This brief series is probably best seen as a transition between Naruto and Boruto, because I think it came out before the Boruto series started. Its major theme is "progeny." Obviously, it portrays the next generation of ninjas, but more than that we have Sarada (and Cho-Cho) question their parentage. Sarada's father, Sasuke, has never been home and after seeing a picture of him with Karin, who has the same glasses as her, she wonders whether Sakura is even her real mother or not. The villain that is fought is Shin, a byproduct of Orochimaru's experiments into biological cloning. We are asked the question: Are children just a step in the chain of evolution or should there be a bond between parent and child?
Rating sequels and/or side-stories like this is always difficult, because you can't help comparing it to the original. Compared to the original manga, this is a major downgrade, however, on its own it is fairly decent. I have chosen to rate it six (or three stars out of five), since that it was I would have probably rated this if it were stand alone. However, in this review I will elaborate on what feels like a downgrade.
There are some minor spoilers in here. I tried to avoid as many as possible, but I also marked them in these italics for your convience.
The main problem is that Sarada feels unsecure about herself since she has never met her father Sasuke. This grows into what feels like a family soup opera as she tries to answer the questions that no one will answer. It is an okay plot, though it does not hold the same level of warm-hearted feeling that Naruto gave me.
I feel like Kishimoto got lazy. The kids are almost smaller versions of their parents (Sarada and Chouchou aside). There are minor changes, but really I just think he was lazy.
She makes for a nice new main character. I like her and care about her. I can't help feeling that she is a bit dumb, but I'm sure that everyone will agree that Naruto was dumb as well. Characters are allowed to be dumb sometimes. She has motive for her actions, though it seems like she is in a rush for no feel reason. Not that she shouldn't be anxious to find out who she really is, but it seemed to me that her sudden insistence in meeting Sasuke was sparked by nothing in particular. On the other hand, she mentions not knowing what to do once she becomes a shinobi. It is an existential crisis. But I can't believe that she would care more about finding out about herself than her graduation exam when she has gone so long already not knowing about herself. Also, I find it hilarious that her suspision about not being Sasuke and Sakura's kid is because she wears glasses when they don't. Anyone can end up wearing glasses. It is not necessarily genetic.
Sakura seemed in character, though I was surprised that she talked so little about Sasuke to Sarada. She even had an angry outburst when Sarada asked her about him. I guess I can understand that he might be a touchy subject considering that she barely sees him and must miss him, but still, this is her daughter. Sarada deserves to know about her father, especially if he is never around.
I'm not much of a Sasuke fan, but he seemed like himself. I can't say much without giving spoilers, but he still has a loner personality mingled with a detached affection for those he cares about.
Lots of people think that Naruto changed. I can see that maybe he changed a little but not a lot. Yes, he tells a few white lies, but they are nothing major. He is still looking out for everyone's greater good and has some words of wisdom. My concern is his relationship with Boruto, which has not been elaborated on enough to understand. Some people think that he is a bad father to him, but at this point it is up in the air.
Remember how earlier I said this was a comedy? That is all thanks to Chouchou. While she is funny and keeps the story lively, after a while I began to find her quite annoying.
I almost feel that Kishimoto should just stay away from romance, because I don't think it is his forte. For reasons I will not put here, I was unsatisfied with the development of Sasuke and Sakura's relationship, and this did not improve me view of it. While Sasuke does make a nice comment about Sakura, there is no real other indication to show his feelings toward her (one of my major dissatisfactions with the end of Naruto). There is a lot more that I could say about specific events of the manga, but I can't because of spoilers. Let's just say that there were many minor details that I think were stupid or unneeded. Overall, it was a decent read, and my love for Naruto Uzumaki is still going strong!