For nearly 12 years, I’ve been a massive fan of the Naruto franchise. It easily became one of my favorite anime shows of all time since I was able to grow up as the show progressed. I was instantly captivated with the fight scenes, character growth, the animation style, and the different arcs that the series would cover. The story arcs never ceased to surprise me and gave me many reasons to hold the show in such high esteem.
Part of what made these story arcs so memorable for me are the opening themes. Much like the theme for any show, they prepare viewers for a new episode. But with the Naruto themes, they conveyed so much more. Not only did they get me pumped, but they perfectly represented the feeling that the arc was trying to convey. With me embarking on my annual rewatch of the series, I wanted to look back at some of my favorite opening themes from Naruto and Naruto: Shippūden.
8. Youth Rhapsody by Sambomaster
I honestly believe that the “Sasuke Retrieval Squad” arc is the best arc in the entire series. Whenever I think about Naruto, one of the first things that jumps into my mind is this opening. It fully captures the urgency to bring back Sasuke to the Hidden Leaf Village. Both the song and the animation style fully convey a feeling of nostalgia and Naruto’s inner struggle when he realizes he has to fight his best friend. It also gives a glimpse as to how dangerous this simple mission turned out to be. All members of the retrieval squad were taken to their limits. It shows just how far they’re willing to go to bring back their comrade. This theme marked the end of an era where these genin ninjas’ only worried about training.
7. Closer by Joe Inoue
Majority of the main arcs focused a lot on Naruto’s story, which makes sense since he’s the main character. However, every now and then the show would have arcs that focused on other characters. This is the opening for the story arc during Naruto Shippuden that focused on the members of Team 10; Shikamaru, Choji, Ino, and their sensei Asuma Sarutobi. It perfectly captures the essence of family this team had formed over the years. By the end of the opening, one can feel the sense of urgency that Shikamaru has for saving his sensei. Those of you who’ve watched the arc know how this plays out. Also, the lyrics are very inspirational. I highly suggest any fan of the show to look them up if they haven’t already.
6. Diver by NICO Touches the Walls
The animation style in this opening is really simple, which makes it stand out even more. It shows Naruto sinking to the bottom of the sea, being drowned by his enemies to the point where he almost disappears. But then his friends begin to lift him up to save him. However, Sasuke is still drowning since he has no one to really support him. With Naruto not willing to give up on his friend, he tries to find a way to save Sasuke from drowning. The lyrics alone can also capture this feeling of drowning from everything that’s going on around them. If “Youth Rhapsody” wasn’t used as a theme, this would easily be my favorite opening song. This opening really captures the troubling relationship between Naruto and Sasuke.
5. Hero’s Come Back by Nobody Knows+
This was the first opening to the second half of the series, Naruto Shippuden. I was definitely surprised to hear a song like this being used for this show. It’s a much more mature opening than the ones shown in the first half of the series. In the show’s timelines, two years had gone by since the Sasuke Retrieval Squad was unable to bring Sasuke back to the village. The animation style and the song itself display just how much these characters have matured. With this being the start of a new era, this was the perfect song to get fans pumped for new episodes. It definitely renewed my excitement for the show. Plus, the song’s titled Hero’s Come Back, can’t get more obvious than that.
4. Not Even Giving Into the Sudden Rain by NICO Touches the Walls
This is probably one of the most visually striking openings in the entire series. The backdrop used here is the war raging on between Madara and the Ninja Alliance. Many recurring elements also show up in the theme, like the 5 Kage and Madara himself. There’s this conflict between light and darkness that Naruto must deal with. Ultimately, light wins as he undergoes his new transformation. This new power that Naruto has obtained is the only way the Ninja Alliance can possibly win the war. Much like the other openings, the lyrics are very hopeful.
3. Sign by Flow
This opening mainly focuses on two figures that had a major impact on Naruto and Sasuke’s life Jiraiya and Itachi. Jiraiya was Naruto’s sensei and Itachi was Sasuke’s older brother who killed his entire clan under the orders of some of the village elders. Most of the opening shows the final battles that would lead to the deaths of both Itachi and Jiraiya. It’s a very upbeat song but the lyrics are quite depressing. In the end, it alludes to the bittersweet effects that these fights and the casualties would have on Naruto and Sasuke. There’s no doubt that this song could easily bring a tear to the eyes of any Naruto fan.
2. Go!! by Flow
Going back to the original series, this theme comes much later in that part of the anime. It shows just how much the genin have grown in such a short amount of time. The genin are also shown with their respective teams, letting the audience know just how much their teams have become like families. It’s also the first glimpse fans got to see of the secret organization, Akatsuki. We also get a glimpse of Tsunade, who would go on to become the Fifth Hokage. One of the most important things in the opening is Naruto’s new move, the Rasengan, which would become one of his most important jutsus in his arsenal.
1. Far Away by Asian Kung-Fu Generation
With this being one of the original openings for the show, one of the things that always stood out to me were the visuals. Upon my rewatch of the series, I realized just how much this opening foreshadowed what would take place in the arcs to follow. The lyrics of the song do a perfect job of depicting how angry youth can be. They also show just how much all of these characters thrive to prove themselves. These elements fit perfectly into the Chunin Exams arc.
This entire series will always hold a special place in my heart. This, along with a few other anime shows, played a huge role in my childhood, I couldn’t imagine my life not knowing about this series. Not only that, but this show’s opening songs introduced me to many new bands and artists that I still love listening to now. Do you have a favorite opening? Let us know in the comments below.