Naruto arcs where the series shines brightest

Our two protagonists lock eyes as they prepare for their final battle as rivals (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Our two protagonists lock eyes as they prepare for their final battle as rivals (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Both Naruto and Naruto Shippuden contributed to some of the best story arcs and moments in the series, highlighting the show's consistent quality throughout.

The Naruto series is one of the most beloved and nostalgic anime series out there. Fans have a great love for both Part 1 and Part 2 of the series, formally titled Naruto and Naruto Shippuden, respectively.

This article will take a look at the top 5 arcs across both parts of the series.

[SPOILERS AHEAD]


Top 5 Naruto arcs of all time

5) Prologue/Land of Waves arc

Fans might be surprised to see the very first story arc on this list, but it’s easily one of the best in either Naruto parts.

The iconic Sakura-making-fun-of-an-orphan-in-front-of-an-orphan moment, a masterful establishment of Naruto and Sasuke’s competitive, brotherly relationship via their chakra training and the major fight of this arc, which brings us to the antagonists for this arc, Zabuza and Haku.

When you consider the emphasis on how awful the Shinobi World is during Naruto Shippuden, looking back on the relationship Zabuza and Haku had highlighted the tragedy and the occasional beauty of brotherhood found everywhere in the Shinobi World. As far as introductory arcs go, Land of Waves is one of the best and will continue to be so for quite a long time.


4) Kazekage Rescue Mission arc

When Shippuden first started, many anime fans were nervous about the potential changes the new series would bring. Has Naruto matured at all? Did Sakura's training with Tsunade prove to be more of a waste of time? Is Sasuke still alive?

While the opening moments of the first episode provided an answer to that last question (which we wouldn't go back to for another 40+ episodes), there were still the other two questions, and so many more fans wanted answers to.

Sakura winds up on an approaching Sasori, channeling her year and a half of training with Lady Tsunade (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Sakura winds up on an approaching Sasori, channeling her year and a half of training with Lady Tsunade (Image via Studio Pierrot)

The Kazekage Rescue Mission Arc, beyond being a captivating arc in general, does a fantastic job of highlighting how our favorite members of Team 7 (and a certain sensei) grew during the Timeskip.

One of the best parts about this arc is Kishimoto’s intent to establish Sakura as a force on the battlefield. Her fight with Sasori is Sakura's best in the series and the overall highlight of this arc.


3) Akatsuki Suppression arc

In Naruto, we watched Hiruzen Sarutobi give his life for the Hidden Leaf as he valiantly locked away Orochimaru’s precious jutsu collection (albeit temporarily). And in Shippuden, we watch history repeat itself as Asuma Sarutobi found himself the target of the Akatsuki’s resident bounty hunter, Kakuzu.

Asuma tragically dies as a result of a then unknown tactic from Hidan, and we watch as one Will of Fire is extinguished to allow the flames of the future to burn brighter.

Asuma Sarutobi dies, surrounded by his students of Team 10 (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Asuma Sarutobi dies, surrounded by his students of Team 10 (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Meanwhile, Naruto trains himself to take the Rasengan where it's never gone before, trying to imbue his Wind Nature chakra into the Rasengan in order to complete what Lord Fourth had started.

Watching these two storylines occur side by side before intertwining into the grand final battle, which closed this arc out, was indeed a joy. It gave Shikamaru and the rest of Team 10 a much-appreciated breath of life into their characters, with Shikamaru receiving an incredible amount of character development.

Some of the best arcs in anime are when two characters receive great development side by side, and that's what Kishimoto was able to accomplish with Shikamaru and Naruto in this arc.


2) The Tale of Jiraiya the Gallant

This is one of those rare arcs that you never hear anyone say any reasonable criticism of. From start to finish, this arc gave us some of the most memorable, joyous, as well as tragic moments in Naruto.

Watching Jiraiya sneak into Amegakure (the Village Hidden in the Rain) gives viewers another glimpse into the great variety of tricks and tactics at the legendary Sannin's disposal. In addition, fans were shown the serious side of Jiraiya, which they had never seen for an extended period up until now.

Jiraiya offers Naruto one half of the giant blue popsicle they so frequently shared together (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Jiraiya offers Naruto one half of the giant blue popsicle they so frequently shared together (Image via Studio Pierrot)

The main fight of this arc is itself a masterpiece even by Naruto standards. The emotional intensity of Jiraiya realizing he’s fighting a former pupil of his (and per anime canon, the corpses of various travelers he met on his life’s journey).

The amazing spots with the Pains using every weapon in their arsenal and Jiraiya responding in turn. The introduction of Senjutsu, which is pervasive throughout the rest of Shippuden and even is present in Boruto.

Finally, watching Naruto rage out at the world because of his master's death before finally, quietly, crying in acceptance when he realizes there’s no Pervy Sensei left to split his ice cream with, is masterful storytelling and really stays true to Naruto the character.


1) Sasuke Retrieval arc

Sasuke and Naruto finally clash after dozens of episodes of Naruto chasing his best friend and rival (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Sasuke and Naruto finally clash after dozens of episodes of Naruto chasing his best friend and rival (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Everything about this arc is a masterpiece. The opening theme song and accompanying visuals, the start of Sasuke and Naruto's rift, the long-term storytelling of Hiruzen's Reaper Death Seal bringing us to this point all make the arc intriguing.

The Naruto and Sasuke fight at the beginning of the arc, the Naruto and Sasuke fight at the end of the arc, the foreshadowing, the development for all protagonists and deuteragonists involved. The return of Rock Lee, the union of Leaf and Sand, Kimimaru's Kekkei Genkai, and how it teases the rise of Kaguya later on, everything about this arc is incredible.

This is one of those rare arcs fans can watch on repeat for hours and never get bored. Every single fight in this arc is incredibly well-executed, offers excellent development for the heroes, and in some cases allows fans to see the Sand Village shinobi go to work alongside the soldiers of the Leaf.

Drunken Fist Lee is one of the most comical moments in Naruto, and yet Kishimoto still pulls memorable moments out of what is essentially a gag fight. Indeed, the Sasuke Retrieval arc is the number one arc in all of Naruto due to how many boxes it ticks.


Note: The list is subjective and reflects the views of the writer.

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Edited by R. Elahi