WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Episode 192, "The Past," now streaming on Crunchyroll.
The Boruto anime has done an impressive job of sharing insight into Kawaki's past, which we didn't get from the manga. Most notably, it revealed the truth behind the grudge between him and Garo, which ended with Kawaki brutally annihilating the Kara Outer.
Now, the latest episode turns the clock back even further, delving into how Jigen bought him to be a Kara test subject in a heartbreaking, tragic origin story.
It opens with Kawaki chopping wood, starving and barely keeping it together. As a poor child, he trades logs in his mysterious village, but sadly only gets the bare minimum. He uses this money to buy alcohol for his dad, Kokatsu, an abusive drunk who doesn't work, leaving Kawaki to earn their living as it seems his mom died.
Unfortunately, Kokatsu cuts a sadistic and monstrous figure, guzzling down the liquor while giving Kawaki a key for the cupboard. That's right -- he hides food and starves his kid unless he brings home a bounty of drinks. It's disgusting, shameful and cruel, yet Kawaki perseveres. So much so, even when bullies insult him over how his dad was a failed war hero, he defends the tyrant.
To make things worse, the alcohol vendor keeps giving him small quantities, as he's the only shop around, which causes Kawaki to get punished even more. He does enjoy one break from the nightmare, though, when he meets a mysterious goldfish salesman who encourages him to come to a festival he's holding. Kawaki knows he can't afford anything, but dreams of the fish and the freedom they represent to him. Ironically, the man realizes that Kawaki is struggling and, later on, defends him from bullies.
Sadly, when Kokatsu finds the fish flyer, he punishes Kawaki for wasting time on dumb dreams by throwing him in a dark, cold closet. Hours later, Kokatsu lets him out, but it's only to sell the boy to Jigen. We never got all this context before, and it gets even more tragic as his dad breaks a bottle over Kawaki's head when he begs not to be sold. Jigen takes the boy away but there's one more twist to come when they meet the fish vendor in the cave.
He realizes Jigen is human trafficking and wants to save Kawaki, but the bombshell is that he's no salesman. He's also a trafficker who was luring Kawaki in. Jigen, unperturbed, sends Kawaki out of the tunnel so he can chat with the man, and when Jigen comes out, it's obvious that he killed the salesman. He then starts to bond with Kawaki like father and son, so from here on, we can see why Kawaki has issues trusting Boruto, Katasuke, Konohamaru and Naruto when he gets to Konoha. All he's known are toxic men and users who all treat him like an object, ergo why he doesn't want to let the heroes help him.