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Maile Flanagan Approached Naruto's Character In Boruto With More Emotional Maturity

"Naruto" made its debut in 2002, and quickly ninja ran to the top of the anime world. The only thing more staggering than the number of Shadow Clones the plucky ninja has produced is the total number of episodes from the series. Between the "Naruto" anime and its follow-up "Shippuden," there are over 700 plus episodes. That's a lot of thrilling ninja action, even though a healthy portion of it is filler episodes. But everything comes to an end, and in 2017, the main story of Naruto finally concluded with the last episode of "Shippuden." However, it wouldn't be the last we'd ever see of the character. Today, Naruto is still around, but the spotlight is now on his son in "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations."

Fans have witnessed Naruto grow from a teenage student to the adult hero of his village. And Maile Flanagan, who has voiced Naruto in the anime's English dubs since the beginning, has been there along the way. Flanagan has found herself in the unique position of voicing the same cartoon character that's been allowed to grow up over time. And to reflect Naruto's growth in "Boruto," the actor revealed that she had to approach the character with more emotional maturity compared to the past.

Flanagan made an effort to sound sterner as adult Naruto

Although visibly older, Naruto still looked recognizable in "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations." Even while acting as Konoha's Seventh Hokage, the ninja still sported his blonde hair, blue eyes, and orange outfit. Yet when it comes to his personality, it's clear that the responsibilities of leading a village and having a family have mellowed the hero out significantly. In "Boruto," Naruto is a wiser and more mature character than in his younger glory days. And while speaking with Crunchyroll, the character's voice actor, Maile Flanagan, revealed her efforts in portraying the hero as an adult. 

"Well, I try and be a little more stern," Flanagan said to Crunchyroll. "A little more emotionally stern, I guess. A little more emotionally grounded. The first several episodes of 'Boruto,' not gonna lie, there was a lot of me lecturing. I was like, 'Is this how it is?' Then that stopped, and it got to be very adventuresome, fun, and interesting. I got to do some fighting again, which was fantastic. And some really emotional stuff."

Flanagan's delivery for the first part of the series indeed included its share of Naruto lecturing. Still, it was necessary as it showed off the complex relationship between Naruto and his son. Whether it was Boruto defacing Hokage Rock in the first episode or being caught cheating during the Chunin Exams later in the series, the young ninja acted out to get his father's attention, as Naruto was often neglectful toward his family. However, eventually, the two reach an understanding with each other.

Flanagan wants to see Boruto's growth and progress

Voicing such an iconic character for multiple decades has its share of benefits. In the case of Maile Flanagan with the Naruto franchise, it allowed the actor to see her character achieve their goals in "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations." At the same time, Naruto still gets a chance to learn and be better, especially in the area of parenthood. Yet when it comes to the concepts of growth and progress in "Boruto," Flanagan was more curious about another character besides the renowned hero she voices. While speaking to Viz, Flanagan noted that she was intrigued to see the potential of Boruto.

"I really want to see where Boruto goes because he's sort of like Naruto when Naruto was a kid, but he's got more strength, and he's got a supportive family around him," Flanagan said to Viz. "So I think he could become even more powerful than Naruto. That one I'm curious about."

For Flanagan to express wanting to see how the future unfolds for Boruto is more than fitting, considering she voices one of his parents. It's almost as if Naruto is speaking through her in a way. After all, what parent wouldn't want to see their child's potential unfold? As for Boruto, the sky is the limit for him to surpass his father in numerous ways. The character is exceptionally gifted to the point where the alien-like Ōtsutsuki Clan takes him seriously (via Narutopedia). And Naruto did recently experience a bit of a nerf in the series with his Baryon Mode Transformation.