Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
Episode 96

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 96 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?

This week's Boruto: Naruto Next Generations gives the Hanabi-led Team 5 (Sumire, Namida, and Wasabi) their first turn in the spotlight in a long while. While escorting a group of antique dealers to another village, the girls encounter the Garakuta Gang, whose members prove surprisingly formidable. Thanks to her Crying Jutsu, Namida is able to subdue the bandits—while temporarily deafening her teammates and clients in the process. Given how hard the Crying Jutsu is to control, Namida asks Hanabi to train her in the Water Style: Raging Waves technique. Shortly after undergoing an intense training regimen, Namida and her teammates are tasked with escorting the same group of merchants to a new destination, an assignment that brings the girls face-to-face with Garakuta Gang once again.

When the Raging Waves technique proves ineffective against the gang's water clones, Namida and company find themselves at the mercy of the leader's Earth Style: Bottomless Swamp. With both herself and her teammates in mortal peril, Namida summons the strength to hit the leader with a highly-focused Crying Jutsu, thus subduing him and undoing his technique. However, when the henchmen attempt to make off with valuable merchandise in the midst of all the confusion, Namida unleashes another unfocused Crying Jutsu, temporarily impairing friend and foe alike. Since Hanabi's training helped Namida increase her concentration and chakra control, it was a worthwhile endeavor, but as Namida acknowledges, she still has a long way to go.

With Team 5 going long periods between meaningful appearances, episode 96 serves as a fun reminder that Sumire, Wasabi, and Namida are still giving it their all while Boruto and company tend to higher-stakes adventures. Since Namida is a fairly infrequent presence on the show, her growth as a kunoichi isn't quite as meaningful as it would have been if she were a series regular, but as far as harmless self-contained episodes go, you could do a lot worse. In addition to providing some fun character interactions and a few solid laughs, her journey to improvement aptly reflects many of the franchise's central themes—specifically hard work, dedication, recognizing your strengths and weaknesses, and prioritizing your comrades' wellbeing over your own. Not only does Namida engage in training to hone her abilities, she does so to protect her teammates and prevent herself from becoming a hindrance to their safety. Like many of her elders and peers, she learns that a little bit of practice doesn't make one an expert—and that even when making progress, you're still going to experience setbacks. Sure, she still fumbles the ball under pressure, but this is a more believable conclusion than her gaining perfect mastery over her technique after such a brief stint of training.

Like many of the franchise's self-contained fillers, comedy is strongly emphasized at various points throughout the episode. While there are definitely some laughs to be had, most of the episode's efforts are firmly middle-of-the-road. A sizable percentage of the jokes draw on Namida being a natural crybaby (as befits her name and signature technique), and this comedy cow is milked dry early in the first act. In the same vein, Wasabi's and Sumire's temporary deafness (which prompts Boruto to compare them to old ladies) is initially moderately amusing, but the bit continues for a few beats too long to be truly effective.

While Namida is a fairly one-dimensional character, there's something admirable about her intermittently inconvenient Crying Jutsu repeatedly proving to be one of Team 5's most valuable assets. At present, she seems best-suited to occasional check-ins like this one, because were she to become a more frequent presence, it's easy to see her becoming one-note and annoying.

Rating: B

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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