It has been around five years since the Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Manga started publishing. Till chapter 51 of the series (which came out in November 2020), Ukyou Kodachi wrote the series; following which Masashi Kishimoto took over the reins for the series from him.
Here, I’ll try to dig a bit deeper into the writing of the series so far. While only three chapters of Boruto have released since Kishimoto’s return, we can use the Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden series as reference. Without wasting much time, let’s dive into it!
The biggest difference one might feel so far has to be in the fight scenes. Since chapter 52, the classic Naruto-style fighting is returning, especially with the heavier use of outwitting in the recent chapters.
Why do I say so?
Kodachi’s most technical fight would be Team 7 vs Boro, at least for the most part. In the end, the fight did rely on power scaling to reach its conclusion. While Naruto vs Delta was somewhat technical with Naruto trying to wear down Delta but it isn’t anything special.
In Chapter 53, Kishimoto managed to shock the fanbase with Isshiki’s death. While the death of the Otsutsuki was not a surprise to many, the way he died sure did. Kawaki defeated Isshiki using a shadow clone. Yes, the character who forced Naruto to use all of plot-armor was defeated by a shadow clone!
Isshiki didn’t know that Kawaki had learned ninjutsu and saw the offensive jutsu as a last-ditch effort. This is understandable, considering how arrogant Otsutsukis are and it was unlikely for Kawaki to know the Shadow Clone Jutsu.
Not only did this shock the fans; it also brought back Naruto-style fights! Shikamaru’s victory over Hidan makes a great example. While the two cases aren’t completely similar, Hidan’s loss due to his arrogance is close to Isshiki’s defeat.
I hope that Kishimoto keeps on steadily increasing the use of the chakra system as the series feels contradictory to its prequels at times. This could be crucial to stopping the power creep in the series, which I’ll address next.
Power creep basically refers to the characters getting stronger and stronger as the series keeps on progressing. This is quite common in sequels and a prominent example would be the Dragon Ball series. Anyone reading Boruto must have already noticed this, every fight is relying more and more on Naruto, Sasuke or Karma. This upward trend will only increase as the series moves ahead, especially post time skip.
But, why is this a big problem?
The biggest problem arising in the series due to the power creep is the vanishing of the side characters.
The rapid attacks of Otsutsukis make the power creep understandable. However, all of his could’ve been avoided by the author. Due to the heavy involvement of the Otsutsukis, all the side characters barely exist anymore. Remember Denki? No? Maybe Iwabe? Him Neither? Metal Lee? Yes! Because he’s Rock Lee’s son!
If the pacing would’ve been more structured and slow, then the story would’ve been a lot better. I won’t dig into the pacing right now as I will explain it in detail later in the article.
Coming back, only a handful of characters may withstand this insane power creep which keeps on coming in waves. Namely, the characters who could survive this power creep are Sarada, Mitsuki, Metal Lee, Shikadai, Inojin, Chouchou and Shinki.
See a pattern here? All of these are directly related to the characters from the original Naruto series. Their strong genes are the only thing that’s saving them.
The power creep didn’t spare the main characters either, as Sarada and Mitsuki have vanished since their fight against Boro.
Due to this, the side characters haven’t been fleshed out at all, they have been completely forgotten. Metal Lee probably has anxiety and that’s it; that’s all that we know about him! This new generation has a lot of room to explore and create characters comparable to original Naruto cast.
While this is a big issue, Kishimoto (Even Kodachi) seem to be trying to fix this issue now, especially with the massive nerfs thrown at Naruto and Sasuke recently. Naruto has lost a decent chunk of his life span and possibly Kurama as well while Sasuke lost his Rinnegan. To understand these topics in detail, read our articles on the respective topics!
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room; the pacing of the Boruto series. If there’s anything that I heavily dislike about the series, then it’s definitely the pacing. Due to this rapid pacing, there’s so much potential that has been wasted:
A prime example would be the Chunin Exam arcs, which lasted from episodes 53-66 in the anime, compared to the original Naruto series, this is not even close. The Chunin exams in Naruto lasted from episode 20 till episode 67! That’s almost 25% less in length! The Chunin exams in Boruto were not only short but extremely underwhelming as well. Boruto vs Shikadai and Mitsuki vs Shinki were mediocre at best and that’s pretty much the highlight of it.
