Kawaki in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations had already earned widespread comparisons to Sasuke from the original series, but now the similarities are becoming even more apparent. Before he was inspiring meme-lovers to run awkwardly into Area 51, Naruto had a long-standing rival in the form of Sasuke Uchiha and, in the fabled tradition of anime rivals, Sasuke was everything Naruto wasn't - cool, moody, mysterious, popular and, most importantly of all, devilishly strong. Over the course of the Naruto story, Sasuke flickered back and forth between good and evil, usually finding himself in the role of an antihero, before ultimately deciding against a path of villainy at the very end of the series.
In the Boruto sequel series, Kawaki is one of the first characters fans see, as he prepares to engage the title character in a deadly duel among the ruins of Konoha Village. It's clear from the outset that Boruto and Kawaki once had some sort of bond, but that the latter has now turned to the ninja equivalent of the Dark Side and needs to be stopped. This alone was enough to kickstart comparisons between Kawaki and Sasuke, since both characters were close friends with the series' protagonist before betraying Konoha and ending up on the wrong side of a beating. Similarities between Kawaki and Sasuke's characterization only fueled the discussion, with Kawaki acting cool, moody and mysterious, while also being popular with Boruto's classmates and obscenely powerful to boot.
Undeniably, there are clear parallels between Sasuke and Kawaki, but the pair also have enough unique distinctions to avoid the Boruto character feeling completely derivative of Konoha's last Uchiha. Recent story developments, however, appear to have recycled one of Sasuke's main Naruto arcs and passed it directly on to Kawaki.
Previously in Boruto, Kawaki has been referred to as a "vessel" by the villainous organization known as Kara and its leader, Jigen. Somewhat ominously, that exact meaning of that term wasn't made clear initially, but in Boruto chapter #38, fans gain a far clearer picture of what Kara has in store for Kawaki. In the chapter's closing moments, Jigen walks out of a battle against both Naruto and Sasuke and is understandably exhausted. Strangely, Jigen begins referring to himself in the third person, and goes on to utter, "you're not worthy of being Otsutsuki Isshiki's vessel" to himself.
Not only does this line confirm suspicions that Jigen is a member of the Otsutsuki clan, but it also heavily implies that Jigen himself was once a regular man, but is currently possessed by a much stronger entity. By Jigen's tone, it can be inferred that Isshiki's current body is not meeting the expected standard and Kawaki, therefore, must be the ideal vessel the villain is searching for. This storyline is remarkably similar to Sasuke's first major arc in the original Naruto series. Upon meeting the dastardly Orochimaru for the first time, it transpires that the snake-like character moves from host to host in order to prolong his life, and has earmarked young Sasuke as his perfect vessel. As Orochimaru begins his relentless pursuit of Sasuke's body, it's up to Naruto and the others to protect their friend from corruption.
There are clear parallels between Sasuke and Kawaki's storylines which are perhaps amplified further by the pre-existing comparisons between the pair. Of course, there's plenty of room for Boruto: Naruto Next Generations to take a new approach to the "young boy coveted by powerful evil villain" angle, but this particular story development is sure to bolster those who view Kawaki as a simple carbon copy of Sasuke Uchiha.