WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Episode 218, "Partner," now streaming on Crunchyroll.
With the tragic death of Kurama in Episode 218 of Boruto, fans everywhere pay their respects and share their love for the complex hero. While long-time fans of the franchise are heartbroken over this recent death, they're also finding symbolic parallels that make Kurama's death poetically tragic.
On October 3, 2002, Naruto aired its very first episode, introducing the Nine-Tails for the first time in the opening scene. Now, on October 3, 2021, Kurama says his final goodbyes after sacrificing his life for Naruto and his family. Here's how October 3 became a significant date for the Naruto franchise and why fans everywhere are mourning Kurama's death.
When Naruto first premiered in 2002, Kurama kicked off the series when he was first introduced as the Nine-Tails who wreaked havoc on the Hidden Leaf Village and killed countless villagers. After being set up as the powerful and evil antagonist, Naruto soon finds out that this Tailed Beast lives inside of him and that's why he's been the target of the villagers' hate since his birth. The young Naruto struggles to come to terms with his fate and to overcome the animosity and hatred that's perpetuated between Kurama and the villagers of Konoha. When these feelings overwhelmed the inexperienced Naruto whenever he was angry or in danger, Kurama's chakra would leak out of him and cause him to hurt those he loved.
While Naruto undergoes rigorous training to suppress the Nine-Tails' chakra and vows to never use it because of its danger to himself and others, he begins to realize that this power can also be used for good. For better or for worse, Kurama's chakra and influence saved Naruto and his comrades countless times. Despite Kurama spending a large portion of the series claiming he hates people because they abuse and obsess over the Tailed Beasts' power, Naruto eventually wins the tsundere fox over with his words and actions, proving that he respected and cared about Kurama for who he was and not for his power. Having once been consumed with hatred toward others himself, Naruto promises to resolve Kurama's anger one day so he can learn to trust others and be happy.
When Naruto and Kurama finally come to a mutual understanding and learn to respect one another, they agree to work together to defeat their common enemies. Thanks to Kurama's immense chakra, Naruto is able to activate new forms and unleash power like never before. The pair play a vital role in winning the Fourth Great Ninja War and saving the world from Kaguya and the Infinite Tsukuyomi at the end of Naruto. In the sequel series Boruto, the iconic duo continue to achieve greater heights to defeat the Ōtsutsuki. They finally achieve their ultimate form, Baryon Mode, in a last-ditch effort to defeat Isshiki Ōtsutsuki. When Kurama tells Naruto about Baryon Mode, he intentionally misleads Naruto into believing that they will both die after using this sacrificial form, when in reality only Kurama would die.
When Naruto meets Kurama in his subconsciousness, he's convinced that both of them are going to the afterlife and comes to terms with it. However, Kurama reveals that only he will die from using Baryon Mode and claims he misled Naruto because Naruto would likely hesitate or refuse to use the mode, even though it was their only chance at defeating Isshiki Ōtsutsuki. Naruto tears up at this sudden revelation, causing viewers to cry along with him as Kurama recalls how much Naruto's grown up over the years, having been with him since birth. Kurama's selflessness and willingness to sacrifice himself for Naruto is a satisfying closure to Kurama's impressive character development throughout the series, especially after being selfish and full of hatred for so many years.
The end of Boruto Episode 218 features a heart-wrenching montage of Kurama's greatest moments throughout the franchise. While showcasing his life from beginning to end, the fist-bump between Kurama and Naruto from when they officially agreed to team-up is still one of the most striking images in the franchise's history, and Episode 218 recreates the scene for Kurama's death. The tragedy of the iconic pair finally being forced to part ways after being together their entire lives creates an empty and lonely feeling in both Naruto and the fandom who adores them.
The heartache of this past episode is still a heavy topic across social media as the fandom comes to terms with this shocking death. Kurama has played a central role in the franchise since it began on October 3, 2002 up until his tragic, but meaningful, death on October 3, 2021. While Boruto continues to hit important developments in the lives of both the Boruto and original Naruto casts, events like this proves the franchise's relevancy and enduring ability to make waves in the anime world.