The life of the shinobi is beginning to change. Boruto Uzumaki, son of Seventh Hokage Naruto Uzumaki, has enrolled in the Ninja Academy to learn the ways of the ninja. Now, as a series of mysterious events unfolds, Boruto’s story is about to begin!
So Boruto has started not long after Naruto ended. Obviously Kishimoto didn’t want us forgetting about our favourite ninja dynasty. As if we possibly could. I am a huge Naruto fan and I have been for over fifteen years. Naruto’s story was the first bit of shounen manga I managed to get my hands on and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve enjoyed following his story and the stories of his friends and allies and I was sad when the manga ended. Then I desperately clung to the final filler arc of the anime and, when that finally finished, it felt strange deleting the story from my anime queue after four years. So I’m not going to lie, I was very excited when they announced Boruto so soon after Naruto’s happy ending.
In some ways Boruto is very different to its predecessor and in other it’s startlingly similar. The similarities generally lie in the things that the fans would expect to make a return. Konoha is still the original setting; most of the ninjas we know and love have grown up and had kids of their own (must have been a busy year as most of them are conveniently the same age as Boruto) and those kids are now learning how to become ninja in a decidedly more peaceful era than their parents did. As a result, the uses of a ninja has changed somewhat and there’s no real need for soldiers when no one is fighting and things like technology and buildings have come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of decades. But the main different in Konoha this time around is Boruto himself.
I don’t want to spent all of this blog post comparing Naruto’s saga to Boruto’s story, especially when it’s only just starting, but the majority of watchers of this anime will be fans of Boruto’s father and will likely draw similar critiques even if they don’t intend to. Boruto may resemble his father in appearance and name, but this is where the similarities end. Boruto resents his father for letting his responsibilities as hokage keep him away from home and he chafes at the idea of being forever in Naruto’s shadow and longs to strike out and show everyone just what he is capable of. Unlike Naruto, he has grown up with friends around him and is decidedly more confident and adept at ninjutsu even before he officially enters the ninja academy. He has already mastered the kagebunshin no jutsu, one of his father’s signature skills, but it is shown early on that Boruto has his own talents. It is revealed early on that he has a yet unnamed optical jutsu similar to Sasuke’s sharingan or his mother Hinata’s byakugan. It enables him to see a certain aura around people when they have been possessed by an unknown entity and aren’t behaving like themselves.
Since the surroundings are so similar, this gives us time to focus on what will be our new cast of core characters in this story. Most of them are the children of Naruto’s ninja generation (Sarada Uchiha, Chouchou Akimichi, Inojin Yamanaka, Shikadai Nara and Metal Lee) and some new characters in the mix (Mitsuki, Denki Kaminarimon and Iwabe Yuino). We’re watching these young characters establish themselves and develop relationships whilst causing amusing chaos for their new instructor Shino Aburame. Everything seems fairly light-hearted at the moment, in a similar style to how Naruto first started out before things started getting serious. But experience tells me that this isn’t going to last forever and I’m looking forward to finding out more about the ways in which Boruto differs from Naruto and how he forges his own path.
Visually the Boruto anime is superior to the artwork of its manga counterpart, which I am thankful for. The poor quality snippets that I saw in the manga could have potentially put me off reading it in the long term, but the polished trailers and detailed preview artwork I saw of the anime restored my interest and does a decent job of picking up where the Naruto anime finished. Pierrot has done the story justice in both design and animation, giving Boruto just enough of its own design and style to separate it from the shounen epic following his father. We also seem to see ‘just enough’ of Naruto and the original crew so as not to steal the limelight from this new second generation
The similarities of Boruto to its predecessor are sure to have both their pros and cons for the fans, but I can see Boruto having potential if it hits all the right notes and walks that fine line between keeping things familiar and keeping things interesting. It can be predicted at this point whether Boruto is aiming to have the longevity of Naruto or whether it’s aiming to do something a bit different. Either way I’m sticking around to find out. Whatever shortcomings Boruto may have I’m willing to overlook for my love of Naruto and the world Kishimoto built around his characters. Not only is it a look to the next generation, but we get to see a little of the characters we’ve grown up with and see them as fully-grown adults with children of their own.