The ninja exam begins…but the class reaches a new obstacle when the teacher holding it is revealed to be the Sixth Hokage, Kakashi! Can they reach the high bar he’s known for setting? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. This was a pretty cool little shout-out to the original Naruto’s Chuunin Exam, where the tests were made intentionally nearly impossible to pass for most ninja, and the only way to make it through was to cheat–doing so proved that you had the necessary skills to gather intel. If you got caught though, you were immediately kicked out of the Exam entirely because it was tantamount to being caught in the field, where your life was immediately placed in danger. If you couldn’t do so in a comparatively low-risk environment like a proctored exam, then there wasn’t any chance you’d succeed on undercover missions like ones that ninjas are sent on all the time.
Of course, since most viewers have already seen the Chuunin Exams, the actual test (and the story that came with it) is glossed over as simply one more thing it’s expected that Genin should to be capable doing. This is another example of the power creep I mentioned several weeks back when Sarada was throwing down with one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist–what was once expected of mid-level Chuunin is now expected of low-level Genin.
2. I talk a lot about how I never really finished Naruto’s manga, but I couldn’t even call myself a fan if I didn’t understand the relevance of this scene. In the original series, Kakashi gave the bell test to Team 7–Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke–as the final test to decide if they were worthy of being Genin. Though that version was slightly different (and involved the team passing by not passing), the basics of both games are the same: whoever can retrieve the bell from Kakashi becomes a ninja. Since there’s only one bell, it implies that of this classroom of well over a dozen students, only a single student will be able to pass the test and become a ninja while the rest fail.
Though this many callbacks could conceivably be called derivative, in actuality this raised the tension of the episode to the levels of early Naruto, and works especially well given how frequently they’ve made references to the differences between the prior generation and the one of today. Boruto has been pretty overtly (and intentionally) slice-of-life-y, even if that slice has been decidedly ninja-y. After ninja training the kids take it pretty easy–playing video games and hitting up burger joints, and in general don’t really have a clue just how difficult life as a ninja could be. So here Kakashi plays mind games with them–even though there’s only a single bell, the entire point of the test is to see if they’re capable of overcoming their own selfish needs and work together. Even the kids get creeped out by their teachers’ sudden change in behavior, but their complete 180 is necessary if they’re going to forge ninja that will be useful to the village.
3. The only real complaint I have for this episode (which feels a lot more like Naruto used to) is that they’re almost moving too fast. It’s not like the manga is all that far along to begin with, so they really could have dragged some of this out a bit more. I rarely call for a show’s pace to be slowed down, but I would have loved to see Shino’s battle against Mitsuki instead of just a brief cutaway and then suddenly Shino’s down for the count. Speaking of…
In the Naruto version of the Bell Test, Kakashi only needed himself to hold down three Genin (one of which was a class prodigy), but here the rules have changed. There’s nearly two dozen students, so he relies on the help of three other ninja–Konohamaru, Anko, and Shino–in order to help him keep the battle from getting overly heated. Initially the class splits up, before finally realizing that at least early on its simply smarter to take down the obstacles to the goal at once.
Though to be honest, I would’ve given this episode a boost regardless because its finally given everyone’s favorite snake charming kunoichi, Anko Mitarashi, a chance to shine.
4. This episode ends with Boruto going one-on-one with the Sixth Hokage, who acknowledges that Boruto’s skill level is equal to that of a Chuunin. Full of determination, confidence, and irritation at how much more difficult this is than he expected, it’s at this point you realize Boruto is basically his father if his father had grown up with both of his own parents and didn’t have to rely on Konoha’s non-existent child welfare system.
Still, despite managing to slightly inconvenience Kakashi, ultimately he’s lacking something that his father, and even the other students around him have had a long time: resolve. He’s not working to become a ninja for any reason other than to piss off his father, and with such poor determination, it’s only a matter of time before he runs into a wall he can’t surpass. And that’s if Kakashi doesn’t just fail him.
5. Next Episode: The fight between Kakashi, Anko and the others is looking to become more desperate as the hours go on, with everyone working their hardest to go on to reach the level of Genin. But what’s this about the Boruto being the reason the rest of this year’s ninja class are so poor? Could that really be true?
Probably not, but realistically it’d be nice if maybe briefly Boruto wasn’t treated like the greatest ninja in the world. He could stand to have his flaws highlighted a bit so he realizes there’s room for improvement.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is available for streaming on Hulu and Crunchyroll.