Image Source: アニメ BORUTO-ボルト-【公式】 on Twitter

Despite following the adventures of a peppy ninja in an orange jumpsuit, the long-running series Naruto was surprisingly dark. And it’s no question why—although some forget, the villages in the world of Naruto, while not at war at the start, were always hostile toward each other. It was a world of assassinations, conspiracies, and betrayal. It’s amazing to think that this same world is the one that Naruto’s son Boruto and his friends live in during the sequel anime Boruto: Naruto Next Generations.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. The story of Naruto begins right around when titular protagonist Naruto—an orphaned boy who almost everyone thought was a failure—graduates the ninja academy and joins a three-man cell to complete missions. His team is comprised of his crush Sakura, and the boy she has a crush on, Sasuke—i.e., the cool and unfriendly boy who seeks revenge for his murdered clan. His target? His own brother.

From Groupie to Mother: The Character Growth of Naruto‘s Sakura

Although the team starts out with small missions within the village like finding a person’s lost cat, it’s only when they go outside the village for their first big mission that they find that the world is not as bright as it is within the confines of their own home town of Konohagakure. Their client Tazuna’s town is being dominated by a businessman named Gato, who kills anyone who stands up to him, including Tazuna’s son-in-law, who he had publicly executed (in the manga, they even chopped off his arms!). Now he’s trying to assassinate Tazuna, who is trying to build a bridge to the mainland—an action that would stop Gato’s monopoly and release his home from Gato’s grasp.

Gato’s not alone, however—he has a bodyguard named Zabuza, an elite rogue ninja who has murdered countless numbers of people. Though he seems just plain insane, it turns out that the reason that he’s so crazy is because of his village’s desperate measures to create the ultimate ninja. Although Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura graduated their ninja academy normally, Zabuza’s school mandated that students had to kill each other in order to graduate—with only those remaining able to become full-fledged ninja.

Image Source: アニメ BORUTO-ボルト-【公式】 on Twitter

The Naruto anime is famous for having a huge tone shift between Part 1—which is considered for being more upbeat—and Part 2, which is thought to be the more dark and serious portion of the series. But just looking back, it’s pretty obvious from the very beginning that Naruto and his friends lived in a very, very dangerous, cruel, and corrupt world.

Image Source: アニメ BORUTO-ボルト-【公式】 on Twitter

It’s only after their world becomes peaceful after the Shinobi World War that technology really begins to advance. After marrying his classmate from the ninja academy, Hinata (seen in the bottom middle of the photo above with her three-man cell), Naruto fathered his son and daughter, Boruto and Himawari, who are able to grow up in a society where ninjas are not raised to become weapons any longer. They play video games and hang out with friends, just like normal kids. In Boruto’s case, he goes to ninja school, but it’s more for tradition; unlike Naruto and his friends back in their day, they aren’t expected to be tools to carry out dangerous missions in the dangerous ninja world.

Image Source: アニメ BORUTO-ボルト-【公式】 on Twitter

Boruto honestly doesn’t know how good he has it. Every day, Boruto spends his time skipping school and criticizing his dad—basically the main person who protects the village so he can screw around in the first place—all without having to undertake dangerous tasks. He plays video games with his friends and plays pranks on his teachers without any worry of getting hurt. You know things are peaceful when the ninja students aren’t fighting against enemies, but instead against themselves in a “battle of the sexes” prank war.

When anything dangerous does actually happen, it’s usually solved in a comedic “Monster of the Week” manner in which a new enemy that is defeated over the course of a single episode. Basically, one of Boruto’s classmates will be possessed by a mysterious “dark chakra” energy wave, and then it’s Boruto’s job to snap them out of it. Heck, one of Boruto’s biggest emotional dilemmas so far is having to knock out Metal Lee when he’s under the enemy’s control. Sorry Boruto, but your dad almost had to kill his best friend to snap him out of his evil phase, and he wasn’t even under anyone’s control!

Think about it: Boruto is able to go home every day and play with his sister and eat his mom’s dinner without fearing anything. He’s able to make friends with the kids in his classroom. While his father had to try to understand his teammates on the battlefield—sometimes even being attacked by them and almost dying—Boruto can just play video games with them and everything is fine. With the exception of ninja training, Boruto is a regular kid living in a fairly normal world that is in the middle of an industrial revolution.

In episode one of Boruto, he crashes a train into the Hokage memorial, but no one gets hurt, and he’s let off with a “Oh, you scoundrel!” In episode one of Naruto, our titular hero’s teacher gets stabbed in the back with a giant ninja star in order to save his student. Bit of a tone difference!

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So far in Boruto, there hasn’t been any of the blood, conspiracies, or hatred that filled the world of Naruto from the very beginning. It’s really amazing to look back at the dark, violent ninja world Boruto’s father lived in compared to the one Boruto is living in now. While it’s understandable that Boruto wants his dad to be around, he probably should be happy that his school isn’t forcing him to kill his friends or to go on missions to go against tyrants that dominate over entire regions. But with an enemy on the horizon, maybe the son will get a taste of the father’s struggles after all.

Boruto: Next Generations is currently airing, and is available to watch for free with subtitles on Crunchyroll. The original Naruto and Naruto Shippuden sequel anime are also streaming there.

Comments (9)
  1. You could have written it much better maybe naruto lived in a dark world but unlike naruto Boruto is much talented he can create shadow clones before joining the academy so the real problem with naruto and Boruto is that naruto was kind of a dunbass in his academic years he never concentrated on anything Boruto is not only good at ninjutsu or taijutsu he is also good at his studies while naruto’s academic years were like he was a wimp Boruto’s fighting style is much better than naruto he can use his shadowclones very tactically instead of naruto who used to make 100 clones and used it to get only beat up also in the movie he was Boruto was shown to posses three types of chakra elements water style, Earth style , lightning style also he added a chakra change in the rasengan he created just like the planetary devastation jutsu +he has a dojutsu like no other so the real difference here is naruto wasn’t skilled like Boruto at his age while Boruto is much more skilled than sasuke at his age so as kakkashi said once that there are shin obi who are younger yet they are stronger than me

  2. Nice article. I find it laughable that people call Boruto a Naruto clone. There’s just such a difference between the tone of the characters and world of Naruto and those of Boruto. Anyway, this will make seeing the characters’ development all the more interesting. I’d love to see how the new gen handles themselves in a more serious situation, like the ones their parents had to go through so often.

  3. @Indra

    Imo he´s not a Naruto clone, rather then the worst trades of Naruto and Sasuke blended into one. He´s a spoiled brat that doesn´t understand the importance of the Hokages position which would´ve been fine if he hadn´t seen Naruto up until this point and what several characters had to go through to reach it. Would´ve much prefered following Uchiha Sarada who has legit reasons to hate her dad and get into fights with her mum (Sakura is just a bad character overall). She´s more interesting to me but that´s probably personal opinion.

    I also would´ve liked to see several spin-offs bases on the early adventures of the other Teams from Konoha like InuShikaCho because i´ve always been a huge fan of Shikamaru and think tackling those early missions before and after the Shunin exam could be interesting material.

    • The worst trades of Naruto and Sasuke blended into one? From Sasuke’s side, he has: calm composure (to an extent), and displays a similar level of intelligence even if not quite on the same level as Sasuke’s. From Naruto, he has: the never give up attitude, and the tendency to complain.
      He’s a spoiled brat? Well yeah, he lives in an era of peace and is part of a stable family. He doesn’t understand the Hokage’s importance because he has never tried to. He’s still a kid who’s just in the academy and starting to learn about ninjas. If you watched the Boruto movie, you’d know that he received development on this front and doesn’t complain after learning his lesson. Since the anime takes place before the events in the movie, you’re going to have to deal with this undeveloped version of him.
      The Gaiden manga followed Sarada Uchiha. She received her development (in terms of coping with her version of parental issues) there, and it’s rumored to be getting adapted very soon, so you probably won’t have to wait that long. If you’re saying that you want her to be the main character, well, that’s clearly not going to happen. The Uchiha had a major spotlight on them in the final stretch of Naruto and people whined like little kids about it (if you’re one of those people, you have no right to be asking for Sarada to be the main character… just saying).
      The InoShikaCho trio in Shippuden had an entire arc dedicated to their team (and then, again as a subplot in the war arc), where they received a solid amount of screen time and development. You wanted to see their early adventures? Too bad it didn’t happen, and since we’re now in the Boruto series, it won’t happen. However, you are getting the opportunity to see their children right now in this new anime.
      Authors are only going to put what they feel is necessary into their story, so no matter how much you want something, it won’t happen unless the author decides to do it. After a certain work is complete, there’s no point in hoping or wishing something had happened in that work because it’s all over. Take what’s been given, and live with it. Or just forget about it all. Note: this last part is just a bit of a rant that I couldn’t hold in because of all the whining and hating towards Kishimoto that’s been going on within the disgusting Naruto fan base recently. Ignore it if you must.

