What They Say:
Meet Naruto’s son! His name is Boruto and he’s just like his dad – unfortunately. He’s rambunctious, rebellious, and more than a handful! He’s joined by the next generation of the Hidden Leaf Village – including Sarada, the daughter of Sasuke; and Mitsuki, a shinobi of mysterious lineage! Boruto and his friends have their hands full when they investigate a dangerous entity known as “The Ghost.” Can Boruto save the village just like dad?
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show has a pretty solid design to it for a stereo mix with some good placement where needed for the dialogue along with some good moments of depth but it still largely adheres to the standard stereo design that you’d expect. The action stands out nicely with the sound of swords and other weapons clashing coming across well and some decent impact to it all as well. There’s good movement during these scenes as well as a good feeling of warmth to it with the music, both the score in the series itself as well as the more polished opening and closing sequence songs. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally beginning its broadcast run in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes and OVA for this set are spread evening in a seven/seven format for this release, giving it plenty of room to work with. Animated by Pierrot, the show has a lot of the familiar designs and feelings that you’d expect as a successor to Naruto but it also boosts things up a bit in the color department. This one feels a bit more vibrant and colorful in general and that vividness is in a lot of scenes, especially with Boruto and his character/costume design. The encoding for this release captures the details well from the backgrounds, especially areas like the Hidden Leaf village where there’s so much going on, all while still feeling like an extension of what came before without being a completely new design.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs while also coming with an o-card slipcover. The o-card replicate the case artwork but with more color vibrancy as we get Boruto gaming as the primary piece with his friends alongside him. Set against a white background with a few colorful widgets, it stands out because of all the vibrant colors that it utilizes in the character designs as well as the logo, which really does catch the eye. The back cover brings in more of his classmates across it against the same kind of background and we get a short but solid summary of the premise. The layout of how the disc is setup and the extras is together along the left in a bullet-style list that I don’t like for technical information but it does list things generally clearly. The bottom adds a pink hue to it as we get the production credits and an array of logos. The case itself replicates all of this while the reverse side is a nice two-panel spread showing the trio from the front cover in different action-ish positions. No show related inserts are included with this Blu-ray-only release.
The menu design for this release goes for an extended clip montage format where there’s a slew of action pieces playing to it that covers a gamut of characters. You’d expect it to be mostly all about Boruto but it doesn’t use him nearly as much as you’d expect. The clips take up the bulk of the screen while the navigation design along the bottom gives us some colorful stripes at an angle using some of Boruto’s key colors with the selections along them. It’s quick to load and it works well in terms of moving about and setting it up – especially as Viz offers you a couple of different options. The menu works smoothly both as a main menu piece and as just the navigation itself as a pop-up menu during regular playback.
The extras for this release are all kept to the second disc and take up a nice bit of space. The familiar and welcome pieces are here with the clean opening and closing sequences and Viz Media continues to deliver the art gallery material and storyboards, though I’m not sure how many look at that these days. They did them for all the Naruto releases so I’m not surprised they carry on with it here. We also get an English cast interview that runs about thirteen minutes with the voice actresses behind Naruto and Boruto as they talk about the show, how they ended up in it, and some fun with the experiences of these characters in this form. The release also comes with the Jump Festa Special from 2016 which comes in at eleven minutes and is a fun little side piece that is definitely great to finally have in this form since these specials are dicey as to whether they’re available for license.
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 when the simulcast hit. At the time, 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.
Once past that, we get Boruto back at the academy and a number of people surprised he didn’t just drop out after what happened the last time around, we see how he’s just playing it cool and getting into the rhythm of things and providing a bit more connectivity with the supporting cast. While Naruto suffered from being an outcast early on because of what happened as a baby, Boruto suffers from a similar stigma simply because he’s the hokage’s son and that keeps a lot of people at a distance or just thinking he’s always getting special treatment. The whispering and scuttlebutt at the start is familiar but it plays well to set the mood and is a fairly realistic look at how other students would view him considering how disastrous things could have gone. Boruto is also Boruto and that means he stands out regardless, and we see how the various potential main supporting players will interact with him – and obviously that causes you to look for potential future love interests, just because.
The main problem here is that as we go through all of this it really does just feel like familiar/repeated character beats without anything really new brought into it – which isn’t good for a second episode. It’s nice to see some of the adults in the role that they’re in now, but when it comes to the kids you almost feel like it’s a slightly twisted version of some of the flashback episodes we got during Shippuden. There’s some amusement with how Iwabe is overplaying the bad boy that was held back a year and the face-off that we get with Boruto, but it still harbors that echo of times past, even if it’s a fun fight sequence to watch unfold to get a handle more on what Boruto is capable of. The problem is that as it plays out, there isn’t a lot of energy to it for the most part. It feels more like Naruto Episode 502 than Boruto Episode 2. The pieces are all put into place but the energy and intensity simply isn’t there.
