What are the big differences between the Naruto manga and anime?
Unlike some anime that dramatically change major plot points introduced in the original manga (looking at you, Tokyo Ghoul:Re) Naruto doesn't actually make huge changes to the overall story. Because of the extensive filler arcs, it might seem as if huge changes are being made, but overall the basic story stays in place. That said, there are some noteworthy discrepancies between the two versions of the story.
Let's learn about some of the major differences between the anime and the manga.
Neji's Forehead Decoration Looks Different In Each Version
In the manga, Neji's forehead decoration is a manji, a Buddhist symbol that means 10,000, and is often used to signify creation as a whole. But a manji looks a lot like a swastika, the symbol used by Nazi Germany. In order to avoid confusion, the anime swapped out the manji for an X.
Plot Points Were Rearranged
The anime adaptation changes the order of many plot points. Often, this happens so that the story will still make sense after the filler has been added, or to save a particular scene to expand on during a future filler.
An example of the former is when in the manga, Shikamaru is promoted to chūnin while Naruto and Jiraiya are searching for Tsunade. Due to filler arcs like the Land of Tea Escort Mission taking up space, Tsunade promotes Shikmaru herself after she returns and becomes hokage.
An example of the latter is when in the manga, Kakashi visits the Memorial Stone to talk to Obito after retrieving Naruto from the Valley of the End. This scene was eliminated from the anime, then used in a later episode.
Neji's Funeral Became Everyone's Funeral In The Anime
At the end of the Fourth Great Shinobi World War, there's a funeral service in both the manga and the anime. In the manga, that funeral service is meant to specifically honor Neji Hyuuga, who passed away during battle. In the anime version, it's a larger service meant to honor everyone who lost their lives during the war.
On the one hand, it's kind of sad to see the focus taken off of a beloved character, but on the other hand, it's good that the village places equal value on every life. The broader memorial also gives viewers the opportunity to see Ino and Shikamaru grieving their fathers' passing.
Sasuke Goes To Prison In The Anime
In the manga, Kakashi tells Sasuke that he's pardoned for his crimes against Konoha, and won't have to serve any time. In the anime, he's seen in a Konoha jail cell, apparently having served at least a small amount of time before ultimately being pardoned.