Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
Episode 177

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 177 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?

This week's Boruto: Naruto Next Generations casts its focus on Inojin Yamanaka, who's been long overdue for another turn in the spotlight. In order to beef up security in the Hidden Leaf, the Sensory Unit and Scientific Ninja Tools Team partner to create a cutting-edge chakra-detection system. The instant a person with unregistered chakra sets foot in the village, an alarm is set off and security personnel are dispatched. Having been tasked with overseeing this new security breakthrough, Ino decides to put the system to the test by sending various sensory ninja on mock missions. Despite being among said ninja, Inojin isn't particularly enthused about his latest assignment and restates his preference for the Super Beast Scroll. Following a thoroughly unproductive morning, the Yamanaka clan's youngest member receives a timely pep talk from his father, who informs him that Ino simply wishes for him to understand what he is capable of and isn't trying to force her family's preferred ninjutsu on him.

Reinvigorated, Inojin performs much better throughout the afternoon and even manages to detect the chakra of an information thief masquerading as a Hidden Leaf citizen. Thanks to his keen insight, the Sensory Team adds a filter to detect impostors (which you'd think they'd have done in the first place, given how easy it is for ninja to transform into other people, though Shikadai does mention this ninja's chakra-impersonation ability is rare). Even though she's been placed in charge of the village's new security system, Ino vows to continue running her family's flower shop, since protecting the Hidden Leaf and bringing joy to customers are both things that make her happy. Inspired by his mother's iron will, Inojin decides not to place limits on the things he can do, either.

Given Inojin's detached demeanor and habitual meanness towards Cho-Cho, getting the occasional glimpse of anxiety beneath his blasé exterior is always a welcome change of pace. (Even Shikadai, one of his closest friends, describes him as “grumpy and cynical” without a second thought.) Although he repeatedly stresses the fact that he's not his mother and his sensory skills are nowhere near her level, it quickly becomes clear that his seeming lack of sensory ability weighs on him—even if he clearly prefers the Super Beast Scroll. Despite the low expectations he places on himself at the beginning of the test, he's afraid of disappointing his mother—and himself. In light of the confidence Inojin usually has in his own abilities, seeing him brought down to the level of a novice is a humbling reminder that even the cockiest shinobi are still only human.

Whereas some stories might treat Inojin's successful apprehension of the thief as a turning point, the episode opts to end things semi-realistically, with Ino acknowledging that her son still doesn't have what it takes to cut it as a sensory ninja. However, as the show has hinted in the past, the boy is likely to continue honing his sensory abilities in the future. Furthermore, Inojin being the only one to detect irregularities in the disguised thief's chakra is never really explained, but rather shrugged off as a flaw in the surveillance system. This may serve as a clue that his sensory abilities have the potential to surpass even his mother's, but a bit of clarification would have been appreciated. (The fact that Inojin isn't properly trained in the sensory arts may also enable him to see beyond what most sensory ninja would look for.)

In addition to being a serviceable side story, episode 177 functions as an organic continuation of the narrative seeds planted last week and possibly the show's best Inojin-centric outing to date. Inojin still has a way to go before becoming a proper sensory ninja, but as the latest installment illustrates, with some good friends and the right kind of encouragement, he can utilize his talents without displaying his trademark arrogance.

Rating:

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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