Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 14 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations closes out its first major story arc in a touching and surprisingly action-light fashion. As it turns out, Boruto is every bit as adamant about protecting wayward comrades as his old man. Although Boruto and Sumire have a very different relationship than Naruto and Sasuke, Boruto's refusal to harm the conflicted class rep certainly echoes Naruto's apprehension to give up on his eternal frenemy. If this introductory arc is any indication of what's to come, this anime-original continuation of Kishimoto's magnum opus is in good hands.
Now trapped in Nue's dimension (which is apparently a different type of dimension than the ones the other summoned beasts hail from), Boruto and Mitsuki go toe-to-toe with the monster and eventually manage to subdue him. Sumire then emerges and sheds some additional light on her past. In addition to her family being driven out of the village because of her father's ties to the Foundation, her mother fell ill and passed away as a result of the corresponding stress. As Sumire reveals, her only happy memories are of having her hair combed by her mother. Wishing to end things, she then orders Nue to absorb all of her chakra and explode, but the beast isn't keen on the idea of killing the person who raised him. The great big beast that has attacked Hidden Leaf shares some traits with the most infamous beast to do so, Naruto's Nine Tails, Kurama. Although Kurama's journey from mindless villain to heroic ally was far more drawn out, it's nice to see a short, similar arc with Nue. Nue actually cares about the kunoichi who summons him, more than he does following her destructive orders.
After Boruto gets her to acknowledge that she cares about her friends at the Academy, Sumire is able to let go of her bitterness, causing the Gozu Tennou to explode, scattering all of the accumulated chakra. With the freshly-released chakra quickly destroying Nue's dimension, the group is able to find an exit with help of Boruto's Byakugan-esque power and return to their world. Although Nue stays behind and seemingly perishes, Boruto quickly discovers that he's actually still alive in Sumire's left hand. As a sympathetic Sai takes the now-reformed Sumire away from questioning, Boruto and his friends greet the new day by rushing off to school.
Although Sumire's character arc played out almost exactly as expected, Mitsuki had some surprising moments this week. Even though his goal had been to obtain the Gozu Tennou, he remained open to the possibility of allowing Sumire to live, even after being ordered to eliminate her. Furthermore, he doesn't seem terribly broken up about the weapon's destruction, and Boruto incurring an injury after (literally) jumping into the middle of a skirmish gives him pause. Unlike his parent, who largely views people as tools, Mitsuki appears to have some genuine affection for Boruto despite having a detached attitude towards his peers.
Despite a few weird off-model shots of Boruto, episode 14 is one of the show's best looking installments to date. The brief battle between Nue, Boruto, and Mitsuki is also among the series' most fluidly-animated fight sequences, with certain portions of it nearly being feature film quality. The show also gets points for the story's lack of a drawn-out conclusion. Since this series doesn't have a concurrently running manga to adhere to (the monthly Boruto manga is set several years after the events of this series), there's no need to stretch out the ending. Other shonen anime (including the parent series) might have drawn out the same material for three to four episodes.
Though it heavily relies on tropes common to both the Naruto series and to shonen shows as a whole, episode 14 serves as a satisfying, full-circle conclusion to the Ghost storyline. (Next week's installment appears to be an episode-length epilogue, though.) While this arc's victim-of-the-day formula started to wear thin, these episodes allowed the audience to become acclimated to the new cast and their various quirks. All in all, children carrying on the legacies of their parents made for a good central theme in a show about kids who are following in the footsteps of highly accomplished heroes and villains.
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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