Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 33 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
This week, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations shines a spotlight on Inojin Yamanaka. Although Ino and Sai's progeny has been a regular supporting presence throughout the show's run, episode 33 marks the first time he's served as the main focus. As is the case with most of this series' one-off stories, Inojin's turn at bat is a fairly formulaic tale that gets by on competent presentation and strong characters.
The episode opens with Inojin, who's reasoned that redrawing beasts every time he wishes to use his father's signature technique is cumbersome, making photocopies of his scrolls instead. However, this quickly backfires, and Inojin soon finds himself unable to use the Super Beast Scroll—even with drawings that aren't copies. Desperate for answers, Inojin enters a local children's art contest at the behest of his father, only to lose to the younger—and less artistically gifted—Himawari. Although he briefly flirts with the idea of learning other techniques, Inojin ultimately decides to take his old man's advice and seek guidance from Boruto's little sister. After seeing how much effort Himawari puts into retrieving a drawing of her and her father, Inojin comes to realize that his recent problems stem from his drawings lacking heart and genuine emotion.
While it's easy to predict the lesson Inojin will learn by episode's end (Sai even outright states it to Ino before their son discovers it for himself), the episode does a serviceable job of presenting its by-the-books moral in an engaging manner. Inojin has to learn that shortcuts aren't the answer and that his feelings play a role in channeling chakra into his art. Through humbling himself and deferring to Himawari, he's able to reawaken the childlike wonder and innocence his recent work lacks. Although using Naruto's daughter is contrived (acting as an audience-insert, Inojin states that being the Hokage's child probably helped her win the contest), there aren't any other prominent characters in her age bracket to occupy the role she played in this episode.
We also get to spend a fair amount of time with adult Sai this week, although he's made several appearances in the past. While he had certainly made progress on the socialization front by the end of the parent series, the character now seems better able to empathize with others and is far more careful with his words. It makes sense that marriage and fatherhood would soften him, but it's nice to see that he retains his perpetually cool demeanor and hasn't become too emotional. Opting for a subtle transformation helps make the personality shift more believable.
At numerous points, the characters mention an upcoming graduation, thereby making the timeline of the series even more difficult to decipher. Have years passed since the series began, or do shinobi-to-be spend less time at the Academy than the previous generation? Although Naruto and his friends became genin at the age of 12, the parent series suggested that they spent at least four years in school beforehand. It's possible that prolonged peace has resulted in a less stringent ninja curriculum, but some clarification on the show's part would be appreciated.
As a standalone story built around side characters, episode 33 definitely makes the grade. Like Boruto learning the virtues of honesty last week, the moral is simplistic but suited to the show's target demographic. Assuming the quality is comparable, more one-shots in this vein would be welcome.
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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