WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Boruto: Naruto Next Generations #44, by Masashi Kishimoto, Mikio Ikemoto and Ukyo Kodachi, available in English from Viz Media.
In the Naruto franchise, Konoha made a mess of taking care of young Sasuke. Shunning him only made him grow colder, which is why he wanted to turn into a bloodthirsty Uchiha — especially after finding out the tragic truth about his brother, Itachi, who was made by the village to slaughter his clan. Now, in the Boruto series, Kawaki’s being shaped as a similar misguided potential instrument of death, and one Naruto desperately wants to care for so he doesn’t turn into a villain like Sasuke temporarily did.
However, in Chapter #44, Naruto’s general and right-hand man, Shikamaru, continues to make the same arrogant mistake, spurning Kawaki and treating him like a prisoner. The sad thing is even after all Kawaki has done, Shikamaru just doesn’t trust him, which could ultimately turn the boy against the village.
Kawaki helped rescue Naruto from Kara’s clutches and he’s recovering in the Land of Fire. Boruto, Mitsuki and Sarada aren’t as badly off in terms of damage taken against Boro, but Kawaki’s body — due to its scientific engineering — isn’t responding well to medical care. Naruto inquires about the boy and he’s glad to hear Kawaki has embraced the path of the light he tried so hard to indoctrinate into him.
But Shikamaru surprises everyone with his bitter, cruel attitude. He remonstrates against Boruto’s Team 7 for breaking the rules and sneaking off to rescue the Hokage. Naruto jokes about it, reminding his advisor they did the same in their youth, but Shikamaru is adamant it must be met with swift punishment. It’s clear that the fact Kawaki’s involved has soured Shikamaru as he just thinks of the kid as a bad influence.
But it gets worse because Shikamaru, Naruto’s best friend since childhood, reveals that while he doesn’t plan on keeping Kawaki on house arrest like before, his movements are restricted and he will be monitored more stringently. In short, he’s still going to be treated like an inmate. This harsh reaction unsettles his peers who know that he doesn’t need to be spoken down to; in fact, if it weren’t for Kawaki, they couldn’t have brought the leader home. You can tell if it were left to Shikamaru, though, he’d just lock him up in a cell and throw away the key — or even have their scientists dissect him.
We don’t condone his thinking but we can understand where it comes from. Shikamaru was one of Naruto’s key allies when Sasuke broke bad, so he knows what happens when at-risk youths betray Konoha. Kawaki is paying for the Uchiha sins of old. Notably in the chapter, as Kawaki bites his tongue, he’s obviously visibly annoyed and the fact Boruto and Naruto aren’t putting Shikamaru in his place could lead to this tension to bubble over soon. Kawaki is here for a sense of family and belonging, but Konoha needs to trust him.
He got enough verbal abuse from Kara’s boss, Jigen, so Konoha might inadvertently be creating the next evil Sasuke if Shikamaru continues his ignorant, rash ways. Kawaki has proven himself and he ought to be treated with dignity and respect. If Naruto continues to downplay things and let the kid be bullied by his advisor, Kawaki may lash out. And if he really becomes unhinged, the fallout could be very destructive.
In Boruto #44, someone close to Naruto keeps making a big mistake when it comes to handling Kawaki — painting a terribly ominous picture for Konoha.