The plot of Naruto is told during the first 238 chapters of the manga and all 220 episodes of the Naruto anime. In the manga, before the switch to the second part of the series, otherwise known as Naruto: Shippūden, the story of Kakashi Gaiden is told.
Twelve years before the start of the series, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox attacked Konohagakure destroying much of the village and taking many lives. The leader of the village, the Fourth Hokage sacrificed his life to seal the Nine-Tails into a newborn, Naruto Uzumaki. Orphaned by the attack, Naruto was shunned by the villagers, who out of fear and anger, viewed him as the Nine-Tails itself. Though the Third Hokage outlawed speaking about anything related to the Nine-Tails, the children — taking their cues from their parents — inherited the same animosity towards Naruto. In his thirst to be acknowledged, Naruto vowed he would one day become the greatest Hokage the village had ever seen.
Naruto: Shippūden (ナルト 疾風伝, Naruto Shippūden; Literally meaning "Naruto Hurricane Chronicles") is the anime adaptation of Part II of the manga, set two-and-a-half years after Sasuke Uchiha's defection and Naruto Uzumaki finishing his training with Jiraiya and returning to Konohagakure. The series is still being shown in Japan on TV-Tokyo and can be legally accessed through sites such as Hulu (for North American users only) and Crunchyroll (for those living outside the US).
Even though it debuted sometime after the manga, the anime quickly caught up, since one anime episode usually covers one or two manga chapters. To prevent overlapping, the anime's producers tend to organise content from the manga chapters into long, uneventful sections followed by short bursts of action, sometimes adding filler content in between. By the time the Sasuke Retrieval Arc ended in the anime (episode 135), the series was at a point where it was quickly gaining on the manga.
At the conclusion of this arc, the anime immediately switched to anime-only episodes to allow the manga to broaden the gap once more. Most of these episodes are stand-alone stories, with a few being part of arcs that were several episodes long, and lasted for a total of 85 episodes in the first series.
After the series moved back into manga-adapted episodes, it was renamed Naruto: Shippūden (ナルト 疾風伝, Naruto Shippūden; Literally meaning "Naruto Hurricane Chronicles"). The new series premiered on February 15, 2007.
The anime generally remains true to the manga, usually changing only minor details (causes of death, loss of limbs, and other injuries have been lessened in the anime) or expanding on parts skipped by the manga, such as the fight between Tenten and Temari.
The anime-only arcs, though unreferenced in the manga (save for a few scant scenes), deal with the breaks between manga volumes, which covers a short period before the Sasuke Retrieval Arc and several months before the time skip.
The anime-only arcs tend to cover the supporting characters, occasionally giving insight into an otherwise rarely seen character.
Naruto maintains a balance between drama and comedy, with plenty of action interspersed. It follows Naruto and his friends' personal growth and development as ninja, and emphasises their interactions with each other and the influence of their backgrounds on their personalities. Naruto finds two friends and comrades in Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno, two fellow young ninja who are assigned with him to form a three-person team under a very experienced sensei named Kakashi Hatake.
Naruto also confides in other characters as well that he has met through the Chūnin Exam. They learn new abilities, get to know each other and other villagers better, and experience a coming-of-age journey as Naruto dreams of becoming the Hokage of Konoha.
Naruto places strong emphasis on character development. Almost all outcomes are a result of decisions, character, and personality; very few things happen just because of chance.
At first, emphasis is placed on Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura, who are the members of Team 7. However, other characters are developed, such as Kakashi, Guy, and Jiraiya, as well as Naruto's peers in the other Genin teams and other villages.
Several major villains came into play as well, the first being Zabuza Momochi, a missing-nin from the Kirigakure, and his partner, Haku.
Later, in the Chūnin Exam Arc, Orochimaru is introduced as an S-Class missing-nin at the top of Konoha's most wanted list. Later, a mysterious organisation called Akatsuki begins to pursue Naruto in order to take the Nine-Tails inside him and harness its power.