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Boruto: Naruto Finally Does the One Thing He's Always Avoided

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Boruto #34 from Ukyō Kodachi and Mikio Ikemotoon, on sale now.

Uzumaki Naruto has become a pop culture icon, growing from a manga and anime sensation in Japan to a global phenomenon. As you might expect, despite the franchise's ensemble cast, it's the titular shinobi most people have connected to, due to his resilience and all the hard work he put into his journey to fulfill to his childhood ambition of becoming the leader of Konoha.

While he's done well, moving from the Naruto franchise into the Boruto series, Naruto is now undertaking his greatest mission, ever. We've seen him fight through numerous opponents and succeed at tasks of the highest order, but now, nothing compares to him trying to fit into his role as mentor and sensei to Kawaki -- a role he's always feared.

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Most of the elite ninjas have gone on to become teachers of the new generation, such as Sasuke, for example, who's tutoring Boruto. It's a staple of Konoha, with the best training the future warriors at some point. It's something Kakashi did for Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura, and we've seen Naruto learning from the likes of Jiraiya. But while this rite of passage usually leads to students becoming teachers decades later, it's something that's never really been a goal of Naruto's.

When it comes to his daughter Himawari, he prefers to let his wife, Hinata, and her family, the Hyuga clan, act as mentors. Naruto, in short, has always shirked this particular responsibility. He simply doesn't believe he's mature enough for the job, but the fact he graduated to the Hokage position says otherwise. While most expected at some point he'd wise up and become Boruto's senior adviser, Naruto makes it clear he's stepping into this role for Kawaki, not just because the boy asked him to, but because he sees an at-risk youth in need of a father.

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Naruto knows the boy is a weapon of mass destruction, and if left unchecked, he could turn into a serious villain like Sasuke -- something the franchise has already teased, with a time-jump hinting Naruto fails and Kawaki ends up breaking bad. Nonetheless, Naruto sees Kawaki's precarious position, and knowing how Kakashi took Sasuke under his wing, how Jiraiya became a father-esque figure to him, and how Minato (Naruto's dad) looked after the likes of Obito and Kakashi, it's just the right thing to do. It helps that Naruto really does care for Kawaki, seeing bits of himself in the young man; this, in fact, is a large part of why he even lends him chakra to recover from losing an arm.

It's a logical move, since Naruto has adopted Kawaki into his home, thus allowing him to monitor the boy's progress as Naruto knows his "Karma" mark -- engineered by the vicious Kara terrorist group -- is something he needs to keep close to the village so they can further understand the power it grants. After all, he doesn't want the boy to become an outcast like he was when he had the Nine Tails beast, Kurama, stuck in him as a child.

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Of course, there is drama to be found in this development. Boruto is cognizant Naruto never did this for him, and has already displayed the beginnings of a slight chip on his shoulder. That said, Naruto knows failure to groom Kawaki might doom the ninja world, and he's willing to risk his relationship with his son for the greater good. Kawaki has a tremendous amount of power for a teenager, and Naruto doesn't want to let him slip through the cracks like Sasuke did decades before. Exactly how their bond becomes fractured, well, that's a story yet to be told, but it's obvious Boruto is going to be keeping a close eye on things, anticipating them going awry before too long.

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