Boruto Continues a Troubling Naruto-Era Pattern

While both Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden told undeniably epic stories, the popular franchise always suffered from a glaring problem. Its female characters became largely irrelevant to the main storyline over time, and this troubling pattern seems to be repeating itself with the new generation in Boruto.

Much like Naruto did, Boruto focuses more on the adventures and struggles of its titular main character. His experiences with the Otsutsuki-obsessed cult, Kara and his attempts to resist Momoshiki taking control of his body have been the manga's main subject for quite some time. With the conflict involving Code seemingly taking center stage, it doesn't look like this trend will change anytime soon.

Momoshiki possesses Boruto using the Karma seal

One of the more popular critiques of Naruto is that both the titular character and Sasuke Uchiha became the series' end all and be all toward its conclusion. Though the actuality is more nuanced than that, one can't deny the rest of the Konoha 11 could have received quite a bit more screen time and exposition, particularly the women. Sakura Haruno and Ino Yamanaka shared a dedicated moment way back in Part 1 when they fought during the Chunin Exams, and barely anything is known about Tenten.

Unfortunately, this pattern seems to be repeating itself with Boruto. The new Team 7 -- made up of Mitsuki, Sarada and Konohamaru -- were initially touted as Boruto's closest companions and indispensable teammates, but they're hardly ever present during the most important moments. It's not for lack of strength either. Both Sarada and Mitsuki are equally as skilled as Boruto when he's not under the effects of Karma. As a jonin, Konohamaru should be an even better ninja, yet none of them have contributed anything worthwhile for some time.

Sarada's treatment especially is particularly frustrating. It harkens back to Sakura's Shippuden-era relegation where, despite being an adept medical ninja and possessing monstrous strength, she was in the backseat for most of the series. In Sarada's case, it's perhaps a bit more criminal -- she's even more skilled at medical ninjutsu than her mother was at that age, and has inherited all the power of the Uchiha clan. Unfortunately, even hailing from one of Naruto/Boruto's most powerful and important clans isn't enough to secure Sarada a spot in the main plot. Just like Sakura, she's been sidelined for no real reason.

Even more frustrating, Sarada is supposed to be someone very important to Boruto. The main goal he's working toward is to become strong enough to handle Sarada's shadow Hokage, and be the person who protects Konoha from the shadows and supports the Hokage while remaining unseen -- like Sasuke is for Naruto.

The latter duo's relationship works so well because of how familiar the audience is with them. Although they're very different people, they understand each other's pain and personality in ways no one else does. Both in battle and in political situations, Naruto and Sasuke complement each other perfectly.

If Boruto is being set up to be Sarada's future right-hand man, it's only natural that she should be with him during his most trying moments. At the very least, Sarada's character should be explored in more depth, lest Boruto fans end up with a main character supporting someone whose values and convictions they know little about.

Androids 17 and 18 in the Tournament of Power in Dragon Ball Super
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