Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 74 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
How would you rate episode 75 of
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations ?
The gang makes a little bit of progress on the Mitsuki front in this week's double-sized Boruto. Despite being able to subdue Boruto and Sarada, Team 10 ultimately decides to scrap their mission to bring them back to the Leaf, opting instead to accompany them on their quest. Soon after, the group reaches Ryuchi Cave, which initially appears to be a lavish palace. Although the Sage's retainers seem welcoming, it isn't long before they reveal their true intent: testing the gang's worthiness of seeing their master. Should the group fail in this task, they will be eaten. After passing several tests, Boruto is allowed to meet with the Sage. However, the old woman claims that all she's able to do is teach Sage Art to worthy students—not analyze the thoughts of snakes. Following some prodding, the Sage agrees to comply with Boruto's request if the group is able to defeat Garaga, a giant snake who resides in the cave's deepest regions, and bring her his Reverse Scale, as this will make him subservient. As the gang sets off to face their latest opponent, the Sage informs her servants that because the young shinobi are certain to die, she doesn't anticipate upholding her end of the bargain.
Though one episode leads right into the next, thematically, these episodes don't make sense as a single hour-long special. (Granted, this wasn't necessarily the reason they aired together.) While each one solidly stands on its own, 74 and 75 are difficult to judge as a single entity, given their tonal differences and settings. The former is a competently produced action episode, while the latter leans into light horror, surrealism, and folklore. Episode 74 feels like an organic next step for the story, whereas 75 appears to be the beginning of an arc-within-an-arc. (Which wouldn't be much of an issue if the audience weren't still in the dark about Mitsuki's fate.)
Teams 7 and 10 deciding to join forces and search for Mitsuki together is a fairly predictable story beat, but it's interesting that the one thing Shikadai in unable to predict—the presence of Mitsuki's snake—is what makes him realize that the village's narrative doesn't fit together. Orochimaru sending Suigetsu to distract Moegi is also an impressive bit of foresight, as the former villain smartly predicted that Ino-Shika-Cho would decide to assist Team 7 despite never actually meeting them. This may represent an evolution in Orochimaru's views on the value of friendship—or, as Suigetsu suggests, it could simply be a matter of parental concern. Either way, moves like this indicate that Naruto's one-time main villain is serious about turning over a new leaf.
Episode 75's creepy atmosphere and folklore homages are this action-free installment's best assets. Unfortunately, the whole “three trials” trope comes across as too simplistic, as do the nature of the challenges Boruto is forced to face. Regardless, the Sage's retainers are legitimately scary, and they help sell the idea that the gang is in actual peril—even though this may technically be one of their lowest-key challenges to date. Hopefully, the forthcoming fight with Garaga will entail Boruto discovering a direct clue as to Mitsuki's whereabouts, because if not, it will simply serve to pad this arc even further. Given this show's track record of mixed results, it's easy to see either scenario playing out.
Though Mitsuki drives the plot at every turn, he's being pushed even further into the background despite occupying such a central role. While entertaining in their own right, the episode-length skirmish with Team 10 and the challenges posed by the Sage and her servants feel like diversions, keeping both Boruto and the audience from learning more about his missing friend. Mitsuki suddenly vanishing may be what set this arc in motion, but his continued lack of presence is starting to feel like a ploy for time on the show's part.
Episode 74 Rating: B+
Episode 75 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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