The Naruto anime gave Hinata a lot of scenes and character development that weren’t present in the manga, and there’s a good reason for it.
Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto’s favorite female character from the original series was Hinata Hyuga, and that perfectly explains a lot of changes that the anime went through during its run. Writers will undoubtedly grow more attached to some characters than others, and that will often lead to their stories being written to give them more attention. This was the case with Hinata, as Kishimoto’s preference for her was likely a big factor in the anime giving her a lot of material that developed her even more than the manga did.
Even though Sakura had always been the main female protagonist of Naruto, the female character who Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto cared the most about was Hinata. Not only has Kishimoto outright stated that Hinata was his favorite female character (via Viz), but he had even decided that she and Naruto would be together by the halfway point of the series (via Anime News Network). Because of that, it makes sense that the later parts of the manga would go out of their way to establish Hinata as one of Naruto’s strongest pillars of support.
Masashi Kishimoto’s favoritism toward Hinata might also explain why the anime gave her so much extra material. One example is how Hinata’s fight with Pain in the Naruto Shippuden anime was greatly extended from what it was in the manga and gave her a much better showing than she originally had. Not only that, but a filler arc from the first anime gave Hinata a character arc about resolving to become stronger that led to her developing a new technique, and it even gave her relationship with Naruto a lot more development. Finally, there’s how Naruto Shippuden created the idea of Naruto protecting Hinata from bullies when they were children to add more to their romance, which ended up being canonized in The Last: Naruto the Movie, a movie dedicated solely to showing how the two ended up together. All of those moments and more show the anime giving Hinata far more to work with than the manga did, and since Kishimoto has been involved with the Naruto anime to varying degrees, it would make sense if his favoritism played a part in their creation.
Why Hinata Became A Bigger Character In The Naruto Anime
Another explanation for why the Naruto anime gave Hinata more to work with could simply be because she was popular. Hinata constantly ranked highly in the manga’s popularity polls, sometimes even beating out Sakura, so even without Masashi Kishimoto’s favoritism, people were taken with Hinata. As such, Studio Pierrot likely thought it would be good for the anime to capitalize on Hinata’s popularity, which led to them creating scenes that fleshed out both Hinata’s relationship with Naruto and her character as a whole.
The Naruto anime gave Hinata a lot more to work with than the manga did, and there are a variety of factors to explain it. Not only was Hinata Masashi Kishimoto’s favorite female character and set up to get together with Naruto protagonist Naruto Uzumaki, but she was popular in her own right, and both factors likely led to her getting a multitude of extra scenes in the anime. Thanks to that, Hinata was able to receive a lot of development in the anime that she didn’t in the manga, and her character has been all the better for it.