Naruto and Bleach may not seem like two peas in a pod, but they surprisingly have a lot in common.
Shōnen manga is typically marketed towards young teenagers. This is readily apparent in the genre's action-packed sequences.
When discussing the most popular animanga series in the past decade, it would be foolish not to mention Naruto and Bleach. They have completely defined a generation of readers.
This article will take a look at what sets the two apart and what brings them together.
Note: This article reflects the opinions of the writer
Five ways Naruto and Bleach are different from each other
1) Manga art style
Bleach creator Tite Kubo prefers to use as much space as possible within his manga panels. This allows readers to focus more on the subject at hand.
Bleach has a reputation for not using backgrounds that much. However, it does give it a cinematic quality feel.
The above image is the Getsuga Tenshō. It's a very powerful technique that Ichigo uses. Note the solid contrast between black and white colors. It's very easy for readers to know what is going on. Their attention is drawn to Ichigo himself.
By comparison, Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto likes to draw intricate details. Sometimes, the backgrounds are given just as much focus as the characters themselves.
Shown above is a manga panel of Pain's Shinra Tensei, upscaled with an AI program. Right before the city is wiped out, Kishimoto makes sure to showcase every detail possible. It makes for a better contrast with the barren wasteland afterwards.
2) Contrast in maturity levels
Naruto definitely appealed to a younger audience, specifically in the first half of the series. Remember, the series began as a coming-of-age story. With that in mind, it does have its more childish moments. The protagonist's infamous fart technique is the perfect example of Kishimoto's type of humor.
By comparison, Bleach takes itself far more seriously. Facial expressions tend to be grim, the world is far less colorful, and everything is drawn in a mature style. Comedy is rarely used to win fights in this series.
3) Ninjas and reapers
Kishimoto's work mainly revolves around ninjas and their various missions. Naruto's main goal is to become the Hokage of his Hidden Leaf Village. It's not easy, considering his status as a social outcast. Nonetheless, he is determined to become the village leader.
Meanwhile, Kubo's work is mostly set in the world of the dead. Shinigami are supernatural gods who must strike a balance between good and evil. Their jobs range from cleansing souls to wiping out powerful monsters.
Ichigo doesn't really have a major goal, but he does strive to protect his friends. After a series of strange events, this high schooler became a Shinigami. He ends up getting sucked into a fascinating world of undead creatures.
4) Bleach emphasizes swordplay
Swords do play a prominent role in Naruto. However, it's not the main type of weapon in that series. Ninjas also use shuriken, kunai, and explosive tags.
By comparison, Bleach makes swords a centralized part of their combat. Zanpakutō is the major weapon that all Shinigami use. These powerful blades have the ability to cut through spiritual creatures.
Such weapons also reflect the users themselves. They must fully master their sword if they want to gain access to special powers.
5) Western popularity
Naruto is almost instantly recognizable in the United States. It is arguably right behind the Dragon Ball series in that regard.
For example, during the Area 51 craze a few years ago, someone became a viral sensation just by doing the Naruto run. The series has become prevalent throughout western culture.
Bleach is certainly popular, but it never achieved as much global recognition as Naruto. It doesn't nearly have the same memetic recognition.
Five ways Naruto and Bleach are similar
1) Main characters get married
By the end of their respective series, both Kubo and Kishimoto decided to pair off their main protagonists.
Naruto ended up with his childhood friend Hinata. Meanwhile, Ichigo married a high school classmate named Orihime. Both characters also had children after the lengthy timeskip.
On a related note, the main protagonists also got the same haircut.
2) Akatsuki versus Espada
The Akatsuki and Espada are both villainous organizations with several characters. All of them wear a specific uniform that represents their allegiance. Each member has special abilities that set themselves apart.
Interesingly, both the Akatsuki and Espada have members that were secretly holding back their powers. Obito Uchiha and Yammy Llargo turned out to be far more dangerous than previously believed.
3) Overpowered villains
Serial escalation is a very real concept in Shōnen manga. The main villains tend to be extremely powerful in their own right. Naruto and Bleach followed suit with their major antagonists.
Whether it's Madara and Kaguya or Aizen and Yhwach, they completely break the scale of their respective universes. Multiple characters have to fight them just to stand a chance at winning.
Even then, ridiculously broken powers are what define these villains.
4) Protagonists have monsters within them
The main characters of the two series are powered up by incredibly strong creatures. They also needed to be tamed properly. It takes a long while for both protagonists to get used to their powers.
At the start of the Bleach series, Ichigo had to deal with a darker side of himself. The ghastly Hollow within his body was the spiritual manifestation of his powers. It represented his animalistic urges and berserker tendencies.
Meanwhile, Naruto had a Nine Tailed Beast sealed inside him. Kurama was considered the most dangerous tailed beast, taking immense pride within its own power.
5) Spiritual energy system
The vast majority of power systems in Shōnen manga use a life energy force. Most of them are based on concepts from ancient Japanese mythology. They are also dependent on the user's willpower.
Naruto uses Chakra, which combines physical and spiritual energy. Meanwhile, the Bleach series uses Reiatsu, which is the physical force of a person's Reiryoku. They can be used to power up attacks, sense another person's aura, and protect the user from harm.