Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
Episode 23

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 23 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?

The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring arc concludes this week, with all the loose ends being tied up and Sarada making a big decision about her future. Although this installment features the endgame battle with Shin Prime, the episode's fluidly animated action sequences are decidedly brief, and it never seems like Shin himself poses a significant threat to our heroes. However, to be fair, creating a villain who's able to give the current versions of Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke a run for their money would be a fairly tall order. Despite the titular character's absence, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations' second big storyline proved to be one of the best animated adaptations of Kishimoto's work in recent memory.

As it turns out, Sakura wasn't really in need of a rescue. After being briefed on Shin's master plan, she levels a portion of his hideout and engages her captor in combat. Things begin to look even worse for Shin when the other two thirds of Team 7 arrive on the scene with Sarada and Cho-Cho in tow. Although Shin briefly appears to have the upper hand when he's able to stab Sasuke in the exact same manner that Sasuke once stabbed Karin, Sakura levels the playing field by delivering a super-powered punch to Shin's face. In light of their “father's” defeat, the other Shins come to regard him as weak and quickly turn on him, revealing that they've been building a separate clone army behind his back. Thoroughly defeated, Shin makes a last-ditch attempt to escape with Sakura as his hostage, but a Sharingan-clad Sarada shuts this effort down.

Hoping to give the Shins a better life, Naruto relocates them to Kabuto's orphanage. Back in the village, the Haruno/Uchiha family is able to enjoy a meal together, and Sakura reveals that she is in fact Sarada's birth mother. This is confirmed by Karin, who chides Suigetsu for misleading Sarada. It turns out the umbilical cord from the previous episode belonged to Sakura and Sarada, and Karin, who oversaw the birth, elected to keep it. Though she's disappointed by her father's prompt departure, Sarada credits him and Naruto with helping her decide on a path in life: becoming Hokage.

Although Shin remains the least remarkable aspect of this arc, his demise is deliciously ironic, and his “unique” approach to parenting presents an interesting parallel to Sasuke and Sarada. However, as bad a parent as Sasuke is, he doesn't really merit a comparison to Shin, so the aforementioned parallel is a bit of a stretch. As far as the conclusion goes, although it's certainly an interesting way to conclude the story, entrusting a small army of Sharingan users to Kabuto may not have been a smart decision on Naruto's part. (Still, it's likely they won't ever show up again.)

The resolution to Cho-Cho's quest is funny, though anyone with a passing familiarity of Choji's abilities probably saw it coming from a mile away. While the decision was made in the name of comedy, it's hard to believe this is the first time Cho-Cho's seen her father in his slimmed-down form. The implied joke of Sarada stepping in to stop Ino from getting too close to Sasuke is a bit unclear, though. Is she aware of Ino's childhood rivalry with Sakura, or has she simply had her fill of prospective mother figures? It's still not entirely clear why Karin decided to hang on to Sarada's umbilical cord. Did she do so with the intent of using it in a future genetic experiment, or does she view it as some sort of keepsake?

In many respects, the anime adaptation of Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring may be the stronger of this show's two story arcs so far. There's less meandering, clearer narrative progression, and a more powerful emotional hook. This is likely due to it being based on a Kishimoto-penned manga, which is considered a Naruto side-story. Now that the audience has been fully introduced to Sarada, it should be interesting to see the character play a larger role in future installments, as she processes the lessons learned from this journey.

Rating: A-

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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