Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 36 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
The graduation exams kick off with a bang as Kakashi and the Academy's instructors put Boruto and company through their paces. Since the creative minds behind the show aren't working against a concurrently running manga, events unfold at a much brisker pace than they would in the parent series, with Boruto already facing off against Kakashi by episode's end. Although the practical portion of the exam is set to continue next week, it's hard to see it playing out for more than another episode or two. Like the rest of Boruto's big battle episodes, the latest installment is full of action sequences that are fast and to-the-point, featuring only the barest minimum of filler banter.
Following the written portion of the test (which the audience is never shown), Shino's class is taken to the woods, where the practical exam will be administered. Mirroring the teamwork exercise he put Team 7 through, Kakashi tasks the students with stealing a small bell that he keeps on his person. However, he won't be the only one the kids are up against; Shino, Anko, and Konohamaru will also be working to keep the would-be genin from obtaining the bell. In order to clear a path for Boruto, Sarada and Sumire take on Konohamaru, and Mitsuki goes up against Shino. Elsewhere, Ino-Shika-Cho, Denki, Iwabe, Metal, Enko, Houki, and Doshu try to take down Anko. Despite his young age and relative inexperience, Boruto manages to admirably hold his own against the considerably more seasoned Kakashi. However, while he's able to make effective use of shadow clones and pull off several clever fake-outs, Boruto's efforts at nabbing the bell ultimately fall flat. Although the Sixth acknowledges that the boy possesses the skills of a chunin, he concludes that Boruto lacks the resolve to be a true shinobi. (In the post-credits preview, he even describes Shino's students as “horrible” due to Boruto's influence.)
Even though this episode's “antagonists” are teachers who are clearly holding back their full strength, many of the battles are fairly intense. Mitsuki's confrontation with Shino mostly takes place off-screen, but the Anko and Kakashi fights become downright pulse-pounding at several moments. It's sometimes hard to determine whether the children are in any actual danger, but Shino's claim that Kakashi “doesn't show leniency” certainly seems to hold some weight. Whether he stands by the disparaging remarks he makes to Boruto or he's simply trying to get into his opponent's head, the Sixth makes for a menacing presence this week.
Episode 36 also does a nice job of illustrating the differences—and similarities—between Boruto and his old man. Despite the fact that shinobi are basically encouraged to cheat on written exams, Boruto manages to get a perfect score without the aid of any ninja tricks, something that the book-shy Naruto could never do. He even claims to have learned the Shadow Clone Jutsu without any help from Dad. Like Naruto, however, he's brazen, impulsive, and often acts without thinking. Still, Kakashi's insistence that he lacks resolve doesn't really hold water based on what we've seen. While it's true that Boruto has yet to decide on a career path, the Ghost incident and the kerfuffle in the Hidden Mist indicate a clear willingness to see things through to the end.
While episode 36 is one of Boruto's best action episodes to date, the omission of the written portion of the exam is a letdown. Even if Boruto managed a perfect score on his own, seeing what sorts of stealthy cheating techniques the rest of the class rolled out would probably have made for a fun watch. Still, if the remainder of the final exam proves as entertaining as the latest episode, this will be easy to forgive.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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