Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 121 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
Our hero reconnects with an old rival as Boruto: Naruto Next Generations begins its new arc in earnest. As it turns out, Urashiki had traveled to the Hidden Sand for the purpose of stealing Shukaku's chakra. However, after luring the beast out, his plans are hindered by Gaara, who imprisons him with his Grand Sand Mausoleum Seal. Realizing that Urashiki will soon escape, Gaara tasks Boruto, Shinki, and Kankuro with transporting a safely-sealed Shukaku to the Hidden Leaf. Unsurprisingly, Boruto and Shinki begin bickering almost immediately as Shukaku grows resentful of his chibi-fied state. Despite the boys' dissatisfaction, Kankuro is convinced that Gaara had a deeper reason for pairing them up. When the group is attacked by Urashiki's hench-puppets, Kankuro orders the other three to make a break for it while he uses his puppet expertise to deal with these new foes.
While it initially seemed like this arc would explore the relationship between Sasuke and Boruto, focusing on Boruto and Shinki's dynamic may ultimately prove more interesting. When Boruto set out in secret to train with Sasuke—demonstrating his naivety in assuming Sasuke would even be interested—it would have been hard to predict that the adventure would turn into a reconciliation of sorts between the boys. Not only are these two polar opposites personality-wise, they've yet to truly settle the score from the chunin exams. Since Shinki was arguably the most powerful non-Otsutsuki opponent Boruto faced during the exams, it was only a matter of time before he was brought back into the fold, and a cooperative mission with Boruto may prove an effective vehicle for his return. That said, we've seen Boruto (and Naruto) work with and develop a mutual respect for people they don't like countless times in the past, and it's hard to imagine this particular pairing will play out much differently.
There's some pretty solid action this week, though it's limited to the first few minutes of the episode. The tail-end of Gaara's fight with Urashiki is aesthetically pleasing, fluidly animated, and just plain fun to watch. Gaara literally slamming Boruto into a rock to keep him out of harm's way underscores the seriousness of the situation. After the battle, Tea Kettle Shukaku is adorable and helps add some levity to the proceedings. It's a little jarring to see such a powerful entity reduced to wise-cracking sidekick status, but the show pulls this off well for the most part and is careful not to enfeeble Shukaku to too extreme a degree.
With enemies hot on their trail and a long journey ahead of them, our heroes' path is likely to become more perilous in the coming weeks. Boruto and Shinki combining their strengths against a common enemy is an enticing prospect that could make for some satisfying battles if the show plays its cards right. While there isn't much in the way of originality, episode 121 is a much better introduction to Boruto's latest adventure than the arc's actual first installment.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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