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!
Naruto and One Piece are among the most popular and longest anime in history. They are conceptually quite different, as Naruto has a different setting and goal than One Piece. Still, in a comparison between the two, we would say that Naruto is the better anime due to its character development, depth, and overall story.
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!
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.
One Piece: An overview
One Piece is a shōnen manga series created by Eiichirō Oda. It has been published since July 22, 1997 in the weekly magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump, then grouped into bound volumes with Shūeisha editions since December 24, 1997. As of June 2021, 99 volumes have been published in Japan.
The story follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a boy whose body acquired the properties of rubber after inadvertently eating a Devil Fruit. Along with his pirate crew, called the Straw Hat Pirates, Luffy explores the Grand Line in search of the ultimate treasure known as “One Piece” in order to become the next Pirate King.
The rights to the series have been acquired by the company Toei Animation, which adapted the manga into an anime. To test the popularity of the manga, Production I.G studios created an OVA, which was broadcast in 1998 on Japanese television. While the manga has already received a lot of media attention and popularized thanks to its publication in the Shōnen Jump, the series increases its audience when Toei Animation decided to adapt the manga into an anime.
The anime is known for being as close as possible to the manga (with the exception of the filler episodes), and its fidelity has been proven through the author’s color illustrations animated in the credits. It was broadcast for the first time in October 1999 in Japan on Fuji TV. Since then, the series has been broadcast once per week, with some exceptions. Only the time slot has changed from 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, then at 7:00 p.m. and finally at 9:30 a.m.
In 2019, the animated series celebrated its 20th anniversary by exceeding the threshold of 900 episodes and continues to be broadcast in its country of origin, as well as globally. As of episode 207, the Japanese viewers can watch the series in high definition. First in 720p (episode 207 to 399), then in 1080p (since episode 400). In the same spirit, a remastering of the first episodes was started by Toei. The airing of these episodes began on April 7, 2012.
Naruto vs One Piece: Which anime is better?
Now that we’ve done the introductory part, we can continue with the analysis of these two shows. We’re going to analyze the shows through several categories 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.
Naruto’s plot was focused on Naruto Uzumaki and his overall development, through which the different troubles surrounding the world of the Shinobi have been portrayed. In that aspect, Naruto is more similar to Bleach than to One Piece. The plot itself has focus, it has a goal – Naruto becoming Hokage – and the plot of Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden played out up to that point, giving the whole narrative a very satisfactory ending. One Piece, on the other hand, is one big adventure and although we’re still waiting for Luffy to finally obtain the One Piece treasure, the adventure can go on forever up to that point, as long as there is material for it to evolve in between the beginning and the end. This is the basic difference between these two anime series and, in our opinion, the lack of focus present in the One Piece plot is a slight disadvantage. Certainly, fans will be able to enjoy the more than 1,000 episodes that One Piece has to offer, much more than Naruto and its sequels, but having more focus on the plot and its resolution is better in our opinion.
Although the plot of Naruto is great, the characters are what really drove this show and that made it so popular. The fans actually managed to connect with Naruto and the other characters which, despite stemming from a fantasy world, happened to be very realistic and relatable. Naruto’s character development was absolutely amazing and it is one of the main reasons that we all loved the show. Namely, even those characters that were more of a comic relief or quirky, so to say, even they had an arc and they evolved throughout the series. As far as One Piece is concerned, we cannot really state that it is a show that doesn’t care about its characters, on the contrary, but if you write a 1,000-episode plot, then you have to put a lot of secondary narrative elements that put the focus away from the character development. This is why One Piece is different in this aspect. One Piece has a lot of characters that are either stereotypes or just comical relief characters, even the main ones, something that is not really present in Naruto. In Naruto, these characters are rarely important and this is why this point goes to Naruto as well.
When depth is concerned, Naruto, albeit much deeper than One Piece and with more complex topics, has an approach that is somewhat similar to the latter, focusing primarily on questions of loyalty, friendship, and determination. It’s not like Bleach, where even darker topics are tackled. Still, despite these similarities, Naruto’s overall narrative structure enabled the show to become a much more focused concept than One Piece. The adventure is also important for both shows, although One Piece puts a lot more focus on that element than Naruto, to be fair. This one was a tad difficult to evaluate, but we think that this point also goes to Naruto.
The animation for both shows was amazing and we have to state it right now – there is no winner here. Naruto’s animators did an amazing job from the start, but so did the ones working on One Piece. Since both shows focus a lot on fighting and have very dynamic approaches to the characters, the animation had to be on a very high level, and it was. Throughout the shows’ runs, the animation was absolutely masterful and there is no way for us to determine the winner here, more so because the two shows actually had very different animation styles, which is why this category is a tie.
As for the overall impact and importance of the anime, both Naruto and One Piece are among the most popular animes 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. And while One Piece is still airing, Naruto finished years ago, but we’re now able to watch the (relatively controversial) Boruto sequel. This just shows how both of these franchises remain popular even today, decades after their premieres. In this aspect, we can also state that the score is a tie.
Finally, the overall conclusion is that Naruto and One Piece are quite similar shows. They have a lot of common elements and despite the different settings, characters, and goals, there is more that connects them than there is between some other anime from the “Big Four”. Still, if you analyze some of the segments, which is exactly what we did here, Naruto just seems more coherent, more focused, and overall better. This doesn’t, of course, mean that One Piece is bad or anything, it’s a very little difference, but we have to give this one to Naruto.
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!