An interesting early focus is on Metal Lee as he works hard to showcase what he can do but has the problem of performance anxiety. It’s certainly natural enough and definitely relatable for younger audiences watching this, and a good reminder for adults that this is something that many, themselves often included, experienced but have pushed to the background over the years. So what we get is a decent bit of the usual early teen material here that leads to an accident while doing some work that causes a good bit of trouble. For Metal Lee, it really makes his self-doubt and self-inflicted pain about his place in the world and the mistakes he’s making come full circle. You can see how self-destructive he’s being and having others being so blunt about it just makes it all the worse – while Boruto and the rest don’t intervene as Shikadai goes just a bit too far with it.
What we do see is that Shikadai gets some grief about this at home from his parents in a roundabout way, which has him trying to apologize to Metal the next day. Metal, unfortunately, has some pretty corrupt chakra going on and pretty much lashes out, resulting in a pretty good fight sequence. This ends up drawing others in with Boruto at the forefront of course, and with him seeing that it’s familiar to what Denki went through it puts them on a fairly predictable course. It’s not played fully seriously, because where’s the fun in that, as there are silly moments along the way that keeps it amusing to watch as we are dealing with boys of this nature. Though Boruto gets the expected nods, the episode works well to give us a feel for both Shikadai and Metal and that goes a long way toward building a fanbase for these newer characters, which is definitely needed.
After the series establishes all of these basics it essentially follows three different tracks. The first one is spending time with some of the core supporting cast that operate alongside Boruto. This is standard introduction material for characters in the academy where we learn a bit about them and their abilities and personalities. There really isn’t any issue with this but perhaps it’s something where those who have watched the original as long as I did where you may feel the same in that all you see are the next generation aspects and how similar they are, too much so at times, to what came before. It really left me wishing that they had gone far more in different directions and overcompensated in that way rather than just trying to lightly recreate the Naruto side. Which is what the second track is and I kind of hate that I liked it as much as I did. The show keeps tabs on a number of the Naruto cast as adults in their positions of power and I quite enjoyed a lot of it. It doesn’t dominate for a lot of them, such as Naruto and those that are in power under the Hokage, but others like Shiho get more time since they’re teaching. I liked getting to see where they ended up, how they changed, and the dynamics they operate under with each other. If it took up more time I’d probably be a bit happier but would also likely complain that they’re taking over Boruto’s series.
The third track is what was creeping into the first few episodes with the chakra miasma that’s twisting people for a time that only Boruto can see. This gains a little extra importance early on with the introduction of Mitsuki from the Valley of Hidden Sound as he’s aware of it, curious why Boruto is able to see it, and views it as a kind of larger test. Mitsuki is just an unsettling character through appearance and what he looks connected to but also because he’s clearly more powerful than he lets on and is half-smiling in the background way too much. The show plays with this chakra monster as the “monster of the week” for a lot of this as it twists people’s personalities a bit – and we get a lot of general citizens being affected and ending up hospitalized – but it gains in importance more and more as the season goes on. It’s not a bad opening arc opponent to deal with as it hops from person to person and that lets an array of fights and bonding to happen while building towards the larger showdown – that gets wrapped up in the first episode of the next set!
I’ll easily admit I have frustrations with early Boruto and that some of it still stems from the sting of how parts of the Naruto: Shippuden series played out. That’s left me with a distrust of the producers combined with the repetitive nature of what we get here as it lightly reworks the original for Boruto to play in. There are differences to be sure and those are interesting to watch and I do hate myself for being more interested in Naruto and what’s going on there as there’s so much potential for mature Naruto. And I feel owed some payoff for the years of watching Little Naruto. Boruto exists in that shadow here and that’s no surprise even as you can see it attempting to break out of it some. I think there’s potential for it there but at the same time I wish Boruto was just a bit more grown up. I’m definitely glad Viz is putting these out and that we’re getting it on Blu-ray – something we didn’t get for Naruto and something that Japanese fans haven’t gotten yet either.
Japanese 2.0 DTS-HD MA Language, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA Language, English Subtitles, English Cast Interview, Boruto OVA, Storyboards, Art Gallery, Clean Opening, Clean Ending
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.