Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 71 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
Despite all of Team 7 being front and center this week, Boruto's latest installment marks the beginning of a new Mitsuki-centric story arc. After awaking from a dream about Orochimaru and Log's test, Mitsuki begins to question whether he truly has free will or is simply acting in accordance with a path someone else set out for him. He continues to reflect on this as the gang embarks on their latest mission: tracking down former Tsuchikage Ohnoki and bringing him to the Five Kage Summit being held to discuss the Otsutsuki threat. Although the wily old man had arrived in the Leaf with Kurotsuchi, he quickly gave her the slip and proceeded to explore the village on his own.
However, after locating Ohnoki, Team 7 agrees to take him on a tour of the Leaf before delivering him to the conference. In exchange, Ohnoki promises to tell them what the hardest rock in the world is—a riddle Naruto posited to his son earlier in the episode. As it turns out, the distinctly Shonen Jump-ish answer is “will,” something Mitsuki isn't entirely sure he possesses. Later that night, Mitsuki returns home to find that someone has entered his apartment and delivered a letter—which he subsequently burns. Meanwhile, two guards are taken out in front of the village's main gates by an unseen assailant with lightning powers.
In addition to serving as a solid standalone story about the gang soaking in the wisdom of an elder, episode 71 is also a compelling first chapter in Mitsuki's arc. This week, he mainly hangs out in the background, absorbs knowledge, and finds a way to apply what he's learning to his unique situation. From the chick imprinting on Inojin to Ohnoki discussing the bedrock of people's wills, many of the episode's key events serve as apt metaphors for the questions Mitsuki is grappling with. The contents of the mysterious letter and the identity of the lightning-savvy assailant are both compelling teases to end the episode on.
Even though supporting characters seeing broad traces of deceased loved ones in Naruto is old hat, Boruto reminding Ohnoki of Kozuki, his late grandson, is a surprisingly touching moment in an episode that derives a great deal of its humor from poking fun at the old man. It's that short life that compels Ohnoki to teach youngsters the value of their existences and the need to fight for what's right even during times of peace.
Although the Kage don't appear to make much progress on the Otsutsuki front this week, watching these interesting personalities play off of one another continues to prove entertaining. The interactions between Kakashi and Ay are particularly amusing, especially when the two former Kage clash on the subject of how to eat oranges. Kakashi fastidiously peels his orange and removes the veins, while Ay simply downs his—peel and all—in a single gulp. In addition to being a fun way to spice up what's essentially a boardroom scene, this serves as a nice contrast between the two characters' personalities.
It's nice to see that Ohnoki is still his old ornery self, even if his extremely advanced age has slowed him down a little. However, it's Mitsuki who's subtly the star player of this week's outing, with his self-reflection and enigmatic past paving the way for a larger story to come. Though this series has a fairly uneven track record when it comes to side stories, episode 71 gives the impression that this will be one of Boruto's better efforts.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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