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Boruto: Naruto Next Generations [Episodes 1-13]

Some years after the end of the last Great Ninja War, the Village Of The Hidden Leaf is living in peace under Seventh Hokage Naruto Uzumaki. Boruto Uzumaki, the son of Naruto and Hinata is just about to enrol at the Ninja Academy. However, when a mysterious force that seemingly only Boruto can see starts making villagers turn violent- he decides to take things into his own hands.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is the sequel series to Masashi Kishimoto's hugely popular Naruto and Naruto Shippuden. The TV series takes place before the events of the earlier movie Boruto: Naruto The Movie. The series is produced by Studio Pierrot and directed by Noriyuki Abe and began airing and streaming in April of 2017.

Sequel series such as this have a tricky line to walk. They need to try to live up to the original but also try to forge their own path. Can they please fans of the original and newcomers alike?

The good news is that Boruto the series is off to a pretty solid start. It definitely helps that it had the solid foundation of the characters and setting created by Kishimoto. As established in the Borotu Movie, the extended period of peace has allowed the Ninja world to advance. The Hidden Leaf now has a train system, TV and videogames (whereas we only saw books in the original series).

The original young cast are all grown up now, and their ageing up is done really well and believably- both in looks and personality (although it feels a little strange that Naruto's voice sounds exactly the same).

The young cast too feel like they have enough personality of their own to seem like more than just mini-me versions of the originals. At this stage in precedings, there hasn't been a great deal of screentime for anyone else but Boruto himself but the new generation seem like a fitting lot to inherit the saga.

Boruto himself has a lot of similarities with his Dad (plus a few skills from his Mum) but also a number of key differences. While young Naruto was notorious for all the wrong reasons, Boruto has grown up as the son of the Hokage- who was also a war hero. So while as a kid Naruto was an outcast determined to become Hokage to prove everyone wrong, Boruto wants to be free from his father's shadow. His desire to break out on his own and forge an identity separate from his Father's is a strong starting point that makes him a more sympathetic lead.

In reality though, taking the series back to Ninja Academy means there's a lot of similarities with Naruto's early days. Veteran fans will find a lot of it to be very familiar. If you're the kind of fan who craves more of the same this will be a good thing, but for others expecting something fresher it might be a tad disappointing.

Outside the school stuff, the mystery surrounding 'The Ghost' turning peaceful people violent is a compelling one. It adds some higher stakes to the whole affair and a fun who-dunnit style investigation. It also (of course) is an excuse to show some of the flashily animated fighting sequences for which the franchise is rightly famous. And they are a flashily animated and well-choreographed as ever here.

The series also looks excellent. It looks true to the original series, while also having something of a fresh, brightly coloured and more modern visual style. Studio Pierrot have pulled out all the stops to make sure their flagship show looks as good as it can.

If the series feels pretty familiar for old hands what about for newbies? The series is definitely welcoming for newcomers. Although the series has extra depths for veterans, you certainly don't need to have seen any of the past series, or even The Boruto movie. There will be a whole new generation of fans for who this will be completely new, and for them, you can probably add an extra star.

For a long running series such as this, it typically takes a while for it to find its feet. At this stage, we don't really know which characters are going to be important. Even bearing that in mind, this is a strong start made by masters of their craft.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is hardly going to win any prizes for originality, and it's not going to revolutionize Shonen anime. But if Naruto Shippuden has left a ninja-shaped hole in your life then Boruto might just be the series to fill it.

FORMAT: DVD/ Blu-Ray/Streaming  FROM: Manga Entertainment/ Viz  RATING:12/15/[UK] RUNNING TIME : 13 Episodes 

IN A NUTSHELL: An extremely accomplished debut for the next generation of ninjas.

*Review discs provided by Manga Entertainment*