Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 81 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
After giving us the lowdown on Mitsuki last week, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations checks in with Ino-Shika-Cho and the other two thirds of Team 7. Still unconscious after his latest battle, Boruto dreams of being back in the Leaf and enjoying his everyday life with Mitsuki. However, this dream is soon invaded by Garaga, who's now eager to collect Boruto's debt for losing their bet. In what seems like an effort to help the young shinobi, Garaga informs him that by indulging in his rosy dream, he's simply running away from reality. Instead of making Boruto rethink the way he feels about Mitsuki, this only increases his determination to bring him home. After awakening, Boruto leads his comrades (and the miniature Akuta they befriended while he was asleep) to the border of the Hidden Stone. When asked if he has a plan, Boruto proclaims his intentions to track down Ohnoki and take him up on the offer he made during his most recent visit to the Leaf.
Since the latest installment essentially amounts to a recuperation episode, the overall pacing is very relaxed, and only minimal progress is made on the plot front. Even though Boruto's extended dream sequence should constitute the meat of the episode, he and Garaga have basically done this dance before. At no point does it feel like Boruto is genuinely considering the idea of abandoning Mitsuki, making Garaga's latest screed against the dangers of friendship superfluous. While it's true that the snake is able to inadvertently inspire Boruto to redouble his efforts to find his friend, Boruto wasn't exactly in need of such inspiration. No, he's not happy about how things went down with Mitsuki, but writing him off never seemed to be a prospect he was entertaining.
In the waking world, Inojin's interactions with the child-sized Akuta serve as the highlight of the episode. Not only does this dynamic bring some much-needed levity to the table, it gives us a glimpse of Inojin's seldom-seen softer side. Since most of the character's appearances are built around him being unnecessarily callous to Cho-Cho, it's satisfying to see him taken down a few pegs and driven to show some compassion. For its part, Chibi Akuta is able to adeptly straddle the line between genuine and contrived cuteness. The creature is particularly adorable when holding Inojin's hand like a child and trying to comprehend his unwitting babysitter's lessons on acceptable behavior. Given the relatively short shelf life on these creatures, there's a good chance we'll be saying goodbye to the group's newest addition before the end of the arc, so we should enjoy these moments while we have the chance.
Fans hoping for significant plot progression may be somewhat disappointed this week. Although the gang has laid out the next phase of their adventure and acquired a cute new sidekick, Boruto's umpteenth reaffirmation of his feelings for Mitsuki feels unnecessary and doesn't add much to the overarching narrative. Still, provided you come in with tempered expectations, there are enough laughs and amusing character interactions to make episode 81 worth your time.
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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