Boruto: Naruto Next Generations (Japanese: BORUTO-ボルト- -Naruto Next Generations- Hepburn: Boruto: Naruto Nekusuto Jenerēshonzu) is a Japanese manga series written by Ukyō Kodachi and illustrated by Mikio Ikemoto. It was serialised monthly in Shueisha’s shōnen manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump since May 2016 until it was transferred to Shueisha’s monthly magazine V Jump in July 2019. Boruto is a spin-off and a sequel to Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, which follows the exploits of Naruto Uzumaki’s son, Boruto Uzumaki, and his ninja team.
Boruto originated from Shueisha’s proposal to Kishimoto on making a sequel to Naruto. However, Kishimoto rejected this offer and proposed his former assistant Mikio Ikemoto to draw it; the writer of the film Boruto: Naruto the Movie, Ukyō Kodachi, created the plot. While both Kodachi and Ikemoto are in charge of the manga, Kodachi also oversees the anime’s adaptation alongside Kishimoto. An anime television series adaptation directed by Noriyuki Abe started airing on TV Tokyo on 5 April 2017. Unlike the manga, which began as a retelling of the Boruto film, the anime begins as a prequel set before Boruto and his friends become ninjas in a later story arc. A series of light novels have also been written.
Critical reception to the series has been largely positive; most critics liked the traits of the main characters, most notably Boruto, who resembles his father, Naruto, but is spoiled and pampered and therefore faces different problems than Naruto did during childhood as a social pariah and an orphan. The story was also applauded for building up the original Naruto scenario by showing the new generation of ninjas and their relationships with their parents and mentors. Pierrot’s anime prequel also earned praise for its use of both new and returning characters. Shueisha has shipped a million copies of the manga series as of January 2017.
Opening up with Boruto Uzumaki facing a foe named Kawaki during the destruction of his village, the manga follows with a retelling of events in Boruto: Naruto the Movie with added content. Being the son of the Seventh Hokage Naruto Uzumaki, Boruto felt angry over his father placing the village before his family. At that time, Boruto had become a member of a ninja team led by Naruto’s protégé Konohamaru Sarutobi, along with Sarada Uchiha, the daughter of Sasuke and Sakura Uchiha, and Mitsuki, Orochimaru’s artificial son. When Sasuke returns to the village to warn Naruto of an impending threat relating to deducing the motivations of Kaguya Otsutsuki, Boruto persuades the Uchiha to train him for the upcoming Chunin exam to impress his father. During the exam, Momoshiki Otsutsuki and Kinshiki Otsutsuki—the threat of whom Sasuke spoke—appear and abduct Naruto so they can use Kurama, a tailed beast sealed inside his body, to revitalise the dying Divine Tree from the dimension they came from. Boruto joins Sasuke and the four Kages—the leaders of other ninja villages—to rescue Naruto. The battle ends when Momoshiki, sacrificing Kinshiki to increase, is defeated by Boruto and his father with Sasuke’s help. But Momoshiki survived long enough to realize Boruto’s full potential while warning him of future tribulations. After recovering from his fight, Boruto decides to become like his mentor, Sasuke in the future while entrusting Sarada to follow her dream of becoming the next Hokage.
In his next mission, Boruto serves as a bodyguard for the Fire Daimyo’s son Tento with the two finding kinship in both wanting to be acknowledged by their fathers. When a group of bandits known as the Mujina kidnaps Tento, Boruto saves the boy with the group’s leader incarcerated due to having knowledge on the mark that Momshiki placed on Boruto. Naruto and the other lead there is a group called “Kara” (殻, lit. The Husk) searching for people with the marks called Karma, Boruto’s team is assigned to investigate the mysteries behind Kara while crossing paths with the organisation’s fugitive member Kawaki.
See also: List of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations episodes
Unlike the manga, after the flash-forward showing Kawaki the series begins with Boruto attending the Hidden Leaf Village’s Ninja Academy. He awakens a special eye technique, which played a role in detecting contaminated energy in certain people who turned violent. Mitsuki helped in revealing their classmate and friend, Sumire, as the one responsible for contaminating and draining people’s chakras. This led to Boruto trying to save Sumire from both Mitsuki and herself, and to bring her back, having to travel between dimensions to do so.
Then Sarada has her own adventure where she searches for her father, Sasuke Uchiha, while helping him and Naruto save her mother Sakura from Shin Uchiha.
The Hidden Leaf students then go on a field trip to the Hidden Mist Village where Boruto befriends a ninja named Kagura while stopping an attempted coup by traditionalists.
Boruto and his class then graduate from the academy, being assigned to Konohamaru Sarutobi with Sarada and Mitsuki and they and the other teams begin having missions, one with Shikadai Nara befriending a criminal named Ryōgi.
The anime also retells the events of Boruto: Naruto the Movie with additional content that includes the antagonist Urashiki Otsutsuki.
When the Naruto manga ended in 2014, the company Shueisha asked Masashi Kishimoto to start a sequel. Kishimoto rejected the idea and proposed artist Mikio Ikemoto, who had been working as an assistant for Kishimoto ever since Naruto’s early chapters, to draw it instead.
A countdown website titled “Next Generation” was used to promote the new manga. In December 2015, the Boruto: Naruto Next Generations’s serialisation was announced. Kishimoto said he wanted Boruto to surpass his own work. The writer of Boruto, Ukyō Kodachi, had written a light novel called Gaara Hiden (2015) and had assisted Kishimoto in writing the script for the film Boruto: Naruto the Movie. Besides writing for the series, Kodachi supervises the story of the anime. Kishimoto also acted as the supervisor of the anime for episodes 8 and 9. Kodachi explained that the series’ setting which is notable for handling more science than Naruto was influenced by his father, a physician. In order to further combine the use of ninjutsu and technology, Kodachi was inspired by sci-fi role playing games.
Despite Kishimoto revising the manga’s scenario, he advised Ikemoto to make his own art style instead of imitating his. Ikemoto agreed and felt optimistic about his art style. While noting long-time fans might be disappointed Kishimoto is not drawing Boruto, Ikemoto stated he would do his best in making the manga. While feeling honoured to create the art for Boruto, Ikemoto stated he is grateful the series is released monthly rather than weekly because producing the required amount of nearly 20 pages per chapter would be stressful; however, he still finds the monthly serialisation challenging. Regular chapters of Boruto tend to exceed 40 pages; creation of the thumbnail sketches takes a week, the pages take 20 days to produce, while the rest of the time is used for colouring images and retouching the chapters. In drawing the characters, Ikemoto felt that the facial expressions of Boruto changed as the story moved on; Initially giving the protagonist large eyes for the character’s interactions with Tento, Boruto’s appearance was made more rebellious when he instead talked with Kawaki.
Despite having a lighter tone than Naruto, the series begins by hinting at a dark future. This set-up was purposed by Kishimoto to give the manga a bigger impact and to take a different approach than the one from the Boruto movie. In this scenario, Ikemoto drew an older Boruto, but he believes this design may change once the manga reaches this point. In early 2019, Ikemoto stated the relationship between Boruto and Kawaki would be the biggest focus on the plot as it would progress until their fight in the flashforward. Ikemoto aims to give the series nearly 30 volumes to tell the story. Kodachi drew parallels between Boruto and the post-Cold War era, stating that while the new characters are living in a time of peace, something complicated might bring the world back to chaos.
Although Kishimoto is not writing the series, he created multiple characters for the staff to use. Kishimoto did not specify whether Naruto or another important character would die, but he said he would find a situation like this interesting and added that the authors have freedom to write the story as they wish.
The manga has been generally well-received in Japan; the compilations appeared as top sellers multiple times. In its release week, the first manga volume sold 183,413 copies. The series has one million copies in print as of January 2017. Between 2017 and 2018, it became the 8th best-selling manga from Shueisha. The manga’s first volume also sold well in North America, while the series became the sixth-best-selling serialised manga in 2017 according to ICv2. In 2018’s fall, Boruto remained as the fourth best-selling manga from North America.
