Naruto was a young shinobi with an incorrigible knack for mischief. He achieved his dream to become the greatest ninja in the village and his face sits atop the Hokage monument. But this is not his story... A new generation of ninja are ready to take the stage, led by Naruto's own son, Boruto!
I’ve been contemplating writing a review for the Boruto manga for a few days now. Simply because I feel discouraged that it won’t really have an effect on anyone - it seems like the majority of users on MAL are fine with judging the series based on the first 10 chapters - which was the movie recap. It totally isn’t. Imagine judging One Piece or Bleach purely on their first 10 chapters. Unfortunately the harsh scoring system won’t change anytime soon - So I hope it wouldn’t discourage new readers. If you’re interested please continue to read further and I hope I convince you to
give Boruto a go.
I consider myself a Boruto fan - my review for the anime is first on MAL - I’m quite happy to see such a positive reaction to it.
There are several unfortunate things the Boruto manga has going for it - most of it is beyond its control. Yes it’s monthly. Yes it started with a recap of the movie. Yes the art in the beginning was awful - but above all of that - it’s the unfair comparison to Naruto.
This isn't another Naruto, fans should stop comparing. Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is a great, and, different spinoff. It’s simply an addition to the Naruto universe. If you’re one of those who don’t want to see Naruto’s story continue - especially with a new generation - it’s fine. Just don’t hate on it unnecessarily just to fit in. Boruto is meant to be different - but it doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s actually darn good once you move past the first 10 chapters - especially the last 8 have been absolute high quality.
In terms of storyline - once you get past the movie arc - It genuinely gets intense and fascinating to see each chapter unfold. This is the story of Boruto and his journey. It’s not like the typical journey we’ve seen in Naruto - simply because the series starts with Boruto having everything and knowing only of peace - but little by little - things will slip away from him - as shown in the future scene at the very beginning of chapter one. We’re already seeing hints being dropped as to why he’ll end up going rogue.
You have new and original concepts introduced to the Shinobi world, specifically, technology and new incredible abilities. The future of Boruto is bright. I can’t wait to see them explored. As a die hard Naruto fan, this takes me back to Naruto Part 1.
As for technology- It’s genius really. Just look at how much our world has changed in the last 10 years. I’m loving the idea of new concepts being added to the Naruto Universe - and they totally make sense. Please don’t judge it from the movie. It’s totally different and a breathe of fresh air. Keep an open mind.
One of the biggest drawbacks is what I call the “Umbrella” of Naruto and Sasuke - two historic characters who are on levels well and truly above everyone else. How can the series have any consequences if those two are around? Well, without revealing any spoilers, rest assured! I’ll address this in more depth in the “Character” section below.
Kodachi has added to the Naruto universe brilliantly. It doesn’t feel like a rehash but it feels new and exciting. Something I haven’t been able to say since the Pain arc. There’s so much going on. It’s incredible.
Now onto artwork - as stated above -Don’t expect a similar style of art to Kishimoto’s. It’s not meant to be that way. Ikemoto has improved greatly from the beginning of the series. It’s different but beautiful! I recommend you check out some of the latest cover pages.
It does start off iffy but major appreciation to Ikemoto for improving at a fast rate. Hopefully he can keep it up for the manga to become weekly.
Here we go - Characters - if you look on paper you’d think most of the new generation are carbon copies of the previous ones. a few are, a few aren’t. Main trio is a different case. Boruto is such a unique character to the usual Shounen protagonists - he doesn’t follow the usual ‘I’m gonna be the best at this!” mentality. He’s someone who starts off with everything. He has no troubles to begin with - aside from proving himself to his Dad - and don't let that fool you thinking he lacks resolve - he has that but yet to find it. All that will change in due time as indicated very early on the series. He’ll come to meet a crossroad: to either become a ninja hero like his father or a rogue hero like his idol Sasuke. The latter is more likely if the opening scene is something to go by. Isn't that intriguing though? Don't you, as a reader, want to know how it all ended up that way? It's truly breathtaking stuff.
The manga as a whole is the journey of how that will unfold and the implications it’ll have on the supporting cast and the Naruto Universe.
We also have Sarada - a female Uchiha aspiring to be Hokage - imagine that - an Uchiha Hokage. Incredible. She’s determined, skilled, and thoughtful.
Onto Mitsuki - the son of Orochimaru. Mitsuki is the definition of mysterious. We don’t quite know his intentions or motivations. The connection to his Father is also troubling. He’s also ridiculously powerful. Of course you then have the “supporting” main cast but I won’t get too much into them.
Remember these are kids of the greatest generation of Shinobi - Heroes of the 4th Ninja War. Of course they'd be powerful early on - It's pure genetics!
Remember earlier I wrote about the umbrella that is Naruto and Sasuke - well rest assured. We’ve already had new characters introduced who are scary powerful and with abilities we haven’t seen before. It’s clear that they upped the ante setting up more complex challenges for the main cast and the older generation. Without getting into any spoilers there’s a certain new dodgy characters that have their own plans - which makes things fascinating to read. Even their designs is amazing to behold. Fun fact, it is based on the Spanish Inquisition from the 15th century.
Kawaki. It seems rash to talk about someone who’s never appeared aside from one iconic scene at the very beginning- but that is also the reason why. His name is already synonymous worldwide just for that. So his character is intriguing. Who is he? Friend or foe? What happens that’ll lead to “that” scene? His design is so unorthodox even in the Naruto Universe. Props to Kishimoto, Kodachi, and Ikemoto for being even more original - Something that’s unbelievably difficult considering how the Universe has been on-going for 20 years. I can't wait to see more of him in the future.
With Boruto you have to look passed the surface and focus on the subliminal moments. As I said in both my review for the anime and manga.
In terms of enjoyment - I love Boruto and the community surrounding it online. I enjoy reading the manga on a monthly basis discussing theories and upcoming chapters. It is consistently great. Once you get around Chapter 15 and above It is a rollercoaster of a ride.
Overall, I stress patience. It needs time to create it’s own success - but it’s surely heading there. Great and rising sales in Japan are proof of that. I hope it can become weekly soon but I’m glad nonetheless that it exists. It had definitely added to the Naruto Universe - Kishimoto would be proud.
Okay, I will update this when the story gets into NEW content, whenever that will be. For now, however, I will simply give it a 5/6, because it's nothing but a recap of Boruto: Naruto the Movie, currently.
So many people are complaining about the art-style, it not being Kishimoto's. Alright. Kishimoto has been working non-stop, for the last 15 years, making this series for you all, and barely getting to spend time with his family, and sleep. How he doesn't have health issues, is beyond me. A sequel was in order, and he did NOT feel like going through that hell again, so he chose
to pull a Toriyama, and oversee the story from a distance, so to speak. It's a different style, but the same Naruto we all know and love. Hell, some of the panels even look like Kishimoto himself drew them! Ikemoto's art isn't terrible, I mean--it's not on Kishimoto's level--but it's still pretty good (though Snapesuke is a tad strange, and every woman looks like she belongs in the 70s). Get over it, and be mature.
The characters are the same ones that appeared in Naruto, so...
As for my enjoyment, I'm not enjoying it all that much right now, because of the recap. However, once it gets into new content, I'm sure it will change for the better. I mean, the first page/two pages of Ch. 1, with Future Boruto, were amazing.
Overall, I would personally wait until the story gets into new content, if you've seen Boruto: Naruto the Movie. If not, go ahead and read it, as it IS an interesting take on the story. If you buy Japanese manga volumes, to support your favorite series, and have money to spare, go out and get Boruto vol. 1. The more sales, the better, and more of a chance the series will stick around long enough to get out of recap hell, at least.
To put it simply the series is Mediocre as fuck, the story mostly suffers from the fact that it is trying to rush into the tough shit way too fast. Boruto should be fighting his way to Chunin where he would maybe meet a Jounin and get his ass kicked, yet he is fighting fucking gods, literally. It didn't even attempt to stay grounded, the very first arc was fighting people as strong as Kaguya. Then the author gives us the insane premonition that straight up tells us way too much about the upcoming story and warns us far too early that something absolutely massive
is coming on the scale of the world shinobi war... all within 10 chapters. The story is a far cry from the original Naruto series.
The art is obvious, it is people's main complaint and I agree, the guy didn't even remotely maintain anyone besides Naruto's look. The women all look like straight up low-quality generic Shoujo manga side characters, I will never forget when I was reading the manga how I genuinely did not know who the women I was looking at were until they told me it was Hinata and Sakura, they look fucking awful. I like some of his ideas on looks, I actually like Gaara's new getup and I think his son looks great, though the execution is often abysmal. It feels like the guy just picks up a fashion magazine and picks at random with no consideration of character, story, or development. The guy's art is fucking horrible is really all I have to say about it, it is by far the worst part of the series, I could get past the mediocre story just in the hopes that it will get better but the art just makes it physically painful. Obligatory: What the fuck is with Sarada's outfit in the new chapter? Shit looks fucking awful.
Characters however he does well with in my opinion which makes me suspicious that he wasn't the primary mind behind them. I like the idea of Sarada and Boruto both aspiring to the other's father's position. I think their teammate is appropriately interesting but nothing absolutely insane. Sasuke's new attitude is great but stay somewhat true to his original personality and character. There are many more characters as well that were well done, but I would be here all day if I discussed each one. He does these well and I find most of them interesting to an extent.
Summary: Boruto has so far been a poor followup to Naruto. The art is low quality and inconsistent and the action lacks flow and power. The story is rushed and contradictory and seems to be forgoing everything good about Naruto in favor of elevating powerlevels even more.
Following up on a story that focused on the maturation of it's characters is always hard, especially when it's one as successful as Naruto. That said, so far Boruto seems to do virtually everything that others stories that tried doing this and failed have done in the past.
I'm gonna begin by talking about the art though, because that's something
a lot of people have trouble with and isn't really related to the rest of my complaints. I don't actually have a problem with Kishimoto's decision to hand the reigns over to a new artist, in fact I kinda like it given that it both fits thematically with the work and it allows him to work on that new sci-fi thing he talked about in 2015. The problem is that I don't think the art is really good enough.
One of the big issues I think a lot of people have with Ikemoto's art is the characters. He uses much softer looking, more rounded lines which ends up giving all his characters a more feminine look. Now admittedly this was something that Kishimoto actually said he was bad at doing himself so it's possible that the girls suddenly looking like they're from a completely different manga was done on his instruction but in my eyes some of the design changes just go too far and overall don't look very good.
That problem is compounded by the halfhearted attempt to match the style of the original. The reason I say "halfhearted" is because sometimes Ikemoto just plain old doesn't try to draw the character the same way as normal. This is most noticable with Boruto, because sometimes his hair will suddenly get a lot shorter and curly just like the female characters, but frankly the art is just inconsistent all throughout. If Ikemoto was just going to do the manga in his own style then fine, I don't like it that much but I'll accept it, but just stick to one style! Honestly I find it rather shocking that someone who has been working on this series for over 15 years has seemingly regressed in his ability to match Kishimoto's style. If you read back through the series you can find some background characters that match the style of Boruto, but they still look closer to the original series than a lot of what we have now. Also, he seems to by trying to keep the original style more with the men while just doing his own thing almost all the time with the women, which just makes it even more jarring.
The final problem I have with the art is the action sequences. I mean, overall the art in the series is pretty mediocre but the action sequences are the worst. At around page 32 of chapter 3 (page number might change depending on how you read it) you can see a clear example. You see Lee's kid in a really awkward pose fighting a poorly shaded enemy. If you look at his hair and pose it seems like he's lunging forward and down. Only the lower half of his leg has any speed lines and they seem to be implying that his leg is going straight up. Also his foot is missing. In the next panel you see that he's completed a roundhouse kick that doesn't really match the direction his leg was coming from at all, the speedlines are still only on the lower half of his leg despite his whole leg moving (they also look really weird and I'm not sure what kind of motion they're meant to show), and he's jumped in the air for some reason despite not really having been in any position to do that. The biggest sin though is how the enemy is just flying away from him with NO indication that he actually kicked him. If you're going to have a fight that consists of a single hit, not actually showing that hit is just awful, especially considering how much Kishimoto used showing the moment of impact to great effect. There are plenty of other instances of awkward poses that don't have any impact and just plain old look weird, so I'm not gonna bother pointing them all out, but I would recommend checking out 5/12, just because Sakura's pose is so stupid it's honestly hilarious.
I do want to criticize one major problem with the fight sequences specifically though, and that's the speed lines. They're worthless, and this is weird because apparently one of Ikemoto's jobs was adding white to the speedlines, so how he managed to do that for over a decade without noticing how Kishimoto used them is a complete mystery to me. Kishimoto's speedlines were excellent. They gave a sense of power and speed to his action sequences, but more than that they tied the flow of the actions together. Just look back at Lee Vs. Garaa. You can see exactly where Lee has been in the trail he leaves behind. You can see how badly he's been hit by the intensity and length of them. That is completely lacking in Boruto, and I think Ikemoto's failure to use speedlines properly is one of the major contributors to this. He draws them far to short, makes awkward angles with perspective, and rarely seems to consider how the rest of the body is moving aside from whatever limb is the focus of the movement. Because of this, it often just looks like characters are teleporting around the battlefield trading awkward blows that do no damage. It just lacks any sense of continuity, power, or speed.
Now I'm not just here to bash Boruto so I want to point out something that I feel he's done fairly well with the art, and that's the shading. Naruto has always been a very well shaded series. Kishimoto eschewed overusing screentones and preferred to do the majority of his shading by hand, which is one of the things that gives Naruto it's distinctive, sometimes downright grimy look. Ikemoto has continued this, and while I do think it's not quite as good as it used to be it still looks good and is a refreshing departure from how much screentone you see in other manga.
Now that I've gotten the artwork out of the way, onto the story.
To begin with, I'm just not even gonna talk about the opening. Yes, it is the main character narrating over a suspenseful scene, only to tell you that the story starts a while back and you need to learn more to get up to this point and jumping back into the past to actually begin the story. There is just so much I could say about that that I'm not even gonna bother touching it. Who knows, maybe down the line we'll find out that Kodachi actually had some brilliant reason for doing that. Speaking of which, why on earth was he even picked for this? If I was picking a writer for the followup to one of the most popular manga since DBZ I wouldn't go with a guy who wrote part of the script for a few anime that honestly weren't that amazing. He's never even worked on a manga before for goodness sakes!
Anyways, the story has been super underwhelming so far. Despite being called "Next Generation" the enemies they fight start up exactly where Naruto left off. Yup that's right, it's taken less chapters than the number of YEARS Naruto was in print for fight scenes against overpowered, mysterious god enemies who control the power of the final boss of the series to start happening. And yes, that remains true even if you account for the fact that Boruto's chapters are twice as long as Naruto's.
Don't forget your jutsus though! Naturally, a generation of children who grew up in peacetime are able to use techniques their parents trained years for with no problems. No, having their techniques be slightly smaller than their parents doesn't make things better. Choji had to take drugs and almost kill himself to do partial expansion yet somehow his daughter can do it effortlessly while younger than him? One of the best parts of the original series was how it showed the characters growth. There were entire arcs dedicated to characters training to learn moves, which worked so well with the series themes of growth. In this though? Characters can learn techniques which took multiple arcs to learn in the length of a single chapter. This is incredibly infuriating because a major theme of this new series appears to be that the characters have to learn not to take shortcuts and learn techniques with their own power, but apparently Kodachi doesn't actually want to bother writing training arcs so he just gives characters powers after a few pages with some implied training.
I also want to point out that he chooses Konohamaru to introduce and recommend the shortcut to training in the first place, as well as him doing some of the miracle montage training. While not something that's necessarily wrong plotwise I just think it shows how deep some of the problems with the writing go when the character who represented the idea that "there are no shortcuts to hard work" is recommending a shortcut to hard work in the story and being used as one by the author.
The final complaint I have is sort of a followup to the previous issue. So far, a great many things that got their own, sometimes very long, arcs in the original series have been skimmed over in a couple of pages, I think mainly to speed up the appearance of super powered DBZ fight scenes against literal gods. I know I said I wasn't going to talk about this but seriously, the series is so impatient to show off that characters are gonna have super high powerlevels that it wastes the first pages to show you the MC fighting Notsuke over the rubble of Konoha. It's like the series is in a mad dash to quickly distance itself form everything good about the original in favor of raising the powerlevel even higher.
Just stop. The characters literally defeated god. Recently we've had successful series like Boku no Hero or Assasination Classroom that show that people still love stories about the process of learning instead of just wanting to see how OP the main character can get next. We even have One Punch Man which is purely devoted to making fun of outrageous powerlevel escalation. I know Naruto got full of overpowered nonsense toward the end but honestly that was the weakest part of the whole series for me. Boruto feels like a completely wasted chance to restart with what made the series so popular to being with.