Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
Mitsuki makes his grand entrance at the start of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations' first multi-part storyline. However, although Mitsuki's arrival is episode 5's main selling point, he's not really this week's primary focus. Instead, Shino, who's now known as Aburame-sensei, serves as both the central character and the latest victim du jour for the mysterious force that's possessing the inhabitants of the Hidden Leaf. While not quite as fun as last week's war of the sexes, Boruto's latest outing makes some progress with the overarching plot while providing Shino with some interesting (albeit well-trodden) character development.
After seeing Mitsuki take down a possessed Academy dropout on his way to school, Boruto arrives in class to find that the mysterious youth is actually a transfer student from the Land of Sound. Despite not being particularly mean or abrasive, Mitsuki quickly has trouble fitting in. In addition to questioning Shino's teaching methods, the snake-like young man takes things a step too far during a practice match against Iwabe. As someone who always had trouble fitting in, Shino decides to loan his new student a helping hand and throws a lavish welcome party for him the following morning. Unfortunately, the plan backfires in a comically disastrous fashion, leaving Shino feeling lower than ever. Although Boruto and Shikadai resolve to apologize to their well-meaning teacher, they get distracted when one of the carpenters repairing the damage caused by last week's fiasco becoming possessed. With the help of Sarada and Mitsuki, Boruto and company are able to subdue the man and bring him to his senses. In search of a new victim, the dark force then takes control of Shino, who insists that Boruto, Shikadai, and Mitsuki meet him the following morning for their “final lesson.”
Even after a significant time skip, it seems that poor Shino just can't catch a break. However, as the main characters' teacher, he does finally have a consistent role. (He's even gotten far more screen time than Naruto.) While I can understand some viewers getting tired of his “never being noticed” shtick, this series has done a decent job of finding new ways to milk this quirk for comedy. Considering Shino went up against a dark force that played on his prevalent self-doubt in the third-to-last episode of the parent series, the timing of this development seems a bit odd, but it's understandable to retread this ground since this is a totally different show.
Almost as solemn as Sai (and definitely as pale), Mitsuki is a reasonably compelling character. He's skilled and smart—and somewhat clueless about social niceties and curbing his own strength when the situation demands it. Since the preceding feature film and manga release in the West (so far) never really filled the audience in on how Mitsuki came into Boruto's life, seeing the two become better acquainted and how Mitsuki affects the existing group dynamic is a surefire highlight. He gives off the impression that he knows more about the mysterious force than he's letting on, but thus far, the show has been good at giving viewers just the right amount of information and not making any developments seem too obvious or out-of-nowhere. Plus, his dynamic with Boruto is refreshing; the fact that Boruto doesn't immediately get defensive and irate in the face of a superior ninja-to-be speaks volumes about how much he differs from his father before him. (It also helps that Mitsuki is not rude like Sasuke.)
Mitsuki's debut episode focuses more on Shino than the boy himself, but since Mitsuki is reticent and mysterious, it makes sense for the show not to reveal everything about him right away. Shino's desire to connect with his students and help them forge their own friendships is a character-appropriate lead-in to his dark turn at the end of the episode, and it'll be interesting to see how he'll overcome the force that possesses him. With all the main characters now introduced, Next Generations continues to be a worthy follow-up to its predecessor.
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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