Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 68 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
Cho-Cho's love woes and self-image issues continue to throw a wrench in the gang's latest mission. Because of an offhand comment from Inojin, the director decides to axe the kiss scene promised at the end of last week's episode, much to Cho-Cho's dismay. After Ashina reveals that this will be her last episode of Romy & Jule, Cho-Cho and Tomaru have two more close encounters that almost end in a kiss. When the second encounter is interrupted by Mitsuki, Cho-Cho loses her cool and attempts to clobber Mitsuki for his interference, resulting in Shikadai binding her with the Shadow Jutsu. In an effort to break free, Cho-Cho activates her Expansion Jutsu, which returns her to her regular size. Upon seeing her true appearance, Tomaru mistakes Cho-Cho for an entirely different person and informs her that chubby girls aren't his type. Fighting back tears, Cho-Cho vows to continue this mission as the masked assailant from last week prepares to launch a second attack.
Pacing-wise, this episode is a considerable downgrade from last week's. A number of scenes are needlessly drawn out, while others are completely superfluous, and the proceedings lack any feeling of organic flow. A story that probably could have been told in a single episode being stretched out to cover (at least) three elicits memories of some of the parent series' worst anime-original offerings. Sure, the audience is given a couple new details this week, but for the most part, this latest installment doesn't seem terribly concerned with advancing the story. The show may be able to make up for this with a good third act, but based on what was shown in the preview, that's unlikely to be the case.
The running gag involving Cho-Cho's failed attempts to lock lips with Tomaru gets old almost immediately, and the fact that this happens three times throughout the episode smacks of padding. (Fortunately, she learns what a shallow jerk he is before they're able to kiss.) While Cho-Cho being enamored with a hot actor is totally in character, the lengths she's going to win his affections are excessive, even for her. Not only keeping her skinny form, but also adopting an entirely different persona—one that Tomaru actually sees right through despite being too oblivious to recognize Cho-Cho at her usual size. (Although this may also be an act on his part, though it's unlikely, as Ashina doesn't recognize her either.) One could argue that she knows she needs to work extra hard to win over a popular celebrity, but based on her behavior throughout the series, wouldn't she just assume that Tomaru would be automatically crazy about her regardless of her size? This story is either characterizing her incorrectly or revealing that her self-esteem is much lower than previously indicated, which makes her overtures about being gorgeous the rest of the time less endearing and more sad.
The details surrounding Romy & Jule, the show-within-a-show, are confusing at best and utter nonsense at worst. With Ashina purportedly leaving the series despite her character marrying the lead, and Tomaru's character both confessing his love to another woman—Cho-Cho's guest role—in one scene and preparing for his upcoming nuptials with Ashina's character in another, it's hard to discern what's supposed to be happening. This isn't to say that crafting a broader mythos around Romy & Jule should be a priority for Boruto's screenwriters, but in light of how much this arc is being drawn out, this show should have a story that the audience can follow.
While the Leaf gang's latest adventure might have worked as a self-contained installment, turning it into a multi-episode arc isn't doing the show any favors. Nothing new is revealed about the threat our heroes are facing, with the episode opting instead to repeat the same sequence of events three times. Hopefully, next week's installment will pick up the slack and provide an entertaining roadmap for Cho-Cho to learn the obvious lesson Orochimaru spelled out last week.
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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