Boruto #54 Proves It’s the Right Time to Kill Naruto – and Make Sasuke Hokage

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Chapter #54, “Bro,” of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations by Masashi Kishimoto, Mikio Ikemoto, Mari Morimoto and Snir Aharon, now available in English from Viz Media.

For some time, fans have been arguing whether the Boruto manga would kill off Naruto. It's been hinted at even more in recent chapters with his new Bayron Mode drastically draining his chakra, which Kurama warned him of. Chapter #54 more or less moves the needle in the direction of killing the Hokage as Naruto can't even wake up to help Sasuke and Kawaki stop Momoshiki's possession of Boruto.

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But while it could be the story's just baiting fans into thinking Naruto's down for the count, this isn't just the perfect spot to kill the legendary soldier -- it's also the ideal opportunity to have him pass the mantle of Hokage to Sasuke.

Here, Naruto admits that after maxing his powers out against Isshiki, his body's heavy as lead. He goes into a comatose state with Kurama also notably absent -- a very ominous sign. It gets worse because, when Boruto comes back to his senses, Sasuke tries to wake Naruto up but can't, which is where the chapter ends.

Now, if Momoshiki hadn't stabbed Sasuke's Rinnegan, Sasuke could have used it to resurrect Naruto. But the fact it isn't available means the stakes are high and there could be an actual price to pay, though it's a great spot to go out on narrative-wise. Naruto weakened Isshiki and gave his team the strategy to beat the alien, and there's real meaning in him giving his life, not just for his son Boruto, his best friend Sasuke and his adoptive son Kawaki, but for Konoha.

Naruto was always successful on-road missions, whether it was against the Akatsuki or Kaguya's alien clan. But he always comes home, so having Sasuke return to Konoha with their leader's body bookends things in a tragically poetic way. It'd even match the finales of Minato and Jiraiya, Naruto's predecessors, as they died without grand speeches. They made battlefield sacrifices, not unlike Naruto's own. Not to mention, Sasuke bringing him home would homage when Kakashi brought him back to the village after Naruto got Nagato to resurrect Konoha.

Except for this time, it's no fairytale ending for the soldier, it's real, it's loss and it reminds the new generation of the risks they take.

This paves the way for Sasuke to now do what Madara couldn't -- become the first Uchiha Hokage. Itachi was always favored for the role but he gave his life undercover for Konoha -- which would make it even more emotional than his brother accepts the role. It'd also be ironic that Naruto, the warrior closest to Hashirama Senju's personality, fulfills his dream as the First Hokage always wanted a Uchiha as a leader.

Admittedly, it doesn't have to take Naruto dying for this to happen. The Hokage could be so badly wounded that, as he recovers, Sasuke steps into the position temporarily, much like his predecessor Kakashi. Sasuke also has plenty of intel against Kara, which means he'd still be able to pursue the goals of the day. He's respected, more mature, understands family, science and diplomacy a lot more now too and, as he can't teleport without the Rinnegan, it makes sense to retire the Ranger role and come home to protect his loved ones.

He wanted to lead in the Naruto: Shippuden era, but this chance bodes especially well for Sarada, who has the same ambition. And most of all, in Naruto's absence, Boruto can be the warrior Sasuke relies on out there, the same way Naruto relied on Sasuke as his top roving agent.

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