Why Sasuke Retsuden does a better job at portraying Naruto than Boruto

Naruto during his teenage years and as an adult (Image via Masashi Kishimoto/Shueisha)
Naruto during his teenage years and as an adult (Image via Masashi Kishimoto/Shueisha)

The Sasuke Retsuden manga has taken Naruto fans by storm, due to its focus on the original deuteragonist, Sasuke Uchiha, and Masashi Kishimoto's familiar art style. Surprisingly, most fans unanimously decided that Naruto's portrayal in the light novel and its manga adaptation is superior to how he has been shown in the Boruto series. This article compares Naruto's appearance in both stories to determine where the difference lies.

Disclaimer: This article takes into account the author's personal opinions and contains spoilers for the Naruto, Boruto, and Sasuke Retsuden manga.


Comparing Naruto's portrayal in Sasuke Retsuden and Boruto

How Sasuke Retsuden depicts Naruto

Although the main character of Sasuke Retsuden is Sasuke, the story begins with his quest to find a cure for Naruto's chakra illness. Interestingly, the first panel of the manga shows him running after Sasuke, asking if the latter was heading to Redaku. The scene is very similar to the Uchiha's departure from Konoha village in the pre-Shippuden era Naruto, when Sakura had followed him to the village gates, begging him to stay.

The same chapter also shows Naruto having spasms and difficulty breathing due to his illness but still putting up a brave face when a concerned Shikamaru asks him what's wrong. Although the Seventh Hokage gets very little exposure in the manga, his personality and mannerisms retain the innate sense of impulsivity that older fans associate with Naruto.

Sasuke fights Meno (Image via Jun Esaka/Shueisha)
Sasuke fights Meno (Image via Jun Esaka/Shueisha)

The light novel, written by Jun Esaka, was initially published in 2016. The author declared on Twitter that the original Naruto manga was the source material for several spin-off novels associated with the franchise. This suggests that Esaka attempted to keep Naruto's character as close as possible to Kishimoto's original portrayal of the character.

The manga's art style also contributes significantly to how Naruto appears in Sasuke Retsuden. Masashi Kishimoto himself is illustrating the light novel, giving the manga adaptation a stylistic similarity to the original series. The familiar art style makes the characters feel nostalgic for older fans, leading them to prefer Naruto's appearance in the spin-off manga over the Boruto series.


Naruto in the Boruto series

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Naruto and Sasuke were undoubtedly two of the most powerful characters in the original Naruto series. The Boruto manga drastically weakened Naruto and Sasuke, shifting the focus from the older generation to newer protagonists. Although he retained the Sage of Six Paths, Kurama's death made Naruto a shadow of his earlier self.

Similarly, the destruction of Sasuke's Rinnegan solidified his position as a supporting "mentor" in Boruto. Many older fans were disappointed by this development, preferring light novels like Sasuke Retsuden, where the original duo retained their earlier power levels. Many fans also expressed disappointment with adult Naruto's character design in the Boruto manga.

Naruto's design in Boruto but with Shippuden color palette (Image via Masashi Kishimoto/Posted by u/Leaf_Art)
Naruto's design in Boruto but with Shippuden color palette (Image via Masashi Kishimoto/Posted by u/Leaf_Art)

The technologically advanced, modern ambiance of the Boruto universe, coupled with Mikio Ikemoto's art style being distinctly different from Kishimoto's, alienated older fans. Many readers felt that both the art style and Naruto's character development in Boruto made him boring as well since he no longer seemed to possess the unwavering determination from his youth that made him a beloved shonen protagonist.


Final thoughts

Possibly the biggest reason why many fans consider Naruto's portrayal in Sasuke Retsuden superior to Boruto is the nostalgia related to the original Naruto series. Most spin-off novels like Itachi Shinden, Kakashi Hiden, and Shikamaru Hiden, among others, focus on certain events in the lives of notable characters from the original Naruto series.

Since the Boruto manga prioritizes the newer generation and their struggles, older characters often suffer particular neglect and end up with inconsistencies in their behaviors and actions. Naruto has suffered a similar fate in the Boruto series, prompting many to choose the Sasuke-centric spin-off manga over the story of the younger Uzumaki.