Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 164 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
While the two jonin focus on breaking the barrier, the genin attempt to stop the monster from interfering with their sensei's work. However, when their efforts prove fruitless, Mugino and Konohamaru have no choice but to join the battle. In order to create an opening for Boruto and Konohamaru to finish the beast off with dual Rasengans, Mugino seemingly sacrifices himself by holding the creature still and allowing a substantial chunk of his chakra to be extracted. As a drained Mugino recovers, Konohamaru explains that while his old friend's methods may seem cold, he ultimately wished to get through the ordeal with as little sacrifice as possible.
Meanwhile, the Sound trio appears to be down for the count as Victor's assassin demands that they reveal the Hashirama Cell's whereabouts. Although Omoi is prepared to take that information to the grave, his subordinates give up the goods in the hope of saving their leader's life. After gathering the necessary info, the assassin mortally wounds Kakui and Marui and leaves a badly injured Omoi to process their deaths.
Yuuga calling forth an otherworldly beast in the same manner as Sarutobi and Soma is a great illustration of how far the Haze shinobi will go to obtain the Hashirama Cell. With two of the four having readily laid down their lives, the quadruplets aren't opponents who can be deterred by a fear of dying. Conditions in the Hidden Haze must be particularly untenable for them to go to this trouble for the cell, and a redemption arc for one or both of the remaining Haze ninja doesn't seem like a far-out possibility. When an opponent is willing to sacrifice their life in order to buy their comrades a little bit of time, there isn't all that much you can do to stop them.
Although the fight with the newly summoned monster begins almost immediately, the action doesn't kick into high gear until the episode's second half, when our heroes proceed to pull out all the stops. While the monster's design isn't particularly original, the idea of a summoned beast that's able to use chakra to replenish limbs and heal other ailments is certainly interesting. The final skirmish with the beast treats the audience to some fluid animation and attractive visuals. It also provides Boruto and the other combatants with ample opportunities to roll out well-coordinated combo attacks. The finishing blow is a particularly high-octane moment that helps Team 7's latest victory feel both hard-fought and much deserved.
Although Boruto and Sarada briefly believe Mugino is a hero for sacrificing himself, the ever-stoic shinobi quickly makes it clear that he would not have done so if he wasn't sure he would have survived the partial chakra drain. This gamble, while risky, is a testament to Mugino's ability to change plans and reassess the most prudent course of action. Someone who only embraces plans they know they can survive is a different type of hero than we've grown accustomed to seeing in the Naruto-verse. Though he strives toward the greater good, his pragmatism gets in the way of him doing anything truly heroic. (If previous stories are any indication, Mugino's hyper-practical worldview is likely to be put to the test before the conclusion of the arc.)
To further punctuate how dangerous he is, the pierrot-like assassin doesn't even seem short of breath after his skirmish with the Sound trio, which suggests that the worst is yet to come for Team 7 and/or the remaining lookalikes. However, while killing Kakui and Marui helps drive home his menace, him allowing Omoi to live is a bit too convenient. Even if Omoi is protected by plot armor, this character has consistently shown an obsessive need to kill anyone who sees his face, so going back on this vow to honor a promise made to two people he just murdered seems a little strange.
With the number of Haze shinobi cut in half and a ruthless assassin on their trail, Team 7 is going to be facing some serious trials in the coming weeks. However, with Boruto's ability to adapt and Mugino's smarts and practicality, our heroes will hopefully emerge from this increasingly perilous mission intact.
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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