What They Say:
The Hidden Leaf Village is located within the Land of Fire, one of the Five Great Shinobi Nations. Boruto Uzumaki lives here and he’s the son of the village leader, Naruto Uzumaki, the Seventh Hokage. One day, Boruto saves a boy named Denki Kaminarimon, who’s being picked on. Denki is physically weak, so he is unable to stand up to the bullies. On his way to the entrance ceremony at the Ninja Academy, Boruto sees Deki again. He notices that his chakra is warped and that he is acting strangely.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After giving up on the main Naruto: Shippuden series a while back after it largely finished adapting the original manga and opted to adapting other material, I knew I’d be too curious about Boruto to pass up checking out at least the first episode. I had read the first chapter of the manga when it was simulpublished and while the story didn’t surprise me in how it was setting everything up, well, the artwork made me laugh and never want to return to that side of it because of the style that was employed. The anime adaptation largely sticks to what the Naruto series looked like to provide continuity there, which is a good choice, and with the show bringing in plenty of what populated the previous series for expected reasons you pretty much get a good blended sequel start off here.
With a prologue that shows us events several years from now with a powered up and competent Boruto, the show keeps to the more familiar and accessible early parts of seeing Boruto’s life as the Hokage’s son and the kinds of struggles that comes from that, which in some ways are similar but different from what Naruto went to. Repetitive themes were a big part of the overall mythology of Naruto, to its disadvantage in many cases, so I’m not surprised to see it employed here. Hidden Leaf Village has grown nicely in the years since we last left it as there’s a touch more modern to it, including a steam engine train, and the structure of it all feels like it’s moved forward as well. This ties in nicely with Boruto’s coming of age aspect as it feels like the whole thing is growing up where it’s less a village and more of a small city at this point. Small changes like this can be appealing and I do find that shifting this is a plus rather than completely replicating the village as it was.
So much really is established early on, seeing Naruto as Hokage and how he just struggles with all the paperwork contrasted with Boruto’s more free lifestyle combined with his sense of justice in doing right for those that can’t themselves. The first half covers a lot of stuff, including the way Boruto views the world as too safe at the moment with no threats, as well as his unhappiness toward his father who spends too much time away with Hokage duties, which he views as a riff with his younger sister and his mother as well. Hinata’s welcome to see again as she likes to talk a little bit about the past as ways to try and guide Boruto, but that just rankles him as you’d expect as he wants to be his own man. These are familiar story setup pieces and characterization, but they’re also welcome in a way because we’re not treated to repeated images of how the village was destroyed in the past with Naruto’s birth when it comes to an origin story.
Into every show there must be a little trouble and that comes in the form of a mysterious entity that takes over another kid that Boruto helps and befriends early on. It’s not the most compelling piece but it sets the first piece of groundwork for larger threats and gives Boruto a chance to deal with something fairly significant while also showing some leadership – and a touch of recklessness as well that you’d expect from his lineage. Visually, Boruto is a far more appealing work than its manga counterpart and that really makes a huge difference. The manga was such a turnoff in its art style that it made me drop it instantly and become very wary of the anime. What we get here is a very safe and polished work that continues on the story. It’s not Naruto, but it doesn’t let go of those elements either. And that will be both bane and boon for many viewers in the episodes to come. Similar to Naruto, Boruto has a lot of potential if it can hit all the right notes, but lightning striking twice is incredibly hard and this project has a lot of hurdles ahead of it.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll