Finally it’s here! The Next Generation of Naruto has begun serialization back home in Weekly Shonen Jump, this time as a monthly manga. How much has changed from where we left these characters in both Naruto Gaiden and Naruto: Boruto the Movie is an open question. However it’s one I’m going to eagerly await in finding out. We have 55 or so pages to cover he so lets move on quickly to Boruto: Naruto Next Generation!
In an opening scene very reminiscent of Naruto Shippuuden the manga begins with a flash forward as Boruto, son of Naruto faces off against an unknown foe. Interestingly thanks to the coloured pages it appears both Boruto and this mysterious ninja seemingly named Kiwaki both have similar tattoo’s which abilities and meaning are as of yet unknown.
Furthermore the big surprise of the fast forward is that Naruto himself seems to be killed sometime in the past. This along with the total destruction of Konoha very reminiscent of pain was a shock to read and witness however I have a hard time actually believing it to be all that it appears. Before the seemingly flash forward ends Boruto’s eyes flare up potentially showing the awakening of his Byakugan - a kekki genkai both Himiwari his sister and his mother Hinata share.
Moving on the story content turns back in time and pulls a full on Dragon Ball Super and begins (likely for fans who haven’t seen Boruto: Naruto the Movie) recounting the events of the movie. With Boruto filling in as narrator he explains how this is HIS story not his fathers but just due to prominence his father will of course play a role. Furthermore he explains Naruto isn’t exactly the best father often time preoccupied with being Hokage then actually spending time with his family.
As the scene transitions to a mission we see for the first time Boruto’s three man cell. Including Sarada Uchiha the daughter of Sasuke which we saw featured in the amazing Naruto Gaiden and the mysterious Mitsuki who readers know is the son of Orochimaru from the Naruto Gaiden - One Shot at a few weeks ago.
As the “battle” against the panda - they’re Genin what do you expect - progresses the manga shows its Sarada who wishes to become Hokage. This is not a surprise as the reasoning behind her dream is going over pretty heavily in the Naruto Gaiden prequel series. However as the children struggle their Jounin Commander Konohamaru Saratobi suddenly uses the Shadow Paralysis Jutsu, a Jutsu previously thought to be exclusive to the Nara Clan.
He explains its possible with a new technology developed. That allows Jutsu to be miniaturized into tiny scrolls and used in one off ways. In an artificial way. The ramifications of this technology is plainly obvious to the eyes of any Naruto fan as it basically opens the world of Jutsu up to anyone with these devices. A troubling development to say the least.
Following the mission the manga has a quick over view of a lot of older versions of old characters, most notably Sakura now wearing the Uchiha Crest. Showing she did indeed marry Sasuke in the end. However the important information is the beginning of the Chūnin Exam for the Genin of the various village - which likely no longer includes the Hokage... but certainly does his son and teammates.
Following a run in between Boruto and Naruto, Boruto receives a game cartridge from the scientist who invented the Ninjustu Launcher. I’ll take the time here by now its clear the Village has gone through a lot of changes in ten years with technology now rivaling our own in many ways - I’m not going to lie its a setting shift that I’ll have a weird time getting used to. The Hokage of a talk show... different, I don’t like different!
Moving on we see a separate Genin team this time the third incineration of the classic Ino-Shika-Cho combination as led by Moegi Konohamaru’s female friend and teammate. Now likely a Jounin herself. Much like their forefathers on the squad the two males of the team seem pretty lazy, luckily their mothers crack the whip pretty hard and the kids get their asses in gear.
Moving on a scene at a dinner has the kids talking about the upcoming exams. However as per usual Boruto seems unenthused, it takes Sarada channeling her mom to literally beat some sense into the entitled Brat. At this point its VERY clear Boruto isn’t going to be the best “Hero” for these first few chapters, as always Sarada remains the much more compelling character as an interesting fusion of Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura.
Later Boruto is overjoyed to find his father with his mother and sister as they prepare to share Himiwari’s Birth Day. However as Naruto is bringing her cake his Kage Bushin dissipates and the cake drops to the floor. This outrages Boruto who was VERY insistent that Naruto not miss his own daughters birthday. As Boruto as her older brother feels that while he’s old enough to deal with Naruto’s absenteeism Himiwari shouldn’t have to put up with it. Which to be honest he kinda has a point and based on Naruto’s interactions with Shikimaru he knows it.
Boruto runs into his room and finds his fathers old Part I outfit (pre-first Timeskip) which he angrily throws out of the window. However as it falls to the ground the door bell rings and Boruto convinced its his father runs down and punches the man standing in the door frame.
However his punch is VERY ineffective as Sasuke with his trademark indifference easily catches the punch. That’s right SASUKE’S BACK! That sound is fangirls everywhere squealing. After learning who the tall dark and mysterious man is Boruto is instantly impressed by his fathers former rival.
The manga then shifts (again...) to Naruto’s office as Sasuke gives him some intel from Kaguya’s castle. Sasuke mentions meeting Boruto who he missed during the events of Gaiden and how he reminds him of Naruto as a kid. Naruto says nah he’s much more like Sasuke due to his talents, once again Sasuke disagrees saying the true nature of shinobi never changes.
In the final scene of the manga Boruto throws some ninja stars at Sasuke which is easily stopped and Boruto is immobilized. Recognizing Sasuke’s awesome power Boruto wishes to be trained by Sasuke and requests to become his pupil. The manga ends as Sasuke’s icy stare Rinnegan and all bears down on the boy.
Well I got to say this was a mixed bag for me. First of all lets get this out of the way following the fast forward the art was subpar to Naruto’s high standards. I personally doubt this will be a major issue going forward as the flash forward was clearly everything you expect a manga like Naruto to look like. However knowing the internet I’m sure their is already people saying this manga is trash and dead... that being said I really do hope that the character designs get more on model - Sasuke in particular just looks off... to put it nicely.
Furthermore the reason I’m fine is were really only in a kind of filler part of the manga. As the last fifty or so pages of it was the plot of the movie. For fans who haven’t seen Boruto: Naruto the Movie this is an imperative as so much happens to inform Boruto’s character. Indeed Gaiden was Sarada’s story, as the One Shot was to Mitsuki, and the movie was Boruto’s. All these are essential on the road to the Next Generation so its good the last part is falling into place.
I just assume its kinda boring for Ikemoto to need to do it before he can actually put his own signature on this historic manga franchise. It would also explain why the cuts and scene transitions are so jarring as this needs to cover a lot of ground as Boruto: Naruto the Movie was quite long for an anime movie. In the end we’ll see how this all goes along. Personally I’m expecting two more months of Boruto recap before the new content comes in. However for those who missed our heroes big screen adventure what did you think about the beginning of The Next Generation!?!?