Yesterday, Viz Media announced that the end is neigh for the Naruto sequel series, Boruto: Naruto The Next Generations. Part I of the Boruto finale will air on March 26 and Part II is in production, according to the official Naruto website. Though the shonen anime’s ending comes as no surprise to Boruto enjoyers, it has a lot to live up to. Fans have hyped the Naruto series up as “peak anime” for years much to the chagrin of other anime fandoms that think it’s “mid” at best.
Many Naruto fans, myself included, hung up our leaf village headbands back in March of 2017 with the culmination of the number one hyperactive knucklehead ninja Naruto Uzumaki finally becoming the Hokage (i.e. ninja president) in the final episode of Naruto Shippuden. However, the Naruto series, both in manga and anime form, kept going, this time from the perspective of Naruto’s son, Boruto. Seeing as how the Boruto manga released two years after the Naruto manga ended and its anime began airing a month after Naruto Shippuden, Naruto hasn’t left the public consciousness since it began in 1999. Sadly, that means its fandom discourse has remained steadfast as well.
Boruto’s anime ending doesn’t just spell the end of Naruto, it also serves as the moment the Boruto fandom’s year-long claims that the series, particularly the Code’s Assault arc (the anime’s final season), is the best shonen anime ever made will finally be put to the test. This braggadocious claim has led to a schoolyard fandom war between Boruto and One Piece fans on TikTok, because the latter regard the long-running anime as the best ongoing shonen anime.But before we get to that, let’s walk through why the Boruto fandom’s boasts are so controversial among the anime community.
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Why anime viewers have been sleeping on Boruto
Part of why lapsed fans like myself had no interest in reading or watching Boruto is due to series creator, Masashi Kishimoto not being directly involved with it until recently. Much like vein to Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama not being directly involved in Dragon Ball GT, Dragon Ball Z’s retroactively non-canon and unloved sequel series, Boruto was written by Naruto manga assistant and Fate/Grand Order screenwriter Ukyō Kodachi and fellow Naruto manga assistant Mikio Ikemoto, according to Anime News Network, Similar to Toriyama getting more involved with Dragon Ball Super’s manga and anime, Kishimoto took over writing Boruto in November 2020.
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Kishimoto’s absence made committing to Boruto difficult, especially with the anime’s release of non-canon content, like the Time Slip and Great Sea Battle of Kirigakure arcs, and the bizarre SoundCloud rapper aesthetic of its zoomer ninjas. Going off of Boruto’s middling user score against Naruto and Naruto Shippuden on MyAnimeList, an online anime and manga community and database, the sequel anime hasn’t connected with fans as well as its predecessor. Naruto and Naruto Shippuden, by contrast, are the eighth and fifteenth most popular anime on MAL while also have won multiple anime and manga awards against Boruto’s zero. Despite Boruto’s award deficit, the series was one of Crunchyroll’s most-watched series in 2020 and was nominated twice for the Anime Awards’ best fight scene category and was a runner-up for the best continuing series.
It should be noted that Kishimoto picked up writing Boruto shortly after his new manga, Samurai 8, was canceled by Shonen Jump in March of that year because it failed to captivate readers like Kishimoto’s magnum opus. Samurai 8 ended with only five volumes despite Kishimoto’s desire to conclude the series with at least 10 volumes, according to Anime News Network.
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Whenever fans like myself check up on the current goings on in Boruto, we collectively scratch our heads at the absurdity of arcs like Sasuke Retsuden, in which Sasuke battled and befriended a velociraptor in order to defeat a brontosaurus. Despite the weirdness of this canon storyline depicting Sasuke sparking more chemistry with a dinosaur than his own wife, Boruto fans still stood by their hype over Boruto’s Code’s Assault Arc being anime the year quality. This steadfast dedication somehow spun off into an all-out fandom war between Boruto and One Piece fans over the quality of the popular shonen anime’s sakuga i.e. how fluidly the animation frames blend into each other in key action sequences. It’s all very tiresome and juvenile. Both parties desperately need to take a chill pill.
Time will tell whether Boruto fandom’s years of hype will be vindicated as “peak fiction” in the same year as the return of the irreverently popular and worldwide box office record-setter Demon Slayer: Swordsman Village Arc’s release or if the Boruto anime’s finale will go out like the bizarro version of the megapopular Attack on Titan: The Final Chapters’ finale. Regardless, the world would benefit from the series ending by virtue of the fandom warfare dying out.
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In the meantime, Naruto fans can enjoy “new” reanimated episodes of the anime by Studio Pierrot in celebration of the show’s 20th anniversary in September as well as the “new” Naruto x Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections game which is slate to release sometime later this year for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.