'Boruto' Just Turned Kawaki Into the MVP

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations' latest chapter picked up with the epic battle between Naruto and one of Kara's elite "Inners," the cybernetically-enhanced Delta. Caught in the crossfire were Boruto, his sister Himawari, and Kawaki, the mysterious young "vessel" that Kara is trying to steal back from Konohagakure.

The battle between Naruto and Delta was one of the more furious ones we've seen in the series, but even more interesting than the duel between these two powerhouses was the effect the fight had on Kawaki!

Warning: Boruto #32 Spoilers follow!

Naruto's battle with Delta seriously heated up, as the Kara enforcer revealed that her tech is capable of one attack that can annihilate Naruto's regenerative powers! The revelation that Delta (and subsequently Kara) has the power to destroy a Jinchuriki is a major game-changer for Naruto, who must exercise a lot more caution and put some real power behind the fight. The ferociousness of Delta's assault makes Boruto worry like crazy about the outcome, but Kawaki quickly reveals that he has exceptionally keen battle senses: He's able to see the fight and immediately deduce that the control and finesse Naruto shows is proof of The Hokage's immense power level - a power so big that he can toy with Delta as means of getting intel. Kawaki tries to pass this reassurance to Boruto, telling him:

"You're so ignorant... The Hokage is the one who's in control right now. It's like they're dancing a complex dance or something... Your dad's leading Delta around in such a way that her attacks don't come flying towards us. While watching for the chance to get his own jutsu in. So the Hokage's ability completely surpasses Delta's. If it continues like this, the Hokage will win. As long as nothing extraneous interferes..."

That insight should've been enough for Boruto to take a back seat and let Naruto do his thing - but this is Boruto we're talking about! Naruto's son does what he does best and royally screws things up, trying to surprise attack Delta with an Invisible Rasengan strike. Unfortunately, Delta's chakra-absorbing eye and aerial drone companion see the attack and suck it up like a vacuum, and gives her a horrific idea. Delta grabs Himawari and tosses the small girl into the air, knowing how protective of the kids Naruto is. Delta fires her annihilating eye blast at Himawari, forcing Naruto to jump in front of the attack; that's where Kawaki goes from being questionable danger to the sort of badass anti-hero fans can get behind!

When the smoke from Delta's super-blast clears, Kawaki has taken the blast meant for Naruto, losing one of his scientific ninja tool arms in the process. The issue ends with Kawaki calming Boruto's poignant guilt, in his signature dry manner:

"If the Hokage goes down... We're as good as dead too, so... I had to do it. I say we're even now... eh Boruto!"

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Clearly, the short time spent living with the Uzumaki family has had a profound effect on Kawaki. From learning how to function around loved ones like family and friends, to learning feelings like guilt and empathy, Kawaki may say his decision to save Naruto was tactical, but it was clearly more than that. Coudl we be looking at the next Sasuke in the making?

New chapters of the Boruto manga are released every month; the anime is currently airing on Funimation, Crunchyroll and Hulu every week.