Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 28 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
The field trip arc enters its endgame this week as Kagura makes a game-changing decision that stands to alter the future of the Hidden Mist, if not the entire shinobi world. After a couple weeks of watching from the sidelines, Shizuma (who we learn is a member of the Hoshigaki family) rolls out his grand plan and proceeds to set it into motion. Episode 28 lays out a promising roadmap for the battle that awaits our heroes in the coming weeks and provides us with some valuable insight into what drives Kagura and Shizuma.
Shortly after deciding to take up the Hiramekarei, Kagura is visited by Boruto, who once again congratulates him on his new path. However, the two are then approached by Shizuma, who informs Kagura that he wishes to stage a coup d'état and ignite a war with the Leaf by killing Boruto, the Hokage's son. We then learn that during Kagura's time at the Mist's Academy, Shizuma incurred a serious injury as a result of stepping between an out-of-control Kagura and his sparring partner. Since Shizuma's interference prevented Kagura from becoming a murderer, Kagura feels indebted to his senpai. When Boruto attempts to take Shizuma down by force, the villain reveals that he's reformed the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist: himself, femme fatale Buton, smug bishonen Ichirota, Hassaku (whom we met a few weeks back), doll-like Hebiichigo, and human behemoth Kyoho. Kagura accepts Shizuma's offer to become the group's seventh member on the condition that the Swordsmen create a just future for the Mist (though this may be a double-cross). In return, Shizuma decides to spare Boruto's life, and the Swordsmen make their exit.
Having passed out from injuries incurred during the fight with Shizuma, Boruto awakens to find Sarada watching over him. Hachiya then appears and reveals that he survived his throat-slitting thanks to Sarada treating his wounds. Determined to bring Kagura back from the brink, Boruto, Sarada, and Hachiya set out to stop the Swordsmen's plans. Meanwhile, Suigetsu watches with amusement as Shizuma's group takes control of the remaining swords.
Boruto continues to function as a guest character on his own show, though this was fairly common in the parent series' feature films and anime-original story arcs. Still, it's possible that Kagura will prove to be an important supporting presence in the future, and if so, it's fitting for him to serve as this story's central focus. Also, while the show is clearly attempting to draw parallels between him and Boruto, it seems forced. Although they're both descendants of prominent figures within their respective villages, there's little else that ties them together.
In all likelihood, Kagura is either playing Shizuma or will eventually see the error of his ways, but the show has done a decent job of keeping the audience guessing. His constant self-doubt and willingness to blame his repressed bloodlust on a part of his genealogy he can't escape definitely keep the door open for a turn to the dark side. If the writers were to subvert audience expectations by turning him into a full-fledged villain, it could lead to some interesting story possibilities in the future, but it's hard to see this happening.
A definite improvement over last week's installment, episode 28 sets the stage for a potentially exciting, character-driven final battle. Unfortunately, despite the Hoshigaki connection, Shizuma is a fairly cut-rate Naruto villain, but in fairness, he's primarily meant to serve as a vehicle to facilitate character growth in Kagura. Here's hoping all the narrative seeds that have been planted (not to mention Suigetsu's sudden appearance) pay off in a meaningful way.
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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