Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 38 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
With the titular character's Academy days at an end, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations starts its young heroes down the path to becoming professional shinobi. Although the preceding feature film and companion manga have already made it clear that Boruto, Sarada, and Mitsuki would make up a three-man cell, this week's episode shows fans exactly how the new Team 7 came into being. Despite the general predictability of the story beats and several choppily-animated action sequences, episode 38 is a solid entry point for the next phase of Boruto's ninja journey.
Following one of their usual arguments, Boruto and Sarada are none too pleased to discover that they (and Mitsuki) have been placed on the same team: Team 3, led by Konohamaru. Convinced that they won't be able to work together effectively, the bickering duo sets out to submit a formal reassignment request to Naruto, who's overseeing a training session in the surrounding woods. After Mitsuki informs his teammates of the Seventh's location, the trio hits a snag when a teenage Mirai (whom Konohamaru describes as “an expert personal bodyguard”) refuses to let them see Naruto. Although the ensuing battle gets off to a rocky start, Boruto and Sarada are able to subdue their opponent by playing off one another's strengths. By the time the kids make their way to Naruto, Sarada has a new request to submit: the re-naming of Team 3 to Team 7.
Episode 38 is arguably Boruto's most Naruto-ish episode to date. Tonally and thematically, the story elicits memories of the parent series pre-Shippūden: three inexperienced Genin (two of whom are constantly arguing) set out to accomplish a goal, disagreements ensue between the team's most outspoken members, compromise is reached, and a valuable lesson is learned in the end. Of course, the mild disdain between Boruto and Sarada is considerably more subdued than the complex love/hate relationship shared by their fathers, but on the surface, it's a reasonably similar dynamic. However, since they don't have the same level of deep-rooted emotional baggage as their dads and seem to be happier people in general, it's easy to see Sarada and Boruto eventually getting over their issues with one another and working well as teammates. (Though for the sake of comedy, it's unlikely they'll ever stop trading barbs.) The subversion of the infamous Naruto/Sasuke kiss is a great callback to the parent series and one of the show's funniest moments to date. Seeing Mirai as a Chunin is another cool continuity nod to Naruto Shippūden, and she poses just the right amount of challenge for the young heroes to make things interesting. (The joke about her being forgotten on the bridge is weak though.)
Aside from the awkwardly-animated Mirai fight, the only real issue with this week's episode is how Sarada's actions undermine important events from recent story arcs. There have now been several high-stakes situations in which Boruto and Sarada have worked well as a team and acknowledged one another's good points, so Sarada's dismay at being assigned to Team 3 is a little perplexing. Her ardent insistence on being reassigned comes across as downright hurtful, even if some of her concerns about Boruto's approach to ninjutsu are valid. Still, the name change being her idea is a touching bit of mea culpa.
While the idea of an entire series set at the Ninja Academy represented an interesting departure from the original Naruto, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations seems to heading in a fun albeit familiar direction. Whether the show will stick to shorter stories or dive into lengthy arcs is anyone's guess, but we can certainly look forward to what adventures await the new Team 7.
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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