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Wait... Did Naruto Just Die?

"Boruto: Naruto Next Generations" has entered a new era with the release of "Boruto: Two Blue Vortex," taking a page out of "Naruto: Shippuden" and jumping four years into the future. However, this new Konaha is a bit different, with Shikamaru serving as the Eighth Hokage, Boruto on the run for the murder of his father, and Naruto seemingly dead — but is he really?

The short answer is no, but don't expect to see the beloved Shinobi back in action anytime soon. In "Boruto" Chapter 77, Kawaki, Naruto's adopted son, enacts his longstanding plan to kill his brother Boruto. However, Naruto stands in his way, meaning Kawaki must get his adoptive father out of the picture before he can move on Boruto. Chapter 81, the beginning of "Two Blue Vortex," reveals that he uses Kāma Rift, a Space-Time Ninjutsu, on Naruto and Hinata, taking the two legendary shinobi by surprise and sending them to a timeless dimension where they reside, unconscious, until Kawaki chooses to release them.

So, while Naruto isn't dead, he likely won't play a significant role in "Two Blue Vortex" for quite some time. Outside of Kawaki being a nice guy, fans don't even know how the Seventh Hokage could escape his prison, but chances are, Boruto eventually finds a way to rescue his father. Unfortunately, until then, Naruto's abrupt disappearance made Konoha assume the worst about their Hokage, with a powerful jutsu convincing everyone that Bortuo is to blame rather than Kawaki.

What was Kawaki's motivation?

From the outside looking in, Kawaki suddenly turning on his adoptive family may seem like a drastic change of pace for the "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations" character. Ever since joining the Uzumaki household, Kawaki has seemingly had a strong relationship with his father and brother. However, his long-teased turn into a villain has one motivation behind it: love.

Kawaki loves Naruto, indebting himself to the Seventh Hokage for taking him in and giving his life meaning. He makes it clear that he'd do anything to protect Naruto, willing even to give up his own life, which makes him turn on his adoptive brother, Boruto. A long-running plot point in "Boruto" is that the titular shinobi has the spirit of Momoshiki Ōtsutsuki within him, communicating with Boruto and even taking control of his body occasionally. Kawaki, fearing that Momoshiki would eventually attack Naruto, decides the only way to keep the Seventh Hokage safe is to kill Boruto. Kawaki understands that neither Naruto nor Hinata would ever forgive him, but he's willing to make the sacrifice to save his adoptive parents.

Kawaki's long-awaited turn into a villain already sets "Boruto: Twin Blue Vortex" down a new path, giving the series a complex antagonist that shouldn't be a big letdown like previous villains. However, despite the manga beginning "Two Blue Vortex," the anime has yet to return from hiatus and adapt the highly anticipated story arc. Hopefully, "Boruto" learns from its mistakes whenever it does, releasing fewer skippable filler episodes than its predecessor.