Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 17 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
The filler train keeps on rolling as this week's Boruto: Naruto Next Generations shines a spotlight on Sarada. Although Sasuke and Sakura's progeny has played a prominent supporting role in a couple other installments, episode 17 marks the first time she's served as the show's central focus. Interestingly, this latest outing provides more insight into Sarada's life and general personality than the previous 16 episodes combined. Even though she's set to take center stage in the upcoming Hokage and the Seventh Spring arc, it's still great that we get this enjoyable Sarada-centric one-shot as a precursor.
Before embarking on a girls' weekend with Ino, Sakura tasks her daughter with returning a freshly-mended stuffed rabbit to one of her patients. Although this errand seems simple enough, Sarada quickly runs into trouble after leaving the treasured plush toy on a train. In order to recover the lost item, Sarada is forced to engage in some of the same reckless and irresponsible behaviors she disparages in her classmates. With Cho-Cho's help, Sarada is eventually able to reclaim the rabbit and return it to its owner–but not before coming to recognize the necessity of occasionally bending the rules.
While this is a fairly inconsequential standalone episode, this week's focus on Sarada is long overdue. Episode 17 also marks Sakura's first speaking appearance in the series, and the dynamic she shares with her daughter is interesting, if not very common in anime. The bare-bones story is also entertaining, even if it occasionally strains credulity with how often Sarada has a close miss to getting her forgotten package back. What are the chances of another lost plush toy—one wrapped in the same cloth, no less—being taken to the lost-and-found and claimed within the time it took Sarada to get there? The absurdity is not even played for laughs. Like last week's installment, episode 17 elects to play things by the book, offering a cookie-cutter story that's carried on the strength of its central characters. For example, Sarada disparaging the need to learn water-walking, only to utilize this newly acquired skill in a crucial moment toward to the end of the episode, is solid though predictable storytelling.
In a show dominated by boys, it's always great to see girls and women being given more depth too. Sarada's character has yet to be fully fleshed out, but her fastidiousness, practicality, and kindness come across clearly in this episode. Her friendship with Cho-Cho is also portrayed positively, with the latter going so far as to sacrifice an ultra-rare bag of chips to ensure the completion of the mission. This episode also gives off the impression that Sakura and Ino have finally buried the hatchet, though it wouldn't be surprising to see their rivalry resurface in small ways in the name of comedy.
The stakes are minimal and the action is virtually nonexistent, but there's still a lot of fun to be had this week. Even viewers who don't care much about Sarada one way or the other are likely to walk away entertained. Since she'll eventually play a much larger role in Boruto's life, it makes sense for Sarada to receive more focus, and episode 17 is certainly a good start.
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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