Boruto: Naruto Next Generations anime has been exploring an arc that the manga never delivered: the "Mitsuki Arc," which has seemed like it was adding a crucial chapter to the story arc of Boruto's most pivotal character. At first, Naruto fans were thrilled to see Mitsuki getting the spotlight - but some 13 episodes later, fans are starting to get impatient with how long this Mistuki story is proving to be.
This latest episode, "The Heart of Stone" seems to have really been the breaking point for a lot of fans. It wasn't exactly out of step with the traditions of the Naruto franchise: it mostly centered on Boruto being locked in Hidden Stone's intense shinobi training ground, which can only be escaped when a ninja discovers his or her "Heart of Stone." The quest is a pretty transparent metaphor for willpower and self-determination, which have been the major themes of this entire "Mitsuki Arc." However, for a lot of fans, it was yet another slow episode about 'discovering who your truly are,' in a storyline that has been overstuffed with such ideas.
If you examine the Boruto Reddit threads at the moment, the backlash is getting bigger by the day:
"Honestly I'm starting to lose my patience with this show. I thought black clover was slow so I went to the manga and was pleasantly surprised how good it gets. But because everything is jumbled between the 2 I can't really do that unless I start over. But this is a show about NINJAS. Times have changed, there isn't time for another 10 year series that characters don't get strong until the last year of. Even then Naruto and Shippuden had better pacing, someone was always actually processing and there was serious conflict. Not like all the petty moral code questions this show tries to raise.Personally I think the series could take a lesson from any arc of SAO. Dial down the boring stuff like inojin playing with baby akuta and boruto being stuck for TWO episodes in the cliche can't do anything interesting because you must find your inner self trope that this series resorts to every two seconds. Sorry for the rant but I've been waiting for the show to live up to Naruto for a while now and it's starting to suck." --MagikarpMage69
This fan thinks it's a larger problem than just one story arc: it's a problem with all of Boruto!
"85 episodes were more than enough to develop an amazing story, provide individual and collective character development, create meaningful plots, progression... And here we are Boruto is having his 542543254th character development through an arc by erasing all the happened events in the past and repeating same "I'm training" and "I'm not training" stupidity..." --Bluestar Dolphin
To be honest, these fans all have a very valid point: The "Mitsuki Arc" has been one of Boruto's longest and most drawn-out storylines - it started out strong enough, with teases of serious bromance drama between Boruto and Mitsuki, and the potential that Orochimaru could return to the spotlight as a result. Instead, we've had chase lead to quest lead to chase again, and every quest seems to test Boruto using some semi-abstract metaphor for self-discovery. As fans point out, this is a major redundancy to tack-on to the series as a follow up to the "Chunin Exams" and "Vs Momoshiki" arcs, which were both seen as a major uptick in Boruto's development, and the series' appeal. And yet, after going through enough serious growth to bury the hatchet with Naruto, and greatly increase his powers, this "Mitsuki Arc" wants to have us believe that Boruto needs these smaller (and less exciting) moments of development in order to progress.
If the showrunners aren't careful, the new Boruto this arc leaves us with may not have quite as big an audience still riding with him. That would be a real shame, as the manga has revealed some truly exciting things waiting on the horizon...
You can catch the new episode of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations streaming weekly on Crunchyroll and Hulu.