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Naruto has a 20th anniversary screening

Naruto is returning to our screens with four new episodes. Now I know what you are thinking; Naruto is already on our screens. We get new episodes of Boruto: The Next Generation every week.

But let’s be honest; Boruto: The Next Generation is not Naruto. I won’t sit here and tell you that Boruto is trash. I watched roughly 55 episodes and I liked what I saw. The show had compelling characters, decent fights, and better animation than anything we ever saw in Naruto and Naruto Shippuden.

I stopped watching because...I don’t know. I just fell off. But I will catch up one of these days. Although, even at its best, Boruto had one glaring weakness: it was not Naruto. You can blame Masashi Kishimoto, who finished the original series and then chose Ukyo Kodachi to write the sequel as his successor.

Great writers have distinct signatures. Just look at Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru. You don’t need me to tell you that Kishimoto wrote it. You can see his traits in the art, the way the characters talk, the pacing of the story, and the choreography of the action.

We knew from the first chapter that Boruto had a new writer, one that could not quite capture the magic of the original series. The action alone was enough to tell you that Kishimoto was gone.

Naruto’s fight scenes are comparable to a game of chess, which is why most of them start with a shinobi throwing a kunai. No one ever wins by throwing a kunai. The move is a distraction, hiding the first of a long series of jutsus that won’t pay off for several minutes.

Every strike reveals a counterstrike, a concealed clone, a substitution technique waiting to trigger when you least expect it. With Boruto, the action usually descends into a conventional exchange of blows, a predictable flurry of kicks and punches.

Again, I disagree with people that call it trash, but the show is not Naruto. I suppose that explains the excitement surrounding Naruto’s 20th anniversary. For many of us, Naruto was the first anime we truly obsessed over.

If you discovered the anime in your early to mid-teens, Naruto stayed with you throughout your late teens and 20s. It played a pivotal role in your development, shaping your understanding of the world. Think about it.

You probably spent fifteen solid years tuning in for a new episode every single week, screaming yourself hoarse during the Chunin exams when Lee dropped his weights, cheering young Naruto Uzumaki on when he finally unleashed the first tail in that epic clash against young Sasuke, watching in awe as Sakura’s useless self dominated Sasori, grieving with Shikamaru when death claimed Asuma.

Depending on how old you were at the time, Jiraiya’s death ruined your entire week. The pervy sage was the first character death that rocked many of you. Every time you see a picture of teenage Naruto sitting on a bench, alone, a popsicle in hand, and no Jiraiya to share it with, you feel a lump in your throat because it takes you back to that dark day when the toad sage breathed his last.

Naruto matters to the anime community, and we will tune in this September for those four episodes. However, the original Naruto has the worst fillers in all of anime. If they bombard us with four episodes of Naruto and friends running after ninja ostriches (Yes, that was an actual episode), we shall riot.

mbjjnr8@gmail.com

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