First Impressions: Boruto: Naruto Next Generations

Summary:

Boruto Uzumaki, the son of the Seventh Hokage Naruto Uzumaki has enrolled at the Ninja Academy. Taking place 10 years after the original Naruto series, the story focuses on Boruto and his friends as they strive to become the next generation of ninja as a series of mysterious events unfold in the process. Every generation has its story. This is the story of Boruto’s.

Rating: 4/5

Impressions:

Once upon a time, Naruto was this huge, world renowned phenomenon that captured the hearts of many. Along with Bleach, One Piece and, to a lesser extent, Fullmetal Alchemist, the series welcomed a large number of people into the medium and was partly responsible for creating an entire generation of Anime fans.

But of course, being a long-running Shounen Jump property Naruto had its fair share of problems. It had a lot of filler arcs, the animation was sub-par more often than not and it ran on for, what many considered to be, far too long.

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Naruto is often ridiculed today, viewed by many as an empty cash cow that Shounen Jump, Studio Pierrot and Masashi Kishimoto are going to continue milking until the end of time.

But as many of you are already aware, I kind of like Naruto.

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Shocking, I know.

Do I think Naruto is a masterpiece? No. It’s far from it. But I like it a lot. Is it because of nostalgia? Maybe. But I’ve always found the series to be a lot better than the consensus would have you believe.

So now we have Boruto, a sequel series that focuses on Naruto and Hinata’s son, Boruto and the new generation of Konoha ninja comprising of the children of all the members of the original shows cast as they enroll in the Ninja Academy just like their parents, strive to become ninja just like their parents and go on missions and do Naruto-Ninja-Things just like their parents.

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Many people are already flipping out about this show, calling it a “cash cow” and claiming it to be a desperate attempt at continuing a franchise that should have died over half a decade ago.

And while I don’t agree with this mindset, I do get it.

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At a glance, this series looks like it’s just that: an unnecessary continuation that has no purpose existing. I even thought so myself when the show was first announced and even took to Twitter to express my frustration at the very idea.

But I have a girlfriend. A very open-minded girlfriend who woke me up at 9:30 this morning and randomly stated: “Hey Leth, wanna know what I wanna watch? Boruto. It looks like fun.”

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This morning.

And what did we do? We watched Boruto, and it was a damn good time.

This isn’t a soulless cash cow or a cheap means of continuing an already successful franchise. This is a full blown attempt to create a whole new chapter in a story that, many years ago, made Anime history and took the entire medium by storm. Boruto feels genuine. It has so much heart to it. It’s a celebratory passion project made by people who actually want to continue the legacy of a franchise that captured the hearts of so many Anime fans around the world, and it shows this in every single moment of its premiere episode.

The shows opening moments did absolutely everything a series should do to immediately captivate its audience. It instantly raised a whole ton of questions that we as an audience demand to know the answers to, showing the most intriguing scene imaginable before taking us back to where it all began, with the protagonist starting out his journey that will no doubt take him to that very moment we were shown a mere glimpse of.

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There are so many questions in this image alone!

Of course, I’m unsure if the questions raised by the opening scene will ever be answered. I have no idea how long this show is going to be, nor do I have any clue if this is an Anime original work or if its based on that Boruto Manga that’s getting published on a monthly basis. But that doesn’t make it any less interesting as an opening, nor does it matter all that much because the content that comes later in the episode is just as great.

One very interesting aspect about Boruto is that due to the series being a sequel to Naruto, we get to see more of the cast from the original series and what they’re doing in their adult lives. It may seem like a rather silly and mundane thing, since their stories have passed, but I’m one of those people who always wants to see as much as possible from characters I’m invested in.

And as a series, Naruto never exactly did a fantastic job in satisfying this curiosity of mine. Sure, Naruto and Hinata get together, and he becomes Hokage and the like, but we never get to see Naruto be the Hokage or what he does in that role, nor do we get to see Hinata be a mother to her kids or a loving wife to her guy. But with Boruto, we get to see all of those things, for better or for worse, and that in itself is just really interesting to me and one of the biggest draws of the series. I’m really looking forward to seeing how everyone else turned out as well, particularly Sasuke, considering his actions in the original series.

