Naruto is one of the most important and commercially successful Shonen anime ever produced. It’s had a massive impact on Japanese and global pop culture and stands tall among the Shonen Big Three. But as the series evolved, continuing into Naruto Shippuden, and ultimately Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, prospective fans might be deterred by a potentially huge viewing list. But do you need to watch Naruto and Naruto Shippuden before Boruto?
Do You Need to Complete Naruto Shippuden Before You Watch Boruto?
Technically, you do not need to have watched Naruto Shippuden to understand or appreciate the plot of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. While you can reasonably argue that it’s easier to understand the world conveyed in Boruto by watching its predecessor, the spin-off series does a fine job of integrating Masashi Kishimoto’s world into its storytelling.
Note: this isn’t a claim that Boruto is in any way better, as the cathartic highs of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden have seemingly yet to be met by its successor. I have loved the series since I was a kid and enjoyed some incredibly satisfying moments in the series. But Boruto, whether you read the manga or watch the anime, sets out to tell a different story regardless, and teases fascinating mysteries like in the original from the very start.
The short answer is the following: you don’t have to watch Naruto or Naruto Shippuden before Boruto, but if you’re excited by the prospect of an engaging, long-term story, you should at least consider it. But don’t feel compelled to, especially if you find 720 episodes to be an (understandably) imposing task. Naruto is also infamously bloated with filler, so there’s plenty of justification to avoid that should you choose.
But the point is that, as members of the anime fan community, we shouldn’t gatekeep you when it comes to how you choose to experience the show. You’ll get to experience a new story that continues to build the world that Naruto created, while always having the option to check out the series at any point.
- This article was updated on September 7th, 2023