Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 174 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
With the Divine Tree draining the life energy from Victor's workforce, Boruto and Sarada arrive at the research facility to lend Konohamaru a hand. Unfortunately, Victor, who's intent on eating the fruit the tree bears, quickly separates the two genin from their sensei by sending them plummeting into his secret lab, where Deepa awaits. Before proceeding to engage his opponents in combat, Deepa reveals that his end goal isn't eating the Divine Tree's fruit—but rather sampling as many flavors as possible in the hope of one day experiencing “the ultimate flavor this world has to offer.”
With the reproduced Divine Tree now awakened, Victor wastes no time in causing widespread destruction and showing off his more sociopathic qualities—which are on full display when he thanks his employees for their service right before the tree envelops them. Given how chaotic the situation has become, it's inevitable that our heroes would get split up, and while it's poetic for Boruto and Sarada to be facing off against Deepa once again, his reemergence elicits a genuine sense of dread. Team 7 was barely able to escape with their lives the first time they went up against him, and with Boruto and Sarada's training still incomplete, this is guaranteed to be another hard-fought battle. (Although the narrative demands that the genin be the ones to facilitate his downfall, it would be great to see Orochimaru show up and hit him with the same insta-kill attack he used on Victor's assistant.) Personality-wise, Victor and Deepa continue to be villains we've seen countless times throughout the history of the Naruto-verse, but the show has done a good job at building them up as next-level threats, and if episode 174 is any indication, bringing them down is going to take every ounce of strength our heroes possess.
Orochimaru's appearance (along with a small cloaked figure who could very well be Mitsuki) makes for one of the episode's best moments and signals that this epic battle could be headed in a very interesting direction. As a person of science, his presence may be driven by an interest in Victor's Divine Tree clone, but given his behavior throughout this arc, genuine concern for Mitsuki is likely the primary factor at play. Although he's occasionally loaned his skills to the Hidden Leaf, the post-war Orochimaru generally prefers to act as an observer and stay out of affairs that don't directly concern him. If Mitsuki is indeed the one who drove him to leave the confines of his lab, it would seem that some of the boy's more empathetic tendencies are rubbing off on his parent.
Although this week's installment largely sets the stage for the battle ahead, episode 174 is a wild ride from start to finish. For the current generation of Leaf shinobi, the stakes have never been higher, and the villains have never been more formidable. Now that the members of Team 7 have had time to lick their wounds and hone their combat prowess, we're about to see the results of their training put to practical use.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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