By Dustin Cabeal
I know that Naruto is a beloved series and one of the most successful shonen stories of all time, but I have never read or watched anything related to Naruto until now. It’s unlikely that I will ever go back and read or watch the original series, but I have to say… I’m all in on this new series for several reasons.
The title is not one of the reasons. Every time I read “Boruto,” it sounds like I’m saying Donkey in Spanish. I get that it’s a playoff of Naruto, but that name also sucks, and I will never be able to say it properly. What’s also annoying is that I had to add it to my personal dictionary so that it won’t show up as a typo, apparently, I had to do that with Naruto already.
Back to the story, though, the first reason that Boruto is incredibly successful in its first outing is that it makes it very clear that it’s not going to be a rehash of Naruto’s story. Which was probably what everyone thought it would be or would likely delve into being, time will tell if the latter ends up being true, but the sheer fact that the creators wanted to address that and move on from it shows that a lot of thought and planning is going into this new series.
The next thing that is to be appreciated even by someone that hasn’t read the original series is that it’s carefully planned and moved the story forward. The kids of the main characters of Naruto sounds like an easy sell, but if you make them shadow versions of their parents, everyone’s going to call bullshit and walk. Much in the way that Korra used the same foundation of Avatar but didn’t rehash the story, so too does Boruto.
The threats are new. That is to say that the creators treat this world as being old and so there are new dangers waiting to strike which is why any shonen can continue. Always on to the next big bad guy so that the hero can prove they’re stronger and better.
As for the story, the gist is that Naruto is too busy for his kid, but his kid doesn’t get that. His kid also likes to take shortcuts even though he has a ton of natural talent, which is the set up for his downfall in this first story arc. Boruto doesn’t want to be like his father; he wants to beat his father. The supporting cast is plentiful due to the hangovers from the first series, but there’s a good amount of development or at least inclusion.
The art is strange. It’s not what I’m used to in that it looks like it’s ready to be colored, that is to say, that there’s a lot of white space and not a lot of shadow overkill which is typical of the shonen style. It’s very clean and sterile looking because of this, but it also means that the artist can illustrate it a lot faster than say something like One-Punch Man which is heavy on the details. It’s by no means bad, just different. I enjoyed how clean it looked and that it still had complex details to enjoy.
I never thought I would read this series or anything related to Naruto. I certainly didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but when you’re the biggest shonen franchise since Dragon Ball Z, I shouldn’t be surprised that you have the genre down to a well-crafted formula. Not all writing should be a formula and not all formula writing is good, but there are rare beasts like Boruto that are exceptional in their execution and show that it can be done as long as you’re treating it with love and care. This series is definitely loved and being handled with care.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations vol. 1
Creator/Supervisor: Masashi Kishimoto
Script: Ukyo Kodachi
Artist: Mikio Ikemoto
Publisher: Viz Media