Is Naruto Shippuden anime finished?
Let’s be honest: it’s been very hard to be a Naruto fan for the past year and a half. With the manga having ended way back in November of 2014, watching Studio Pierrot and TV Tokyo release filler arc after filler arc, despite the knowledge that the end has already been reached, has been truly tiresome. To show just how bad things have gotten lately, there were a total of eight canon episodes of Naruto in 2015, with the entire rest of the year being made up of filler. Then, that filler pushed itself all the way through to the end of April of this year, before finally jumping into the final arc of the series.
Naruto Shippuden end made up of 45% filler
Granted, not all the filler was terrible – just most of it. As I mentioned in a previous article, the Itachi Shinden arc that adapted a side story novel was actually pretty good. Even then, however, it was painful to know that this franchise was being stretched to its absolute breaking point. According to Anime Filler List, Naruto Shippuden is made up of approximately 45% filler (for reference, One Piece and Dragon Ball Z are only about 15% filler). It’s absolutely mind boggling that nearly an entire half of a TV series is anime original content that isn’t canon to the manga storyline. It’s gotten so bad that fans have even created their own revised and re-edited version of the series, known as Naruto Kai.
“… fans have even created their own revised and re-edited version of the series, known as Naruto Kai.”
However, if the titles of the upcoming episodes for the next month are correct, then we may finally be coming to the end of Shippuden’s decade-long journey. The supposed upcoming episode titles are “Sharingan, Once More,” “Congratulations,” and “The Valley of the End,” all of which are listed as canon on Anime Filler List. The last title listed is the most telling, as it is undoubtedly a reference to the waterfall where Naruto and Sasuke have their final battle to determine the fate of the Hidden Leaf Village in the last volume of the manga.
One more volume of Naruto Shippuden left to adapt
That’s right: there’s only a little more than one volume of Naruto left to adapt. Naturally, it wouldn’t be surprising if Pierrot also stretched out this ending for as long as possible with a seemingly unending series of flashbacks. Even then, there’s only so much they can stretch it before they ultimately have to give up the ghost and animate the conclusion…
…or so one might think. Unfortunately, it was also recently announced that three of the Naruto epilogue novels will be adapted into anime later this winter, much like Itachi Shinden. The three novels to be adapted are Shikamaru Hiden, Konoha Hiden, and Sasuke Shinden. Aside from those, there are still plenty of other novels that are ripe for adaptation, with Kakashi, Sakura, Gaara, the Akatsuki, and others getting their own dedicated stories. After that, I would not be surprised if they adapted the bonus volume The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, telling the story of Sarada Uchiha, and then jumped right into the Boruto manga, which is currently running in Weekly Shounen Jump.
When will Naruto Shippuden end?
So, unfortunately, 2016 will most likely not be the end of Naruto, at least in terms of broadcast. However, I think for a lot of fans, myself included, the moment when Naruto finally dons the traditional hokage garb will be the moment when the series truly ends for us. Honestly, I already had one of those moments of finality when I saw Boruto in theatres last year. I know I don’t speak for all Naruto fans, as there are many people who have really enjoyed this Infinite Filler Tsukuyomi (otherwise it probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did). However, this constant milking of the manga has been a source of distress for me for a long time.
I “officially” dropped Naruto Shippuden at episode 51 because I knew a filler arc was coming up and I just didn’t want to deal with it. This prompted me to finally pick up the manga and power through all 700 chapters over the course of about four months. I also watched several of the movie sequels and spin-off, with The Last and Boruto being my favorites. I picked up the anime again for Itachi Shinden because Itachi is just plain awesome, but I quickly put the series down again when it launched into yet another series of filler episodes despite having just started the Kaguya arc.
I declared on that day that I would only watch canon episodes from then on, and doing so has been a fairly pleasant experience.
Episode 471, “The Two of Them…Always,” was surprisingly good, spending the first half of the episode reflecting on the relationship between Obito and Rin, and then delivering the emotional impact of Obito’s final sacrifice extremely well. I actually almost teared up a bit because I remembered how fond I was of Obito from my experience with the manga.
I honestly can’t even imagine what it must be like for those who have been watching Shippuden consistently for the past decade. I personally could never bear such mental torture. Regardless, it does appear that, before the end of next year, Naruto Shippuden will finally say its last farewell. The future of Naruto after that is uncertain, as the Boruto manga has been met with fairly negative criticism so far. In any case, I gladly welcome the end of the #1 Hyperactive Knucklehead Ninja with a bittersweet farewell.
Naruto Shippuden is available for streaming over on Crunchyroll.