Rebecca Silverman of Anime News Network (ANN) said Boruto appealed to her despite never having gotten into the Naruto manga. She praised how the writers dealt with Boruto’s angst without it coming across as “teen whining” and the way Sasuke decides to train him. Amy McNulty of ANN regarded the manga as appealing to fans of the original Naruto series, adding that while Mitsuki has a small role in the story, his side-story helps to expand his origins. Nik Freeman of the same website criticised Boruto’s lack of development in comparison with his introduction in Naruto’s finale; Freeman also said there are differences between the reasons both the young Naruto and Boruto vandalised their village. Nevertheless, Freeman liked Mitsuki’s backstory as he did not feel it retold older stories. Reviewing the first chapter online, Chris Beveridge of The Fandom Post was more negative, complaining about the sharp focus on Naruto and Boruto’s poor relationship and the retelling of elements from Boruto: Naruto the Movie; Beveridge also criticised the adaptation of Kishimoto’s artwork, but he praised the relationship between Naruto and Sasuke as well as the foreshadowing of a fight involving an older Boruto.
Melina Dargis of the same website reviewed the first volume; she looked forward to the development of the characters despite having already watched the Boruto movie; she was also pleased by Mitsuki’s role in his own side-story. Leroy Douresseaux of Comic Book Bin recommended the series to Naruto fans, explaining how the new authors managed to use the first volume to establish the protagonists’ personalities. Dargis was impressed by the apparent message of the series, which she found was trying to connect to modern audiences with themes such as parental issues and the use of technology, in contrast to Naruto. Douresseaux liked that Boruto’s character development had already started by the second volume of the series because it helped readers appreciate him more. The Fandom Post noted the manga made major developments in Boruto’s story related to the flashforward such as the revelation of the Karma seal and enemies, making the episosdes of the anime series pointless as, by the time the review has been done, the anime has not reached this part of the story, making the manga more important than its adaptation.
The anime was popular with Japanese readers of Charapedia, who voted it the ninth best anime show of Spring 2017. IGN writer Sam Stewart commended the focus on the new generation of ninjas as well as the differences between them and the previous generation. He praised the return of other characters like Toneri Otsutsuki and enjoyed the eye techniques. Stewart applauded the characterisation of both Shikadai and Metal Lee, calling their relationship as well as accidental fight interesting to watch and saying Boruto: Naruto Next Generations improves with each episode. Crunchyroll Brand Manager Victoria Holden joined IGN’s Miranda Sanchez to discuss whether Next Generations could live up to the success of the old series while still reviewing previous episodes of the series. According to TV Tokyo, sales and gross profits of Boruto have been highly positive during 2018 taking the top 5 spot. In a Crunchryroll report, Boruto was seen as one of the most streamed anime series from 2018 in multiple countries, most notably the ones from Asia.
In a more comical article, Geek.com writer Tim Tomas compared Boruto with the series The Legend of Korra, since both were different from their predecessors despite sharing themes with them. Sarah Nelkin considered Boruto as a more lighthearted version of the Naruto series, but Amy McNulty praised its 13th episode for the focus on a subplot that had been developing since the first episode because its revelations made the series darker. Stewart agreed with McNulty, commenting that the developers reached the climax of the anime’s first story arc. The villain’s characterisation also impressed the reviewer. Allega Frank of Polygon mentioned that during the start of both the manga and the anime, multiple fans were worried due to a flashforward in which an older Boruto is facing an enemy named Kawaki who implies Naruto might be dead; his fate left them concerned. The series ranked 80 in Tokyo Anime Award Festival in the Best 100 TV Anime 2017 category.
Critics also commented on Boruto’s characterisation in the anime. Beveridge applauded the series’ first episode, saying he felt Boruto’s portrayal was superior to the one from the manga, while other writers enjoyed his heroic traits that send more positive messages to the viewers. Reviewers praised that the returning character Sasuke Uchiha had become more caring toward his daughter, Sarada, the female protagonist of the series, and they felt this highly developed the two characters. Critics felt this further helped to expand the connection between the Uchiha family members — Sasuke, Sakura, and Sarada — due to how their bond is portrayed during the anime’s second story arc.