Shikadai discovers his friend is a member of the Byakuya Gang, while everyone else in Konoha are forced to deal with the growing unrest in the city. 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. We’re still at least three episodes away from the arc featuring the Byakuya Gang ending, but there’s still a mention of the upcoming Chuunin Exams, where Team 7 can finally get their first promotion…if they pass. This is hinting at a future plot point of the manga, which the anime has actually adapted very little of so far because it’s a monthly series and thus there’s only twenty chapters so far. Still, it’s good to know they’re at least trying to include that bit eventually.
2. The presence of the Byakuya Gang has created a very angry section of the working class that spend much of this episode protesting the corporation Denki’s father owns, Kaminarimon. They claim the business is being run unjustly, even though Denki’s father says he’s treated them as fairly as possible.
Over the last couple weeks I’ve complained about how this story could be used as an opportunity for a critique on the dangers of the unchecked powers of corporations, so having the story ask us to take the words of Denki’s father on their face value feels frustrating. There’s a missed opportunity for Denki to be confronted with his father not being the man he wanted him to be, and pledging to surpass him when he reaches adulthood. Still, eventually I’m doing a disservice to these recaps if I keep tearing down the story for what I wish it was rather than what it is.
This whole thing turns out to be one part of the Byakuya Gang’s plan, as the villagers are protesting and helping the Gang escape from certain situations. Ironically, the way the Gang’s leader talks about his ninjutsu being manipulation and “giving the citizens a villain” tends to be how the very governments and systems he’s fighting against tend to work. There’s a bit of tension between Ryogi and his boss Gekko here, as he believes this is all for the sake of true justice, but honestly we can’t be more than two or three episodes away from this guy saying “I’M the true justice”.
3. This week provides us with a flashback to Ryogi’s childhood. The son of a ninja, he lived in an arctic village with his mother and father, enjoying an idyllic existence until his father came back home after being attacked from behind by an unseen assailant. Shortly afterwards, Ryogi witnessed his mother murdered as well because he was too shocked to say anything after seeing the killer had tracked his father back to his home. Ryogi just barely manages to save himself using his blizzard jutsu, and when he wakes up, Gekko’s watching over him.
Gekko offers to take Ryogi along with him, and since the boy has no one else he decides to join him. Unsurprisingly, Gekko is already leading the Byakuya Gang at this point, saying that him and Ryogi’s father were noble thieves working together. The entire gang makes a show of trying to welcome Ryogi in to their group, talking about how they got their hauls from rich people who did shady things to make their money. Before this arc ends, there’s a very high percentage chance Ryogi learns Gekko is the one who had his father murdered. I’d bet his dad found out about Gekko’s side activities as a thief, so rather than risk him telling the village, Gekko murders him and his wife. The only reason Ryogi lives is he displays his kekkai genkai and Gekko sees some use in him.
4. This scene made me wish this arc were more focused on Shikadai. He’s a major part of this story, but the story should have been told largely from his perspective. In any case, last week it was Boruto with all the doubting, this week it’s Shikadai. He’s realized his friend is a member of the Byakuya Gang, but isn’t excited about putting him in jail.
The two of them meet again while Shikadai is playing Shogi. Shikadai’s eager to win against him for once, leading to an intense match against the two of them. They play well into the dark, but Shikadai finally wins his first match against Ryogi. Afterwards though, Shikadai finally reveals that he’s aware Ryogi is apart of the Byakuya Gang. Ryogi exposed himself too much last episode by revealing he knew about Katasuke. Of course, Ryogi pretends he’s not connected at all, even though last episode he CREATED HIS OWN ICE STORM TO DISAPPEAR WITH.
But while he’s unwilling to admit who he is, Shikadai tricks Ryogi into revealing his connection to the Byakuya Gang by pointing out the lamp Ryogi has, saying its stolen. When Ryogi says that couldn’t have been tracked, it immediately shows him for who he is.
5. The best part of the episode though is whe Ryogi finally tells Shikadai to screw off for his fatalist, edgy middle-schooler beliefs. Shikadai asks Ryogi to quit because they’ll just get caught eventually and you can’t really change the world, so why bother at all? Ryogi refutes this foolishness and decides to return to the gang, but not before telling Shikadai that his continued desire to just coast through life with his incredible intelligence has just been a means of running away.
This feels like the best possible indictment of the Shikadai and Shikamaru archetype: they’re often so busy not caring they forget some things NEED to be cared about. Ryogi isn’t able to exist the way Shikamaru does, so they part. This is the first time I’ve actually seen Shikadai care about much of anything, as he tries to reach out as a friend rather than a shinobi, and turns Ryogi away once and for all.
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu.