Boruto: Naruto Next Generations has really come into its own in its second year run, as the series and characters have grown and matured in ways that helped the series overcome a lot of the initial criticism from longtime Naruto fans. The “Chunin Exams Arc” and “Vs. Momoshiki Arc” have been particularly fruitful for the series, as the finale of the “Vs. Momoshiki Arc” delivered one of the top 5 episodes of the entire Naruto series (ep. 65, “Father and Child”), which fans are still raving over.
As Boruto now moves into the next phases of its titular hero’s training, and the discovery of his shinobi path, it’s clear that the growing pains are over. Boruto is now poised to potentially be the best series in the entire Naruto saga – and if you scroll below, we’ll give you seven good reasons why.
The first thing about Boruto compared to Naruto is the quality of the coming-of-age story. The original Naruto is a classic now, but admittedly, the original series had a lot of silliness and filler material as it found its footing as a more epic and serious saga, later on. Thanks to Naruto charting the path, and going through the growing pains (literally and figuratively) of getting the series established, Boruto is able to learn form the past and chart a more streamlined path through the more frivolous days of its protagonist. It may not have seemed that way for the first couple dozen of slower episodes – but chart where Boruto picked up pace compared to Naruto, and the progression is clear.
Naruto remains, overall, one of the most extensive character sagas there are – in anime, or any medium, for that matter. Tracking the young ninja from childhood into his time as an adult and father has been epic and emotional for those invested, but Boruto has something even grater in the works. The series’ opening scene, a flash-forward to a dark time in Hidden Leaf, where Boruto is presented as a powerful shinobi, has been the major driving force of the series – more so than the simply story of young prankster Naruto in the early run of that series.
However, where Boruto has a distinct advantage is that it not only is building a character arc that already has a thrilling destination – it also gets to build on character arcs from the original series, that fans know and love. Seeing how characters like Naruto and Sasuke adjust to a life of fatherhood and leadership is almost as exciting as watching Boruto himself! And when the series combines the two narrative paths for a Boruto/Naruto story arc, there’s no competition.
It might seem odd to be talking about this as any kind of positive, but Boruto is handling its “filler” moments much better than Naruto ever did. Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden actually rank as two of the top three anime with excessive filler material, so really this was an easy course-correction.
The key to Boruto‘s improvement over its predecessors is really two-fold: on the one hand, it has less overall filler, appearing less frequently; and on the other hand, it has the clear benefit of being able to offer fans “filler” that is pretty unique and thrilling, due to its callbacks or references to the previous series. Finally, Boruto has done a pretty good job selling its cast of classic Naruto characters and their young counterparts, so that if we do deviate from the main character(s) storyline, it’s still an pretty satisfying experience, often feeling more like solid world-building, rather than throwaway filler.
As stated, Naruto is one of the most wide-spanning character tales there is, and one of the main joys of Boruto has been following those original characters into this new era of adulthood. It’s not just seeing the likes of Sasuke and Naruto as dads, or the insane levels of power and ability those elder shinobi now possess – it’s also about seeing how any number side characters have transformed and grown (or not) as time has passed. Cameos from adult Naruto figures or their offspring have become notable bonus in the Boruto experience.
This may be jumping the gun, admittedly, as Boruto has yet to fully ramp up in terms of big fights and battles, but when the series has hit that stride, it’s done so like an Olympic sprinter, and results have been pretty spectacular. The crowning jewel in this particular debate is no doubt the finale of the “Vs. Momoshiki Arc” (ep. 65, “Father and Child”), which offered an insanely gorgeous and thrillingly epic battle between the Otsutsuki, Sasuke, Naruto, and Boruto, that marked a new height for the series. Sure, that’s just one fight compared to the many great battles of the larger Naruto saga (see above), but Boruto is proving that its quality is going to outshine its predecessor, as the series racks up greater quantity of fight sequences in the coming years.
As stated, one advantage that Boruto clearly has over the Naruto series is the ability to tap into the long history of the saga, in ways that are intensely rewarding for longtime fans. Sometimes these callbacks are significant and important portents for where things are headed with Boruto; other times, they’re simply little asides or anecdotes. In either case, they are fun and intriguing ways of building Naruto into an entire shared universe of a franchise, while sparking all sorts of great, in-depth discussions amongst the fandom. It’s rare that a new series has that kind of potential, and Boruto makes sure not to waste it.
Naruto was journey you kind of had to jump into and just ride with; Nartuo: Shippuden gained momentum by taking the characters into a darker and more mature chapter of their lives, and offered promise of mysteries and arcs the original series had spent such extensive time setting up. And yet, Boruto has found a much more effective way of securing fans’ investment in the series, by beginning with an epic and awesome flash-forward scene, which propels viewers even during the show’s slower points.
On a smaller scale, Boruto has done pretty well paying off smaller story arcs, even as it sets up larger canon arcs to harvest later. There show has given us important stakes and enough regular “payoff” episodes that it’s kept fans on the ride, and even enjoying it pretty regularly. It’s not a perfect system (there have definitely been some snooze-fest storylines), but it’s definitely an improvement.
Check out Boruto merch here.
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