Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 52 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
This week, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations finishes up its prelude to the events of the feature film in a surprisingly anticlimactic manner. However, since episode 52's primary purpose appears to be setting up a much grander conflict down the road, its lack of a proper final battle with White Zetsu is somewhat forgivable. As a lead-in to the next big storyline, the show's two most recent installments help set the stage for what's to come, but taken as a separate mini-arc, they don't really stand on their own.
Following a brief skirmish with Team 7, the mutated White Zetsu retreats into the deeper regions of the cave, allowing our heroes time to regroup. Although Konohamaru initially orders the kids to retreat and call for backup, Sarada convinces him to let them stay and take on their new enemy as a group. Through a coordinated team effort, Team 7 is able to bring down the clustered Zetsu that targeted them, after which they make their way into the monster's cocooning grounds, where more enemies presumably await. However, upon their arrival, the gang discovers that Sasuke, who is no longer on the scene, already took care of the remaining Zetsu with his Amaterasu. Konohamaru and Sarada then reveal to Boruto that a top-secret mission to locate and eliminate any remaining traces of Kaguya is the cause of Sasuke's perpetual absence. In a post-credits scene, we see that eternal wanderer Sasuke is being watched from afar by Momoshiki and Kinshiki.
Although Sasuke does most of the grunt work for Team 7 offscreen, this week's action sequences are well-choreographed and manage to convey a genuine sense of peril. While far from the best fight sequences the show has given us, they provide every team member with a chance to flex their muscles. From both a narrative and viewer perspective, Konohamaru's decision to allow the Genin to accompany him into the cave is misguided, especially since he realizes what an otherworldly threat Zetsu represents. To his credit, his initial reaction is to order his students to retreat, but it doesn't take much convincing to get him to change his tune. The story may have demanded that the Genin go up against Zetsu, but there had to be a better way of getting us there. For example, the entrance to the cave could have been sealed or some pre-cocooned victims could have been in immediate danger.
Unfortunately, White Zetsu is still bereft of his usual wit and liveliness, once again presented as a mindless beast. In light of what a talkative and fun presence he was in the parent series, his virtual lack of personality is disappointing, even if the change was made in service of making him menacing. Strangely enough, this actually has the opposite effect, as a personality-less monster is far less frightening than one that fully comprehends its actions.
With tweaks already being made to the film's storyline, it will be interesting to see if more breathing room proves beneficial to a narrative that fit neatly into 90 minutes. Although the movie didn't necessarily need to be re-adapted, it contains a number of elements that will likely prove important moving forward, so it's easy to see why the staff elected to produce a television version. For the most part, episode 52 sets up the movie's storyline with finesse, reminding the audience of the Otsutsuki invaders, Sasuke's ongoing mission, and Boruto's reliance on Katasuke's gadgets.
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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