Bleach and Naruto are without a doubt two of the most popular shonen anime and manga series of the past decade. However it’s a little known fact that both series are heavily indebted to Yoshihiro Togashi, the man behind Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter. It may come as a surprise to fans of both Bleach and Naruto that they each in fact feature many of the same elements seen in Togashi’s works.
First off I will start off by explaining why Bleach would not exist had Togashi not previously made Yu Yu Hakusho. Tite Kubo the creator of Bleach to this day refuses to confirm Yu Yu Hakusho as an influence but taking a look at it’s story is evidence enough;
A delinquent teenager meets a young girl who gives him powers in which he is required to fight demons for beings of the afterlife, he soon encounters a man with red hair and another man with black hair who kidnap the heroes love interest. The hero then sets off to save the love interest, eventually befriending the red haired man and eventually defeating the black haired man and thus freeing his love interest.
Soon after a powerful new enemy appears who was previously thought to be dead, with it turning out the enemy had faked his own death. The enemy then goes on the reveal that they are essentially undefeatable. With no other option but to enter in an arduous series of battles in order to grow strong enough to face this unbeatable enemy the hero as well as his friends battle and grow stronger as they fight. The hero then enters a cave with the challenge of overcoming something within themselves. After overcoming this ordeal the hero is stronger than ever and manages to defeat the supposedly unbeatable enemy. However after the characters defeats the main enemy one of them loses their powers.
Things seem to return to normal, until humans with mysterious powers begin to appear and eventually take the hero to a bizaare house which in turn ends up being a way to train the hero. Not long after it is revealed that the next main villain is also formerly an agent of the afterlife, now causing the hero to have to eseentially face “himself”.
That description fits both series in a nut shell. It is not to say Bleach is a bad series but it clearly owes a lot to Togashi’s manga. That isn’t all though, if Togashi had not made his second series Hunter x Hunter, it’s hard to say Naruto would have ever gotten off the ground.
Admittedly Naruto only begun it’s life following the foot steps of Hunter x Hunter and after Togashi’s hiatuses forced it to live on it’s own, Naruto did distance itself very much Hunter x Hunter. But if you take a look at the beginning of Naruto its clear Masashi Kishimoto was following Togashi’s work closely;
The hero is a 12 year old boy whose father is a legendary Ninja/Hunter. The hero is odd, yet pure, honest and kind of heart. He aims to become a Ninja/Hunter and after gaining friends along the way must undergo an examination in order to be granted the title of Ninja/Hunter. The exams are difficult and feature different phases, such as having to run through a dangerous forest in which the heroes are stalked by a creepy villain with a bloodlust and then a tournament phase in which characters are required to fight one another.
While the story similarities may end there, multiple other elements of Hunter x Hunter are present in the series such as a character who seeks revenge after his clan (famous for their unique eyes) is massacred, a group of criminals (which the previously mentioned creepy villain is a member of) and most of all similar abilities in characters.
Fortunately, unlike Tite Kubo, Masashi Kishimoto openly admits he was heavily influenced by Hunter x Hunter in creating Naruto. While both series are heavily influenced by Togashi’s work that is not to say they do not both feature enough uniqueness in their own rights to make their existence worth while. It is however without a shadow of a doubt because of Togashi that both series exist today.
Togashi laid the ground work for both series and ultimately influenced two of the most popular series of all time. So whether you are a fan of Naruto or a fan of Bleach, you should check out the works that made them possible.