Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
Episode 4

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ratchets up the silliness this week to deliver its strongest episode yet. Although the episode's basic plot is pure sitcom fodder, seeing this show's cast engage in a full-on battle of the sexes proves consistently entertaining. While this episode would have worked better after more supporting characters had been fleshed out, Boruto's latest misadventure contains enough laughs and fun bits of action to make up for most of the story-related shortcomings.

When a heated argument between Sarada and Boruto sparks a boys vs. girls war in Shino's class, the oft-ignored insect user decides to nip the problem in the bud by organizing a game of capture-the-flag. Per Shino's rules, the first team to retrieve a flag planted on the Academy's rooftop gets to make any request of the losing team that they wish. Hoping to gain the upper hand, Boruto steals a summoning scroll from one of the school's storerooms and uses it to call forth a bizarre snake/gorilla hybrid. When his handiwork nearly sends Cho-cho flying off the roof, Boruto, Shikadai, and Inojin forget about the competition and band together to save their classmate. After Konohamaru dispatches the beast with a powerful Rasengan, Sumire emerges with the flag, winning the game for the girls. However, in light of the boys' efforts to save Cho-cho, the girls ultimately decide to take a rain check on their winners' request. Unfortunately for Shino, the game he organized wound up demolishing a large portion of the academy. As the episode fades out, a mysterious figure (who's obviously Mitsuki) quietly watches the class from afar.

Turning Boruto and Sarada's disagreement into a class-wide conflict instead of a one-on-one affair (as was the case with Iwabe) is an intriguing, if not particularly original route for the screenwriters to take. Although a number of Boruto's male peers have received official introductions, the same can't be said for the majority of his female classmates, so their participation in the battle doesn't mean quite as much. Even though Sarada receives a fair amount of screen time this week, it still doesn't feel as if the character has been given a proper introduction. Perhaps the brains behind the show are banking on viewers being familiar with other pieces of Boruto media and not needing the lowdown on her up front.

In many ways, the dynamic between Boruto and Sarada mirrors their fathers' relationship. Whereas Sarada is a level-headed overachiever, Boruto is woefully unfocused and prone to taking stupid risks. In fact, his recklessness in summoning a creature beyond his control would have turned the tide of battle in the boys' favor had they not elected to rescue Cho-cho. As Sarada becomes more of a regular presence on the show, it will be interesting to see how these two play off one another and influence each other's behavior.

Like episode 3, the jokes this week are hit-or-miss. Shikadai repeating his father's trademark catchphrase no less than three times throughout the episode is more groan-worthy than funny, especially considering this same bit got old with Shikamaru years ago. On the flipside, a portion of the Academy being leveled as a result of all the fighting is yet another fun nod to large-scale destruction as a running gag.

While there's nothing particularly original about the basic setup, episode 4 is a fun ride that calls to mind some of the previous series' best anime-original offerings. To sweeten the deal, some progress is also made in expanding one of the show's core relationships. With Mitsuki slated to make his grand entrance next week, the formation of the three-person cell that shapes Boruto's adolescence may not be as far off as originally assumed.

Rating: A-

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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