Naruto is undoubtedly one of the most influential manga and anime series ever and with that, it has cemented its status as one of the greatest Japanese works in history. Naruto has not only withstood the test of time, it has also helped popularize anime around the world, so much, even, that the genre probably wouldn’t be as popular as it is had it not been for Naruto and the other “Big Three” anime series, Bleach and One Piece. In this article, we are going to compare Naruto to My Hero Academia, an anime show that is very often listed as being part of the modern-day “Big Three”. In the article, we are going to determine which anime is better.
Naruto is superior to My Hero Academia in practically any category. The manga is more influential, the plot is far more intriguing and has much more depth, and the overall influence of the whole franchise is on a completely different level. My Hero Academia does have better animation, we have to give it that, but aside from the animation, there’s really no category in which it comes even close to Naruto.
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.
Naruto, the manga, was first published by Shūeisha in 1999 in the 43rd issue of Shōnen Jump, a popular manga magazine, and was published on y weekly basis ever since its debut, until the end. 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.
The My Hero Academia manga is written and drawn by Kōhei Horikoshi. It has been published since July 7, 2014 in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine by publisher Shūeisha. The story is based on a short story made seven years earlier by the author. The first hardcover volume was published on November 4, 2014. My Hero Academia is made up of two sagas divided into story arcs. The breaking point that completes the first saga and begins the second is All Might’s retreat following his debilitation during his ultimate duel against All for One.
When the influence and importance of the manga is concerned, very few titles can actually compare to Naruto and My Hero Academia is definitely not among them. Naruto is a work of art and a title with historical importance, whereas My Hero Academia doesn’t have the status, the longevity, or the influence to compare itself with Naruto.
Point: Naruto 1, My Hero Academia 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 world where 80% of the world’s population has superpowers, here called “Quirks”, we follow the adventures of Izuku Midoriya, “Deku”, one of the rare humans who does not have a Quirk. Despite this, Izuku dreams of joining the super-heroic branch of the great Yuei academy and one day becoming one of the greatest heroes of his time. One day, Izuku had the chance to meet his lifelong idol, All Might, the number 1 superhero. This one will bequeath to Izuku his Quirk, the One For All.
We’re not implying that My Hero Academia has a bad plot – especially since plots are very subjective and if you’re a fan of this type of plot, you’ll love it undoubtedly – but we are saying that it’s not as deep as Naruto‘s, nor as intricate. Naruto had one of the best storylines in the history of anime, and the commercialized take My Hero Academia has on the hero genre is nowhere near what Kishimoto did.
Point: Naruto 2, My Hero Academia 0
Naruto’s animation has developed over the years, which was also the case with other series animated by Pierrot at the time (most notably Bleach). It was never bad, which is a great thing if you put it into perspective, but as the animation standards evolved over the years, Naruto‘s animation got better with each new season. Generally, it was consistently better than Bleach‘s, for example, but overall it was not as consistent as My Hero Academia‘s, which has upheld a very consistent level of animation throughout the series, as we are going to see soon.
As for My Hero Academia, the show is still animated by Bones, who has provided us with a consistently high and fluid level of animation, which is something we have to praise. The animation of My Hero Academia is among the best when modern-day anime is concerned, and the animators really did a great job to bring these characters to life and to make the battles epic and dynamic. They utilized modern technology as best as they could while retaining the charm of 2000s anime series, which makes My Hero Academia so great.
As you might have guessed, due to the technological advances and developments, My Hero Academia actually beats out Naruto in this category, which is to be expected since it’s a new anime series.
Point: Naruto 2, My Hero Academia 1
The success of Naruto has led to its plot being adapted into the long-running anime, produced by Pierrot and distributed by Aniplex, that is the topic of this article. The first season of Naruto 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, with a total of 500 episodes.
In addition to that, Pierrot has produced nine films based on the series, 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 first animated film, titled My Hero Academia: Two Heroes, was released on August 3, 2018 in Japan. It was set between episodes 20 and 21 of season 3 of the animated series. A second animated film titled My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising was released on December 20, 2019 in Japan. The plot of this second feature film takes place after season 4 of the anime. A third film titled My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission aired on August 6, 2021 in Japan.
A video game named My Hero Academia: Battle for All was released for Nintendo 3DS on May 19, 2016 in Japan. A mobile game named My Hero Academia: Smash Tap was released on April 18, 2017 in Japan. A video game named My Hero Academia: One’s Justice was released in August 2018 on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Steam. The sequel to the game titled My Hero: One’s Justice 2 was announced in Weekly Shōnen Jump in September 2019. Another mobile game named My Hero Academia: The Strongest Hero was released on May 22, 2021 in Europe.
Despite My Hero Academia having a solid amount of adaptations, it doesn’t come anywhere near Naruto‘s overall numbers and the influence of Kishimoto’s franchise, which is why Naruto wins this point.
Point: Naruto 3, My Hero Academia 1
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 first volume reached the seventh position in the Oricon weekly manga rankings of November 3-9, 2014 thanks to the sale of 71,575 copies, then surpassing the 157,000 units by December 7 of the same year. During the first week of its debut, the second volume ranked sixth with 167,531 copies, then reaching an overall estimate of 205,179 copies sold by January 18, 2015.
In 2018, the main manga and the spin-off Vigilantes reached 17 million copies sold. In May 2019, the total sales of the manga are over 22 million, while in July 2020 the copies in circulation reach 27 million. During the end of 2019, the series was banned from China, as Horikoshi called a villain character “Shiga Maruta”, the name of the same experiments that were done on humans in World War II in China.
Horikoshi and Shūeisha officially apologized and stated that the villain’s name would be changed upon publication in tankōbon. My Hero Academia turned out to be the eighth manga with the most copies sold in 2020 according to Oricon, with 6,003,589 copies sold. By the end of March 2021, Shueisha announced through its Twitter profile that the manga has reached the milestone of 50 million copies in circulation in the world.
The final point absolutely has to go to Naruto because the overall influence of Masashi Kishimoto’s franchise is so big that we probably wouldn’t even be talking about My Hero Academia now had it not been for Naruto.
Point: Naruto 4, My Hero Academia 1
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.
This one was a pretty clear victory for Naruto, wouldn’t you say? Naruto has done an amazing thing for the popularization of anime around the world and that is quite visible when you look at how popular the franchise is even today, and even among some extremely popular shows like Demon Slayer, Jujutsu Kaisen, and, as expected, My Hero Academia. Naruto beats out all of them, but the win is quite “easy” when we compare it to My Hero Academia.
Save for the animation, which is better simply because My Hero Academia is a newer show that capitalized on the technological advances in modern animation, Naruto wins in absolutely every category, including the plot. The plot of Naruto is much deeper and there is something at stake there, while My Hero Academia is a Japanese take on the very commercial superhero genre. That is why Naruto is the clear winner here.