As far as the world of (shōnen) anime is concerned, there is a group of anime known as the “Big Four”. Among them, Dragon Ball is considered to be the predecessor, while the remaining three – Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece – are considered to be the “Big Three”, since they all came out roughly at the same time, while Toriyama’s anime is a tad older. These four shows have certainly made an impact on the history of anime and that is why we at Fiction Horizon have decided to compare these four shows for you!
Bleach and Naruto are considered to be classics of shōnen anime. Both shows aired at roughly the same time and they attracted roughly the same audience. They are also very similar in many ways. And while Bleach’s ending was criticized, Naruto was concluded in a satisfactory way, according to fans. This is why it is really difficult to determine te winner here, but we at Fiction Horizon are Bleach fans which is why we pick it.
In today’s article, we are going to compare Bleach and One Piece. In the first two sections, we are going to give you an overview of the two series and their plots, while the final section is going to contain a comparison of the two anime series, in which we are going to reveal the reasons behind our choice. Enjoy!
Bleach: An overview
Bleach is a manga series by the Japanese artist Tite Kubo, which was also implemented as an anime. Studio Pierrot produced an anime series for the manga with 366 episodes, directed by Noriyuki Abe. The series was broadcast weekly on the Japanese television station TV Tokyo from October 5, 2004 to March 27, 2012, with the days of the week changing in the meantime. It last ran every Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. Japanese time.
Studio Pierrot also wrote the two 30-minute Bleach OVA episodes Memories in the Rain and The Sealed Sword Frenzy. The Weekly Shonen Jump announced in March 2020 that the anime would continue. The “Quincy Blood War” arc of the manga is to be adapted. The one-shot manga Burn the Witch was also adapted in the form of a movie.
The 15-year-old student Ichigo Kurosaki has had the ability to see ghosts since childhood. One day he meets the Shinigami Rukia Kuchiki who is hunting a hollow. As she is seriously injured during the fight, she is forced to transfer her powers to Ichigo so that he can defeat the hollow in her place. Until Rukia recovers, Ichigo has to do the work of a shinigami.
Rukia registers at Ichigo’s school and moves into his closet. Over time, the two become friends. Since Rukia Kuchiki has exceeded her stay in the human world, Rukia is forcibly brought back to the Soul Society by her stepbrother, the captain of the 6th Division of the 13 Protection Units of the Soul Society, Byakuya Kuchiki, and the lieutenant of the 6th Division, Renji Abarai.
Because of the transfer of her Shinigami powers to a person, which is a grave offense, she is sentenced to the annihilation of her soul. As Ichigo desperately wants to save Rukia, he is trained by Kisuke Urahara, who runs a business with products for spiritual beings and is an extraordinarily combat-experienced former captain of the 12th Division.
Together with his friends and schoolmates Yasutora “Chad” Sado and Orihime Inoue, who also have special powers, and the Quincy Uryū Ishida, he makes his way to the Soul Society, where an attempt to save Rukia leads to confrontations with powerful Shinigami comes.
Bit by bit a plot planned by one or three commanders Seireiteis is uncovered, which could have serious consequences, not only for the Soul Society, but also for this world, whereby Karakura, the hometown of the main characters, is explicitly targeted by the conspiracy.
Naruto: An overview
Naruto is a manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. The manga tells the story of a teenage ninja named Naruto Uzumaki, who aspires to become Hokage, leader of his village, with the purpose of being recognized as someone important within the village and among his companions.
The series is based on a one-shot that Kishimoto made in August 1996 for Akamaru Jump magazine. As of November 1999, Naruto is published by Shūeisha in the Japanese weekly magazine Shōnen Jump, being compiled since then in seventy-two volumes.
The success of the manga caused its plot to be adapted into an anime produced by Pierrot and distributed by Aniplex, which was broadcast on the television network TV Tokyo starting on October 3, 2002. The first season had a total of 220 episodes, with a sequel series, Naruto: Shippūden, airing from February 15, 2007.
In addition, Pierrot has produced nine films based on the series, both from the first and second seasons, as well as several original animations. Other pieces of merchandising include a set of light novels, art books, video games, and collectible cards developed by different companies.
On October 6, 2014, with only five issues remaining, the ending for the manga was announced, which concluded on November 10, 2014. Both the manga and the anime have reached notable distribution in other countries: the manga is published in more than thirty-five countries and the anime is broadcast in more than sixty.
