Attack on Titan and Naruto are two of the most popular shonen anime today, as they have gained both national and international acclaim. Although Naruto came out several years earlier than Attack on Titan, the latter went on to catch up to the former in terms of fame. Soon enough, both became hallmarks of anime.
Naruto is already considered a classic anime, thanks to its cultural impact and amount of sales. However, Attack on Titan outperforms it based on anime rankings, awards, and fan votes. Considering that the latter is still ongoing, these factors set it up as the anime to beat.
Attack on Titan is considerably more mature and intricate than Naruto, which arguably caters to the younger market. The former has more gore and dark themes, whereas the latter pushes for positive values and hopeful ambitions.
Which anime is better, therefore, depends on what the viewer identifies with – realism or optimism. This article will look at this, and other elements, in greater detail.
Why Attack on Titan is Still Considered a Better Anime than Naruto
Attack on Titan and Naruto are two complete different anime, with varying themes and characters. However, they are frequently stacked against each other by fans, as they both are widely recognized in the shonen world.
Naruto can be considered as one of the classics at this point, as it ran from 2002 to 2017. The fact that it continues to be talked about to this day is commendable, as it proves it has made a lasting cultural impact.
It is mentioned in American raps and alluded to in Western shows. Even non-fans know all about the headband, after all! Many newer shonen anime have also come out based on Naruto, which proves that it is a show worthy to be emulated.
Meanwhile, Attack on Titan only started airing in 2013, and it is still ongoing to this day. This means that it is not yet considered a classic, and it still has much to prove in terms of longevity.
However, it can already be considered better than Naruto because of its consistent quality in terms of story-telling. Its world-building is arguably one of the best that can be seen in anime and its plot twists leave nothing to be desired.
Attack on Titan has also won several different awards during its ongoing 8-year run, giving recognition to its voice acting, direction, animation, and soundtrack. In comparison, Naruto has only been awarded for its voice acting for the entirety of its 15-year run.
The Storylines Of Attack On Titan And Naruto Compared
For this section, we’re going to look at several factors, namely:
- Plot twists
The world of Naruto is much more wide than the world that is shown in Attack on Titan. However, this can be said to be a matter of quantity vs. quality.
The history and magic of Naruto are well-done, and a wide scale of villages and clans are covered. However, there’s not a lot that viewers get to explore when it comes to the how the world actually works.
We are simply supposed to accept that these things and places exist as they do, without further explanation. There is also the sheer inconsistency when it comes to modern technological placements.
Meanwhile, Attack on Titan has received very solid world-building, and we are truly able to go in-depth as Paradis and Marley are thoroughly fleshed out. However, they still manage to shroud the world in a mystery that only continues to intrigue viewers. Most importantly, it rarely contradicts itself.
Even the technology is properly distributed and developed, as there are no glaring standouts. Everything fits where they should, which somehow makes sense as Attack on Titan is said to be based on the 20th century.
In fact, it can even be said that all elements in Attack on Titan is interconnected. Perhaps, that much was manageable for Hajime Isayama, as he really focused on getting deep with details.
And as the exploration of Marley begins to expand, it happens in a way that doesn’t feel rushed or forced.
The only downside is that some fans may think that it’s too small a world compared to other anime settings.
Nevertheless, I value quality over quantity. To extend this argument even further, you may watch this video:
In this regard, we give one point to Attack on Titan.
Naruto is quite well-known for its big plot twists. For instance, there is the fact that the fourth Hokage was actually Naruto’s father, and that Naruto and Sasuke are reincarnations of Kaguya’s sons.
The fact that they managed to execute these in a manner that actually makes sense is no less commendable.
However, one can also be argued that these plot twists were rather predictable. Because of this, the impact of these supposed surprises wasn’t always astounding. In fact, it can even be said that some of these supposed twists only turned out to be plot conveniences.
And then there’s Attack on Titan, with its consistent and well-thought-out surprises. The only gripe that fans have with them is that they sometimes took the story in a direction that was not pleasant for the viewers.
Regardless, most of them were unpredictable, and they shifted the story in a new direction.
The problem with this is that sometimes, these twists brought along changes that fans did not agree with.
Everything considered, this point goes to Attack on Titan.
The beginning of Naruto had pretty substandard pacing. The first two arcs were particularly slow, and this was soon followed by fillers thereafter. However, they do make up for it later on, and the later arcs are fleshed out in a much better way.
Did you know that Naruto has a filler arc that’s 83 episodes long?
Then there’s Attack on Titan, which can seem like a mind-boggling rollercoaster. It goes fast, then slow, then fast, only to on a cliffhanger. There’s also a considerable amount of flashbacks that viewers find annoying. Hence, it can be said that it’s very inconsistent in how it paces the story.
However, it still has better pacing when compared to Naruto.
Isayama said that from the beginning, he already knew how Attack on Titan was going to end. Because of this, he was able to write a plot that has all the bases covered.
