Naruto: Naruto Uzumaki, the title character of the series, grew up without a family or friends due to being the host of a Nine-Tailed Fox, which seems a bit silly when you think about it. Everybody hates the person who could kill them all one day, instead of wanting to stay on his good side? Ah well, at any rate Naruto dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of the village, and gaining recognition by the people in return. Along the way, he goes through friendship, loss, love, rejection, and plenty of violence and bonds, while also trying to save his friend-turned-villain Sasuke Uchiha.
What makes Naruto the standout choice for this section, besides his surprising development that the other two greatly lack, is how deep his main goals and justifications for them are. He wants to become Hokage because the village never gave him any notice, and Hokage would be the ultimate sign of acceptance by the people who neglected him. He wants to save Sasuke because of their bond, and his feelings towards that bond due to loneliness. Ichigo instantly fails in this department because he has no true goal other than the basic and generic “save my pals”, which I think has only occurred in every Shounen protagonist ever. As for Luffy, his quest to become Pirate King is never really explained and when it comes down to personality, Luffy’s stupidity can be far too distracting and grating to keep me invested in his quest.
Naruto: As Naruto goes through development and change, he comes across various figures that impact his life in ways too many to count, unless you got a lot of time on your hands. From teachers like Kakashi, Jiraiya and Killer Bee, to rivals and friends like Hinata, Kiba, Shikamaru and Sakura, Naruto has seen more than you can imagine. He meets other “hosts” of the giant Tailed Beasts and even comes face-to-face with a hero straight out of myth and legend. Of course, it’s impossible to mention Naruto’s friends without referring to Sasuke Uchiha, who leaves the village and becomes Naruto’s most forward goal, which takes up a large majority of the screentime that previously mentioned characters could have used.
One Piece: Possibly supporting the biggest roster of freaks in this article, One Piece’s island tour is a great excuse to show us just as many people as possible. The supporting cast of One Piece range from gangs led by a speedo-wearing cyborg named Franky, to horrifyingly ugly train-riding mermaids, to sky scientists living on clouds, to a dude in a box with a big afro. It’s impossible to list them all, but the highlights of the series are easily some of the members of the Straw Hat crew, including master pervert and chef Sanji, the cool-as-ice archaeologist (which is unnecessary for a pirate crew but whatever…) Nico Robin, and of course, Zoro. Motherf*cking Zoro.
As damn difficult as this subject was, I have to give it to Bleach for using the cast properly. In fact, one of Naruto’s biggest flaws is how it handles the majority of it’s characters, favouring the approach of forgetting about them so it can focus all on Sasuke’s and Naruto’s bromantic feud. While Naruto’s characters are amazing, Kakashi being an utter delight in every way, they’re severely underused. Naruto handles their characters like Star Wars handles Darth Maul. As for One Piece, there are far too many to count. It’s amazing how many the series can handle, but this does cause a lot of them to not be nearly as full as I feel they could be. Bleach is in the middle of these two problems. The number isn’t too large for you to get overwhelmed, and most of them have at least one relevant, badass or intriguing opportunity to catch your eye.