The 500-episode epic Naruto: Shippunden came to its end back in March, and devotees are still trying to come to terms with their sense of loss. The idea is that Boruto should keep fans engaged and continue the story in its own way, but the cover art on the upcoming January 2018 edition of Jump Giga magazine will have fans of an emotional disposition gnashing their teeth in anguish and crying “too soon, too soon.”
For anyone arriving late to the party, Naruto: Shippunden was adapted from part two of Masashi Kishimoto's epic manga series. Comprising precisely 500 episodes, it aired on TV Tokyo over a ten year period, from February 2007 to March 2017, and was broadcast internationally by a variety of means, typically one week behind Japan.
The early seasons were shown on Disney XD, while in recent years, Viz Media has streamed them to US audiences via assorted platforms. For the final three year run, Toonami aired episodes in uncut form from the beginning of 2004 up until the series ended.
The story followed the fortunes of an orphaned boy called Naruto Uzumaki. Shunned by his elders, he is determined that one day he will rise to the top in his village. The series accompanies Naruto on his long and difficult journey.
Gambling on a global phenomenon
The broadcasting medium is of critical importance here, as online streaming has brought anime in general and Naruto: Shippunden specifically to a wider audience than its creator could ever have dreamed possible. Just as casino or card playing enthusiasts can dip their toe into any of the sites at Casinosinuk.co.uk/live-black-jack, a global audience has been able to experience anime for the first time. Does Kishimoto realize that his gamble is on the heartstrings of a global audience rather than the turn of a card?
How does Boruto fit in?
To put it in extremely crude terms that will have devotees up in arms but will make sense to any newcomer, Boruto can be considered the Deep Space Nine to Naruto’s Star Trek. It is based in the same universe, and the eponymous Boruto is son of the original Naruto. The series is set an undefined period of time subsequent to the end of Naruto: Shippunden.
What’s the fuss about Jump Giga?
The January 2018 issue of Jump Giga is hitting the shelves right about now, and when the cover artwork was leaked in mid-November, it ruffled some feathers among anime fans, to put it mildly. The genie is out of the bottle now, so it is not breaking any confidences to explain why.
The cover features three of the long standing heroes from the Naruto universe standing in formation. Nothing unusual about that, but fans with long memories were quick to spot that the artwork, characters and poses bore a striking similarity to the artwork from Naruto Volume 2, which was published in Japan back in 2000.
Placing the two side by side, you have to take your hat off to Jump Giga for such a faithful recreation of an iconic moment from the original series. But for those who are still coming to terms with the fact that Naruto: Shippunden has finally reached its conclusion, it could be a little too much to bear.