My experience is probably a bit different as I found the anime first (back when I still watched often). I don't remember where I was in the anime, but I distinctly recall starting the manga to find out what happens next. I think it was somewhere in or just after the rescue Sasuke arc in part 1, I'm pretty sure it was before the filler and after the chuunin exam. The fights and chakra got me into it, the politics kept me in it. I always felt Kishimoto's story flowed well - events usually lead to logical next steps, it didn't feel too ad hoc. While Sasori and Deidara's part of the Akatsuki arc dragged a bit, I especially liked it once Pain started fighting. Between the death of Jiraiya and the destruction of Konoha I felt like the manga was finally breaking it's mold and coming into it's own. Unfortunately Pain then resurrected everyone and ever since the manga has felt hollow to me. I felt a glimmer of hope at the council, hoping that the kages were going to make grand plans and all stab each other in the back only to see them unite (despite Danzou's best efforts). The whole Kaguya / Sage of the 6 paths and his sons thing just felt messy and seemed like it came from nowhere. Akatsuki felt logical - there are going to be super strong ninjas who don't want to play by the rules. Why not make their own agency? A ninja war between countries felt like the next step to me only to be sidestepped for a common foe... who became a good guy to defeat a new common foe that seemed to come from nowhere and was so strong the two main characters had to be gifted temporary powers just to beat her. My heart just wasn't in it, and hadn't been for a while. The Naruto anime is also a bit unique to me, as I think it's what eventually turned me off anime almost entirely. I still appreciate some series (especially shorter ones) and movies, but for the most part the obvious dragging and stalling in Shippuden culimated for me when Naruto fought Orochimaru and went 4-tails. It was so slow and terrible that I dropped it right there. I came back for the Pain fight, and the wonky art style just kept me away. Unfortunately the obvious slowdown techniques Naruto used started making me catch on to other stall type tactics in other anime - so my watching time dropped drastically. That said, I would love for nothing better than for Naruto to be released in a volume of movies - no filler, good art / animation. I will miss Naruto mostly for it being a longtime weekly staple, and will likely remember it more for the incredible feelings ranging from the sadness at Jiraiya's death, the oh shit is he actually doing this from Konoha's destruction, the disappointment from Pain's conclusion, and the potential I felt it had but never used. It was definitely better than a lot of other things I've read, especially considering it's genre.