Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 137 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
After giving up on ever finding common ground with their new teammate, Wasabi and Namida spot a criminal they recognize from Hanabi's Bingo Book. Instead of calling for backup or alerting the adults, the girls opt to pursue the fugitive themselves, only to be ambushed by their target and two cohorts. The criminals prove to be more than a match for our heroes and are quickly able to deliver some serious blows. However, upon witnessing how much conviction the girls display in protecting one another, a well-hidden Tsubaki retracts her earlier assertion and incapacitates the trio of thugs. With their latest adventure wrapped up, Wasabi, Namida, and the rest of Boruto's graduating class hold a congratulatory party for Sumire and wish her well in future endeavors.
While not outright bad or boring, episode 137 offers up a story that's been told countless times throughout the Naruto canon: a stoic, perpetually serious outsider butts heads with an easygoing rebel like Naruto or Boruto (or, in this case, Wasabi), harsh words and/or blows are exchanged, and common ground is begrudgingly found in the end. On one hand, there's a bit of originality here, as this is probably the first time this story has been told in this series with all-female characters. On the other, execution-wise, this is a fairly lazy version of this particular formula. In past instances, the lesson-learning has generally been mutual. That is, Naruto or Boruto have learned just as much from their guest-rivals as their guest-rivals have learned from them. In this case, however, neither Wasabi nor Namida learn anything of value from Tsubaki, who baselessly assumes that they lack conviction. While Wasabi isn't as patient with Tsubaki as the softer-spoken Namida, the episode's central conflict is almost entirely one-sided, in that Tsubaki is clearly to blame—whereas in the past, it's typically been a two-way street.
Wasabi and Namida's refusal to abandon one another being what ultimately convinces Tsubaki of their conviction feels more than a little clunky. Not only is it odd that the criminals keep offering one girl the chance to escape, neither of them had done anything to suggest to Tsubaki that they'd ever leave a comrade behind. In the absence of a backstory that involves a personal betrayal by a shinobi, it's strange that Tsubaki's opinion of ninja is so hopelessly low. Furthermore, while far from the biggest issue with the episode, Wasabi and Namida seem conveniently weak when battling this week's generic antagonists. As recently as the Tosaka arc, these girls were facing off against much more powerful foes, and one would think some of that experience would carry over. (In fairness, this is an issue that plagues a lot of shonen anime filler stories.)
While not the worst episode Boruto has given us, episode 137 may be the weakest Team 15 story to date. On the plus side, because these girls have been in the spotlight a number of times in the past, it's easy to empathize with their sadness over Sumire leaving and their anxiety over how Tsubaki's arrival will affect the team dynamic moving forward. In addition, with the anime moving Sumire to where she is when she debuts in the manga, Boruto's “bigger picture” may soon receive more focus.
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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