Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
Episode 180

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 180 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
Community score: 3.6

The curtain is pulled back on Mugino's past in a revealing Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. While searching for a birthday gift for his mother, Boruto happens upon Mugino, who's trying to outrun the proprietor of a restaurant at which he has an outstanding tab. After using his own paycheck in its entirety to settle up with the angry restaurateur and buy the cash-strapped Mugino another meal at Thunder Burger, Boruto accompanies the perpetually serious jonin to his sparsely-furnished, rundown apartment. There, Mugino reveals that he was a war-orphaned child who was kidnapped and trained to be an assassin. While carrying out a mission to eliminate Hiruzen “The Third” Sarutobi, he was rescued from his situation by his very target and granted Hidden Leaf citizenship. However, it wasn't until after the old man's passing that Mugino ultimately moved to the village, enrolled in the Ninja Academy, and befriended Konohamaru. Because of his deep admiration for Hiruzen, Mugino attempts to replicate his savior's kindness at every opportunity—in fact, he was unable to pay the aforementioned restaurant tab due to giving his entire paycheck to a child who needed medicine for his sister. Having been tasked with investigating the airship explosion from last week with Konohamaru, Mugino requests that Boruto feed his pet turtle (which he acquired from the ominous fortuneteller from a few weeks ago) until he returns home from his mission.

Meanwhile, Katasuke, who's been reinstated as head of the Scientific Ninja Tools Department, delivers Naruto a brand-new state-of-the-art artificial arm. When considering the perfect opportunity to test out his new appendage, Naruto recalls Boruto's request for a father/son sparring match.

Seeing the no-nonsense Mugino in a comically vulnerable state makes for a fun change of pace and helps the character seem more approachable. Although he and Boruto have butted heads in the past, the trust Mugino places in Boruto—both in sharing his backstory with him and entreating him with the care of his turtle—illustrates a significant evolution in their relationship. As Boruto himself points out, Mugino's personality in civilian life is surprisingly in opposition to his stoic, by-the-books demeanor during missions. His decision to own so little that he can never be consumed by the desire for more is admirable in a way and makes sense for a bachelor who's often traveling for work anyway, though he seems blasé about how his choices impact other people. Giving his money to the child whose sister needs medical attention (the show cleverly plays that out, with Mugino not even defending himself when no one believes that's how he lost his whole paycheck) is touching, but it's odd that he has zero qualms about dining-and-dashing or accepting handouts from a genin youth.

Although Mugino's story accounts for the bulk of the episode, this week's installment still does a good job of laying down the groundwork for the harrowing battle to come. Despite the relatively relaxed feel of the episode, there's a sense of foreboding in the air, especially toward the end. We know “the Vessel” has crash-landed and that Konohamaru and Mugino are about to come face to face with the Kara's greatest experiment, and the reiteration of the fortune teller's prophecy makes things seem all the more ominous. Given the nature of his job, it seems short-sighted that Mugino would assume her warning referred exclusively to the Divine Tree incident – as the audience knows, the Kara have barely gotten started.

Mugino's backstory being steeped in trauma and punctuated by an incredible act of kindness illuminates both his reticence to engage with society and his soft spot for children in need. However, the sudden insight into his past coupled with the fortune teller's prediction makes it feel like we're veering dangerously close to death flag territory. With Mugino and Konomaharu checking out the crash site and Naruto field-testing his new arm in a match against Boruto, it looks like plenty of action is in store for the next installment.


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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