The “Big Three” are, even after two decades since their inception, considered to be untouchable. Naruto, as one of the original “Big Three”, is still considered a classic and there aren’t many modern-day anime series that even dare to compare with Naruto. But, although the anime series paradigm has shifted from 300+ anime series to 20-ish-episodes-per-season series, some modern anime have been able to come close to the notoriety of the original “Big Three” in their respective times. Demon Slayer is certainly one such anime and in this article, we are going to compare Naruto and Demon Slayer to determine which anime series is the better one.
Naruto is, even after all these years, the better and more influential anime series, although Demon Slayer has managed to come as close as one can get to the “Big Three”. Demon Slayer offers better animation and a thrilling story similar to Naruto‘s chief rival at the time, Bleach, but when it comes to the overall significance, quality, and influence, Naruto is still far superior to Demon Slayer.
The rest of this article is going to explore and explain the reasons behind this decision. You’re going to find out about the two shows and how and when they were originally broadcast. You’re also going to see the main similarities and differences between the two shows, after which we are going to further elaborate on which of them is the better show.
The Naruto manga was first published by Japanese publisher Shūeisha in 1999 in the 43rd issue of Shōnen Jump magazine, and has been published with one new chapter per week ever since. The first 483 chapters are collected into 51 volumes; the first was published on March 3, 2000 and the last on April 30, 2010.
The first 238 stories are known as “Part One” and form the beginning of the Naruto chronology, while numbers 239 to 244 comprise a Gaiden series focusing mainly on the youth of Kakashi Hatake. All subsequent chapters correspond to the “second part”, which continues the original narrative.
On October 6, 2014, publisher Shueisha announced that the Naruto manga would be published for the last time in the weekly Shonen Jump on November 10, 2014, after 15 years. Naruto thus ended its 15-year career as one of the best-selling and most popular manga series in history.
Demon Slayer, known in Japan as Kimetsu no yaiba, is a manga series written and drawn by Koyoharu Gotōge. The story follows the journey of Kamado Tanjirō who searches for a way to make his little sister Nezuko human again after her transformation into a demon. The manga was published in Shūeisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine between February 15, 2016 and May 18, 2020 and is compiled into a total of 23 volumes.
Now, we’re not talking about the plot in this segment but rather about the overall influence of the manga series. Knowing how Naruto truly is one of the greatest manga series ever, there is absolutely no doubt that Kishimoto’s work gets the point here, and we’re not even talking about the controversial ending of Demon Slayer.
Point: Naruto 1, Demon Slayer 0
The story of Naruto begins during Naruto’s adolescence, around his twelfth birthday. A dunce orphan and a great prankster, he does everything possible to get noticed. His dream: to become the best Hokage in order to be recognized by the inhabitants of his village. Indeed, the nine-tailed fox demon sealed in him has stirred up the fear and contempt of the other villagers, who, over time, no longer make any difference between Kyûbi and Naruto. Despite this, Naruto trains hard in order to become a genin, the first level among ninjas. After failing the genin exam 3 times, he finally manages to receive his Konoha forehead band.
He is then included in a team of three apprentice ninjas, with Sakura Haruno and the talented Sasuke Uchiwa who wants to avenge the people dear to him, by killing his brother Itachi Uchiwa. Soon after, they meet their jōnin (upper-class ninja), the one who will take care of their training: the mysterious Kakashi Hatake. At first, feared and despised by his peers, Naruto will gradually gain strength and gain the respect and affection of the villagers, thanks to, in particular, the battles that he will win against the most powerful enemies of Konoha.
In a Japan of the Taishō era, Tanjirō is the eldest son of a family of coal merchants whose father is deceased. To meet her needs, he left to sell charcoal in town. Despite the difficulties of life, they manage to find little happiness in their daily life. One day, due to rumors circulating about a man-eating demon hanging around after dark, he is unable to return home and ends up spending the night with a Good Samaritan in the city. Only, everything changes on his return when he finds his family massacred by a demon.
Nezuko, one of her younger sisters, is the only survivor, but she has been transformed into a demon. She initially attacks Tanjirō, but she continues to show signs of human emotions and thoughts, which is when a demon slayer named Giyū Tomioka steps in. While trying to eliminate Nezuko, Giyū realizes the bond between brother and sister Kamado, and decides to leave them by sheathing his sword. On Giyū’s advice, Tanjirō goes to his master Sakonji Urokodaki to train to become a demon slayer, in order to begin his journey to find an antidote that can make his little sister human again.
Now, we have decided to divide the points in this category, simply because we couldn’t really pick the better one. Demon Slayer and Naruto have very different plots and they’re hard to compare; it all comes down to one’s personal preferences since both plots are intriguing and interesting. That is why we have divided the points.
Point: Naruto 2, Demon Slayer 1
Naruto’s animation has evolved over the years, as was the case with other series animated by Pierrot at the time (most notably Bleach). It was never bad, but as animation standards have evolved over the many years Naruto has been on screen, so has the animation of the series. On the whole, it was consistently better than Bleach‘s, for example, but overall it was not as consistent as Demo Slayer‘s, which has upheld a very consistent level of animation throughout the series, as we are going to see soon.
