Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 166 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
Despite the gang's best efforts and a suicide attack from Asaka, Deepa isn't weakened in the slightest. Just as he's about to finish Boruto off, Mitsuki hinders the villain's efforts by releasing a level of power he promised Orochimaru he'd never use. After hitting Deepa with Sage Art: Great Snake Lightning, the overpowered Mitsuki grabs his teammates and heads for safety. Having obtained the Hashirama Cell, Victor and Deepa allow their defeated opponents to flee as Mitsuki vows to save Boruto and Sarada even if it breaks him.
In addition to serving as a solid action episode, this week's installment helps provide Team 7—and the audience—with an understanding of the types of enemies they'll be facing from here on out. Even though Boruto has gone up against several superpowered aliens in the past, Victor and Deepa (both of whom presumably have connections to Kara) represent a threat that he and his teammates are ill-equipped to fight. Since this series hasn't been as beholden to a concurrently running manga as its predecessor, villains have thus far been defeated in a relatively expedient fashion, and no matter how bad Boruto's chances seemed, he'd always find a way to pull out a win in the end. Episode 166 cleverly subverts that trope when it appears that Deepa is about to be done in by a super-powered Rasengan, making it clear that an unyielding spirit and a last-ditch all-or-nothing attack are no longer going to cut it. The team brings its A-game, but it's not enough—and the challenge they face doesn't simply seem narratively convenient, as it often does in this series.
On the technical side, this week's outing features an abundance of fast-paced frenetic action and high-end visuals—making for a welcome change of pace after an episode in which the characters were stationary for 90 percent of the runtime. Even though our heroes are soundly defeated, both battles are engaging, and the featured villains' techniques are fairly interesting, even if we've seen their respective character archetypes utilized countless times throughout the history of the Naruto-verse. Although Victor clearly has experience on his side, Deepa thus far seems to be the more dangerous of the two, though the full extent of Victor's abilities remains to be seen. The barrage of bullets he's able to create at will seems every bit as impenetrable as his carbon-enhanced body. Taking down a foe of this caliber will require substantial strength and cunning, and since the preview suggests we're headed for a training arc, Team 7 may be on the verge of a much-needed powerup.
A somber and humbling—yet thoroughly action-packed—installment, episode 166 marks one of the biggest defeats our heroes have ever suffered. With Victor now in possession of the Hashirama Cell, Boruto and company will have to undergo some serious training before attempting to retrieve it. Whether this storyline is effectively concluded—leaving the real showdown with Deepa and Victor for a much later date—is currently unclear. It's equally possible that the gang will train for a few episodes and then have another go at it, but at present, how long the effects of this defeat will be felt remains up in the air.
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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