Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 122 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
The road trip to the Hidden Leaf hits yet another snag as Boruto and Shinki clash over their differences once more. Although Boruto expresses unease at leaving Kankuro behind to deal with Urashiki's puppets, Shinki insists that they press on to the Leaf instead of deviating from his uncle's orders. After being pulled into a sand whirlpool, Kankuro has no choice but to pull out his trump card and activate explosion tags inside each one of his trademark puppets. Upon hearing the resulting explosion, Temari and Shikadai (who are visiting the Hidden Sand) rush to the scene and are soon joined by Boruto, who goes back against Shinki's wishes. Shortly thereafter, the trio discovers that Kankuro is nowhere to be seen and that Urashiki's lead puppet appears to be heading after Shinki and Shukaku. As they rush to Shinki's aid, Urashiki breaks free from Gaara's Grand Sand Mausoleum Seal, making things substantially worse for our heroes.
While a far cry from bad, the current arc continues to feel like a retread of other storylines from both Next Generations and its parent series. Naruto or Boruto is forced to work with a character whose by-the-books approach to missions leaves no room for empathy or compassion, initially clashes with that character when a comrade is in trouble, and ultimately winds up teaching that character the importance of Kakashi's frequently-repeated mantra. Although this type of formula is serviceable boilerplate for feature films and other self-contained works, the repetition is harder to forgive when it's drawn out across a potentially lengthy story arc. At present, the inclusion of the show's current Big Bad seems to serve no purpose outside of adding an air of importance to an otherwise predictable and well-worn premise. Given how vast Kishimoto's world has become and how many interesting narrative possibilities exist therein, it's disappointing to watch the show continue to spin its wheels in this fashion.
Boruto getting a crash course in Shinki's motivations from Shinki's aunt, Temari, feels like a slapdash way for the character to learn a lesson. Because Shinki is so taciturn, it's easy to see why Boruto couldn't figure out that he's sympathetic to his uncle's plight, even if he's singularly focused on the mission. For Temari to explain that while she appreciates Boruto's kind intentions, Shinki is doing more for his beloved uncle by following through with the mission he was assigned, feels like a case of telling rather than showing. Shinki doesn't learn anything from Boruto, either—at least not yet. Instead, his actions are framed as the correct way to approach the situation, which runs counter to the long-standing Naruto maxim that those who abandon their missions are scum, but those who abandon their teammates are less than scum.
While the return of Urashiki promises more action in the coming weeks, it would be great to see this arc's core relationship break the mold instead of mirroring the same basic conflict we've seen countless times in the past. Last week's episode was stronger for a more singular focus—getting Shukaku to safety—but with the addition of Temari and Shikadai, it's starting to feel like Boruto is once again just along for the ride.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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