You can compare different forms of the Naruto franchise to a load of people going for a race. The manga is the mega athlete pounding out in front, the game is it’s competitive rival just on his cusp, and the anime is the guy trailing behind because he’s not built for short sprints.
Gee, wasn’t exercising at school fun?
Lately however, I’ve been craving Naruto, the last active thing, well since I’ve completed Ninja Storm 4 on PS4, is the anime which has gotten bogged down with long filler arcs with the sole goal of expanding this crazy world of ninjas.
I’ll need to watch all of the Itachi arc before I have any comment on it, but right now my thing is watching odd filler episodes which aren’t adapted from the manga and honeslty, I’ve quite enjoyed it.
The short stand alone fillers may be annoying if you’re watching the show from week to week, but some are quite fun and entertaining to watch if you’ve got Crunchyroll and you’re just looking for something to watch before the new episode of your favourite anime.
A lot of these filler episodes tend to have the same vibe as the movies; Stand alone stories that stray away from the source material and give the writers a chance to try writing some different kinds of stories. Like Sasukes Paw Encyclopaedia, a whacky tale set during Part 1 where Team 7 must infiltrate a castle of talking cats, silly and light hearted and probably a well-deserved break from the gritty and tough Pain arc.
The thing is, most of Naruto is focused like a laser, it has little time and space to expand the universe and create a more fulfilling world for someone to enjoy. So sometimes, the filler episodes can be OK in retrospect. From my perspective with reading all the manga in about three months, when it expands the universe of this little world, surely everyone wins? Those background characters get a chance to shine and you get more story.
As long as you don’t watch Bleach, because that’s an infinite sprint no one is ever going to win.