In contrast, Naruto experiences several plot inconsistencies, such as the events during the War Arc. Here’s a video that discusses some of these inconsistencies in length:
It is then apparent that in terms of storyline, Attack on Titan fares better than Naruto.
The Characters And Their Development In Both Attack On Titan And Naruto
Technically speaking, we can say from the get-go that Naruto must have better character development. After all, it is a story that spanned over a decade, whereas Attack on Titan only has a short scope to cover.
Nevertheless, we will break this down in detail by considering the characterizations of the protagonist, the antagonist, and the side characters.
Naruto is a loved main character, as he seems to approach life with this undeterred tenacity and optimism. Because of this, many people think of him as inspiring.
However, it is also because of these tendencies that others perceive him to be unrelatable and unrealistic.
He may be a typical hero for a shonen anime, and he is definitely developed in a worthy leader who gains the respect of his village. But there is much about his character traits that leave to be desired when watched by mature viewers.
Meanwhile, there is Eren of Attack on Titan. He is a very complex character that was hardened by the circumstances that he had to live through. He had to learn the reality of gray areas, yet even then, he persisted to make a stand. Because of this, we can say that his character has more depth and reliability.
Zeke of Attack on Titan is a complex antagonist who shows capacity for both food and bad throughout the series. He has done a lot of evil, but we are shown that maybe, he is not as horrible as he seems.
But then there’s Uchicha, the biggest threat and cause of conflict throughout Naruto. His intentions were noble, as he wanted to create a world without suffering, but the way he wanted to go about things severely infringed on the rights of others. It was a conflict of action vs intention, and it made him a compelling villain.
The Side Characters
When we think about it, Attack on Titan is a largely plot-driven series. Nevertheless, almost all of the characters are given depth and development.
They are all in the story for a purpose, and through the course of the show, they slowly gain a deeper understanding for who they are and what they are supposed to do.
Meanwhile, Naruto has a wide array of side characters, as it is a story that spanned for almost two decades. Accordingly, not everyone can be given screentime, and they had to center in on those who really had something to contribute to the plot.
The side characters who are given attention are given their due, as their journey is fleshed out from the time they were kids to adulthood. Just take Sasuke and Sakura as an example. They are there to bring the plot forward, and the less-important side characters are still allowed a fair amount of time.
A tritagonist is what they call the characters who take the third most important role in the series, after the protagonist and antagonist. Sometimes, it’s the right-hand man, other times, it’s a group of people. For Attack on Titan, this roles goes to Levi. In Naruto, this roles goes to Sakura and Sasuke.
One gripe that fans have with Naruto’s side characters is that females in battle are not given as many opportunities as many would hope. Yet even then, they undergo better development as individual characters when compared to the powerful women of Attack on Titan.
We also have to consider that Attack on Titan tends to kill off characters much more often than Naruto. Hence, there are viewers who don’t get to watch their favorite characters grow. In contrast, Naruto’s characters tend to stick around from the time of appearance until the end.
Overall, I have to say that Naruto is ahead when it comes to characters and their development.
The Different Art Styles Used In Attack On Titan and Naruto
General art differences
The art in Attack on Titan is very well done, as it combines traditional animation with CGI in an attempt to accurately capture the intricate art of the manga while still making things more seamless for the animators.
They changed the animation team when Season 4 was announced, something that was initially met with frustration and doubt by the fans. However, this turned out to be a good decision, as an improvement in quality and excellence was immediately seen and appreciated by the viewers.
The art was already detailed and vibrant from the start, but it got even better as time went on. There is also the fact that the characters and settings appeared more true in Season 4 than in the earlier seasons.
When Isayama first designed the Titans, he used models such as martial artist Tushin Okami and Brock Lesnar. Meanwhile, the Wall of Fear was inspired by the closed-off nature of Japanese culture, as it can be argued that they feared other influences seeping in.
Interestingly, the art style of Naruto has changed quite frequently over the years. This much is to be expected, given that the art style of Kishimoto himself changed during that span of time.
However, it can also be argued that the studio was never really that concerned about preserving the art style of Naruto, as there are many budgeting and staff changes. They also frequently outsource the work, which is sure to cause some variation.
Some animators also choose to give special treatment to specific scenes, which means that there are certain parts of the show that seem more vibrant and detailed as compared to others. Usually, special teams are even gathered to draw and detail important fight scenes.
Eventually, so that there is at least consistency in how the characters are drawn, Kishimoto decided to set standardized guidelines. For instance, during the beginning of the manga, the hair of the characters were just randomly spiked and their heights were just drawn by estimate.
But, when Naruto boomed, Kishimoto then set a fixed number of spikes per character. He also specified their height and perspective when drawn.
