Most popular shounen animes are not big on representing canonical LGBTQ+ characters, and the Naruto series was not alien to this fact. However, things changed quite considerably when Boruto came knocking, and the franchise has confirmed that the once-series antagonist Orochimaru is genderfluid.
Orochimaru has always been one of the most memorable antagonists in the series, as they were the first major villain that the narrative introduced. Their role in the destruction of the Hidden Leaf during the Chunin Exam arc was iconic, and Orochimaru soon cemented their position as one of the most monstrous and fearsome villains in anime history.
However, as the series progressed, the show nerfed Orochimaru's villainous nature quite considerably to the point where the once primary antagonist of the series is now one of the main benefactors of the Hidden Leaf and the series protagonist.
In Boruto, there is a fair bit of character development, and the ex-villain Orochimaru is now officially considered the only prominent character in Naruto who is genderfluid.
Orochimaru is the only prominent non-binary character in Naruto
Shounen anime generally suffers from a lack of queer representation when it comes to its characters. Most prominent characters do not fall under the LGBTQ+ spectrum, and in Naruto's case, the revelation of Orochimaru officially being genderfluid had a mixed bag of reception from non-binary fans- some feel this declaration is inadequate.
During their time as an antagonist, Orochimaru was obsessed with obtaining immortality by swapping bodies with powerful ninjas. Their pure genius and the arrogance that comes with it made them experiment with several children till they were caught and ex-communicated from the Leaf.
Their biggest plan was in Shippuden, where they wanted to swap bodies with both Sasuke and Itachi, however, the Uchiha brothers were able to prevent Orochimaru from taking over. Despite all their setbacks, Orochimaru never gave up and always made it a point to return from the dead to realize their plans and ambition.
Boruto started a new chapter for Orochimaru, and after making it to the end of Naruto unharmed, the new narrative introduced the former villain's clone/son, Mitsuki. Mitsuki has a sage mode in the series, and many in the community consider it to be even greater than the one Naruto has.
Boruto shows how despite all of their war crimes, Orochimaru has successfully changed their perception of life. While their raising of Mitsuki was questionable at times, the former antagonist is shown to care deeply about their son. This compassion was previously absent in the series.
Boruto's chapter 3.5 is when fans learn more about Orochimaru's gender identity as Mitsuki asked,
"Which are you? My mother or father?"
Orochimaru answered by stating that the question is irrelevant, and the former villain's gender identity as a parent is inconsequential.
In the anime, however, this scene goes a step further as Orichamu then states that they have appeared as both a man and a woman. Hence, to Orochimaru, gender is fluid, and the differentiation between a man and a woman is meaningless to the Sannin.
While many are happy that a shounen anime was able to introduce a non-binary character into the canon lore, the overall revelation of it received mixed feelings and remarks. Orochimaru's tag as a former villain and Akatsuki member complicates community feelings towards it. Although it was revealed in a way fans could have seldom imagined, the series could have done more concerning non-binary representation.