Why Sarada Would Be a Better Hokage Than Borutoby Amy McNulty,
The original Naruto series stars a young boy with a big dream—the epitome of the Shonen Jump hero. Despite his rambunctious nature and lack of book smarts, Naruto Uzumaki longs to become his village's leader, the Hidden Leaf's Hokage. For Naruto, it's not just a lofty dream, it's a way to achieve the respect he's been denied since his parents sealed Kurama the Nine-Tails inside him at birth. Little does he know that to become Hokage and gain the admiration of his fellow villagers, he first needs to earn the respect of those villagers to garner their faith in his abilities. Through grit, determination, optimism, and loads of potential thanks to the fox spirit within him, Naruto saves his village more than once and goes on to save the world. By the time of relative peace during his son Boruto's childhood, Naruto may be more overburdened with paperwork than putting his talents into action, but it's clear that Naruto has accomplished his dreams and earned the admiration of virtually everyone in the village.
Everyone but his own son, that is. When Naruto envisioned one day becoming the Hokage, he didn't focus too much on whether or not he'd have a family or what that family might think of his dream. Ever the supportive love interest, his wife Hinata doesn't seem to mind Naruto's absence, and their daughter Himawari is too young to feel hurt by her father's frequent absences. Prepubescent Boruto, however, is just the right age to notice how often his father is missing from family activities. Not having known a world of excessive violence or experienced his father's sorrow at being an orphan pariah as a child, Boruto has no perspective to appreciate having his father in his life at all—and he hates having to share him with the rest of the village. Thus, Boruto associates “Hokage” with negative things. Both Boruto and Naruto may have defaced Hokage Rock, but he did it for attention in general, even negative attention; Boruto does it for his father's attention alone.
While Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is aimed at a shonen-loving audience just like the series before it, its young star doesn't have big dreams. He has friends, a family, and a village to call home that's more accepting and technologically advanced than the one his father grew up in. The only thing missing from his life is his father's frequent presence—but he still has his father's love. There's nothing that sets him apart from any other kid other than being the son of a hero and famous leader. So far, he's lacking a dream of his own, and while most kids his age certainly don't have their lives planned out, the young heroes of shonen series should acquire their own goals.
There is one character in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations who has goals similar to those of Naruto and other shonen heroes—and that's the main heroine. Sarada Uchiha, daughter of Sasuke and Sakura, wants to be Hokage when she grows up. Although she has the consistent love and support of her mother, she's barely known her father her whole life—to the point where he doesn't even recognize her when they meet during the Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring arc. While Boruto feels abandoned by his father, Sarada actually has been—even if it's more out of his desire for atonement than any dislike toward his flesh and blood. True, Sarada doesn't experience the trauma of being ostracized by her peers and villagers, and she's more mature than Naruto ever was as a child, but like him, she is seeking to fill a hole in her life by following her goal. Even though she's appeared in the Boruto anime far less often than the titular hero, in some ways she makes more of a greater impact on the viewer than the main hero.
If Boruto: Naruto Next Generations follows the typical shonen series pattern, Boruto will be the one destined for great things. As the flash-forward at the beginning of the series indicates, he's going to have a rival and be viewed as someone strong enough to battle for causes greater than himself. However, this is the franchise that turned common shonen expectations on its head by ending the series after pairing the main character up with a secondary character who had a crush on him (Hyuga Hinata) instead of the primary female character that the protagonist had a crush on (Sakura). Boruto himself says he has no interest in being Hokage, so it's not impossible to imagine a conclusion where Sarada steps into the role instead and Boruto supports her. Perhaps the two will even get married, making the NaruxHina/SasuxSaku pairings more meaningful. Despite it being so early in the series, Sarada displays more characteristics that the Hokage might need, including:
There are Kage, like Tsunade, who've practically had the job thrust upon them, but it's a more heroic shonen trait for a character to have a goal and work toward it. Sarada has the motivation that Boruto doesn't.
True, Boruto is showing the aptitude to be better at basic ninjutsu than his father before him, but he doesn't have that extra special something his father possessed—the Tailed Beast inside him that provided him with boundless energy. Sarada may not have that, but she's one of only two (known) Uchiha left on the entire planet, one of the only people capable of one day inheriting her father's unique strength, power to rival Naruto's without the extra advantage of a Tailed Beast. In some flash-forward stories, she also seems to have inherited or learned the skills behind her mother's super strength without employing medicine as one of her interests. Although medicine is definitely a noble pursuit, Sakura and Tsunade's medical specialization almost overshadows their extreme strength, whereas a character who's free not to focus on hanging back in case other ninja require medical attention can put that strength to offensive use more often than not.
While Naruto wasn't the most respectful child, he still revered the office of Hokage beneath his pranks. Boruto has no such extra layer hidden beneath his cries for attention. He admires Sasuke instead, wishing to emulate the man's strength-in-the-shadows lifestyle. Sarada respects and admires Naruto and everything he does for the village. She sees the greater good in his work, both in the everyday grind that's necessary to lead a village and in the strength he displays when he needs to defend his people from an assault.
Naruto certainly demonstrates that intellect is not a prerequisite for leadership in the Hidden Leaf, as long as there's a smart person helping out behind the scenes, but intelligence can make a strong leader go further. Sarada has the book smarts that Boruto has no interest in cultivating and the desire to learn from history. Boruto hasn't even bothered to read up on his world's history, as revealed during his class' field trip to the Hidden Mist Village.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations has just begun, and whether it lasts as long as its predecessor or not, it's safe to say that there's still a lot of story to come. But even this early on, it's clear that Sarada is the better candidate for future Hokage. Perhaps Boruto will mature and change his mind or another character will rise to overtake Sarada's potential, but for now, Sarada might just be the first Uchiha to lay claim to the title.
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