I never read any of the original Naruto beyond its first volume. I enjoyed it, but it was one of those series that I just never got around to finishing. When the opportunity to review a volume of Boruto arose, I was curious to see how it compared to what I remembered of its parent series. Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Vol. 3 collects chapters 8-11, and the creative team consists of supervisor Masashi Kishimoto, artist Mikio Ikemoto, and scriptwriter Ukyo Kodachi. Does Boruto take the mythos in an interesting new direction? Is this volume good?
The first aspect of this volume that jumped out at me was its clean line-work. Ikemoto’s lines are thin and crisp, and they pack a solid amount of detail into panels without making them look too busy. The characters’ facial expressions are usually well-rendered, both in moments that call for over-the-top and subtle emotions. One of the best pages in the volume consists of nonverbal communication between Naruto and Boruto, where their reactions to one another’s expressions convey emotion more effectively than dialogue would have. Also visually impressive is the villain Momoshiki’s design; no one glancing through this volume could ever mistake him for a good guy.
My main qualm with the visuals is the design-work on the protagonists. Characters resembling their parents is logical, so it’s not surprising that a lot of the cast members have familiar faces. With that said, there’s still something to be said for finding ways to give visually similar characters distinguishing features. There are moments in this volume where I’m not sure who I’m looking at. Boruto’s resemblance to his father is one of the most striking, but the problem pops up with other characters as well. I also have major issues with most of the fight scenes. A lot of the action is unclear, and it’s hard to feel pumped about something when you can’t even tell what that thing is.
I also have major issues with the writing of this volume’s action sequences. It’s only volume three, but Boruto is already so strong that it’s difficult to imagine him getting stronger throughout the series without ascending to deus ex machina/godlike power levels. This volume also falls short when it comes to making me feel emotionally invested in who wins or loses battles. The main part of this volume’s writing that I do enjoy is how it conveys Boruto’s goals, which differ from from Naruto’s. The prospect of the child of famous heroes choosing not to follow in their parents’ footsteps is cool, and it makes me curious to see what will happen in future volumes.
Overall, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Vol. 3 is a solid but flawed volume. The line-work is impressively clean, Boruto deviates from his father in interesting ways, and Momoshiki has a cool design. On the downside, a lot of the other character designs lack unique flair, the action is frequently hard to decipher, and Boruto already feels overpowered. Nonetheless, this volume isn’t bad, and the series shows potential for future greatness.