Naruto’s Intelligence; Anime vs. Manga.

I usually prefer watching or reading a show in the original form it was released, book, manga, anime, whatever. The new creation can be valid and good on its own, but for the definitive take on the story, one should look at the original.

In anime and manga, this is quite important. We all know how some shows begin serialization before the original story is finished, and thus have to not only change things, but make up a lot of it as they go along (Fullmetal Alchemist), or that they descend into more and more “Filler episodes” of original and usually subpar material (such as Naruto and Bleach). But sometimes they go beyond.

The infamous "Shadow Clone Technique" in action. Overkill!

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Sometimes, such as in the early Naruto episodes, it was done more pervasively and yet more annoyingly, in how much time each episode was taken by synopsis of the last episode, and prolonged flashbacks. Well, that’s something you as the viewer can identify and take into account, and even major plot changes could be known if you check up on the series’ plot. But what about subtle and yet pervasive changes?

My brother and I began reading the Naruto manga, and then when we caught up to the translation (book 7 at the time?), we’ve moved to the anime, which was quite ahead of where the officially translated manga had reached, so I noticed something. You know how we keep getting told Naruto is stupid? Well, he’s much more stupid and stubborn in the anime, and not in an entirely good way.

In the anime, Naruto approaches each fight the following: “Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!” or “(Mass)Shadow Clone Technique”, which is quickly repelled, he does so again, and again, and after 3-5 rounds of failed clones, he decides to change his approach. This makes him stubborn, shows how much chakra he has, and shows him to be quite stupid, requiring the same technique used in the exact same manner defeated several times before he realized it just might be a good idea to try something else.

In the manga, as well as my memory serves me, Naruto was much quicker on the uptake, and after a single failed Kage Bunshin attempt, switched to something else. Of course he still failed, but he’s a Determinator, and failing is most of Naruto’s charm. But at least he’s not knucklebone stupid while doing it, and is trying new things at every turn.

That’s another reason to keep to the original venue, or try to stick to limited-run series, where they won’t try to change things just to fit the time constraints, though they might go the other way and cut stuff out, obviously.

So, which subtle changes to characters have you seen made when a medium transition was made, and not for the sake of the story?

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24 comments on “Naruto’s Intelligence; Anime vs. Manga.

  1. sirmon says:

    During the training for the Rasengan Shuriken, Kakashi mentions that each of Naruto’s clones learn independently and upon despawning, each clone imparts its quantum of newly gained insight to be aggregated by Naruto-Prime.

    I’m not defending the successive use of Multi-ShadowClone Jutsu, but it might be justifiable if Naruto is using the knowledge gained to measure the strength, reaction-time of his opponent and to refine his strategy.

    In particular, rewatch how the fight begins between Naruto and Kakuzu. In that instance the shadow clones are initially purposely sacrificial – and later diversionary.

    • Guy says:

      This would all be fine and dandy, except for two things:

      1. It makes anime Naruto even dumber, cause even with a dozen or more clones, he needs 4-5 attempts to learn how to react to his enemy.
      2. This “solution” is not necessary in the manga. He learns the same way in the manga, via multiple clones, so, why does he need more attempts in the anime? He doesn’t, it’s an attempt to lengthen the amount of time each fight takes for financial reasons. Also, he needs to concentrate on learning when releasing the clones.

  2. Snark says:

    Ever seen the Nausicaa manga and the movie? They didn’t even feel like the same story by the end.

    • Guy says:

      Watched the movie, own the manga books, didn’t read them yet.

      Also, Snarky, I’m specifically asking about subtle changes, or changes in feel, rather than blatant changes to plot or otherwise that jump right at you.

  3. Baka-Raptor says:

    If there’s anything I’m going to let an anime adaptation of a shounen manga mess around with, it’s fight scenes. Fights don’t make any sense to me in still pictures. But yeah, Naruto doesn’t need to be any stupider. They could do without all the believe-it-ing in failed strategies.

    • Guy says:

      In some older manga, it’s also really hard to know whose leg are you seeing, and even if it is a leg and not someone’s hand, such as Trigun. Giving that manga as more or less the first fight-manga to one of my friends sort of killed her interest in reading more, heh.

