This past month Naruto as a franchise turned 20 years old. Making it one of the longest continuing series today and undeniably one of the most popular shōnen titles in existence. Potentially being the most popular worldwide, or a close second. Due to this occasion I thought I would take the time to celebrate aseries I love, by writing a list I have long wanted to write.
With this anniversary I thought now was the time. Ranking my 20 favorite fights in Naruto! I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing this. I would love to know where you disagree or if I forgot any (there were A LOT of fights) and if you would like to see more silly fun listicles like this. Have at it!
Note: Due to the size of the article. I have broken this post into two parts. The first will cover 20 to 11, while Part II will be the Top 10 and released next week.
20) Shikamaru vs. Hidan
Naruto at the beginning was not much like Naruto at the end. In the beginning there was a lot more tactical elements to battles with surprise and guile playing key roles in the fights. Over time that started to shift and with it something was lost. Except, when Shikamaru was involved. Every fight of his was like a game of Shogi.
This was his best fight of the series and one of his few solo outtings. Not only due to it pretty amazing set up and execution but the thematic stakes. Death in Naruto is rare, so when somebody dies it is meaningful. The death of Azuma was one such event for Shikimaru, who he vowed to avenge. Furthermore, it was one of the rare times a member of Akatsuki was not killed upon defeat or by a main character.
19) Rock Lee & Gaara vs. Kimimaro
Full disclosure Rock Lee is in my top three favorite characters for the series. Hell, he might be my favorite, so you can be he will show up again. Gaara is top eight and yes he shows up again too. Basically two of my favorites battling an interesting enemy. Ya, this fight was going to be on here. Quite different than the battles that came before Kimimaro was a welcome change from the lackluster Sound Ninja Four.
With his weird and visually interesting powers he pushed the very different fighters in Gaara and Rock Lee to the brink. Furthermore, this fight included one of the WORST examples of localization in recent memory localizing Sake to “Elixir” making Rock Lees clearly drunken fist style into... I really don’t know what. It was a fun fight that showcased a lot of weird techniques that would make Naruto great as more came along.
18) Sakura and Chiyo vs. Sasori
One of the first big fights of Shippuden and it was a dozy. Once again showcasing the more weird aspects of Narutos magic system. While in the grand scheme of things the fight was a rather tame affair to even other Akatsuki fights that came after, Sasori’s unique style and the pretty awesome team work of Chiyo and Sakura was a lot of fun.
17) The Battle of the Three Sannin
Another early Naruto battle. Despite the fact every Sannin was limited in their abilities it would be the first time we would see two of the three get serious. We would also get a great showcase of the scale of battle when multiple Summoning Jutsu beasts are involved.
The battle also featured a fun generational subtext, as it is fun to look back at how the Team 7's future sensei would leave their mark on the series. It was technically also the first Kage Level fight in the series where more then two Kage level fighters were involved, even if none of them brought their best to it. Also Naruto learned the Rasengan!
16) Sasuke vs. the 4 Kage
There honestly is not much to say about this fight in the grand scheme of things. It is the embodiment of the rule of cool. It is on this list because this fight kicks ass. Sasuke vs. the 4 Kage is just fun. More so due to the fact it introduced a whole new set of abilities we would see through future fights.
Also during this time the Samurai, the mortal enemies of the Ninja world, are introduced. Sadly... they suck. They kind of do nothing.
15) Sasuke vs. Danzo
Largely a continuation of the previous fight on this list. Sasuke vs. Danzo is a great fight for the exact opposite reasons the previous fight was listed. Where the 4 Kage battle was spectacle this is rather subdued. However, what the Kage lacked in thematic importance this has it in spades.
By most standards Danzo is the person single most responsible for the death of the Uchiha Clan. Upon learning this from Itachi Sasuke is determined to defeat him. However, to get his revenge he has to get past one of the Uchiha’s ultimate jutsu, Izanagi. Which Danzo has stolen by implanting dozens of Sharingan Eyes over his arm. He is a grotesque and perfect opponent for Sasuke to get his revenge.
14) 4 Tail Naruto vs. Orochimaru
While early Naruto was no stranger to more monstrous enemies, the Sound Ninja Four and Kimimaro. It tried to stay more grounded then it would as time passes. That time came when Naruto’s 4th Tail form became a thing. In this fight the viewers came to know what Jariya and the rest of the Villages feared and why its older members despised and feared Naruto. The Nine Tails really was a monster.
Naruto was literally a berserk and ultra powered ball of Chakra that was so powerful it burned its users skin away. This fight was not a fight between shinobi, it was a fight between monsters. Where Orochimaru gave as good as he got setting him up for later - monstrous - encounters.
13) Madara Uchiha vs. the Shinobi Alliance Army
Calling this a fight is rather unfair. It was not a fight it was a beat down. It was also likely the single best introduction to a character the series has ever done for a villain. Madara was truly something to fear, the hype (and he was hyped) was real. There isn’t much else to say.
12) Kakashi vs. Obito
After years of the anime and manga expanding to scope of ninjitsu to mountain shattering degrees, Kaskashi vs. Obito brought it back down to Earth. Somewhat anyways. Heavily reliant on their similar but different Mangekyou Sharingan abilities, the fight was a lot more low key then what was going on at the time.
Furthermore, by this point there had been a lot of build up to this fight over hundreds of chapters and dozens of episodes. The thematic importance of the fight alone gets this close to the top ten. Unfortunately Obito just wasn’t a good enough villain to get it all the way to the Top Ten.
11) Naruto vs Toneri (ON THE MOON!)
Yup, I’m ranking a movie fight. Yup just outside of the Top Ten too. Guess what? I love this fight, its kind of crazy. Its literally Naruto (and Kurama) FIGHTING ON THE MOON! Like come on that is insane, this fight somehow got produced. It has to be on here.
At the end of the day I respect the spectacle. Its also canon, it happened, so deal with it manga purists. While the moon people are possibly one of the dumbest ideas Makashi Kishimoto ever had, this fight was just fun. Its also pretty well produced as well having a films budget.
I hope you enjoyed this (partial) walk through Naruto. Remember this is only half the list and not even the best part, so Part II will be released next week. A lot of the fights you are thinking must be on this list will be on that list (or they wont). Anyways leave some thoughts in the comments I would love to hear them!