Hello everyone! By now, you should have a good idea of who I am, but if not my name is Sage Ashford. I cover most of the anime on Comicon.com, and I decided to toss in Boruto as a way to make up for being a lapsed fan of the original Naruto series. So every week please look forward to my 5 Point Discussions series for this, from now until…well, probably eternity, judging by how long the original series ran. If you like this, please be sure to share it on Facebook, RT it on Twitter and share it on any other social media you see. If you have any comments, hit me up on @SageShinigami on Twitter.
1. This episode introduces a subplot that’s been present in the Boruto manga since the very beginning: finally displaying those with the goal to become the next Hokage. From my understanding, Boruto’s played rather fast and loose with its connection to the manga from the very beginning, choosing to develop the main cast and those around them rather than jump directly into doing an adaptation. That’s normally where I would complain, because I think Japan’s tendency to stick fairly close when creating animated adaptations of popular manga is their biggest strong point, but here I can kind of see the point. The original Naruto was a harsh, unforgiving world that was slowly changed over several years until they finally reached the era of peace that’s in Boruto. Naruto and the rest of the heroes of the last Great Ninja War busted their asses to get things to look like they do now, so it’s good that the anime showed us the fruits of their labor.
In the aftermath of last arc, where Sarada’s quest to see her father and learn her origins lead to her gaining the Sharingan, Sarada has decided to follow in the footsteps of the Seventh Hokage and be a Ninja that the entire village can look up to. Someone they view as family. It’s a lofty, but respectable goal–but in so many ways she’s got a long path ahead of her. While training with her friend Chocho, she can barely manage to use her Sharingan for more than a few moments without getting dizzy. But considering that her desire to become Hokage came from being inspired by how the current leader of village was there for her at her lowest moment, when she believed her whole life was a lie, she should be trying to train herself to see when people are hurting. Spoiled as it might seem, the way she looks down on Boruto is a flaw–he’s so rebellious because his family life is a wreck–mainly because his father is never at home because he’s the Hokage. Fortunately, she’s young, and there’s still a ton of potential left for her to grow.
She also gets to talk to the person currently most likely to become the next Hokage: Konohamaru, the grandson of the Third Hokage. Having grown up as something of an ace ninja and idolizing Naruto, if I had to guess we’re looking at a similar situation with regards to succession. Tsunade was followed up by Kakashi, who was then followed by Naruto. I’d bet that’s what happens here–Konohamaru takes over, while Sarada becomes the Ninth Hokage. There’s also a dark horse candidate in Boruto, but it’d be really boring if he spent so many episodes trying to be nothing like his father only to take over as Hokage in the end.
2. This episode gives us the biggest glimpse we’ve had of the wider ninja world since the series has started when the Five Kages arrive. It’s a pretty exciting scene on its own, but I love that Boruto is constantly trying to display the difference between it and it’s predecessor anime. Where their gathering once would’ve simply been quick appearances of all five members, this time there’s a sense of pomp and pagentry to their arrival. They get announcements not only by the reporters, but by Boruto’s classmates Iwabe and Metal who’ve studied them not unlike one would a movie star. The advancement of technology has changed the meaning of ninja, and even though they’re supposed to be a village’s hidden army, they’ve become more like celebrity politicians. That could be annoying to a lot of people, but I think it’s crucial to show the difference between Boruto and Naruto if it’s going to become its own thing.
3. The coolest moment of this episode comes when the Five Kages finally get a chance to talk in private. Earlier in the season, we got to see a potential new enemy watching the world from…seemingly outer space. But as Naruto and the rest of the Hidden Leaf Village heads talk to the Five Kages, we learn that the threat is most likely from another dimension. As insane as that sounds, and while it feels like they’re introducing needless escalation…I’m still excited about it. It’s still helping the sequel set itself apart from the original, but I also love when a series goes for a massive expansion of lore. If they really dig into who this threat is, where they come from, and what they want–and give the Ninja new jutsu in order to deal with these threats, I’m all in. But if they just make them one random person leading an army of White Zetsus, I’m out.
4. The Five Kages’ meeting not only had the coolest moment, but also the funniest. As all the village leaders discuss the dangers of this potential new threat that could surpass the worst of what they faced during the climax of the Great Ninja War, the Tsuchikage points out that it would be quite troublesome if this threat arrived after their generation had passed, or hit the peak of their powers. This is where the series gets to discuss a fun question: does peace make one weak? The lack of conflict the ninja have had both externally and between themselves has lead to unprecedented peace in the past fifteen years, but…is that really the best thing? Without that conflict, the next generation can feel comfortable resting on their laurels, not learning new techniques, not pushing their abilities, not trying to surpass the generation before them…and if war ever arose again, that could mean the end of everyone.
Boruto is pretty set on exploring the meaning of peace–Iwabee basically exists as the physical personification of what happens when a militaristic nation no longer needs soldiers–and I hope there’s a more complex answer waiting in the wings than Naruto’s “Ah, I think they’ll be fine!” At this point, I’d even take a random tournament between the best kid ninja from all five villages! At least that would make sense–have all of your best compete to sharpen their skills…And also, I’m a sucker for tournaments.
5. The group takes a field trip to the Hidden Mist Village! In my head, this has the potential to be hella creepy. The Hidden Mist Village gave Naruto its first big villains in Zabuza and Haku, and showed how the Ninja villages could develop differently, containing some barbaric practices like forcing all the latest Ninja candidates to fight until death. Even though that’s been outlawed, I somehow doubt the city managed to completely sanitize itself overnight.
Boruto: Next Generations is available for streaming on Hulu and Crunchyroll.