Naruto Shippuden is steadily approaching its inevitable end, but it appears that the franchise is not ready to draw its final curtain just yet, as it was confirmed that the anime would conclude its "Boyhood" arc and start covering the "Shinden" stories starting December. With this thrust in the plot of the series, it appears like Studio Pierrot, the production company behind the Naruto franchise's anime adaptation, is preparing for the release of a Boruto-themed anime.
A theatrical release featuring Boruto, Naruto's son, was released in recent years, and it became a worldwide critical and commercial success. With this, longtime fans of the series clamored for the continuation of Boruto's story, which happened in the form of a manga that is supervised by Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of the franchise. While the Boruto manga has received polarizing reviews from longtime fans due to its rather different art and storytelling style, it has managed to push the plot of the Naruto universe significantly forward nonetheless.
This has caused a significant number of speculations that the Naruto Shippuden anime would soon transition into the Boruto storyline, possibly within the first half of 2017. This is because the "Boyhood" arc, which the anime explored right after the climactic final battle between Naruto and Sasuke, has come to an end. The Shippuden anime will now start the adaptation of the Sasuke Shinden novel, which takes place years after the young ninjas' decisive fight. The Shinden novels cover some of the last bits of the franchise's canon before the finale of the Shippuden story.
The Naruto universe is huge, with numerous characters and a very deep lore that is simply begging to be adapted into anime. Since shifting back to canon earlier this year, avid fans of the long-running series have speculated that Shippuden would begin covering the events chronicled in the franchise's supplementary novels before featuring the final chapter of the Naruto manga, which is set 15 years into the future.
The time skip between the 699th chapter, which was already covered by the Naruto Shippuden anime, and the 700th is significant, and the number of light novels and side stories that were created to fill in the 15-year gap is huge. Thus, there is ample space for the Shippuden anime to explore and expound after officially concluding the "Boyhood" arc. With this, the Sasuke Shinden story, which takes place when the original cast are already adults, would be the perfect bridge for the Shippuden anime to introduce the next generation of Naruto stories.
Naruto is quite special among its peers due to its capability to introduce a whole new generation of characters and stories while providing a satisfying conclusion to the tale of its original characters. This is one of the reasons why the previously released Boruto movie was so successful. It carried much of the charm from the original while being different enough for its plot and its characters to be compelling enough on their own. Considering that Studio Pierrot seems intent on continuing the anime adaptation of the Naruto franchise long after 2016, it definitely appears like a Boruto adaptation would be in the works soon.
If any, the Naruto franchise seems to be embracing the Boruto era lately, with the franchise's gaming lineup recently announcing that Road to Boruto, an official expansion of Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, would soon see a physical release in the West. The expansion would be featuring several characters and plot points from the Boruto: Naruto the Movie film. While there has been no official word on the future of the Naruto franchise as of date, it does seem like Boruto's story is slowly being integrated into the mainstream Naruto community.
As much as a dedicated Boruto anime would be interesting, however, there are some challenges that might result from adapting its manga into anime. The official Boruto manga, while already seeing a consistent release, has been following a notably deliberate pace. Thus, the manga has so far covered very little of its actual storyline. Considering that its anime adaptation would most likely be coming soon, there is a good chance that Studio Pierrot would run out of material to cover.
Then again, the Naruto anime has already encountered similar problems in the past, and it was addressed simply by adding filler arcs to give the manga some more time to create new, canon material. Considering that Studio Pierrot has already done this extensively in the past for both the original Naruto series and Naruto Shippuden, there is a good chance that the Boruto adaptation would end up in the same pattern as well. Then again, the Naruto franchise has one of the strongest and most loyal fanbases in anime. Thus, while the Boruto adaptation would most likely be ridden with filler arcs, it would most likely be at least as successful as the Naruto Shippuden anime.[Featured Image by Themeplus|Flickr|Cropped and Resized|CC BY-SA 2.0]