Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 72 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
A new mystery begins to unfold this week as Mitsuki vanishes and the Leaf goes on high alert. Following a nighttime attack on the gate guards by a trio of mysterious shinobi (one of whom looks very familiar), every Jonin in the village is called to the main palace and multiple missions are canceled. Upon examining the memories of one of the injured guards, Ino recognizes Mitsuki, who hasn't been seen since the night of the incident, at the scene of the attack. This prompts Naruto to reveal that Mitsuki is the son of Orochimaru, much to the surprise of Konohamaru, Tsunade, Koharu, and Homura. Refusing to believe Mitsuki is the culprit, Boruto heads outside the village walls in search of his friend and finds a talking snake who claims to be Mitsuki's will. After reporting this to Sarada, the remaining two-thirds of Team 7 set off for Orochimaru's research lab in search of answers, fully aware that leaving the village without permission will result in them being branded as criminals.
This week's installment is focused almost entirely on Mitsuki, even though he himself is barely present. It's a perfect way to frame a story about an enigmatic character, although the pacing is too relaxed, and certain parts of the episode feel padded. Still, no scene feels outright superfluous, and there's a steady amount of plot advancement in the second half. While the revelation about Mitsuki's parentage is more a shock to the characters than the viewers at this point, it's interesting to see the adults react to the news, with the room divided between giving him the benefit of the doubt and regarding him as an Orochimaru-level threat. It's easy to understand where Tsunade, Homura, and Koharu are coming from (even though the latter two have always been rather heartless), and in fairness, the evidence against Mitsuki seems pretty damning. For his part, Naruto is strangely quiet and abstains from speaking up in the boy's defense, perhaps second-guessing himself for putting his trust in someone as dangerous as Orochimaru. Boruto, of course, doesn't doubt his friend for a second, although Sarada takes a bit of convincing.
While the previous installment was essentially a prelude to the latest arc, episode 72 can best be described as an exercise in table-setting. Fortunately, the mystery it sets up seems intriguing, and if not for this show's inconsistent quality on the storytelling front, the show's forthcoming payoffs would almost be guaranteed to prove equally satisfying. The Leaf being on friendly terms with Orochimaru has always seemed like a rocky marriage of convenience, and the sheer weirdness of this arrangement finally being addressed paves the way for what could be a fascinating story. If history is any indication, both Mitsuki and his parent are likely to be vindicated when all is said and done, but hopefully the show will find an entertaining way to get us there.
This week's Boruto clears the deck for Team 7's latest adventure with a reasonably solid setup episode. Although Boruto and Sarada are now aware of Mitsuki's origins, their opinion of him largely remains unchanged. However, as more details about their teammate's mysterious past come to light, relationships may be put to the test in the coming weeks.
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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