VIZ Media was in charge of distribution in English, where it has become one of the company’s most successful publications. The delay involved in translation and adaptation has encouraged its distribution over the Internet (via scanlation and fansub) shortly after it appeared in Japan, which has led to the work being disseminated long before it was officially translated in other countries.
Bleach vs Naruto: Which anime is better?
Before giving our final verdict. The things we are going to compare are going to be the plot, the characters, the depth, the animation, and the overall influence of the anime itself. The analysis is primarily going to focus on the anime and not the manga. Let us begin.
The plots of both Bleach and Naruto are very focused, with every moment leading to the realization of a precisely-defined goal. Sure, there are other segments, especially if you consider the filler episodes, but each of these two shows has had a fixed plot goal towards which it went. Now, Bleach is more based on the samurai culture of medieval Japan, something akin to the movies of Akira Kurosawa, while Naruto is more focused on the shinobi culture. These two settings are quite similar despite their difference and they have a element of epicness to them, which made both of these shows extremely special. So, when Bleach and Naruto are concerned, it all really comes down to what you prefer. Okay, we’ll disregard the – for some – controversial ending of Bleach, as it couldn’t really ruin the whole experience, which really means that it all depends on you. We at Fiction Horizon prefer Bleach in this scenario, but they are so close to each other that, officially, we have to say that it’s a tie.
When it comes to character development, this is also a category where both Bleach and Naruto did an amazing job. The two protagonists, Ichigo Kurosaki and Naruto Uzumaki, are one of the most iconic anime characters ever, on par with Dragon Ball’s Son Goku, and their stories, as well as their depths, are simply amazing. Both Kubo and Kishimoto put a lot of effort in sketching out the portrait of these two characters and this is what really made these two shows great. As far as the rest of the cast is concerned, we cannot really choose between these two shows. Whether it’s Rukia or Sasuke, Inoue or Sakura, Kon or Kakashi, Hitsugaya or Tsunade, all of these characters have been portrayed excellently and despite being supporting cast members, all of them have enough depth and individuality to be extremely likable. As for the villains, you can’t really go wrong with the likes of Aizen or Orochimaru. This is why this category also has to be declared a tie.
When it comes to depth, though, this is where Bleach really does the trick. Bleach tackles a lot of complex topics, most of them concerning the issues of life and death, through which other questions are raised. That is a level of philosophical and existential depth that Naruto never had, despite the latter also tackling some darker issues. Naruto is more focused on loyalty, friendship, determination, and the following of one’s goals to the very end; Bleach tackles all of these topics as well, especially through the brilliantly portrayed friendship between Ichigo and Rukia, but it also has that additional depth that the Naruto doesn’t really have. This is why this point goes to Bleach.
In terms of animation, Bleach wasn’t always perfect. Although the animation got better near the end, and the movies were especially good in this field, Bleach’s animation relied a lot on stock footage and was sometimes too static for the situations that it depicted. Bleach contained a lot of fighting scenes and a lot of scenes with characters fighting and performing complex movements. And although these scenes were by no means bad, they weren’t really that good in the beginning. On the other hand, the animators of Naruto did an amazing job from the very start and the whole series had a consistent level of high-quality animation that only got better as time passed. In that context, the overall winner here is Naruto, whose animation was on a consistently high level from the very first episode.
As far as their general influence is concerned, both Bleach and Naruto are two of the most popular anime series around the world. Alongside the manga and the anime, both franchises contain movies, novels, books, video games, and other merchandise. They also have large fandoms around the world. Bleach received some criticism for how it ended, while Naruto garnered a lot more sympathies, despite the large number of filler episodes. Bleach is set to return sometime during 2021, while Naruto‘s sequel series, Boruto, is still running. This is why there is no clear winner in this category either, as both shows are extremely influential around the world.
In the end, the score is tied and it all comes down to your own personal preferences. Both Bleach and Naruto have a lot to offer and they’re both shows that have changed the global perception of anime as such. Both these shows have left us a large number of fun memories, emotional scenes, and iconic characters that we are going to remember forever. We at Fiction Horizon personally prefer Bleach over Naruto, but that is just our subjective opinion, as the two shows are on the very same level, with no clear winner in this case.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we have given you all the information you were looking for. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!