(Spoilers ahead for both the Boruto: Naruto Next Generations manga and anime)
The anime and manga for Boruto: Naruto Next Generations are in the middle of two drastically different storylines. The most recent episode came out last Sunday and the most recent chapter (36) came out last Friday. One is much more exciting
In the anime, Konohamaru Sarutobe, ninja sensei in charge of team 7, is crushing on a newly introduced character, Lemon. But there is a barrier keeping them apart. She is marrying another man. In the manga, Naruto is about to fight the powerful and mysterious Jigen, who infiltrated Konoha to take Kawaki, who is practically Naruto Uzumaki’s adopted son.
The manga is relentlessly pushing the main plot forward, which is centered around the boy Kawaki. Even more so than Boruto, the titular character.
Kawaki has yet to be introduced in the anime, but when he does, we can all rejoice. Kawaki’s introduction will hopefully mean an end to the stupid canon episodes that are remarkably similar to fillers. Kawaki is the key to getting the anime back on track. It does have some awesome fight scenes, so mix that with the great storytelling of the manga and we’re golden. Kawaki is the standout character of the manga and he has developed into the most fascinating character.
Don’t get me wrong. Boruto has a lot of great moments in the series and has grown as a character. This is mainly about his relationship with his father, Naruto, and his acceptance of a new technology-driven ninja world.
His karma mark also makes him tightly connected to the main plotline since Kawaki shares the same mark. It’s Kawaki though that advanced the storyline featuring the karma. For those who don’t know, the karma is a mysterious mark that Momoshiki (villain related to the big bad of Naruto Shippuden) placed on Boruto’s hand. This mark is a mystery but clearly has immense power and importance. When Kawaki shows up with the same mark, the plot moves forward. In essence, Kawaki brought back some much-needed mystery into the series. His complicated history and mindset have readers questioning his motivations while feeling sorry for him. It’s all triggered by the knowledge that Kawaki will bring devastation to Konoha (The Hidden Leaf Village).
Let’s go back to the beginning. Boruto is standing on the Hokage stone faces, above a city in ruins. He is about to battle a man who supposedly killed Naruto (the most powerful ninja in the world and one of the most famous anime characters). That man is Kawaki.
Long before this though, Konohamaru and his team find an unconscious Kawaki. The organization known as Kara is hunting Kawaki because he is a vessel of some sort. The main big bad of Kara, Jigen, made and raised Kawaki. Kawaki’s backstory is still clouded with mystery, but he was simply a test subject. He never had any friends or a proper childhood. Now he is forced to live a life with an unwanted mark with uncontrollable powers.
Naruto feels empathy for the kid and decides to protect him no matter what. He adopts him into his family and is kind and friendly to him. Naruto can relate in some ways. He, too, had a bad childhood. Most people will know the scene with Naruto sitting on a swing with everyone avoiding him. Naruto had a literal beast inside of him, which segregated him from the rest of the village. This history encourages Naruto to show compassion for Kawaki.
A kid with a mysterious power. A kid with no friends. Again, Naruto can relate.
Of course, when Kawaki first inters into the Uzumaki family, he is a bit rough around the edges. He is mean, quiet and smart. It makes sense for someone who has been sheltered his whole life and living with an evil organization.
His transformation is astounding though. Naruto shows him what it’s like to have a family. Kawaki feels love for the first time. His friendship with Boruto grows immensely. Kawaki finally escaped his terrible life, at least for now.
His character development is symbolized in a broken vase. Kawaki got in a bit of a squabble with Naruto that ended in Himawara’s (Naruto’s daughter) vase (a gift) getting broken. Kawaki could care less. He never cared for anyone and does not realize the meaning behind a gift.
That Kawaki is transformed into someone who is obsessing over trying to fix the vase. The one missing piece is driving him crazy. He broke something his friend loved and he is trying to fix it. It is a big change for his character. It’s the perfect illustration of how friendship can change someone’s life.
Not to mention, when Naruto is attacked by Jigen, Kawaki protects Naruto. Kawaki is going against his old father in favor of his adopted father. It’s an illustration of dropping his old life for a better one.
Kawaki’s transformation is the perfect illustration that friendship can change lives for the better. He is clearly the character with the most growth and the best story.
All of this positive talk about Kawaki comes with a downside though. Any Naruto fan can’t forget the fast forward scene mentioned above (it’s important to note that it is unclear what actually happens to Naruto and Konoha in the future. I’m just taking the fast forward at face value).
This beloved character will play a part in the downfall of Konoha and Naruto. How does Kawaki get to this point – becoming the bad guy after so much positive character growth? That and the karma mark is one of the main questions driving the manga.
A heartbreaking betrayal is foreshadowed in Kawaki. This betrayal seems unimaginable after the character growth mentioned above. That’s what makes Kawaki so interesting. He is the emotional center of the series.
Let’s hope that Kawaki’s foreshadowed betrayal is done well and fits with the character growth he received so far. It is unknown how it will happen. There are a lot of interesting questions in the Boruto series right now. One thing is for sure though: Kawaki’s character will be the central emotional attachment for readers.