‘Boruto: Naruto Next Generations’: Quality Anime or Cash Grab?

Lucas DeRuyter
TV Anime
TV Anime

There are plenty of shows that every anime fan wishes went on for a few more episodes. One of the worst things about anime like Cowboy Bebop, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is that they ended and we could no longer go on amazing adventures with characters that we had come to love and hold dear.

Despite the filler and weak endings, Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden had an incredibly vast universe that begged for more episodes. That’s why fans around the world were ecstatic when Boruto: Naruto Next Generations was announced, and their adventures in this incredible ninja universe would continue.

However, now that the first season of Boruto has come to a close, it seems more like it was just an attempt for the studios to cash in on the nostalgia and appreciation fans had for the series than a genuine exploration of the expansive world and unique characters we’d grown to love.

Cutting Corners and Costs

Simple designs make it easier -- and cheaper -- to animate.

It was obvious from the get-go that almost every aspect of Boruto was designed to make money for the studio. Every character, including Boruto, has a simple design with a minimal use of colors and patterns. This is a stark and disappointing departure from the unique and charming character designs of the original Naruto cast.

The motivation behind this change is likely to be that more basic designs allow for quicker and cheaper animation. These more simplistic designs also make it much more cost-effective to make and sell merchandise featuring these characters.

Weak, Bland Storytelling

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Bland and inconsequential stories of ninja middle school plague the 'Boruto' spin-off series.

The Boruto: Naruto Next Generations story is bland and unoriginal compared to the story of Naruto — or really any anime for that matter. In the spin-off anime, there is apparently some prophesy that Boruto is meant to defeat some unknown evil at some point in his life. We have no idea what that evil is or what it’s trying to do as they only mention it a few times. The rest of the show is a series of loosely connected events that usually wraps up within the episode and has no lasting consequences. Essentially, it’s the adventures of Ninja middle school.

Why write something new and interesting when you can recycle cliched anime tropes and fall back on Naruto‘s success? Boruto isn’t trying to do something unique or creative. We challenge the writers to break these tropes and win back fans with solid storytelling.

All Filler, No Killer

Boruto

By turning the series into a profit machine and riding on Naruto’s coattails, Boruto retroactively makes the original show worse. Rather than the best parts of the original anime inspiring the spin-off, Boruto‘s aimless storylines and bland narratives have more in common with Naruto’s infamous filler arcs. Those aren’t what fans came for, and it’s disappointing that the new show reminds its audience of the weakest moments of a great anime series.

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Metal Lee, the best thing about the whole spin-off anime.

The only genuinely good thing to say about this anime is that fan favorite, Rock Lee has a son named Metal Lee. This is as hilarious as it is cute.

With an unearned second season undoubtedly on the way, hopefully, the spin-off will evolve into something with at least half of the passion and soul of the original. Otherwise, Boruto is just cashing in on the loyal fans who fell in love with Naruto’s wonder and style.

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Lucas DeRuyter
University of Wisconsin Madison graduate with a deep interest in media, writing, and storytelling.