Look, at this point, everyone has a problem with Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. That is just something I’ve realized from being an OG Naruto and Naruto Shippuden fan over the years. And there are a lot of controversies, with whatever critique you pick up regarding the anime. But something I think everyone can agree with is how much they hated the character designs of some of the original cast in this sequel. Yup, this is the article where I complain about adult Naruto and his hair.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is a point of contention for several reasons. Whether you bring up how it nerfed God-level characters just to give the newer cast something to bounce off. Or how the writers ruined the narrative arcs of some characters entirely. I won’t go as far as to say this sequel was a mistake. But at the same time, you can see where the interest of the writers lies. And it was certainly not in creating an authentic experience for long-time fans.
Say what you will, but good character design matters. It’s why characters like Killer Bee, Itachi Uchiha, and Tsunade Senju are so memorable. There have defining traits that set them apart in a fast-paced Shonen with very little time to give to detailing. Fans grow attached to these characters, so any growth or development that doesn’t suit them is instantly picked up and scrutinized. This is exactly what happened with Naruto Uzumaki and his god-awful haircut.
Look, this is not my first time whining about something Boruto did wrong. We’ve done it before when discussing how dirty the writers did Sasuke Uchiha. And while this may be a petty issue, it matters to the fans. What could lead the creators to take a character as iconic as Naruto Uzumaki, and give him the opposite of a glow-up? Let’s try breaking this down!
We Saw It Coming Before Boruto
You know, in hindsight, we all knew this was going to happen. Fangirls deluded themselves into thinking that Naruto would grow up to look like his father, Minato Namikaze aka the hottest dad in the franchise but nope. The signs were already there.
Because we’ve seen this hair before, in The Last: Naruto the Movie (yes, the movie that exists solely to give NaruHina concrete ground). In this movie, fans got to see a more grown-up Naruto after the 4th Shinobi War, and boy, was it a trip. The wild blonde spikes that gave Naruto his boyish charm were replaced by what can only be described as a ‘buzzcut from hell’, and just plain ugly. Like, you’re telling me the future Hokage of Konohagakure went around looking like that? Just saying that if I was Hinata Hyuuga, I might’ve taken my chances with the weird Moon alien that kidnapped me aka Toneri Ōtsutsuki.
And I wasn’t the only one angry here. Fans complained about this new look the moment the movie came out but clearly, the designers didn’t hear anything since they stuck with that Naruto hair design going forward.
A More Mature Naruto For New Fans?
Another theory that many have for the more ‘sensible’ hairstyle is that the creators wanted Naruto and his hair to appear more mature. As he is now both the leader of the Hidden Leaf Village and a devoted husband and father to his family, his old look wasn’t befitting his new position. So, he needed to look more well-kept and polished.
This is a flimsy excuse, in my opinion. Shikamaru Nara, Ino Yamanaka, and Sakura Haruno have also grown up alongside Naruto, but their character design didn’t suffer the same setbacks. These are recurrent characters from Shippuden that also show up in Boruto, aged up with new responsibilities. But they still carry the essence of what made them so recognizable.
Even Sasuke, with his toned-down clothing and bangs, looks more authentic to his character than Naruto and his terrible hair. Which is saying something.
Naruto: Like Father, (Not) Like Son
Or maybe, we were right with the fangirls. Maybe it’s because we expected Naruto to follow in his father’s footsteps, that Masashi Kishimoto, the mangaka, decided to make Naruto stand out from under Minato’s shadow.
It makes sense for Naruto to not want to be confused for his father, who was the famed Yodaime that saved the village from Kurama, by sealing it in a then-infant Naruto. He does look a lot like his father, after all. So maybe that’s why he decided to change the likeness with a haircut.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Naruto loves his father. But Naruto did always want to pave his own path to Hokage-dom. Changing his style and appearance is one way to do it, making himself distinguishable from those that came before him.
There are plenty of reasons Kishimoto when with the stylistic choices he did. Maybe they were symbolic, maybe they were just aesthetic reasons. Or maybe it’s the Hidden Village Leader Curse™ considering Gaara of Sunagakure suffered the same bad hair fate. But sadly, it’s what we’re stuck with!