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Boruto? Really? We’re really going to run with this?

This is...”Boruto.” He is Naruto’s son, and first appeared in Naruto: The Last Movie. Now, as recently confirmed, he’s getting his own spin-off movie. It’s called Boruto. As announced this week, it will be out August 7 in Japan.

Actually, the title is Boruto: Naruto The Movie. That’s very creative.

Here is more “Boruto” from a Weekly Jump leak that has been circulating this week in Japan. (Also, bolts and wood? I’d think nails and wood or screws and wood, but not bolts and wood.)


Okay, okay. We obviously haven’t seen this movie yet. It’s not out yet. It could be amazing. It could be a million times greater than any Naruto anime before. Let’s not judge quality here, because that’s not fair.

But, “Boruto”? Ungh. Traditionally, Japanese people don’t have first names that start with with “Ba,” “Bi,” “Bu”, “Be”, or “Bo” (last names are another matter). But let’s simply scratch this off to Boruto (ungh) being a character and allowing for the fact that characters often have goofy names.

When you say “Boruto” (ボルト) in Japanese, you’re saying “Bolt.” Okay, that’s kind of cool, I guess? So, Japanese people hear that and they either think of lightning bolts or that Disney dog.


[Photo: 私です、私(笑)]

Even with that Disney dog, it’s not that bad, and the name does have meaning within the Naruto universe (as the Naruto Wikia points out, it could be referring to his cousin Neji, whose name means “screw” in English or a reference to the Flying Thunder God Technique). And yes, I get that they wanted the “ruto” for branding. I get it!


That doesn’t mean the way his name is presented in English can’t be improved, because really, in Japan, it doesn’t matter how the character’s name is written, because many people will just look at the Japanese. What does matter is the official English spelling for its inevitable international release.

But when some English speakers hear or see it (maybe, more see it), many think, the fuck is that. The name does have its fans, and that’s fine, but ungh. Boruto. It’s just off.

While the character design and animation will please fans, no doubt, the name looks shoddy. Like a Naruto clone.


Here are some reactions from Twitter:


(Yeah, Sasuke’s daughter, Sarada, got stiffed in the name department, too.)

Then, there’s the pronunciation issue. In Japanese, it’s “Na-ru-to.” There’s no stress on an individual syllable, but in English, people often say, “Na-RU-to.” So, this kid’s name in English is “Bo-RU-to.”


Even as early as last fall, people on the Naruto Forums were debating whether the character name should be “Bolt” or “Boruto” in English. (In Japan, the character will always be pronounced as “Boruto” because that’s the way ボルト is written out—and that’s totally fine.) The majority in a reader poll preferred “Bolt.” Phew.

What makes “Boruto” not work in English is the same reason you don’t see other foreign loan words typically written out in their phonetic spelling. So, take “coffee,” a word you see all over Japan, written in both Japanese as コーヒー and in English as coffee. Ditto for “computer” or コンピュータ in Japanese.


[Photo: creative-or-not]

Yet, you do not see signs that say with コーヒー (koohii) written out phonetically as “koohii” or コンピュータ (konpyuuta) written phonetically as “konpyuuta.” You don’t see ミルク (miruku) written out as “miruku.” It’s “milk.”


[Photo: Minkara]

Why? Because none look good written in English, for the same reason that “Boruto” looks like nonsense in English.


Haha!, you say. But “coffee”, “computer”, or “milk” aren’t names. That’s fine, but the same rule is in effect, and you see it best in designer clothing or mixed-Japanese with foreign language first or last names. When they write their name out using the alphabet, the majority use the spelling of where the names are from. Even the Japanese comedian George Tokoro doesn’t write “George” as Jooji (ジョージ) in English, but in Japanese, it is ジョージ.

Somewhere someone online was saying, then, well, Naruto’s name should be “Nalt” in English. Um, no.


[Photo: ラーメン食べたら書くブログ]

This is “naruto,” which is a type of steamed-fish cake with a swirl-like pattern that is sliced and often served with ramen. That’s a mouthful to say. Calling it “naruto” is easier. Just like saying “sushi” is easier than saying “raw fish that is served with rice.” It’s not “nalt.” It’s “naruto.”

Along that same line of thinking, “Bolt” makes sense because people know what a bolt is. Look, ボルト works well enough in Japanese, but fingers crossed they go with “Bolt” for the official English moniker. That, or we’ll be dealing with a lifetime of burrito jokes. I don’t want that. Bolt doesn’t want that. And you gotta be damn sure that burritos don’t want that.


To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.