The announcement that Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto is taking over as the writer for the Boruto: Naruto Next Generations manga has been received with mixed emotions from fans. If you are only familiar with the Boruto anime, then you are missing out on a story that has slowly built up to a critical point in the Naruto universe. The manga's next arc is starting to take shape, and with the potential deaths of Naruto and Sasuke looming, Kishimoto’s involvement couldn’t have come at a better time.
There are some key elements that only Kishimoto can add to the series that could reignite fans' original excitement about the manga, but is he steering a ship that is destined to crash?
Boruto’s Development as a Protagonist
For starters, the series is going to have to give Boruto some major character development and stop relying Naruto and Sasuke piquing the interest of readers, which comes across as fan service. Kishimoto’s involvement will likely directly tie into the potential deaths of Naruto and Sasuke. Should these deaths play out, this could be the turning point to transform Boruto into the intriguing protagonist we need him to be in his own right.
Kishimoto is the one responsible for creating the entire narrative of Naruto, after all, so he must use the same manga jutsu to establish a compelling story for Boruto and his teammates. Boruto's arrogance and aversion to becoming a ninja is what drove devoted fans away from the series. It will be interesting to see how Kishimoto deals with Boruto’s reaction to potentially seeing his father and mentor die. He won’t necessarily have to "grow up" but there will have to be some major, internal rewiring influenced by his current devotion to the village, and how he defines what a shinobi represents.
Boruto Needs Better Side-Character Development
Naruto’s success came, in part, from the variety of characters that helped shape the story and assisted Naruto on his journey to becoming Hokage. Boruto still doesn’t have a clear path, and there are no other mentors that are aiding him to discover it yet.
It would be nice to see Sarada and Mitsuki receive some extensive mentorship, alongside the shinobi from the other villages -- especially from the Hidden Sand Village. Boruto has some great young shinobi with promising talents, but the lack of exploitation of their hidden abilities is making the overall story seem bland. The characters that will be stepping up to mentor the next generation will be crucial, and hopefully, Kishimoto doesn’t play on the safe side and mimic his story from Naruto.
Kishimoto Could Make Or Break Boruto's Fragile Reputation
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, in many fans' eyes, is failing as an anime, and viewers are worried that the manga is heading down that same road. The reputation of the Naruto series is at a higher risk because the current storyline could tarnish Naruto’s journey to become Hokage. Some stories are better left as an unwritten legacy, but developing stories past their expected lifespan can feel like they're just being dragged out. If the Boruto manga fails, then the Naruto series fails as a whole, and that is a blow that Kishimoto must avoid at all costs. The next couple of chapters will be critical in deciding how he will handle the story, and potentially set the tone for different developments. It's a make-or-break-time for the sequel series.
Overall, the Boruto: Naruto Next Generations manga is developing a promising story. The current strongest shinobi are expected to meet their end, which would leave the future of the shinobi world in the hands of the next generation. Naruto and Sasuke have long provided a safety net for the series, but without them, the manga will have to be carried by a worthy-enough protagonist: its namesake. Kishimoto’s full involvement is something to definitely look forward to, and hopefully, his hands-on input will not turn out to be too little too late.