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What Is Naruto's 'Goblin Mode' And Why Did It Enrage Boruto Fans?

Since its debut in 1999, "Naruto," by Masashi Kishimoto, has captivated audiences of all ages with its incredible storylines, unforgettable characters, and dynamic artwork. With every movie, game, and spin-off, including "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations," it is clear that the legacy of "Naruto" will continue to grow for years to come. Though "Boruto" has done well — with 20 volumes and counting, and nearly 300 episodes — not everyone welcomed Naruto's son with open arms, and some found "Boruto" to be riddled with big letdowns and poor animation.

Though the anime has been on since 2017, viewers still look at the series with a critical eye and believe the animation isn't up to par with the original "Naruto." One of the most recent complaints comes from how Naruto is drawn in Episode 287. This animation screw-up, which fans have dubbed Naruto's "goblin mode," has been a topic of discussion since the episode aired, with some believing that it does a disservice to the ninja we all know and love. 

Naruto looks like a goblin

The term "goblin mode" can represent several things. Oxford's Word of the Year in 2022, which became popular during COVID-19, means rejecting societal expectations, even at the expense of one's self-image. It encourages you to be your weirdest self on a date, go out in public wearing the grungiest sweats to run errands, or even make a snack out of whatever you can find in your fridge — while in your underwear in the middle of the night. In short, goblin mode is about rejecting aesthetics and embracing your baser instincts.

Though Naruto takes his job as Hokage very seriously and is a model figure in society, he certainly doesn't look like one in Episode 287. With his wide face, deep frown, and bizarrely pointed ears, he looks like he has become a goblin in his own right. Redditor u/Chiffon13 asked, "My God, what have they done to you Naruto[?]" in response to the fiasco. They even pointed out the beautiful animation the studio created for the antagonist, Ada, while it sidelined the man who helped set the "Naruto" parent series apart from other anime. 

Despite the upset over Naruto's appearance, fans have embraced the memes that have been made. One tweet asked if goblin Naruto would win in a fight against Ultra Instinct Goku, and another tweet even implied that Naruto's new look is a result of marrying Hinata.