Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 47 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
This week, the Byakuya Gang arc comes to a relatively satisfying if wholly predictable conclusion. Luckily, a handful of decent action sequences and mildly interesting character interactions save the episode from being as much of a slog as the previous two installments, but these high points don't make up for the myriad shortcomings of the storyline's latter half. Despite the promise shown in its earliest entries, this was arguably Boruto: Naruto Next Generations' most underwhelming arc to date.
After Boruto and Shikadai intercept Gekko and Ryogi's railway escape, the boys find themselves trapped in a powerful ice-based genjutsu. However, thanks to training he received from Mirai, Shikadai is able to dispel its effects in short order. Figuring that it's only a matter of time before their pursuers catch up, Gekko casts a genjutsu on Ryogi that makes him see Shikadai as the man who allegedly killed his parents. As Gekko later reveals, he was the one who murdered his ward's parents those many years ago, and in order to cover his tracks, he cast a long-lasting genjutsu on Ryogi, making him believe that another man was responsible for the act. After the boys release Ryogi from Gekko's spell, Naruto arrives on the scene to apprehend Gekko. Shortly afterward, life returns to normal in the Hidden Leaf. Although Katasuke doesn't reveal exactly what was stolen, anyone who's seen the preceding feature film should know the item in question. With the remnants of the Byakuya Gang safely imprisoned, Boruto and Shikadai enjoy a relaxing game of shogi and vow to become better-rounded shinobi.
Even though Gekko became wooden and boring, Ryogi managed to remain moderately fascinating throughout this arc. However, not having him learn any important lessons—or pass any along to his new friends—seems like a huge missed opportunity. Throughout the course of the arc, both he and the Leaf kids held specific views on theft and class disparity, and in the end, neither party was driven to amend their beliefs. Had it not already been utilized at least once before this, it wouldn't present as much of an issue, but Ryogi being reminded of his role in Gekko's grand scheme through looking at the “pawn” piece from Shikadai's shogi board is too on-the-nose. Audiences don't exactly expect subtlety from this type of show, but at this point it feels like viewers are being force-fed. To be fair, the lesson we're supposed to learn has consistently shifted throughout this arc, so at least this metaphor opts for clarity.
In a twist virtually every viewer saw coming, it's revealed that Gekko is the one responsible for the deaths of Ryogi's parents. Given Ryogi's young age and the circumstances surrounding his complicity in the gang's crimes, it doesn't seem right to make him do hard time. In light of the clemency shown to Sumire in the Nue arc, Ryogi's punishment is also inconsistent with the show's internal logic. Furthermore, no reason is given for Gekko's double homicide. Did Ryogi's father want out of the gang? Did Gekko want Ryogi to join the gang but his father protested? The fact that such an important plot detail is glossed over completely smacks of poor screenwriting.
Although Boruto's latest adventure kicked off with a fair amount of promise, the story ultimately devolved into a mishmash of boring tropes and dull “twists” toward the end. While Shikadai getting a turn in the spotlight was a welcome change of pace, the character is practically a carbon copy of his old man, who was one of the most frequently-used secondary characters in the parent series, and he still doesn't feel like an entirely original character. The Byakuya Gang arc wasn't bereft of redeeming qualities, but it wore out its welcome weeks ago. Thankfully, it's time to move on to something new.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
discuss this in the forum (367 posts) |