      • Haven´t watched the movie you mentioned. Only read a few chapters of Boruto the Manga and he didn´t came of very likeable to me.

        >The Gaiden manga followed Sarada Uchiha. She received her development (in terms of coping with her version of parental issues) there, and it’s rumored to be getting adapted very soon, so you probably won’t have to wait that long.

        I´ve read that and it was a nice short story.

        >The Uchiha had a major spotlight on them in the final stretch of Naruto and people whined like little kids about it (if you’re one of those people, you have no right to be asking for Sarada to be the main character… just saying).

        I know and i overall liked even the last big major arc until the point Kaguya showed up because that looked to me like Kishimoto took a queue from Kubo and just pulled it out of his ass. If Kaguya was ever forshadowed i would´ve been fine with it but afaik it hasn´t been at least not in the manga which should be the mainsource for such an important character. It reminded me of Dark Knight Rises, a movie i despise, where Bain the mainvillain (here Madara) gets replaced with someone that hasn´t been established beforehand in the last 15 minutes of the movie.

        I followed Naruto for nearly 10 years so it will always hold a special place in my heart. I enjoyed it for the most part and quality really only dropped for me significantly on the last parts of the last arc.

        >You wanted to see their early adventures? Too bad it didn’t happen, and since we’re now in the Boruto series, it won’t happen. However, you are getting the opportunity to see their children right now in this new anime.

        I´m not going to say they should do it but it´s just something i would´ve enjoyed watching. I know that this is never going to happen not even in a short 25-50 chap spin-off.

        >Authors are only going to put what they feel is necessary into their story, so no matter how much you want something, it won’t happen unless the author decides to do it

        I know i´m just saying so far Boruto hasn´t been for me because i didn´t thought the story was that well written and Boruto has been unlikeable for me so far. Could it get better? Sure! But currently it´s not my cup of tea.

        > After a certain work is complete, there’s no point in hoping or wishing something had happened in that work because it’s all over. Take what’s been given, and live with it. Or just forget about it all. Note: this last part is just a bit of a rant that I couldn’t hold in because of all the whining and hating towards Kishimoto that’s been going on within the disgusting Naruto fan base recently. Ignore it if you must.

        If this is about the NaruXSaku crowd then no i´m not one of them although i called BS on him marrying Hinata too because i think Kishimoto should´ve established that relationship a little bit more after Pain invades Konoha and Hinata confesses to the pinned-down Naruto. The only scene we´ve got is when Neji died, that´s to little imo though of course we haven´t seen the whole timespan from the end of Shippuden to the timeskip/start of Boruto.

        • I recommend you watch the Boruto movie. It’s fantastic.

          I agree that Kaguya was a pathetic final villain, and was surprisingly lame considering Kishimoto’s standards. However, the foreshadowing certainly was there (yes, in the manga). Madara was the one who used his EMS to uncover the Uchiha tablet’s secrets. It was from there that he learned about Kaguya’s history and the Eye of the moon plan. We were also told that Kaguya gained the ten tails transformation by combining with the tree. At a certain point in the war, the tree was summoned and Madara became the ten tails jinchuriki. These two pieces being on the table should’ve made it very obvious that she was going to make her appearance soon. If that wasn’t enough, the tree tells Madara to absorb it. And if I’m not mistaken, we even get a huge shot of Kaguya’s face around this point. It was obvious that she was coming. Apparently Kishimoto just didn’t have the time to include her backstory and whatnot because he was approaching the 700th chapter. If we’re lucky enough, he probably intentionally did this so that he could fill it up in the Boruto series (though that’s unlikely, given the filler arc in the anime dedicated to the pasts of the major Ootsutsukis).

          Boruto is currently doing a solid job focusing on side characters and giving them their fair share of screen time and development; this is something else that a good portion of the fan base complained was lacking in Shippuden. Not saying that you’re a part of them, but they’re actually complaining the presence of it right now. They want “real action” and a “serious storyline”. Such idiots. Anyway, Kishimoto is currently the supervisor and editor of the Boruto manga. For Naruto, he had to succumb to the editor’s wishes at times; now that he’s unchained, it means that everything will go his way in Boruto. And I think that’s something that we can all agree is a huge advantage Boruto will have over Naruto (not to mention the monthly schedule this time around).

