Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 176 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
Sai concludes that outers are likely lurking in every country, prompting Naruto to consider closing the Hidden Leaf to outsiders. While mulling over this decision, the elder Uzumaki stumbles upon the current generation of genin conducting a hot-air-balloon-based experiment in wireless communication. Should the experiment prove successful, easy communication between different countries and villages will no longer be a pipe dream. After seeing how enthused the younger generation is about the prospect of connecting with people outside of the Land of Fire, Naruto decides to keep the village's gate open and concludes that chakra ultimately exists to unite people. However, he also acknowledges that this carries certain risks and opts to revamp the village's current surveillance system.
Meanwhile, Victor, who inexplicably managed to survive being consumed by his Divine Tree clone, reports to Jigen, a Kara inner who's presumably higher up on the food chain. Although Jigen has his doubts about Victor's claim that Deepa was to blame for their recent defeat, he ultimately lets Victor off the hook without any additional punishment. Perturbed by his superior's condescending attitude, Victor privately vows to steal Jigen's “vessel.”
Episode 176 manages to serve as both an expository episode that sets the stage for a much larger conflict on the horizon and a socially relevant parable on old ways vs. new. While the Leaf relaxing its position on who's allowed to enter the village does increase the likelihood of enemy infiltration, re-embracing pre-war isolationism stands to undermine the peace which the previous generation fought so hard for. Thanks to stumbling upon Denki's experiment, Naruto comes to realize that international cooperation and open communication will be the key to defeating Kara. With the Five Great Nations now very much aware of Kara's existence and the prevalence of outers, the various countries' willingness to work together and support one another will likely be put to the test. Denki's innovation may not be in widespread use anytime soon, but it underscores the need for instant coordination and swift action in the face of such a deep-rooted clandestine threat.
It's been quite a while since we've seen the current iteration of the Hidden Leaf 12 spend time together, and Denki's grand experiment provides the perfect excuse to gather all of the genin in one place. While ill-advised, it's not at all out-of-character for Boruto, who's supposed to be resting his Rasengan-damaged arm, to help lug a heavy balloon to the top of Hokage Rock. Furthermore, even the perpetually anxious Metal is willing to push past his apprehensions and act as one of the balloon operators. The younger Leaf shinobi treating cooperation with other nations as a given while the children-turned-adults from the parent series strongly consider closing off the village to outsiders helps tie the narrative to real-world events in a more organic fashion than the show's previous efforts at social commentary.
A solid epilogue and preview of what's to come, this week's Boruto: Naruto Next Generations effectively conveys themes of trust, teamwork, and expanding one's horizons. The teaser at the end shines a little more light on Kara's potential master plan—and illustrates a certain degree of dysfunction within the group that our heroes may be able to exploit. With the series seemingly veering back into filler territory next week, it might be nice to take a short breather after this rollercoaster of an arc.
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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