Naruto Uzumaki, the boy who would be Hokage, joins Harry Potter in the “league of heroes who have grown up to be terrible dads.” But this isn’t really Naruto’s story anymore. A new generation of ninja has grown up in a peaceful shinobi world, where the five major villages now work together. New technologies exist which allow ninja access to jutsus which in the past would have taken years to perfect, or would have been outright impossible to use if they did not possess a family heritage. So the kids are all right—or rather, the kids are unfazed that their ninja training might be anything of importance.

Boruto Uzumaki, the son of Naruto and Hinata Hyuga, lives a charmed life in many ways his father did not. For one thing, Boruto’s ninja abilities come naturally. His father had to work to exhaustion for nearly every accomplishment, including the ability to make friends, but Boruto is quite popular. Most notably unlike Naruto, Boruto is growing up with two living parents and a little sister, Himawari. However, Naruto is a distant father, which leads to Boruto resenting him. For example, he sends a shadow doppelganger in his place to his daughter’s birthday dinner, and notably fails to show his son any praise. Naruto seemingly uses the mountain of paperwork which is required of his title to avoid any real connection with his family. This will likely be disappointing to fans of the original series who reveled in Naruto’s happy ending.

With the Chunin exams on the horizon, Boruto has no interest, but his teammates Mitsuki and Sarada Uchiha—the daughter of Naruto’s past teammates Sakura and Sasuke—need him in order to participate. With the inclusion of allied villages, the exams now seem more of an exhibitive right of passage than a serious test. When Sasuke returns to Hidden Leaf Village with alarming news about a threat which may be connected to an old foe, Boruto seeks his tutelage.

Masashi Kishimoto, the mangaka of the original Naruto series passes the torch for Boruto to Mikio Ikemoto, one of his most trusted assistants during his tenure. There is much in the art work and character design which will feel seamless to veteran Naruto fans. The parentage of most of the ninja children is easily recognizable because they perfectly share traits from their parents. For instance, Inojin shares the exact hairstyle of Sai, his father, and the blonde hair of his mother, Ino. Boruto looks much like Naruto, with whiskers across his cheeks and yellow hair, though slightly less spikey. Mitsuki’s parentage is comically mysterious and explained later in the story. The landscapes and backgrounds range from that of an overstuffed city, with buildings crowded into the panels, to lovely use of forced perspective to show the sheer depth of Konoha village as it now stands, with more technology interspersed within the architecture to complement the changing times.

Fan favorite character Gaara of the Hidden Sand village makes a brief appearance with adopted children in tow. It was nice to experience his presence as a well-adjusted leader of his village, but it was simultaneously disappointing to see some of the original female shinobi relegated to background characters who exist to scold their sons when they slack—or, in the case of Hinata, a tired mother who makes excuses for her husband being a bad father. Sakura, while quite powerful by the end of Naruto’s run, disappointingly has few scenes other than showing excitement over Sasuke’s return to the village. Happily, their bespectacled daughter Sarada shows a strong desire to become Hokage one day. I do hope her character continues to develop.

Based on a movie of the same name, this volume begins with a scene of what’s to come: a mature Boruto staring down a mysterious enemy. There is a built-in audience for this series: anyone who enjoyed Naruto and wishes for more adventures in this world. The question is, will they pick up this canon continuation, or just continue to read fan fiction? I would wager it would be wise to have this one on hand either way.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, vol. 1
by Ukyo Kodachi
Art by Mikio Ikemoto
ISBN: 9781421592114
Viz, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: T (12+)

  • Jessikah Chautin

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! Jessikah graduated with her MLS from The Palmer School of Library Science and has been working at the Syosset Public Library as a children’s librarian since 2003. She enthusiastically developed a children’s graphic novel collection for her library and enjoys developing programs around some of her favorite titles. As a child, Jessikah grew up on a healthy diet of Matsumoto, Toriyama and whatever anime series she could find. She often had a hard time deciding if she would prefer to be recruited as a Mahou Shoujo (Magical Girl) or a Gundam Pilot, a debate that still plagues her to this very day. If she could have any power it would definitely be telekinesis.

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