‘Boruto: Naruto Next Generations’ Episode 1 Review: Anime Already Showing Alarming Signs [Opinion]

'Boruto' Episode 1 has shown some alarming signs for the anime's future plot.

The epic saga of Naruto had taken an extremely long time before it ended. As the long-running anime reached its end recently, however, the iconic ninja’s baton was passed to his son, Boruto, who is the star of the franchise’s newest anime series, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. The first episode of the new anime aired this week, and while the new series has received a pretty warm welcome from millions of Naruto fans worldwide, a prevailing theme in the debut episode has managed to get numerous fans apprehensive.

The debut episode of Boruto was clear that the new anime would not be a rehash of the original saga, according to an IGN report. Taken from the dialogue of the titular character himself, this particular coming-of-age tale would be Boruto’s story alone. The new series, for its part, has managed to do this extremely well. Over the course of the premiere, Naruto was almost nowhere to be seen, with the iconic character only appearing briefly in the opening sequence.

If Naruto was not shown onscreen, however, the character sure was mentioned in a flash-forward featuring a grown-up Boruto and his nemesis, Kawaki. As the two face off in what appears to be a post-destruction version of the Hidden Leaf Village, Boruto’s opponent delivered a cryptic line that has managed to get many fans of the original series incredibly worried.

“I’ll send you where I sent the Seventh Hokage, Boruto,” Kawaki ominously stated.

Considering the state that the Hidden Leaf Village was in the flash forward, it appears that a major battle has taken place. The once thriving village was annihilated, and from what could be determined in the scene, it appeared that Boruto was the only one still standing.

Overall, avid fans of Naruto were immediately apprehensive about Kawaki’s line, according to a Polygon report. Did Naruto fall in battle? More importantly, how in the world did Naruto get defeated? The whole point of the decades-long saga, after all, was to prove that Naruto, though outmatched at times, never gives up without putting up a fight. By the time Shippuden ended, Naruto was nigh-unbeatable, with his final battle against his friend and rival, Sasuke, being quite literally a clash of the titans of the ninja world.

Thus, it was unsurprising that numerous fans reacted quite strongly to the flash forward in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Episode 1. If the producers of the new anime would make the legendary Naruto fall in battle as a means to establish the strength of Boruto’s rival, it would not only be a slap in the face of the franchise as a whole, it would be an immense disrespect to longtime fans of the series as well. While Naruto’s death would no doubt be enough to push Boruto to get more motivated, such a plot development would be downright cliche and ineffective.

It is important to take note that at this point, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is practically pursuing a plot all on its own. While a Boruto manga is currently ongoing, its progress is simply not fast enough to warrant a faithful adaptation of the story’s canon. Even then, it should be noted that the Boruto manga is not created by Masashi Kishimoto anymore. Instead, the critically-acclaimed author simply serves as an adviser to the writers of the new manga. With this in mind, the new Boruto anime would be traversing uncharted waters all on its own.

Original anime stories that are based off an existing franchise could work. Plot-heavy series such as Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is a perfect example of this, as the recently-concluded mecha series proved independent enough to stand on its own while giving enough nods to the classic Gundam franchise. Boruto: Naruto Next Generations has every chance to accomplish the same thing, as it is pursuing an independent plot. It just has to be careful enough not to allow too many liberties to its story, to the point where it disregards the legacy of the original anime.

[Featured Image by Studio Pierrot]