boruto.
Voice Acting and Animation
Like shonen boy heroes Luffy and Goku, Naruto is voiced by a woman. For 20 years, Junko Takeuchi has provided Naruto with the perfect voice. Her little kid Naruto, teenage Naruto, and adult Naruto all sound appropriate.
The rest of the cast is memorable as well. For example, tsundere Sakura is just rough enough. Tessho Genda gives Kyuubi just the right amount of deep, threatening menace.
The animation can be a bit of a mixed bag. Filler episodes tend to be cartoony. But, Naruto‘s graphic style can handle both serious ninja action and silly gags. When the series wants to be serious, the animators can create some epic scenery, from the deadly Forest of Death to the Valley of the End waterfall.
Over the years, Naruto’s opening and ending themes have included some real bangers. Although, I have to admit that my favorite openings all come from the original series.
My favorite Shippuden songs are all closing themes. It’s mostly a fun combination of rock, rap, and dance music. But they also mix in a few slower, reflective ones such as Utakata Hanabi by Supercell.
Some of the songs get help from the video — such as the fun, silly dance party atmosphere of Bacchikoi by Dev Parade. Niji no Sora by Flow puts Ichiraku Ramen in the spotlight. But my favorite is probably Jitensha by Oreskaband.
Verdict – 8/10
Overall, Naruto Shippuden is a good successor to the original Naruto. It takes a fun character and gives him much needed growth and development.
Like the original, it does have a lot of filler. Some people like filler, some don’t. You might want to consult an episode guide when you watch it.
The story also gets complicated during the finale. The ninja history stuff shows how deep and messed up the series’ central conflict really is. But it can also be confusing.
However, it’s still a good, fun shonen series. If you liked Naruto, you’ll enjoy watching Naruto Shippuden.
If you’re a fan of Naruto, why not get some merch to show it? Naturally, a long-running shonen giant will have a lot of options available. ZenPlus offers a ton of figurines, plus posters, T-shirts, DVDs, etc. You can also buy playing cards, and Naruto-branded Seiko watches.
My personal favorites are the Nyaruto! Mega Cats, pictured above (currently page 6 of the results).