But of course, this is Boruto’s story, and the series doesn’t forget that at any point. While this is a sequel to Naruto, this tale is told from the perspective of Boruto and follows his journey, one which is very different from that of his fathers. Because despite what you may be led believe, Boruto is nothing like Naruto.

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Sure, he’s got that hyperactive attitude and the tendency to do what’s morally just, but aside from that, Boruto is nothing like his father. Unlike Naruto was in his youth, he’s fairly popular and makes friends a lot easier. He’s a little ostracized due to being the son of the Hokage, but it’s a far cry from Naruto’s treatment in the original series. On top of this, he has a completely different goal in mind. He’s not out to become the Hokage, nor is he trying to make his parents proud or anything of the sort, he’s just out to make himself happy, which is very different from Naruto’s goal of becoming the best and protecting the village as its leader. He’s also proven to be a very competent ninja, reminiscent of Sasuke’s early days at the academy as opposed to his fathers early days of being a useless hack who couldn’t even create a shadow clone.

I guess my point is, I’m happy with Boruto as a character. I expected him to simply be another Naruto, yet he’s proven to be a completely different and unique character who’s more than capable of standing in the spotlight without being compared to his father.

And as a result, his story is a fun one to follow. It’s early days, and not an awful lot has happened due to that fact that just like the original series, Boruto is spending much of its early material familiarising us with its world and characters. However, since we’re likely going to be watching this series for many, many years to come, I’m more than happy for the show to take its time in getting us settled into its world.

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As for what has happened, it’s been great fun. Much of the material here is very reminiscent of the early days of Naruto, something that I’ve missed a great deal. It’s a fascinating trip down memory lane, yet it also feels fresh and exciting because there’s so much we don’t know. Where is this all going? I have no idea, and the previously mentioned opening scene has me even more curious.

Of course, it’s not perfect. Like I said before, not a lot happened in this premiere episode, and it seems we’re definitely going to be getting a lot of that expected “Naruto pacing” as the show carries on, but the story we are getting is great so far, so I have very little issues with it.

Studio Pierrot have always had the animation consistency of a see-saw when it comes to the Naruto franchise, and Boruto is no exception. It definitely looks far better than a lot of Naruto Shippuden’s material did, the character designs are great, and the animation quality is bloody superb at times, but there are moments where that Studio Pierrot incompetence reaches out from the depths and the shows aesthetic suffers as a result. But it’s not bad. Not bad at all.

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The music is great too. It’s a new soundtrack, something I wasn’t expecting, but it fits the show really well and is nice on the ears. The opening is great too and has a lot of early 2000’s Naruto vibes to it, both in terms of visuals and audio. Powerful, pumped up stuff.

In the eyes of many, Boruto is something that has no right existing and a large group of obnoxious loud mouths who give the 12 year old Naruto a run for his money are continuously firing abuse at the show simply because it’s a sequel to a series that they “grew out of” years ago.

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But I never “grew out of” Naruto. I have fond memories of the series and to this day it continues to entertain me and provides a unique feeling that even my favourite shows aren’t quite able to give me.

Is it nostalgia talking? Maybe, but that doesn’t change the fact that this positive feeling, this enjoyment I always find myself experiencing when I go back to Naruto, is still there after all these years.

And when watching Boruto, I felt it all over again.

So go ahead. Call me a Narutard. Say I’m part of the problem. I don’t care. This show is a good time and I’d be kidding myself if I said I’m not enjoying every second of it.

There’s a lot of potential in Boruto and if it manages to keep itself on track and not fly off the rails like its parent series did, it could turn into something special.

Naruto was never perfect. Boruto isn’t going to be perfect either, but it might just become something worth watching.

Because just like Boruto himself, this show isn’t simply riding on the coattails of Naruto. Boruto is its own show and it’s more than capable of standing on its own two feet, completely independent of its predecessor.

Here’s to another 200 episodes of ninja goodness. Keep rising for the top, Boruto.

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