Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 54 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
Boruto: Naruto the Movie's small-screen adaptation rolls on this week as Sasuke reveals danger on the horizon and Boruto begins learning his father's signature technique. In addition to rooting for Sarada in the upcoming Chunin exams, Sasuke the eternal wanderer returned home to deliver a scroll he obtained from Kaguya's palace to Naruto. In order to escape the palace with the scroll in tow, Sasuke had to duke it out with Momoshiki and Kinshiki. Meanwhile, frustrated with his inability to master the Rasengan in a timely manner while training under Konohamaru, Boruto begins using the revolutionary new invention provided by Katasuke (who's clearly been possessed by an unknown enemy), which enables him to effortlessly produce the Rasengan. Although Sasuke agrees to take Boruto on as a student, he's quick to take notice of the mysterious device on the young man's wrist.
Episode 54 is notable for featuring an abundance of top-shelf visuals and animation. Although Sasuke's frenetic, fluidly-animated battle with Momoshiki and Kinshiki serves as the highlight, the general aesthetics and character movement are of fairly high quality throughout the episode. Since the current arc is reasonably important, even if this is its second anime adaptation, it makes sense for the series' A-team to oversee game-changing episodes. While it's doubtful this level of quality will be present in each subsequent chapter, perhaps this week's outing is indicative of what we can expect from upcoming battle episodes.
The episode also does a good job of illustrating the similarities Boruto shares with his old man, as well as the things that make them different. Even though Boruto makes surprisingly rapid progress in learning the first phase of the Rasengan, he's unsatisfied by Sasuke's lack of praise, prompting him to use Katasuke's invention. Even Sasuke, who's constantly critical of Naruto, opines that he wishes Boruto were more like his father, despite the fact that he has more natural talent and a higher aptitude for learning. In all likelihood, Boruto is being set up to learn a lesson about hard work and perhaps even come to respect the work ethic that takes Naruto away from his family so often. While this is certainly a lesson befitting a children's action series, it doesn't quite fit Boruto's personality as established in the TV series. Sure, he's not the most studious member of the cast, but he's never seemed outright averse to hard work.
Boruto's vulnerable side is also on full display this week. At the beginning of the episode, he has no qualms about venting his anger toward his father in front of Sasuke, someone he's just meeting for the first time. When Sasuke seems unimpressed with his progress on the Rasengan, he runs away while forcing back tears. Although it's meant to provide the “ah-ha” moment for his training, the scene in which he makes pancakes with Himawari is a touching example of the familial love that drives many of Boruto's actions. He may be quick to anger and rude to Naruto and Sarada, but he does care deep down, and he'll go out of his way to make those he loves happy. He's never embarrassed about how much he cares for his sister either, as many boys that age are in other works of fiction.
With Sasuke reappearing in the Hidden Leaf, the Otsutsuki clan lurking in the shadows, and Boruto electing to take the easy way out, the stage is being set for an action-packed emotional rollercoaster. The perpetually rocky relationship between Naruto and his son has been swept into the background in recent arcs, but it looks like things will come to a head in the coming weeks. Though brash and impatient, Boruto is also shown to possess deeper levels of empathy this week, making him an easier character to root for.
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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