Ufotable has been responsible for the animation of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba since the show’s premier. As mentioned above, Demon Slayer has shown a consistently high level of quality animation with a more modern character design, a dark style, and excellent dynamics. The series uses a slightly more modern style that gives it more fluidity, especially in the fight scenes. This at least one level above of what Naruto had to offer during its run, but that is more a consequence of the technology of the time when compared to today’s, but it’s still relevant for this section.
This is where Demon Slayer really outdoes Naruto. The animation is more fluid, the battle scenes are great and it’s actually what we expect from the upcoming 17th season of Bleach. The original Naruto series couldn’t really measure up to that.
Point: Naruto 2, Demon Slayer 2
The success of the Naruto manga has led to its storyline being adapted into an anime produced by Pierrot and distributed by Aniplex. The first season aired on October 3, 2002 on the TV Tokyo television network. The first season consisted of 220 episodes, and a sequel, Naruto: Shippūden, was produced shortly after, airing on February 15, 2007.
In addition, Pierrot has produced nine films based on the series, from both the first and second seasons, as well as several original animations. Other merchandise includes a series of light novels, art books, video games, and collectible images developed by various companies. Both the manga and the anime have achieved considerable distribution in other countries: the manga has been published in more than thirty-five countries and the anime has aired in more than sixty.
Demon Slayer was turned into an anime by the studio Ufotable under the title Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. The 26-episode first season aired between April 6 and September 28, 2019, and adapted the first “The Evolution of Kamado Tanjirō” saga. It was followed by an animated film titled Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train, which was released on October 16, 2020.
A seven-episode re-adaptation of the film aired in October 2021, while the second season of the anime series adapting the Entertainment District arc aired in December 2021. A video game called Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles was also released in October 2021, though to mixed reviews.
This was a clear-cut category, don’t you think? Sure, Demon Slayer is still just beginning its anime journey and we’ll surely see more adaptations in the future, but Naruto has a whole legacy behind it, which means that Demon Slayer has a lot of ground to make up, but that seems like an impossible task if you ask us.
Point: Naruto 3, Demon Slayer 2
Popularity and Earnings
Generally speaking, Naruto has had a good commercial reception both in Japan and the rest of the world. As of volume 36, it has sold more than 71 million copies in its country of origin. During 2008, a figure close to two million copies of volume 43 was sold, which is why it is considered one of the top ten comics in Japan.
In total, the manga has sold 4,261,054 copies in Japan in 2008, becoming the second best-selling series, as well as one of VIZ Media’s most successful, accounting for almost 10% of total industry sales in 2006.
The seventh volume, released by VIZ Media, became the first manga volume to win a Quill Award after claiming the 2006 “Best Graphic Novel” award. The manga also featured on USA Today‘s most-read works list (with volume 11 standing out), until it was overtaken by volume 28 that achieved 17th position in its first week of release, in March 2008.
Demon Slayer was ranked 14th in a list of manga recommended by Japanese bookstore employees in 2017, and 19th in a list of the best manga of 2018 for male readers by Kono Manga ga Sugoi!
As of May 2020, the Gotōge manga has over 60 million copies in circulation. In June 2020, the series reached a circulation of 80 million copies, including copies of volume 21, which was released on July 3. In November 2020, the series reached a circulation of 120 million copies, and in February 2021, the manga had a circulation of over 150 million copies (including digital copies).
The website Goo Ranking surveyed 2,310 Weekly Shōnen Jump readers between June 19 and July 3, 2020, and they ranked the series second among the magazine’s most moving publications. In the Manga Sōsenkyo 2021 poll from TV Asahi, 150,000 people voted on their top 100 manga series, and Demon Slayer was ranked second.
This one was probably the easiest of all the categories. Demon Slayer is very popular and in modern-day terms, it is certainly one of the most popular works from the manga and anime genres, but Naruto is a world for itself. Just like Bleach and One Piece, Naruto is a global phenomenon without which we probably wouldn’t even be speaking about Demon Slayer, so it’s clear why Kishimoto’s work gets the last point.
Point: Naruto 4, Demon Slayer 2
Naruto vs Demon Slayer: Which anime is better?
And now for the most important and interesting section of our article – the analysis. Here, we are going to use what we have found out about these two characters and analyze how all these facts would (or would not) help them in a fight against each other. Let us continue.
The numbers actually do speak for themselves but even without them, we don’t think there was any doubt that Naruto is the superior series of the two. Namely, Demon Slayer definitely has better animation than both Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden (we’re not counting Boruto here); it’s more fluid, the battles are better and, overall, it’s of a higher quality. Also, the plots are so very different that we couldn’t really pick the better one – both are great and it depends on a person’s personal preferences.
But in every other category, Naruto is far superior. It is not only one of the most influential anime series ever, it is also one of the most popular. With several hundred episodes, a series of fillers, and derivative material, Naruto is such a grand-scale project that Demon Slayer, despite its inherent quality, cannot even come close to it. This is why we have Naruto as the winner in this comparison.