Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 22 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
Our heroes learn the true nature of their new enemy as Sarada is faced with a shocking discovery in the latest chapter of Naruto The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring. Although episode 22 is completely devoid of action, the various revelations and character interactions more than make up for the lack of super-powered fisticuffs. Boruto himself is once again absent, but with so much going on, he isn't really missed. (Although having an entire story arc that doesn't involve the central character is a risky move for any show to take, especially one this new.)
With Sakura now his prisoner, Shin reveals that his original master is none other than Orochimaru, and that his many clones were created from his hair and teeth, hence the baldness and toothlessness. Although he raises them as his children, he won't hesitate to harvest them for organs whenever the situation demands, reasoning that no one ever truly dies as long as their genes live on. For the sake of strengthening the human gene pool, Shin wishes to reform the Akatsuki and once again plunge the ninja world into chaos. Hoping to get answers, Naruto, Sasuke, and the kids head to Orochimaru's base, where the semi-reformed villain reveals that Shin is an old experiment gone rogue. Because Shin's body wouldn't reject any kind of tissue transplant, he was the ideal candidate for cloning experiments. (In fact, Danzo's Sharingan-laden arm came from Shin.) Orochimaru compares the Shins to shadow clones that don't disappear until actually killed—which is an interesting concept for this series to explore. Additionally, Shin isn't truly an Uchiha, but rather a devotee of the late Itachi.
Before setting off to rescue Sakura, Sarada convinces Suigetsu to conduct a DNA test in order to determine who her real mother is. After the results reveal that Karin is her biological mother, Sarada is so distraught that her Sharingan awakens. Fortunately, Naruto is able to calm her down and impress upon her that family has very little to do with who's related to you by blood. Having been briefed on Shin's whereabouts, Sarada, Cho-Cho, Naruto, and Sasuke set a course for his hideout.
When it comes to the most important revelation of the episode, the details are fairly scant—likely on purpose. Suigestu says he has “Karin's umbilical cord” on hand to test for DNA but offers no further elaboration. Why would he have such a thing at Orochimaru's hideout? (As we learned from her backstory, she wasn't a test subject of Orochimaru's until young adulthood.) If you've read the parent manga, you know where the cord came from and why the show is being so vague about it, but most viewers are liable to think they missed something, due to the casual manner in which this information is presented. Still, Naruto and Suigetsu's reactions to Sasuke's perceived infidelity are among the highlights of the episode.
It's interesting that learning the truth about her parentage triggered Sarada's Sharingan awakening, especially since it usually takes a devastating loss to bring it out. However, her temporary refusal to rescue Sakura on the grounds that they're not blood-related seems pretty childish, even for an actual child. Unsurprisingly, Sasuke isn't the one to offer his daughter comfort, instead expressing mild frustration that she wandered off from the group. In light of the way he's treated her, perhaps Sarada will not even want a relationship with her father after this arc. Not everyone in his life will show him the saint-like patience of Naruto and Sakura, nor should he expect them to. Still, the fact that he compliments Sakura's strength and repeatedly refers to her as his wife while speaking with Orochimaru at least indicates a small degree of affection on his part.
While there's no action, episode 22 piques the audience's curiosity and sets the stage for what will hopefully be an epic showdown. Suigetsu and Cho-Cho add some much-needed levity to the situation, Naruto and Sarada have an emotional moment, and viewers are able to check in with old friends like Yamato and Orochimaru. Here's hoping the big finish answers all the lingering questions while delivering a top-notch battle.
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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