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Naruto Fans Discuss The Factors That Set It Apart From Other Battle Shonen Anime

The battle shonen genre is regarded by many as one of the top sources for some of the most popular anime series. From the superhero shenanigans featured in "My Hero Academia" to the grand sea adventure of a charming pirate crew in "One Piece," the genre has consistently produced plenty of anime that's captured the hearts and minds of countless fans. Anime, defined as battle shonen, are also home to some of the most diverse shows and subgenres. No two series worth their salt are ever the same. In fact, it's their specific uniqueness that often helps them to shine. But whether it's a group of students getting spooky with demons or firefighters literally throwing hands with personified blazes, a battle shonen anime still adheres to one central characteristic. It usually involves the heroes achieving their dreams by fighting against villains.

"Naruto" definitely utilized this genre aspect but still made it feel fresh. For instance, other series before it had done tournament arcs. Yet, Masashi Kishimoto's twist on the familiar staple in "Naruto" with the Chunin Exams added a lot more flair with its stylized action seemingly pulled from fantastical martial arts cinema. Without that action, we wouldn't have got the most unforgettable Rock Lee scene. However, while "Naruto" could keep up with the fisticuffs requirement, fans on Reddit felt that the anime offered other worthy factors that set it apart from other battle shonen anime.

Fans felt the world-building establishes Naruto ahead of its battle shonen peers

With the spotlight firmly placed on the hero of a battle shonen, it often feels like the rest of the anime's world is out of focus. Characters can come and go by an episode's end, never really to be seen or remembered again. But some fans on the Naruto Reddit felt this is where "Naruto" greatly differs and outperforms other anime. As some fans expressed, "Naruto" does a great job of showcasing an identifiable cast and a more fleshed-out world.

"It's got a Game of Thrones vibe to it where we have this vast land with many different people and communities and ambitions all playing out at the same time," u/hibok1 posted. "Comparably, other shounen are focused only on the main character, and everyone else follows their lead. Here, Naruto is the main character among many in the series." There are times when Naruto seems to take a backseat in his series, such as when Killer Bee first duels with Sasuke or whenever the series gives us some insight into the political ambitions of the Five Kage. But it's all for letting his world live and breathe rather than serve as a meager setting.

The world-building may be a strong point of "Naruto," but for other fans such as u/shikadai-dono, the anime's emotional depth and relatability of real issues are essential to note. With a series that basically features child soldiers, "Naruto" shows off the effects of trauma, loss, and cycles of hatred in such detail we're not used to seeing from other battle shonen anime. The fall and redemption of Sasuke alone easily encompasses those aspects, along with camaraderie and attempts at better understanding your enemy.

Sasuke is also presented as one of the strongest deuteragonists

Speaking of Sasuke, fans also considered the character's overall growth in the series as another reason "Naruto" stands out among other battle shonen anime. Cool-looking rivals within the genre aren't exactly a new concept. Vegeta from "Dragon Ball Z" and Hiei from "Yu Yu Hakusho" have been giving battle shonen its share of undeniably charming bad boys. But where Sasuke differs is that instead of serving as nothing more than a measuring stick or obstacle for the hero to overcome, he becomes the anime's deuteragonist. The loss of his clan because of his brother Itachi is the spark that fuels him to develop into the dark but somewhat justified character he eventually becomes.

Meanwhile, his actions always greatly affect his comrade's goals of retrieving and saving him from himself. As u/Rambro332 noted, Sasuke drives the plot of the series just as much as the titular hero. We're kind of surprised Masashi Kishimoto didn't consider adding Sasuke's name to the title. Still, the character certainly set the bar for any rival-type character to follow. "I don't think that any shonen deuteragonist has the autonomy that Sasuke possessed," u/Strykeristheking posted. "It almost felt like he transcended the supporting role and became the hero of his own subplot."