Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is no stranger to controversy. Since it began in 2017, this Naruto spinoff has been angering and delighting fans in equal measure, with both the manga and its anime adaptation provoking heated arguments within the Naruto fanbase. However, in 2020, the criticisms become louder and more constant, with complaints about everything from Boruto's handling of returning characters to its frequent flirtations with more sci-fi influenced elements. Some fans have also been voicing issues with Boruto himself, with many saying that he is an annoying or boring character who puts them off the franchise as a whole.
However, it seems that this hasn't affected the series' viewing figures. Crunchyroll recently released a series of infographics to CBR showing the most popular anime around the globe based on the number of unique viewers watching its simulcasts. These graphs show that Boruto is still very popular around the world, being the most popular anime in 32 countries and territories.
Boruto performs best in Asia, where, according to Crunchyroll's stats, it is the most popular anime in China, South Korea, Mongolia, India, Thailand and Indonesia. This impressive performance puts it in third place behind Jujutsu Kaisen and Black Clover. However, that third place is quite far behind the other two. Black Clover is 39 countries ahead, and Jujutsu Kaisen is a massive 55 countries ahead, meaning that Boruto has a lot of work to do if it wants to snatch the top spot in the future.
However, Crunchyroll's data is organized by country and doesn't take population into account. So Boruto coming first in countries with large populations like China and India shows that it still has a massive fanbase that is very loyal and dedicated. And these numbers are just those who view the show via Crunchyroll. There are likely many who watch the show on other services or Blu-ray. So, while it is behind in the rankings, it is clear that Boruto's fanbase won't be vanishing anytime soon.
The fact that the show is so popular despite heavy criticism can be looked at in several ways. It could be seen as a testament to how dedicated people are to the original Naruto and the world it created. Showing that fans like the setting so much they are willing to continue with a show, even one they dislike, just to learn how it all ends or to learn the fates of characters like Naruto.
This would also explain the sheer volume of criticism as people who are invested in a show and the universe surrounding it are likely to spend time criticizing it because they care about it. People who don't care about a show will likely turn it off and move onto something else. And as these stats show, people really care about Boruto.
Or this may simply be an example of the internet and social media amplifying negative coverage when in reality, a lot of the show's viewers are enjoying it and are more than happy to keep watching it.
Overall, Boruto is still riding a wave of popularity that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. These figures from Crunchyroll prove that while online anime communities are very vocal, they may not present the true picture of how popular a show or franchise is. Naruto and its associated media is still a cultural force and a titan of a franchise, even if it is going through a bumpy period creatively.