Saying that the Naruto franchise has been a big mess of constant releases since the manga finished would be an understatement. Movies, spin-off mangas, spin-off novels, stage plays, anime specials… It’s gotten to the point where it’s become hard to keep up with what is happening and, more importantly, what’s canon and what’s not. We have tried to put some sense into what’s going on right now with everyone’s favourite ninja.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for anime-onlys
CANON – The Movies, Spin-off Manga
It could be said that this mess started once the manga ended in November 2014. Two canon movies have come out since then: The Last: Naruto the Movie and Boruto: Naruto The Movie. The Last, also known as the ultimate Naruhina movie, came out in December 2014 and covers the events between the penultimate and the last chapter of the manga. The second movie, Boruto, was released in August 2015 and continues the events of the last chapter of the manga with Naruto’s son and the next generation.
The story doesn’t stop there, though. In early 2015, Kishimoto wrote a short sequel manga series called ‘Naruto Gaiden: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring’ (Weekly Shounen Jump). ‘Naruto Gaiden’ is set 15 years after the last Naruto chapter and follows the story of Sarada, Sasuke and Sakura’s daughter. The events of this story work as a prelude for Boruto: Naruto the Movie.
So, tu sum it up, if you want to stick to canon events only, this is the watching/reading order: Naruto manga until Chapter 699 – Naruto: The Last movie – Chapter 700 – Naruto: Gaiden – Boruto movie. Pretty simple, huh?
NOT CANON – Light Novels, Anime Filler
We were clearly being delusional if we thought Studio Pierrot would let the anime go and finish it in peace after the manga ended. Far from that, we seem to be stuck in anime filler, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon. Would you believe it if I told you that there were only 8 CANON episodes in 2015? Well, here you go. Pierrot is
killing milking the franchise alright.
Two series of light novels were released this year as well: Naruto Hiden and Naruto Shinden. These novels explore the story of different characters after the end of the series. Even though the book is illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto, it’s actually written by different authors. So, is it canon? Not really, but you could call it half-canon or even headcanons of the authors with the approval of the mangaka himself.
More on that, a few days ago we announced that an anime for Itachi Shinden was going to be released in Spring. However, according to some recent reports, it would seem like it’s actually going to be a filler arc for the Naruto Shippuden, and not a separate anime as it was previously announced. After that, it seems like Pierrot would head straight into canon territory with Kaguya (although at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if they added more filler with flashbacks of Kaguya’s backstory).
If that wasn’t enough, there’s also going to be yet another manga: a Boruto manga series NOT written by Kishimoto, so technically not canon. The manga will be published in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump in Spring. Mikio Ikemoto, one of Kishimoto’s assistants, will be in charge of the series, and Kishimoto himself will provide a short spin-off story of Boruto drawn by himself.
The problem with the Naruto franchise is that it has become a big clusterfuck that only the most obsessed fans can follow (and some are struggling too). Fans who don’t read the manga will be certainly lost and overwhelmed with the amount of content that has been released after they finish the anime (if it ever ends). Hopefully, this guide will be helpful to some of you!