Contains spoilers for Boruto chapter #72
Boruto has been trying to introduce something very similar to the relationship between Naruto and Kurama that contributed to making its predecessor Naruto so popular. However, the dynamic between Boruto and Momoshiki Otsutsuki fails to impress, and looks like a forced callback to one of Naruto‘s key elements.
In Naruto, a chakra spirit resembling a nine-tailed fox, called Kurama, is imprisoned inside the body of a newborn, who will grow up to become the series’ protagonist. Naruto’s parents and many others were killed by the rampaging monster before it could be stopped, and as the host of that powerful and dangerous creature, Naruto grew up surrounded by the fear and mistrust of his fellow villagers, to the point that conquering their respect and friendship was one of the main goals of his life. Over time, Naruto also managed to establish contact with Kurama, first to draw upon its immense strength, and then becoming actual friends with the fox. While this is a classic story seen many times in shonen manga, it was very effective and contributed to Naruto‘s popularity.
The sequel Boruto, which follows the adventures of Naruto’s son, has been trying to establish a very similar dynamic. A villain called Momoshiki, before being killed, infests Boruto’s body with karma, a technique that overwrites his DNA over that of the victim, turning them into a new Momoshiki over time. Boruto was able to stop the process by getting killed and resurrected, however, chapter #72 of Boruto confirms that Momoshiki’s consciousness is still inside his body. The two have a dialogue that is reminiscent of Naruto and Kurama’s early relationship, when the nine-tailed fox was trying to trick its host into surrendering to rage and pain, in order to take over his body.
Naruto is one of the most successful manga of all time, so some degree of imitation from its sequel has to be expected. However, the series has been struggling to tell a story that is at the same time original and compelling. The presence of many major Naruto characters, including Naruto himself, has certainly not helped. The same can be said about Boruto‘s main villains, the Otsutsuki clan, who were the final antagonists in Naruto. The dynamic between Boruto and Momoshiki feels lackluster because the two lack the deep relationship that Naruto and Kurama had.
The nine-tailed fox influenced Naruto’s life since his birth, for bad and for good, and the bond they forged was proof that hatred and rancor can be overcome. Boruto and Momoshiki, on the other hand, are two complete strangers who share absolutely nothing, and it’s hard to imagine their relationship evolving into something more. Surely, Boruto can still reserve a lot of surprises in the future, but for now, the sequel’s version of Naruto and Kurama’s relationship is much worse.