The production also used a variety of visual storytelling techniques to portray certain emotions better. For instance, we have this scene when Itachi pulls Kakashi into his Genjutsu:
Observe how the colors began to be inverted in order to emphasize its difference from reality.
The intricacies of fight scenes
Attack on Titan and Naruto are both famed for their adventure and action themes. As such, we mus tpay special attention to how their fight scenes stack against each other.
There are fight scenes that seem underwhelming and anti-climactic, while others are too drawn out and dramatic. A good fight scene is one that is able to strike a balance between these two.
In Attack on Titan, the battle involving the Titans tends to be the most visually-appealing and entrancing. Seeing small humans attempt to take on these giants is always a cause for a sensory experience.
These Titan fights always have to involve proper framing, as there is an emphasis on size. If the perspective is even slightly skewed, the viewers would know that there is something wrong with the portrayal of the fights.
When we are shown Titans eating humans, the size always has to be precise in order to capture the overwhelming massacre. The animators also employ gore and blood, given the scale and setting of these fights.
You can see some of these moments in this video:
Meanwhile, Naruto fight scenes tend to involve magical elements such as jutsu and chakra. This makes clashes a bright, visual delight as there are unique, fantastical features.
Here, the fight scenes focus more on incredible showcases of power, which require more flamboyant strokes and styles.
Overall, it is different to compare the art style of Attack on Titan and Naruto as they both involve different techniques to further their own stories. Attack on Titan tends to take on dark-toned art, whereas Naruto uses bright colors and lights.
However, if we are to qualify things using an art critic’s scale, Attack on Titan would likely win in this aspect.
The Awards And Sales For Both Animes Compared
According to IMDB, Attack on Titan has won a plethora of awards, including:
- Best Director – Crunchyroll Awards 2020
- BTVA People’s Choice Voice Acting Award – Behind the Voice Actors Awards 2015
- Animation of the Year (TV Category) – Tokyo Anime Award 2014
- Best Music (TV Category) – Tokyo Anime Award 2014
- Best Anime Series (People’s Choice) – IGN Awards 2019
As you can see, the series has received a variety of awards that cover different categories. From animation to music to voice acting to direction, Attack on Titan has proven its superiority over the years.
It has been nominated for the best fight scene, best couple, and best CGI. As of April 21, 2021, it was even recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most in-demand animated TV show.
In contrast, Naruto has only won two awards: both related to voice acting from the BTVA People’s Choice Voice Acting Award in 2013 and 2014. It has also been nominated for the “Best Fight Scene” and the “Best Continuing Series” awards under Crunchyroll Awards.
Sales and Popularity
The Season 3 of Attack on Titan is ranked third on My Anime List’s top anime. Meanwhile, Naruto is ranked at 289. Although it sits at number 16 when it comes to popularity, it is still topped by Attack on Titan as the latter is ranked as the most popular anime on the website.
If we want to compare the sales, it would be more precise to measure the number of manga volumes sold. The Naruto manga ran from 1999-2014, covering a total of 72 tankobons. It has sold a total of approximately 250 million copies, with an average of 3.57 million copies per volume.
In comparison, Attack on Titan, which ran from 2009-2021, has been compiled into 34 volumes. It has sold approximately 100 million tankobons, amounting to sales of 2.94 million per volume.
The Attack on Titan has since branched out to include anime films and light novels. It also has a live-action mini series and a live action movie.
Attack on Titan was set to be produced into a stage play in 2017. However, it was cancelled after one of the staff members got involved in an accident.
And then there’s the comic crossover with Marvel in 2015. The one-shot featured the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy fighting several Titans in New York City.
Not to be one-upped, Naruto also steps up its game in this regard. Not only does it also have anime films and light novels; it also has been produced into comics, art books, stage play video releases, and anime spin-offs.
It’s a pretty close call, but if we compare all these factors, Attack on Titan comes out on top.
Attack on Titan vs. Naruto Poll: What Fans Say
All the technicalities are all important and valuable, especially from a critic’s point of view. However, much of the success of an art form lies in its popularity among its target market. Hence, I conducted a poll on the My Anime List forum to see which show is more popular among fans.
Here, we see that two-thirds of anime fans prefer Attack on Titan to Naruto.
Final Comparison Points For Attack On Titan Vs. Naruto
Here is a small table that summarizes the points we just went through. Although I stated in the post that some areas are difficult to compare, I only chose one winner in this final sum-up so that we can properly identify which show can be considered better.
Do note that just because Attack on Titan won in the area of protagonist development does not mean that Naruto has a horrible title character. Again, this is just for comparison’s sake.
|Category||Attack on Titan||Naruto|
|Overall online popularity|
Although the anime of Attack on Titan is still ongoing, it already has a leg-up on the classic that is Naruto. Perhaps, it would be good to revisit this post after a while to see if Attack on Titan truly has the longevity that one would expect from it.
What are your thoughts on this? What anime/ manga do you think is better? Let us know in the comment section below!