Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
Episode 178

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 178 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?

This week, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations delivers what is arguably its most somber installment to date. On Remembrance Day in the Hidden Leaf, the entire village gathers at the cemetery to mourn the brave shinobi who died in the Fourth Great Ninja War. Meanwhile, Ao, who survived the Beast Bomb explosion that killed everyone else in Alliance HQ, comes to the Hidden Leaf in the hopes of having Katasuke tune up the robotic arm he created for him. As Terumi's former right-hand man explains, the aforementioned explosion placed him in a years-long coma and cost him his left arm and leg. Although he was filled with survivor's guilt upon his awakening, Katasuke's friendship and scientific expertise helped grant him a new lease on life. Having retired from being a ninja, Ao is eager to facilitate positive change in other ways.

Upon arriving at the cemetery to pay his respects to his fallen comrades, Ao encounters Shikamaru, who's been grappling with a certain question for years. Seconds before their deaths, Inoichi and Shikaku entrusted their children with carrying out the plan Shikaku had formulated to beat the Ten Tails. However, Shikamaru now wonders if their dads truly believed they'd be able to execute the plan or were simply trying to boost their morale. Fortunately, Ao is able to put Shikamaru's doubts to rest when he informs him that the men did indeed have full faith in their children's abilities. Later, while walking home with his son, Shikamaru wonders if there will come a day where he and the other Hidden Leaf 12 will have to place a similar responsibility on the current generation of genin.

Being a sequel to Naruto, Boruto often places its focus on the adult characters from its parent series, and this week's installment may be the most adult-centric episode yet. With almost every child character limited to non-speaking cameos, episode 178 is free to focus on the aftermath of a war the current generation knows surprisingly little about. Since Shikamaru and Ino were the only principal characters to lose parents in the Fourth Great Ninja War, it makes sense for them to take the spotlight this week. Shikamaru's internal conflict also provides us with a chance to see the Leaf's sharpest mind in a rare vulnerable state. Despite being able to formulate solutions to complex problems in a timely manner, he's never been able to definitively interpret his father's parting words.

Although most of the main characters have been involved in missions with life-or-death stakes, episode 178 once again illustrates that they've never known conflict on the scale of their parents. While Shikadai isn't exactly apathetic to the events unfolding around him, Remembrance Day doesn't mean all that much to him—to the point that he doesn't even remember when he wakes up that it's the day in question. The luxury of growing up in a world where the Five Great Nations are at peace is arguably the greatest gift Naruto's generation gave to Boruto's generation, and the emergence of the Kara may soon threaten that peace and completely upend the world Boruto and his friends have come to know.

Ao makes for an interesting presence this week, and at times, it's difficult to get a read on what he's after. His stoic demeanor is even able to charm the no-nonsense Mugino. He delivers a number of lines that seem cryptic and prophetic, and the episode-ending revelation that his shinobi skills have not, in fact, diminished may suggest that he'll soon be fighting alongside the good guys against Kara or that he's potentially crossed over to the dark side. Narratively, it's a bit too tidy that he knows the answer to Shikamaru and Ino's question about their fathers' faith in their abilities—to the point where it turns out Ao even posed that exact question to the men right before their base exploded. Still, this has never been a franchise that prides itself on realism, and this narrative convenience provides Shikamaru and Ino with some closure to wrap the proceedings up nicely.

A sobering but hopeful episode devoted to honoring the fallen, this week's Boruto: Naruto Next Generations truly emphasizes the “next generations” part of the moniker. Tying Shikamaru's admiration for his father into his goal of doing as well if not better with his own son makes it clear that each generation can learn from the one before it in the right circumstances. At the same time, Ao's mysterious reappearance ensures that the pervasive threat of Kara is never far from the viewer's mind.

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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