Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 39 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
This week, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations shines a character spotlight on the ever-mysterious Mitsuki. Since Boruto and Sarada have received a fair amount of focus over the show's short life, it seems only fitting that the remaining third of the new Team 7 finally get his due. Even before the series began, it was basically understood that Mitsuki was the “child” of former Naruto antagonist Orochimaru, but for the most part, his backstory remained a blank slate. As the first story directly adapted from Boruto's companion manga, episode 39 does a solid job of peeling away some of Mitsuki's mystique and giving the audience a glimpse of his life prior to entering the Academy.
The episode opens on Sarada and Mitsuki awaiting the arrival of a tardy Boruto. Annoyed by Mitsuki's blasé approach to Boruto's lateness, Sarada wonders aloud if he possesses any free will, prompting a flashback to his earlier life, which begins with an amnesiac Mitsuki waking up in one of Orochimaru's hideouts. Orochimaru and Suigetsu inform the boy that his memories were stolen by Log, a shinobi who's able to steal, implant, and manipulate memories. With the intent of retrieving the stolen memories, Mitsuki and his parent make their way to Log's hideout and subdue him in battle. However, once his mask is removed, Log reveals himself to be an adult version of Mitsuki who escaped from Orochimaru and claims that their parent's true aim is to retrieve the seed of their source material, which Log had previously stolen. He describes Mitsuki and himself as “artificial humans” and an extension of Orochimaru's arrogance. Log implores his sibling to destroy the scroll containing the seed, while Orochimaru insists that he's done nothing wrong. Rather than choose a side, Mitsuki goes into Sage Mode, grabs the scroll, and makes his escape.
With Mitsuki gone, Orochimaru and Log reveal that the entire exercise had been a test—one that Mitsuki has now gone through six times, with this being the first time he declined to take a side. (Orochimaru had erased his memory each time.) Mitsuki later opens the scroll to find a photo and profile of Boruto, whom Log describes as the sun that will stick by his sibling's side and illuminate him. (“Full moon” is one meaning of Mitsuki's name.)
While this episode serves as an interesting character piece for Mitsuki, it doesn't reveal quite as much about his origins as the core premise would suggest. For example, it's never revealed whether Mitsuki is a clone of an actual person or if he's purely a test-tube creation. However, since Boruto is still a relatively new property (by Shonen Jump standards), it's easy to see why the creators wouldn't want to tell us everything about the character's past so early in the game. Mitsuki wanting to learn more about his past will likely serve as the impetus for more stories in the future, so for the time being, it looks like we'll just have to be patient.
Even though Mitsuki is undeniably the episode's primary focus, Orochimaru nearly eclipses his son as this week's MVP. Though his motivations in raising (and likely creating) Mitsuki are still unclear, his affection for both of his sons comes across as genuine—which is fascinating, given his utter lack of regard for previous subordinates and test subjects. The fact that his aim was to get Mitsuki to assert some independence is a clear indicator of growth in a character who once viewed human beings as expendable tools. Whether Orochimaru is fully reformed or simply biding his time remains to be seen, but episodes like this definitely indicate the former.
Just like his old man, Boruto has the power to move the hearts of friends and foes alike. Ever since his introduction, Mitsuki has had a strange fascination with the titular protagonist, and episode 39 provides some overdue insight into why. Although the majority of the character's personal history is still up in the air, this latest installment whets viewer's appetites for more revelations down the road.
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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