          That part of my comment wasn’t exclusively about the NaruSaku children, but about all of the nonsensical issues (not saying all of the issues that are brought up are foolish, but a vast majority that I’ve seen certainly are) that people have with certain plot points of the series, the handling of certain characters, etc.
          Regarding NaruHina, I think it was well done. People tend to forget that this is a shonen battle manga before anything else. Romance was never a central focus in any part of the series. However, love is a real emotion that all humans feel. With such a great story in Naruto, wouldn’t you find it weird if no one felt that emotion? Again, it was never meant to be a focus, but in an effort to make his characters even more human-like, he gave them this emotion. In Hinata’s case, she was obviously too shy to reveal her feelings throughout most of the story; this is complemented by Naruto’s complete ignorance on the subject of romance. With these two personalities, of course the romance isn’t going to have much room for development. As you said, she finally did it in the Pain arc. But think about the situation. He’s pinned down, and he just got mentally destroyed by Pain’s lesson on peace. The last thing he’s going to want to think about right now is love. Lmao. Even then, the way he interpreted that word was so basic (like how he loves ramen). Very early in the ninja war, he saves Hinata from getting stabbed, and recalls the time that she tried to save him. Then, the moment after Neji’s death happened, as you mentioned. He knows at this point that he has a special chemistry with Hinata, but again, his ignorance on romantic love keeps the progress from occurring. They’ve had plenty of moments considering this is a battle shonen series (also, I forgot to mention how Naruto cheered for Hinata in part one during the chunin exams). But wait, they even had an ENTIRE MOVIE dedicated to developing their relationship to the next level (and this is still a battle shonen manga). Come on. The relationship works just fine. No one else would’ve been better suited for Naruto than Hinata. If he ended up with Sakura, it they’d eventually go to the Supreme Court of Konoha because of excessive domestic violence by Sakura.

  4. I think “So far” is the key phrase here. 😛

  5. […] thus far, while still hitting home that this work rides heavily on its predecessors coattails: Boruto Is Basically What Naruto Would’ve Looked Like if the World Had Been at Peace. Power In The Finish SukaSuka had a rather solid outing this week, offering an episode that […]

  6. I found this article while trying to understand why Boruto is so strong as an academy student in the anime, but I’ve realized he appears to be the same and as in the manga so he’s practically a genin in the anime. The article pointed out a core property of the setting that I hadn’t acknowledged. If the region had been at peace and Minato had been alive, it seems like Naruto’s personality and story could have been similar to what Boruto is attempting. As Rishikesh9903 points out at length, Boruto does appear to be strong for his age, but I don’t see how including that in your article would have made it a “much better” written article. For some reason, Boruto’s skill still seems odd to me.

    As to the other comments, I don’t get why anyone would complain about the appearance of Kaguya as a villain just because none of the characters were anticipating a battle against her. No one knew the origin of shinobi and chakra. It turned out to be foreign to the natural world and it’s inhabitants. The one with the best understanding of chakra found a way to bid her time through the ages and when the conditions were met, she appeared, surprising everyone (both fictional characters and us, the audience) because our understanding of the world was incomplete. It’s not an ass pull. It’s a plot twist. It had a full backstory once it was revealed and it opened the fictional universe to the possibility of further unknowns and allows Boruto to have new enemies that can challenge Naruto and Sasuke and a new journey of discovery.

    My only hitch in regards to Kaguya’s plot line is the infinite reincarnations of Indra and Asura and Hagaromo’s ability to exist eternally, appearing to the hosts of the reincarnations, but that’s just a function of chakra which is still a largely unknown phenomena.

    I’ve only 2 complaints about Boruto.
    First, the anime kicks off with fillers. I am trying not to take all these anime fillers for granted, but I hated them getting side tracked on the middle of a war at the end of Naruto. However, when I finally sat through it after the Naruto anime got caught up, they were a nice addition. I’d just prefer they’d take after One Piece and save the fillers for bridging canon arcs rather than interrupting them
    My second complaint is about character design. Boruto’s apple hair is really distracting and looks like he’s wearing a hair band, but I suppose that fits with his metro fashion sensibilities. I also don’t like the design of his eye when activated. I’d rather it appear as some physical mutation similar to the Byakugan instead of a flat black sclera after edo tensei subjects.

    Anyway, I’m glad for Boruto. I haven’t known many anime to follow the main characters through adulthood and continue to follow their children. There’s clearly more original content (internally original) possible as there’s an unknown enemy force beyond the original conflict of shinobi nations and potentially further interactions with external countries/continents that are technologically advanced or alternate cultural archetypes beyond the revealed ninjas and samurai, though I’d anticipate Boruto to ignore the rest of the world and focus on the “Kaguya’s” being extra-dimensional rather than extra-planetary beings.

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