The “original” Chunin exam, utilized side characters very well, the stakes where high and it was just iconic overall. It was packed with moments that defined characters and the series, like Sakura cutting her hair (yes, Sakura haters it is actually important), Sasuke’s use of curse mark, Naruto protecting Sasuke from Orochimaru, Hinata vs Neji and of one the best and most iconic fights in Naruto; Rock Lee vs Gaara. Comparatively, the new Chunin Exam had no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
But, Momoshiki invaded it, right? We lost the finals! Yeah, Orochimaru did the same; the big difference was the execution.
I do understand that Momoshiki’s invasion was supposed to be a complete surprise and I’m completely fine with that; my biggest issue revolves around the first two legs of the arc.
Kara and Scientific Ninja tools:
Kara used to provide scientific tools to people and had connections with politicians and stuff, similar to an underground society. It is completely plausible that Kara would try to form a cult, where they would preach about the scientific ninja tools as being saviours for people so that even the weak could protect themselves.
Talking about themes only, this could’ve brought a lot of things to the table; the clash between the conventional ways and the modern ways, age of technology, it’s profits and losses, etc and this would be on its face value.
This could have been correlated well with the current situations in the world (especially the west) where gun laws have become a major talk between people as some view that a common man should have a gun to protect themselves while many disagree as well. This would bring a lot more thought-provoking conversations in the audience, not only in regards to the anime but real life as well.
If we just address the fights, then team 7 vs Boro is the best fight if we exclude the last Isshiki fight; the rest of them were just okay.
Kara is another massive potential wasted. In fact, I’ll say this: Kara had the potential to surpass Akatsuki as a faction if it would’ve been executed well. While both the factions had “cool” characters who were just outlaws or criminals, Akatsuki had a few exceptions like Itachi Uchiha, Obito Uchiha and Pain. Similarly, Kara had exceptions too with characters like Amado and Kashin Koji.
Kara’s connections with Politicians:
Kara had political connections with people who wanted to undermine the rule of Daimyo and Kages. This is a huge loss to the series, trust me. Kara spreading scientific tools to people illegally and “helping” them would make a lot of people trust them, helping them to form an underground society effectively. With the help of their political connections, Kara could try to frame the Daimyo and Kages, or possibly assassinate them as well, especially due to Jigen’s presence.
Jigen being an Otsutsuki could also use this to his advantage; he could tell people about how he and Kaguya came to the planet to help it grow and she betrayed him out of greed and then give a speech about how he wants to fix the damage Kaguya dealt with the shinobi world and make it a better place.
Then, he could even try his hand of a coup! He has people on his side, making them stronger than they already are using scientific tools would definitely give Kara the edge.
While some may say that getting political and showing a successful coup from an underground society of sorts might be too much for the shonen demographic, let me remind you that Attack on Titan, a series which is a modern classic at this point showed a large-scale military coup by the combined forces of the army of Paradis.
I could go on and on about how the pacing has wasted so much potential of the series but let’s just leave it at that for now. While fixing the pacing feels almost impossible at this point, especially due to the dropping manga sales, I hope that Kishimoto is provided with the freedom to slow the series down a bit and dig deeper into the characters and the world of the series.
Overall, I am really excited about what Kishimoto brings to the table and how the story will progress now since the original author of Naruto is back. While it’s only been three chapters since his return, I definitely have quite a bit of expectation from Kishimoto’s writing, who has proved to be an excellent writer before.
We can also expect Kishimoto to go on a character killing spree, like how he died towards the later parts of Naruto Shippuden. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the current issues in the series and if he can redeem the name of the series, as Boruto is not even considered in the conversation of the best new gens.
What do you think about Kishimoto taking over the Boruto series? Or did you prefer Kodachi instead? Comment your opinions on the current state of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations below!