Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 104 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
Cuteness abounds as Mitsuki makes a new friend in this week's post-arc breather. While helping the Leaf's police force pursue a jewel thief known as Nezumi, Team 7 stumbles upon a frightened stray kitten. Since Sarada's building doesn't allow pets and Boruto is currently unable to ask his parents for permission, Mitsuki is tasked with offering the animal a temporary home. Although Mitsuki initially tends to his new responsibilities in a predictably mechanical manner, he quickly develops a fondness for the kitten, whom he names Mikazuki. Soon after, Mikazuki falls ill, prompting Mitsuki to seek advice from a local pharmacy and the Leaf's general hospital. While receiving directions to a nearby veterinary clinic, Mitsuki fails to notice when a mysterious man (later revealed to be Nezumi himself) makes off with the kitten.
After tracking Nezumi down, Team 7 learns that the thief had forced Mikazuki to swallow a stolen jewel during the gang's initial pursuit—and he now intends to retrieve his prize by slicing the animal open. Fortunately, with some timely assistance from the police, Nezumi is apprehended and Mikazuki undergoes an operation to remove the jewel before being released into Mitsuki's care. However, not long after its recovery, the kitten is reunited with its mother, prompting it to leave Mitsuki, who seems mildly upset despite putting on a tough face. While settling in for his first cat-less night, Mitsuki notices Mikazuki tapping on his balcony door. Reasoning that the kitten has come to visit, Mitsuki resolves to leave the door open so that former his roomie always knows it's welcome.
Though the story plays out as predictably as you might expect, episode 104 is loaded with charm and contains enough warmth and humor to make up for its unambitious narrative. Mitsuki's stoic, indifferent temperament makes him the ideal foil for a rambunctious kitten, and his gradually growing affection for Mikazuki comes across as genuine. The unaffected bumbling he displays in his attempts to care for a living creature sets the stage for a bevy of funny and endearing fish-out-water moments. (His preferred serving method for powdered milk is particularly hilarious.) Of course, it wouldn't be a ninja story without some danger, and Nezumi's presence helps facilitate some stakes, even if he's a one-note antagonist who doesn't pose much of a threat to anyone but the cat. Still, the predicament he puts Mikazuki in serves as an effective vehicle for illustrating how strong Mitsuki's attachment to the animal becomes.
While the narrative as a whole feels less contrived than many animal-bonding stories, there are still instances of clunkiness—particularly Boruto's explanation for not bringing the kitten to the Uzumaki house. He initially claims he'll need to ask his mother, which sounds reasonable enough, but the next day, he claims to have forgotten that Hinata and Himawari left to visit Hiashi and will be gone for two or three days. (This isn't played for laughs.) Stranger still is the fact that Hiashi has been shown to live within walking distance of the Uzumaki home, which makes spending consecutive nights at his house an odd choice. (This isn't played for laughs, either.) Also, despite being fully aware of Mitsuki's lack of a traditional upbringing and general obliviousness when it comes to human behavior, neither Boruto nor Sarada make any real effort at showing him the ropes of pet ownership.
Mitsuki's ongoing struggle to understand human behavior is always entertaining, and his latest turn in the spotlight is no exception. Mikazuki is adorable, Mitsuki's attempts to care for it are endearing, and their dynamic is practically guaranteed to leave viewers with a case of the warm fuzzies. While the story falls flat in certain areas, episode 104 provides just enough cuteness, humor, and character growth to rank among the show's most memorable self-contained installments.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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