Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 56 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
The Chunin exams are officially underway as Boruto: Naruto Next Generations heads into the second act of the film's storyline. Now that each hidden village's examinees and proctors have arrived in the Leaf, the first-ever joint-village exams are finally off the ground. After making enemies of the trio of examinees from the Cloud and becoming acquainted with Shinki's group, Team 7 takes part in the first phase of the exam: an intricate yet simplistic quiz game proctored by Sai. In the end, all the main characters are able to see through Sai's ruse and move on to the next round, which is set to take place in three days. Shortly after arriving home, Boruto is pleasantly surprised to receive an email from his father congratulating him on his recent victory and wishing him luck in the next round.
Since the exams themselves didn't receive much focus in the preceding feature film, it makes sense for a longer form version of the story to flesh them out a bit. For example, the members of Team 7 finding themselves at odds with the trio of Cloud Genin is something entirely new, as is the expanded role of Shinki and his fellow Sand Ninja. That being said, the impromptu rivalry with the Cloud kids is a fairly tried trope, albeit one that's perfectly at home in a shonen anime. The expanded journey to the exam grounds also doesn't add much to the story, though it does serve a purpose—namely, to get rid of assorted small fry before the main event. Based on what's been shown, Shinki seems like a reasonably interesting character, but given his relative lack of screen time, it's hard to pin him down at this point. The hitherto unrevealed special skill he alludes to in the woods certainly sounds like something to look forward to, however.
The twist to Sai's exam is clever, although even if you haven't seen the film version, it's pretty easy to figure out the gist of it before the big reveal—especially since Boruto's team and Shinki's team each choose different answers. After all the work the show has done to build Shinki up as a skilled shinobi, there's no way his team would be taken out of the game this early on. Sai's closing message that only those who give up in the face of failure can truly be called failures nicely resonates with one of the franchise's central themes: hard work and perseverance will always be rewarded. Sai's trick with the stopwatch—starting the countdown before he's finished explaining, without so much as a twitch in his expression—is another clever trick that perfectly encapsulates Sai's unique manner of thinking.
The first round of the Chunin exams is over almost as quickly as it begins, but that helps add to the brisk pace of the challenge, emphasizing the limited amount of time the characters have to complete their task. While the Cloud kids are paint-by-numbers antagonists, they'll at least provide Team 7 with enemies to fight until the Otsutsukis arrive on the scene.
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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