Why Naruto Is So Much Weaker As An Adult
Naruto Uzumaki ended his eponymous anime series as the strongest ninja in the world, but his skills have weakened in adulthood. Why is that?
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Naruto achieved phenomenal power over the course of Masashi Kishimoto’s anime and manga series, so why is he so much weaker in the Boruto sequel? When the Naruto story began in 1997, the enthusiastic ninja was firmly rooted at the bottom of his class, proficient at turning himself into a naked woman but unable to conjure the single clone required to graduate from Konoha’s training academy. Very gradually, Naruto Uzumaki was able to overcome his weaknesses. Through a mixture of hard work, determination and friendship (and an immensely powerful demon fox hiding inside his stomach), Naruto turned into the world’s strongest ninja. By the final chapter, Naruto narrowly bested his longtime rival Sasuke to prove his strength and complete his journey.
The story picks up approximately 15 years later when Naruto is the Hokage of Konoha village and has a family of his own, including a son taking his first steps as a professional ninja. Boruto: Naruto Next Generations focuses largely on Naruto’s eldest child and the new crop of youngsters protecting Konoha, most of whom are the offspring of characters from the original series. Fans might naturally expect that Naruto’s power has grown during this time. Not only is he now the Hokage, but Naruto has had an extra 15 years to train, hone his techniques and become even stronger. Given how much Naruto progressed during his teenage years, he should’ve become an even more renowned ninja by his thirties.
Sadly, this isn’t the case, and Naruto actually becomes weaker during the interim before Boruto begins. In The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, Naruto faces off against Shin, a former experiment of Orochimaru’s now seeking revenge. After taking damage in the fight, both Kurama and Sasuke point out that Naruto has lost his edge, which the Hokage himself acknowledges. In the Boruto manga, Naruto goes on to have a labored fight with Kara member Delta, before losing to Jigen and being captured, despite fighting side by side with Sasuke. Although it’s impossible to get a full read on Jigen/Isshiki’s power at this stage, he was seemingly fearful of Kaguya, who Naruto and Sasuke defeated back in the day.
There are two main in-story reasons for Naruto’s relative lack of strength in the Boruto sequel series. The first is that Naruto simply got rusty, as pointed out by Kurama in no uncertain terms. During his teens, Naruto would train, partake in missions, and eat ramen. He was motivated by the ambitious goal of becoming Hokage and had little else to do but get stronger. As an adult, Naruto shoulders many more responsibilities. The admin work of a Hokage takes up most of his time, and Boruto has already explored how Naruto has neglected his family somewhat. Naruto’s goal as Hokage is to protect the village, and this involves more than just learning new moves. Secondly, the ninja world is currently in an era of peace, which has made the villages weaker in general. One of the running themes in Boruto is how the new generation aren’t as skilled as the old guard without a war to fight, and by the time Shin appears, Naruto hasn’t had a good scrap in years.
However, there are also two real-world reasons for Naruto’s decline. Most importantly, Naruto is no longer the protagonist of his own story – Boruto is. As the Seventh Hokage, Naruto is a supporting character, and it isn’t the sequel’s job to make “Boruto’s dad” stronger. With his young son taking center stage, Naruto’s role now is to get captured, have close fights and facilitate Boruto’s story, rather than his own. On a similarly practical level, both Naruto and Sasuke were inconveniently strong at the climax of the original series. Attaining such grandiose abilities made for an impressive battle against Kaguya, but it’s not exactly conducive to a further stories. Naruto’s strength had to be toned down, otherwise there would be no point building his son up as Konoha’s next great hero.
Even though Naruto Uzumaki’s power has taken a hit as an adult, that’s only relative to his own incredibly high level. Naruto is still a powerhouse of a ninja, unmatched among his peers, and his main problem as a grown-up seems to be nothing more than ring-rust. With less paperwork on his desk and more enemies at his door, Naruto could recapture his former glories yet.