For all its flaws, Naruto is one of the greatest animes ever created when you look at the sheer emotional resonance of its best story arcs and how wide the epic saga sprawls. But if you watch Naruto start to finish as it aired, you’ll tear out your hair.
That’s because Naruto is notorious for filler arcs—episodes that deviate from the main storyline and, in most cases, fail to offer any meaningful character growth or plot progression. Naruto (Part 1) is 44% filler while Naruto Shippuden (Part 2) is 43% filler. In fact, Naruto has an insane stretch of filler starting from episode 136 all the way to episode 220, which is when Naruto Shippuden begins.
Naruto is definitely worth watching, but don’t waste your time with filler arcs. Here are two ways to watch the entirety of Naruto while skipping the unnecessary bits.
Method 1: Ultimate Naruto Kai
“Naruto Kai is a fan project dedicated to removing filler, padding and any other executive-minded nonsense that made [Naruto] the mess that it is.”
There have been several attempts at a “Naruto Kai” before, but this one by /u/Kloggmankey on Reddit is the absolute best one. It’s a fan-made re-edit of all of the canonical Naruto episodes, presented as 72 episodes that each correspond to the amount of content covered by the 72 manga volumes.
Each of these Ultimate Naruto Kai episodes is about 60 to 90 minutes long. That means Ultimate Naruto Kai is essentially 72 full-length movies that each have a satisfying beginning, middle, and end—all meaningful, no fillers. This is truly the best way to watch Naruto.
Keep in mind that there are some inconsistencies across the 72 episodes, namely that most of them come with hard-coded English subs while a few of them come with external soft subs that you’ll need to load in whatever video player you’re using to watch. Each episode is a separate download hosted on Mega.
Note: Because Naruto Kai is a fan-made re-edit that’s distributed without consent from the original producers, this is technically piracy. If you want to take the moral high road, read on to Method 2 which is entirely legit.
Method 2: Naruto Filler List
Sites like Anime Filler List maintain full databases of every major anime out there (or close to it), tracking all of an anime’s episodes and marking each one as either Canon, Mostly Canon, Mostly Filler, or Filler. This is a really nifty way to blast through filler-heavy animes, not just including Naruto but also Bleach, One Piece, Rurouni Kenshin, and Dragon Ball Z.
This particular site even lets you filter the list to Canon-only episodes.
Now, where to actually watch Naruto? If you want to be completely legit, I recommend grabbing a Hulu subscription which starts at $5.99/mo (with ads) or $11.99/mo (without ads). Hulu has all 220 episodes of Naruto and 500 episodes of Naruto Shippuden, both subbed and dubbed versions. If you think you can binge the whole thing in a few weeks, you don’t have to pay anything—grab a 30-day free trial of Hulu (No Ads).
Another option if you can’t pay anything at all is to stream on Viz, which has both Naruto and Naruto Shippuden as well, both subbed and dubbed versions. The downside is that the free watching is ad-supported. If you have the patience to sit through two or three 30-second ads every episode, you’ll do fine here.
If you’re crafty enough, you might even be able to find some morally-gray sites that stream commercial-free episodes of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden for free using nothing more than a clever Google search. I won’t be linking to them—for reasons—and I personally wouldn’t use those sites due to malware risks, but just know that they are out there in case you really need them.
Good luck and enjoy!