Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
Episode 2

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 2 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?

This week's Boruto introduces viewers to a number of supporting characters and gives us an extended look at the titular character's school life. Although many of the secondary players shown in the intro (such as Rock Lee's son, Metal Lee) have yet to deliver any actual dialogue, rolling out the supporting characters at a steady pace is a good way to prevent the shown from feeling overloaded. Like last week's premiere, there isn't a whole lot of originality to be found in episode 2—our hero meets an abrasive rival, the two young ninja fight it out, and Boruto earns his respect by the end—but the fun characters and unique setting help account for those shortcomings.

Following his two-week suspension from the train car incident, Boruto officially enters the Academy, only to find himself shunned by many of his classmates. Even the children of his parents' friends (most notably Sarada, Inojin, and Chocho) aren't particularly interested in welcoming him into their ranks. Since none of Boruto's peers know the full story behind the entrance ceremony debacle, they believe the whole thing to have been an elaborate prank, where Boruto got off far too easy. Despite his social shortcomings, Boruto excels at the school's ninjutsu curriculum and earns the rank of second-strongest in his class. However, he soon draws the ire of Iwabe, the class's strongest student, who has twice failed to graduate due to a lack of book smarts. (The fact that academic requirements are a recent addition to the curriculum further irritates him.) This culminates in an impromptu brawl between the boys, which ends with Iwabe coming to the realization that he's been blaming the world for his academic shortcomings and taking out his frustrations on his fellow students. Although many of Boruto's classmates are still hesitant to embrace his presence, both Iwabe and Inojin are in his corner by episode's end. There was never a moment's doubt that Iwabe would eventually grow to respect Boruto, and it's not surprising that the show doesn't stray too far from formulaic shonen conventions. In the span of two episodes, Boruto has “collected” the requisite nerdy friend and also tamed a bully.

This episode marks the first time I've seen Boruto without the shadow of his father hanging over him. In fact, Naruto doesn't appear at all this week. While Iwabe and several other classmates openly accuse Boruto of “riding his dad's coattails” (how is a two-week suspension for the train stunt equal to no punishment in their eyes?), Boruto doesn't overreact or seem particularly shaken by the accusations of nepotism. Instead, he's simply eager to show off his own talents, and although there are echoes of his father's skills (the shadow clones, for example), it's clear that Boruto has more natural talent than his old man, possibly because his chakra isn't affected by a hastily-constructed Jinchuriki seal. Instead of focusing on hard work, perseverance, and acceptance, Boruto's main goals seem to be making friends and earning respect—goals he achieves much easier than his father ever did.

In its second episode, Boruto Naruto Next Generations continues to present tried-and-true shonen tropes in a solidly entertaining fashion. It's hardly original, but the chance to see the next generation of Leaf shinobi mature is too good to pass up, especially for longtime Naruto fans. Although some of the Hidden Leaf 11 offspring are retreads of their parents, particularly Shikadai, Boruto's class (taught by an adult Shino) is also home to a number of interesting new faces that I hope receive more focus in the weeks to come. (I'm particularly interested to know the Gothic Lolita ninja's story.) With Metal Lee set to receive the spotlight next week, it'll be interesting to see how much Bushy Brows Jr. has in common with his perpetually driven dad.

Rating: B+

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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