Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 40 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
With the start of the new year, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations puts our heroes to work as the new Team 7 is sent on its first official mission. Their time at the Academy over, Boruto, Sarada, and Mitsuki must now ease into genin life by taking on an assortment of lower-ranked missions. However, as was the case with Naruto's first noteworthy mission, Boruto's first assignment quickly becomes far more dangerous than the client had led the shinobi to believe. With their lives now on the line, the show's main trio are about to face their toughest challenge yet.
Despite Boruto's desire to take on big fish, Naruto sends Team 7 on a D-ranked mission to quell a theft problem in the Green Banks, a small village located at the border of the Land of Fire and the Land of Wind. Because of drought conditions and a poor harvest, a neighboring village has purportedly been stealing from the Green Banks' food storage. When the gang arrives on the scene, they discover that the village is home to a large retractable toll bridge, which serves as a major source of income for the resource-light town. They also learn that the previous head of the village, the mastermind behind the bridge, passed away several months ago—around the same time bandits began appearing. Serving in his place is his daughter Kiri, who reveals that the neighboring village has hired shinobi of their own, bumping the mission rank right up to B. She then reveals that rather than food, the deed to the bridge appears to be the mysterious enemy's true target. Although Team 7 is able to fend off a powerful genjutsu attack that takes control of the Green Banks' citizens, the person responsible for the attack (a local citizen who turned traitor) is able to abduct Kiri and slip away into the night.
Even before Kiri's rug-pull, Team 7's first assignment seems out of step with the comically easy missions Naruto and company tackled before facing off against Zabuza. There's a nod to these throwaway jobs when Ino-Shika-Cho team is assigned to carry a woman's shopping bags, but if D is the lowest rank a mission can have, shouldn't fighting bandits (shinobi or no) at least merit a C? To the kids' credit, they do a nice job of rolling with the punches and quickly adapting to the increasingly perilous situation in which they've found themselves. (The Nue incident and the kerfuffle in the Hidden Mist no doubt helped prep them for this.) Still, Konohamaru's first instinct is that the genin aren't ready for a mission of this caliber, and instead of sending a letter home (perhaps he fears it'll be intercepted) or simply leaving, he decides to stay on for the sake of the Leaf's honor. That seems reckless and slightly out of character for the responsible team leader, but the narrative needed some excuse for Team 7 to see things through to the end.
It's interesting to see Boruto in a combat situation against actual adults. (Granted, Shizuma was 18.) Like his father, he doesn't hesitate to dive right into a fight, even when the situation demands a more cautious approach. Despite coming perilously close to having his throat slit at one point, this barely gives him pause. His arguments with Sarada are starting to become repetitive—she's almost always the one who starts it—but the constant bickering does lend a dynamic to their relationship that echoes that of their fathers. If past episodes are any indication, Boruto and Sarada are likely to reach an uneasy compromise by the end of this mission, only to have any positive headway in their relationship undone by the beginning of the next story.
Boruto's first official mission bears a number of similarities to the original Team 7's ordeal in the Land of Waves. These similarities aren't particularly distracting, but at times they feel too on the nose. Both missions involve clients misleading the shinobi and revolve heavily around bridges. Even Boruto mistaking a family of boars for a hidden enemy mirrors his father doing the same thing to an unlucky rabbit while en route to the Land of Waves.
All things considered, Boruto's first outing as a genin is off to a strong start. The episode cuts a few corners to get the characters where they need to be, but the story doesn't suffer for it. With any luck, the remainder of this arc will be able to retain the same brisk pacing and level of fun.
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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