This seminal anime has ended a few years ago, although the debate on which instalment of Naruto is superior continues to this day. If you’re interested in going on a Naruto binge, this is typically the first question you’ll ask – will it be the original series or Shippuden? 

How is Naruto different from Naruto: Shippuden?

Although the two shows are similar at their core, revolving around Naruto’s coming-of-age journey as a ninja, each anime is known for its distinct themes, character arcs, worldbuilding, approaches to violence and philosophical motifs, and narratives.

If you want to be well informed on the distinguishing qualities of each show for your next anime marathon, read on.

What is Naruto?

Team 7 (Kakashi, Naruto, Sasuke & Sakura) in Naruto
Team 7 (Kakashi, Naruto, Sasuke & Sakura) in Naruto

In this article’s context, Naruto is the name of the first part of the anime adapted from a manga by Masashi Kishimoto. It revolves around the adventures of Naruto Uzumaki, an orphaned ninja with the power of a legendary beast called the Nine-Tailed Fox sealed inside him, and his quest to prove himself to the village that once hated him. 

The anime is highly influential in revolutionizing the idea of ninjas in the public’s imagination, featuring concepts such as chakra energy, jutsu or mystical ninja techniques, hand seals, jinchuuriki – people who act as hosts for demons, and weapons like shuriken and kunai.

What is Naruto Shippuden?

Team 7 reunited in Naruto Shippuden
Team 7 reunited in Naruto Shippuden

Naruto Shippuden skips ahead to three years later. Naruto, completing his training with Jiraiya, learns that a rogue ninja organization – the Akatsuki – has begun kidnapping and killing other Jinchuuriki for their nefarious schemes. Still plagued by Sasuke’s desertion from their village, Naruto and the rest of the grown-up ninja hopefuls in Part 1 set off to thwart the Akatsuki and find their renegade friend.

Although they share the same continuity, Shippuden largely expands on the lore and setting of the original anime, culminating in conflicts that take the action much further than the boundaries of Hidden Leaf Village.

Differences Between Naruto and Naruto Shippuden

Plot

The original Naruto focuses on Naruto and his teammates’ early development as up-and-coming ninjas, which slowly escalates into a hunt for Orochimaru and Sasuke. Naruto Shippuden continues their search for Sasuke, but throws in the Akatsuki and far larger conflicts involving the Shinobi nations.

Themes

For the most part, Naruto Shippuden takes on a much darker and more serious tone compared to its predecessor. Part 1 is lighter and more comedic, and espouses perseverance above all odds. Part 2 relates more on seeking redemption and absolution.

naruto theme

Locations

The first Naruto instalment frequently takes place in or near Konoha Village, with which the audience becomes quite familiar over time. Shippuden takes the action to many other locales as important characters mobilize from one conflict to another.

Antagonists

Evildoers in Naruto consist of bandits, criminals, and solitary rogue ninja. The most powerful villains include Orochimaru and Itachi Uchiha. Shippuden introduces an entire organization of treacherous ninja – the Akatsuki – and Konoha and its allies had seen action against armies and legendary beings.

Character Ages

Naruto first started off when most of the main cast was in their early teens – at around 12 to 13 years old. Being a time skip, Shippuden sees the cast grown up to 16 or 17 years old.

Character Development

Being kids, the primary focus for most of the main and supporting cast’s development in Part 1 was proving their worth and developing themselves as ninja. In Shippuden, they deal with both identity crises and maturing in the face of immense obstacles.

Action

Naruto embellished most of its action scenes with the creative use of jutsus, ninja equipment, and tactical ability. Shippuden, while similarly action-packed, tends to rely more on the drama between characters to carry its fight scenes.

Powers and Abilities

Part 1 introduces the viewers to chakra-based ninja techniques, but also prominently showed acrobatic maneuvers and the utilization of projectiles and deception. In Shippuden, jutsu, rituals and more mystical types of abilities predominate, while mundane arts are typically underpowered.

Animation

Both Naruto and its Shippuden instalment were produced by Studio Pierrot, so their animation is generally similar. However, popular fan sentiment suggests that the composition and art direction of Part 1 is often more interesting and vibrant compared to Shippuden.

Music

To reflect its lighter theme, the original Naruto soundtrack tends to be playful and artfully exaggerated. Shippuden brandishes a more mature musical direction. Furthermore, there is a larger and more developed variety of instruments that can be heard in Shippuden’s OST.

Comparison Chart: Naruto Vs Naruto Shippuden

AreasNarutoNaruto: Shippuden
PlotLearning the ways of a ninja, eliminating rogue shinobiProtecting Konoha, finding Sasuke, defeating large-scale evils
ThemeLight-hearted, youthful, fieryDarker, more serious and intense
LocationsConfined to Konoha and some surrounding areasEncompasses many locales around the ninja world
AntagonistsMundane criminals to solitary major threats like OrochimaruVillainous organizations, overpowered single threats such as Kaguya
Character AgesEarly adolescence (12-13 years) for most charactersMiddle-late adolescence (16-17 years)
Character DevelopmentFocused on internal growthFocused on interpersonal growth
ActionDepicts combat with chakra use, tools and equipment, tacticsCombat is fixated on jutsus, seals, demons and other mystical powers
Powers and abilitiesBoth mystical and mundane abilities are useful.Mystical abilities are dominant.
AnimationMore intricate compositions and set designsCan become slightly bland or under-detailed
MusicLight, easy-going, and whimsical.Darker and more developed.

How is Naruto Similar from Naruto Shippuden?

Despite their many differences, Naruto and Naruto Shippuden are still two halves of the complete storyline from the manga. They focus primarily on Naruto and his friends, and both are significantly tied to Sasuke’s betrayal and redemption.

Thematically, Naruto’s greatest moral is that of never giving up. This is a lesson that has propelled its titular character through his darkest of days. 

In terms of production, Hayato Date and Studio Pierrot directed and produced both shows. Their art style and musical influences are generally consistent.

FAQ

⬛️ Is Shippuden darker than Naruto?

Shippuden begins around three years after Naruto and his colleagues fail to rescue and redeem Sasuke. They are grown-up, trained in their respective arts, and now quite familiar with the treachery and darkness of the ninja world. Their matured perspectives are reflected by the show’s themes itself, which usually deal with darker and more troubling conflicts.

🕰 Why is Shippuden so long?

Fans like complaining that the Shippuden anime dragged on considerably. This is because the show had become quite advanced in the storyline, to the point of overtaking the manga. To give the source material time to progress, the show frequently delved into filler episodes and arcs.

🧐 What does Shippuden mean?

Shippuden’s most common translation in the show’s context is “Hurricane Chronicles,” although in the linguistic sense, it is a compound of the words “shippu” – a swift-moving wind, and “den” – a tale or legend. Hurricane-like winds are often associated with Naruto Uzumaki through his special technique, the Rasenshuriken.

Conclusion

Naruto and Naruto Shippuden share a single timeline, but they diverge quite differently in many areas.

Their plots develop organically, from going on the cast struggling with ninja exams, to defeating rogue ninja, surpassing their aging mentors, coming to terms with their personal demons, and winning entire wars.

Shippuden carries a darker and more mature theme, which influences its music and artistic direction. The second instalment also enlarges the scope and worldbuilding of the original show.