My Top 5 Naruto Arcs

Chunin Exams

Manga Volumes: 4 – 13

Anime Episodes: 20 – 67

The Chunin Exams marks the moment we get to see the rest of the current ninja generation. We are introduced to the rest of the Rookie Nine, Team Guy, the Three Sand Siblings, and Orochimaru. Until this point, I found Naruto to be mediocre but characters like Rock Lee and Orochimaru made me fall in love with the series. This arc also displayed the value intellect was to ninja. The first phase of the exam required the genin to use their skills to acquire information. However, the most exciting part of this arc was the preliminaries. With too many teams passing the exam, the 20 remaining genin we pitched against one another to cut down the numbers. Some of the matches we duds, but a few are classics. The same is true of the finals matches between the surviving winners. 

Best Fights:

  • Orochimaru vs Sasuke
  • Rock Lee vs Gaara
  • Naruto vs Neji
  • Temari vs Shikamaru

Five Kage Summit

Manga Volume: 49 – 51

Anime Episodes: 197 – 214

This arc is filled with action but I think it’s most interesting for is the focus on the political aspect of Naruto. The arc centers on the Summit between the current Kages, Gaara, Onoki, Mei, A, and Danzo. While we’re familiar with Gaara, the other Kages are more of a mystery. Danzo uses Tsunade’s coma as an opportunity to claim the title of Hokage for himself. Danzo is revealed to have possession of the Sharingan. The Kages argue over their ideological differences, with A claiming (correctly) that each of the other villages used the Akatsuki to gain power. Of course, the summit is interrupted by Sasuke and the rest of Taka. In the fights that follow, A proves to be a powerhouse, and Onoki and Terumi show off some of their abilities. Finally, Madara declares war over the remaining tailed beast. 

Best Fights:

  • Sasuke vs The Kages
  • Killer B vs Kisame
  • Sasuke vs Danzo

Pain’s Assault

Manga Volume: 45 – 48

Anime Episodes: 152 – 175

The beginning of this arc introduces us to Killer B, the host of the Eight Tailed Beast. He quickly becomes a fan favorite, while the rapping is bad and stereotypical, he’s a fun character that gives Sasuke a fight. It’s also the first time that we witness a Jinchuriki fight alongside his beast. After this fight, Pain invades Konoha. It’s a devastating assault that results in the “death” of Kakashi and the destruction of Konoha. The highlight of this arc is the fight between Naruto and Pain, with the former using the senjutsu (Sage) techniques and the Wind Release: Rasenshuriken technique. Hinata confesses her love for Naruto and the latter finally meets his father. 

Best Fights:

  • Sasuke vs Killer B
  • Naruto vs Pain

Sasuke Recovery Mission

Manga Volume: 20 – 27

Anime Episode: 107 – 135

Sasuke defects from Konoha in pursuit of power. This marks the moment Sasuke becomes a villain. Tsunade sends a five-man genin squad to retrieve him. Lead by Shikamura, the team of Naruto, Neji, Choji, and Kiba face off against the Sound Four. This arc features several battles that felt consequential. Each fight showed the depth of skill each ninja from Konoha possed. Furthermore, we got to see the specific techniques of the Akimichi, Hyuga, and Inuzuka clans. While Sasuke was becoming a villain, Gaara and siblings became allies. Watching the siblings fight for Konoha gave me chills. Throw in drunken fist Rock Lee and the epic battle between Sasuke and Naruto, this is one of the best Naruto arcs. 

Best Fights:

  • Neji vs Kidomaru
  • Kiba/Akamaru vs Sakon/Ukon
  • Shikamaru vs Tayuya
  • Rock Lee vs Kimimaro
  • Gaara vs Kimimaro
  • Naruto vs Sasuke

Tale of Jiraiya the Gallant

Manga Volumes: 40 – 42

Anime Episode: 127 – 133

This arc is short but it was the most impactful for me. Jiraiya was always my favorite Naruto character. I loved everything about him, his character design, humor, and abilities. However, we never saw the extent of those abilities until this arc. Jiraiya investigates Pain, infiltrating Amegakure. While there he encounters former students Konan and Nagato. Pain gets introduced and he’s a stoic villain that plans on forcing the world to stop wars, by creating a jutsu powerful enough to “wipe away entire nations.” It’s not the most original of motives but Pain proves to be a formidable villain. The battle between the two is probably my favorite and what made Naruto the best shonen series. 

One of the Legendary Sannin finally got to fight with their full power. This fight perfectly balances the powerful techniques of Jiraiya and Pain, while including strategy, and skills that feel earned. When you feel like Jiraiya has defeated a mysterious opponent, it’s revealed (not completely to the audience) what Pain is. After Jiraiya loses his arm and has to face The Six Paths of Pain you not sure he can survive. However, just when we begin to think he will escape, he sacrifices his life to protect Konoha. It was a heartbreaking moment that made me cry. I think it’s the best Naruto arc ever.

4 thoughts on “My Top 5 Naruto Arcs

  1. To this day; one of my favorite arcs in all of anime is the Chunin Exams arc. I don’t know what it is about that arc, but I just LOVE it! I also think the Sasuke Retrieval Arc was pretty good, too. And getting to see the political side of “Naruto” was pretty good world building- even if it was towards the latter half of the series.

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