    • A Manga Fan says:

      I am a huge manga fan. Not all manga necessarily have the hard understanding of what is going on in the fight scene. It really depends on the artist of the manga. In addition, the Mangaka’s art style adapts and grows over the time, becoming clearer. I have seen this many times, the art style becoming more polished and understandable. This can be said the same for Naruto. In the beginning it was understandable to read, then as the story progresses, the art style became more polished and more detailed, making the fight scenes pop out to the readers. All the mainstream manga I have read and is still reading, One Piece, Bleach and Naruto manga started out a little rusty, then improved vastly. This is simply my opinion. To get to the point of why I am writing a reply to you, is that I want you give manga a chance. The stories in manga is beautiful and wonderful. But it is entirely up to you if you want to read manga. Thank you for reading this post if you read it.

  4. mefloraine says:

    I definitely hated Naruto more in the anime than what I read of the manga. One reason I dislike watching animes (especially for long series) is because they always throw the story in a new direction, and it’s the mangaka’s story–not theirs. It always winds up weird.
    As for anime adaptation’s getting messed up…the one that sticks out to me the most was Yozakura Quartet. The manga is one of my favorites and probably will be for a long time, but the anime was terrible. They turned one of the nicest people in the story into a bad guy at the beginning (I’m really not sure why either), and it didn’t work well for it. I didn’t see how it gave any more to the story to have her be a bad girl. Of course, that’s more than a subtle change, I suppose.

    • Guy says:

      Sometimes they don’t take the series in new directions, but usually you need to be patient in such cases. They get as far as X, then you have to wait, however long it takes, for new material to be released before you get a new season.

      Think Zero no Tsukaima, Pumpkin Scissors, or even Kannagi.

  5. gunstray says:

    “Clone spam is just as annoying as bit spam”

    • Guy says:

      In Israel, SPAM, or meatloaf, which due to translation and lack of “punctuation” is read in Hebrew as “Loof” is actually something I quite enjoy :)

      Tastes like strips of italian beef, if you ask me.

  6. kluxorious says:

    I’m glad Bleach anime stick to the manga although after the SS arc they kinda censored blood/anything gore. I understand the need for fillers so I might complained that the story sucks but that doesn’t stop me from watching it. The latest fillers of Bleach is pretty damn interesting, if you asked me.

    • Guy says:

      Yeah, I actually think the new fillers’ story sounds interesting, but for some reason I’m not watching them. I actually quite liked the Bounto cycle, and one of the first episodes in the current filler season, where we saw how Rukia got to Earth, and the first few days of high school was brilliant, and reminded us of characters we haven’t seen in a couple of years.

  7. lovelyduckie says:

    I prefer watching Shonen/Action in anime form and everything else I prefer in manga form (although I’ll usually watch the anime too). There are exceptions but in general that’s what I do. The Naruto manga moved at a quicker/more satisfactory pace but for me there is just no substitute for seeing a fight animated rather then reading it panel to panel.

  8. Reltair says:

    Eh, most transitions have been close enough to character for me. Both mediums (anime and manga) has their strengths, I like anime because it actually has sound, movement, and music.

    Regarding Naruto specifically, I remember watching the anime when it first aired, but I dropped it when it got to the insane amount of fillers. QQ

  9. Yi says:

    When I switched to Naruto manga from anime, I was surprised at how keen Naruto seemed. Also, the fillers were just too ridiculous.

    • Guy says:

      They were not only endless, they were badly drawn, and had crappy story. I mean, so you have fillers, put some work into them!

      I wonder how many people would have ended liking the character of Naruto more had they read the manga version of him. Of course, some people are all for the mindless Determinators ;)

  10. phossil says:

    The first time I saw Shadow Clone Technique was fantastic, but its less used as the show advance.

    • Guy says:

      Only once we reach Shipuuden does it become used to a sane amount. Of course, during the “Save Sasuke from himself” arc for the first time, we have a lot of time spent watching other characters, so it seems that way.

  11. Tommy says:

    Never watched Naruto. I guess the art style doesn’t interest me.

    I really hate series’ that drags on forever, especially ones that takes more than one episode to go anywhere.

    I don’t really mind which version I see first though, I’ll just find out if I’m really interested in the series. I’m reading Death Note right now…after watching the (then unfinished) anime 2 years ago.

  12. […] show is adapted from a still-ongoing manga, which is being released quite slowly. Like I cover in my piece on Naruto, I suspect some of the faults had been introduced as a result of the adaptation. For instance, one […]

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