5 Point Discussions – Boruto: Naruto Next Generations 56: “Rivals, Gather!”

by Sage Ashford

Boruto and the others begin the Chuunin Exams! But can they clear the First Round together, or will they be sent home before they even get a chance to test their abilities out properly? 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. In just 15 years, capitalism has completely transformed the world of Naruto. After the opening ceremony of the Chuunin Exams, Team 7 goes to Boruto’s favorite burger joint for food and to relax (though Sarada wants to make it a “strategy” meeting). While there, we see how this tournament has already stimulated the economy, and they’re leaning all the way into it too–naming entire meal combos after the Exam. I can see the tagline already: “You might not be a ninja, but one of our meal combos will make you feel like a Chuunin!”

The world somehow managed to develop personal computers, gaming, and a booming movie industry in the span of two full Presidential terms. I’ve heard of advancement but Boruto really takes it to another level–even Avatar had the decency to set things like 80 years into the future.

2. This version of the Chuunin Exams involves all the major Ninja Villages, which means a few familiar old faces like the Kazekage and Mizukage, and a lot of new faces like the kids involved.   First there’s the Genbu Shinobi Trio, from the Hidden Stone Village. Then there’s the Senka Triplets–Mizukage’s students from the Hidden Mist Village, a trio of brothers with cerulean-tinted hair. Next there’s Team Yurui, a  group from the Hidden Cloud Village with an obnoxious leader. And finally, there’s Team Shinki, the group Gaara and the Hidden Sand Village sent over.

Though we’re a long way from having these kids fight head to head, Team Yurui tries to bully Boruto and Sarada out of their booth when they notice the two are still waiting for their third, Mitsuki.  It nearly results in a match until Shinki separates the two forcefully, and before either Boruto or Yurui can do anything, Mitsuki arrives to completely defuse the attention. Well, at least Yurui is starting off as a rival you want Boruto to embarrass.

Unfortunately, it’s somewhat unlikely they develop these kids as much as the teams from the original Chuunin Exam. When that happened, it felt as if the entire world opened up with the introduction of Team Neji, Team Gaara, and the like. Here, I doubt any of these kids manage to last past the next couple episodes.

3. The first part of the first round will look familiar to most Naruto fans: the group has a single hour to make it through a forest to reach the end, where a…True or False question will be given?  This episode is probably the most reminiscent of old school Naruto in a while, as there’s a ton of mind games involved–as Sai’s explaining the rules, the genin immediately ignore him to start rushing off towards the forest. It takes a few seconds, but Team 7 realizes while giving his explanation Sai had already begun the stopwatch. The rules are irrelevant, and just staying long enough to hear them would make it impossible to finish on time.

But all isn’t well inside the forest, either. The forest is littered with a wide array of traps made specially to hamper ninja who don’t pay attention, by everyone’s favorite mistress of ninja weaponry, Tenten. Countless teams get wiped out on the way, including the Genbu Shinobi Trio, before they can even show off their special skills. The teams that don’t get wiped don’t even need their special abilities, and make it to the other end of the forest unscathed.

4. The second half of the first round of quizzes is, legitimately, a True/False question. It’s an absurdly obscure question most of the kids there wouldn’t even know the answer to, so of course its a trick question. The kids deliberate over it before picking their sides, going under different banners to signify whether they chose to go with “True” or “False”. As the timer runs out, Sai presses a button revealing both answers are right…then has both teams fall into a pit where the bottom is filled with ink.

Turns out, the “real” test is the refusal to surrender. Sai hints that whoever “turns black” will be eliminated, and several of the remaining teams either deduce his meaning or realize that allowing themselves to fall into inkpits when they have so many ninja superpowers doesn’t make much sense.

Boruto on the other hand, has been suffering a crisis of conscience since the Exam began. As he falls into the pit, he nearly gets lost, and the only thing that saves him are his teammates, Mitsuki and Sarada. One of Boruto’s “rivals” mocks him by pointing out how useless he was, and undoubtedly the worst part for Boruto had to be…the kid was right. Consumed by his desire to beat his father, his need to prove himself to his father and the village, and whether or not he should be using a device that is absolutely cheating, Boruto freezes at a crucial moment. He’ll have to figure this out if he’s going to be helpful in the second round.

5. The best moment of the episode though is Naruto hearing about his son passing the first part of the test. As the Hokage he’s constantly swamped under a mountain of paperwork, and there’s the whole “We’re under attack by chakra-eating aliens” thing he’s dealing with, so he sends Boruto an email.

Boruto is of course unsatisfied–but considering he wants to beat his dad up, getting some positive reinforcement no doubt created a lot of confusing feelings for the kid. He starts to delete it, but he chooses to save it instead. It’s frustrating watching Boruto be such a brat, but this change from him being the ultimate wunderkind he was in the first few arcs isn’t bad–he’s got flaws same as everyone else. But hopefully once we’re done with this he can move past them, because I’m not trying to go back to having him perpetually ticked at the savior of the village.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu.