Masashi Kishimoto's Naruto is a tale about an orphaned young ninja named Naruto Uzumaki. He is an outcast but dreams of one day becoming Hokage, the leader of the Village Hidden in the Leaves.
Despite his incredible strength and reserves of chakra — he had a demon ritually sealed within him as a baby to protect the village from its attack — he is quite underestimated. The manga and anime follow his journey to Hokage, overcoming discrimination, and making friends... oh, and totally fighting bad guys along the way.
So, how do you make sure you watch 'Naruto' in the right order?
The manga was first serialized in 1999. The time skip, Naruto: Shippuden, was broadcast in 2007. In 2016 Masashi gave us a new arc, Boruto. In other words, if you're just starting out on your Naruto journey, you have a lot to catch up on.
Not only are there anime episodes, but you have OVAs and movies, too.
The best way to watch Naruto is in order. Ideally, you'll read the manga first, but you don't necessarily need the manga to fully understand the plot (don't hurt me, Shonen!).
Die-hard 'Naruto' fans start from the top.
You can approach the first Naruto arc in one of two ways: watch the episodes with the OVAs, or save the OVAs for when you've run out of everything else in the original line-up.
The OVAs are non-canon (meaning the original storyline does not recognize them). I do suggest watching the movies as they were released.
- Find the Four-Leaf Red Clover: Watch this OVA after Episode 5.
- Naruto: The Crossroads: This one you can watch after Episode 20.
- Mission: Protect the Waterfall Village: Save this one for a little later in the series, around Episode 100 or 101.
- Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow (movie): Go straight from the OVA to the first movie.
- The Legend Stone of Gelel (movie): After Episode 160.
- Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom (movie): Almost at the end of the series, around Episode 196.
Finish the first anime installment of Naruto!
Move onto Naruto's teen years with 'Shippuden'.
Our personal favorite in the Naruto-verse, Shippuden, is mostly supplemented by movies. Watch these movies as they were released.
- Naruto Shippuden The Movie: After the first 32 episodes.
- Bonds: After episode 71.
- The Will of Fire: Awesome movie. Love it. Watch it after Episode 126.
- The Last Tower: Also a good one. Watch after Episode 143.
- Blood Prison: Post Episode 196.
- Chunin Exam on Fire: Naruto vs. Konuhamaru: Hey, we got ourselves an OVA! Watch after Episode 219.
- Road to Ninja: Watch after Episode 251.
Watch the series until it ends. Kakashi Gaiden is a highlight moment of the manga and is anime Episodes 119 and 120. Do not skip it!
'Boruto' is available to you, but kind of disappointing.
You can now binge-watch Boruto, but production is being held up due to COVID-19. However, you have plenty to do before you get here.
Honestly, don't get your hopes up. After seeing what some of the characters do in the other two arcs and then how they are "forgiven" leaves you shaking your head.
There is a really sweet OVA that is worth watching once you become acquainted with the new characters: The Day Naruto Became Hokage.
Lastly, watch these 'Naruto' filler episodes.
The only downside to watching the Naruto anime in order is that you have to deal with a lot of filler. Feel free to skip the filler episodes, but you should at least consider watching these ones.
Naruto: Episodes 97, 101, 145, 148, 151, 157, 206
Naruto Shippuden: Episodes 57-71, 194, 290-296
Ultimately, watch Naruto how you want to watch it. It may be difficult to watch the episodes out of order, but the OVAs and movies can be watched as a stand-alone thing — though I personally wouldn't recommend it.
As with all good fictional worlds, your appreciation of characters and plot deepens when you follow them in a certain chronology.