Hello fellow Anime Listers! Along with having a rather snobbish attitude when it comes to anime, I always enjoy trying new series. I have a heavy interest in western voice acting. I love books and music. In fact I've spent over ten years as a DJ. I'm currently working as a freelance writer here on MAL. I'm usually open for reasonable discussions, so feel free to leave me a comment and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!
Goku vs Naruto
First, I actually like DBZ and going into this article I thought I would list some of Naruto's merits, but have Goku come out the sheer winner. Then I took a step back and approached the problem from a neutral angle and here are a few reasons why the article turned out the way it did.
1.I know Goku is usually the trump card in any sort of versus discussion. You drop Goku's name and declare the argument over and won. That's not exactly the case 100% of the time. In the Resurrection F movie, Goku was nearly killed by a common laser gun. Towards the end of the movie, while in Super Saiyan God form, Goku is shot in the heart and forced to change back. Considering he got better soon after thanks to a senzu bean, everything turned out alright. However, had the battle happened on a dying Namek where their original battle took place, Goku would have died and he would have died, not to Frieza's great powers, but to a common laser gun. The word "common" was used by Frieza himself to describe the weapon. The point is, even in Super Saiyan God form. Goku is still vulnerable. The very fact Goku even allowed himself to be shot is just an example of Goku's most fatal flaws and exactly why Naruto actually stands a higher chance at victory than most other characters from anime. I'll explain exactly why soon. Keep in mind I'm NOT using Goku getting shot in the heart as THE reason Naruto has an advantage. Rather, I'm using it as evidence to a flaw in Goku that will give Naruto the advantage I mentioned.
2. The way a warrior thinks and the way a ninja thinks are very different. For example, during the Sengoku period, the famous ninja Hattori Hanzo played a funny trick on his friend Tokugawa. He bet him that he could hold his breath underwater until Tokugawa called his name. So Hattori Hanzo took a deep breath and dove underwater. Time passed and Tokugawa started to worry, so he called out Hanzo's name and Hanzo popped right back up. The trick was, Hanzo went underwater and marked his spot. Then he swan a little ways down and got out. He waited until he heard his name, went back underwater, found his spot and rose back up. Bet won. Naruto was trained as a ninja from birth. That means, along with his fighting skills, he was trained in the art of deception. Looking in at Naruto at the peak of his power as we did with Goku, he not only great power, but exceptional ability to trick and outsmart his opponents. Like I mentioned in the article, Naruto's life as a prankster gave him an early boost on how to think quickly, how to think creatively, and how to critically. He even outsmarted a top class ninja early on in the series. It wasn't Sasuke, the great genius, it was all Naruto.
3. Goku is stronger, without a doubt. I even mentioned it in the article. Even if both of them fought at the peak of their power, in a straight head to head fight, Goku would dominate Naruto. That's why it wouldn't come down to a contest of strength. When met with an overwhelming force like Goku, Naruto would have to resort to tricks and deception.
4. Goku has great battle instincts. He's a natural born warrior. But "perfect" battle instincts? Not really. Goku, especially during the DBZ era, is a bit spoiled when it comes to fights. Most, if not all, of Goku's largest fights are straight up fights. I mentioned this in my article as well. Frieza, Cell, Buu. They all stood up against Goku and fought him head to head. Yes, some of them used when they felt cornered, but notice that Goku usually falls for them. For example, when Majin Buu faced off against Vegito, Buu was able to get himself inside Vegito's body. Had Vegito been a little weaker, I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to think that the fight would be over right there. He also had the advantage of Buu being an inexperienced trickster compared to a Ninja.
5. Naruto may not be as strong as Goku or even possess as much destructive power, but he does possess more utility which means his abilities have a much wider range of uses. One of them being the ability to block an enemy from tapping into their inner energy. Naruto uses Chakra which is another word for spiritual energy. It's actually the exact same energy that Goku taps into as a warrior. If Goku is prevented from tapping into his energy, needless to say he'd be in trouble. Even if Naruto doesn't get the chance, it's still not a clear outcome. Mainly because...
6. One of Goku's main weakness is his lack of battle awareness. When locked in combat with an enemy, Goku's instincts are spot on. Unfortunately, Goku tends to focus far too much on honorable head to head battles. He rarely pays attention to the environment around him or any threats that might be lurking around other than opponent or opponents he's facing. Frieza, Golden Frieza specifically, is the first enemy that tried such a lethal trick. It wasn't even a good one. He just had a minion stand by with a gun. Goku didn't notice an enemy with a gun standing just a few feet away and that nearly cost him his life, again despite already being in Super Saiyan God form. In DBZ nine times out of ten, this flaw wouldn't determine a battle because nine times out of ten Goku's enemies are fighters just like he is. They only use tricks when backed into a corner and then only as a knee-jerk reaction. In other words, they are all expert fighters, but amateur tricksters. Naruto, on the other hand, is almost the opposite. He's a excellent fighter, but taijutsu only makes up a portion of his training. Deception is another large portion. Ever since the first episodes of DBZ Goku has proven that he can be easily deceived. One of Naruto's greatest strengths is Goku's greatest and most exploitative weaknesses. That and Naruto has the Chakra energy and the power of a powerful demon to help back him up.
There exist several examples of fighters showing superior battle awareness to Goku. It's actually a common trope writers use to show how awesome a character is. If you'd like to see a series that represents how a warrior with good battle awareness acts, check out the famous series Lone Wolf and Cub. It isn't anime, but it's still a Japanese production. It's basically the ability to sense all threats under any circumstance. If the weakness I mentioned didn't exist in Goku, he would've seen the minion standing by with the gun. He wouldn't have believed Raditz when he convinced Goku that he'd leave Earth forever if only he'd let go of his tail. His awareness only seems effective when he's outside of battle, then it's really good. Once he's in battle, his awareness goes down quite a bit. Too much. He's too easily distracted and too easily deceived. Naruto's powers are specifically designed to take advantage of that flaw in ANY opponent. Under normal circumstances, one instance is all a Ninja of Naruto's caliber needs to win the day. Again, Goku has the advantage of durability and strength to survive some of these tricks, another thing I mentioned in my article. In other words, this is sort of like Lex Luthor fighting Superman with kryptonite on his side. I'm not saying that Goku's methods are wrong, it's just his weakness stems from his belief that his enemies will act like he would and against a Ninja from the Naruto universe that might be more of an opening than he could afford.
7. Lastly, never did I mention that Goku would certainly lose this fight. I said that the fight would be changed to a battle of the minds due to Goku's overwhelming power. Naruto would force the battle to become of game of deception and mind games, because there's no way he'd stand a chance fighting on Goku's terms. Granted, this is something Goku developed over time, but this is also something Naruto had developed over time AND been trained in by experts who spent their whole lives specializing in fighting this way in order to survive. So yes, Goku would be at a disadvantage and Naruto would have the advantage during this fight. Now anyone who's a fan of DBZ or understands how Goku's battles usually work would understand that Goku always begins at a disadvantage, but that's where his greatest strength comes in. Goku has great strength and tremendous willpower. He usually finds a way to defeat his opponent, if given enough time. Then again, Naruto may not give him enough time.
In short, would Goku win in a straight fight? Without a doubt. Would he win in a game of wits against a well trained and talented Ninja with demon powers? Maybe. Is there any scenario where Naruto wins hands down? Probably not.