Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 69 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
This week, Boruto's latest storyline reaches its obvious, belabored conclusion. Shortly after filming for Romy & Jule resumes, the masked assailant abducts Tomaru, leaving behind a ransom note. Ashina, whose character is about to be killed off, insists on delivering the ransom herself, a condition the Leaf ninja cautiously agree to. However, upon arriving at the drop point (a seaside cliff that mirrors the show's set) and making the swap, the kidnapper reveals himself to be Konohamaru in disguise. As it turns out, the real culprit, who'd been apprehended by our heroes off-screen, had been working with Ashina, who was hoping to use the “rescue” as a way to drum up positive press. Defiant, Ashina sets off several explosion tags, causing a rockslide that injures Tomaru. In order to protect him from falling rocks, Cho-Cho has no choice but to use the Partial Expansion Jutsu and return to her original weight. Although Cho-Cho's actions cause Tomaru to rethink his position on “fat girls,” she ultimately rejects him in the interest of remaining free. However, as she makes her exit, she gifts Mitsuki with a bag for chips for teaching her that “a chip's flavor doesn't matter so long as the ingredients are good.”
Although Cho-Cho walks away from the story with a valuable lesson, it isn't necessarily a lesson this character needed to learn in the first place. It is nice of the show to reinforce confidence in one's natural appearance, but Cho-Cho, the only overweight member of the main cast, being at the center of such a story is tiresome and tropey and slightly undermines the message the arc is trying to teach. Had she struggled with self-image issues throughout the series, this would have been forgivable and more narratively appropriate. The blossoming friendship between Cho-Cho and Mitsuki is arguably this arc's only noteworthy contribution to the show's bigger picture, and hopefully those two will be paired up more often.
While better paced and slightly more cohesive than the previous installment, episode 69 features considerable padding, with certain exchanges continuing for much longer than necessary and the moral being repeated at least three times. In addition, the Leaf ninja appear uncharacteristically incompetent at certain points. Jonin and Genin alike simply freeze for several seconds when a flash bomb is right in front of them, which seems like a rookie mistake. Even though they're able to apprehend the kidnapper off-screen, it's amazing that one person with a gas mask and a small assortment of explosives is able to continuously elude two teams of Leaf shinobi. Furthermore, allowing the freshly rescued Tomaru to climb down a cliff unaided seems like a tremendous oversight, regardless of how big a jerk he turned out to be.
Needlessly drawn-out and not particularly effective at conveying its core message, Cho-Cho's arc is a low point for this series. Since Cho-Cho has made for a dynamic secondary character in episodes past, it's a shame that her first extended turn in the spotlight was predicated by something as tropey and out-of-character as weight issues. As a show whose target audience is elementary school-aged children, it makes sense for Boruto to feature a story about the importance of a healthy self-image, but like some of the previous series' worst anime-original outings, it approaches the material in a clumsy, roundabout manner.
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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