Welcome back to the Boruto Corner–The place for Boruto opinions. About a year ago, before Boruto started and I fell in love with this series, I wondered how the movie arc would go. More so, I worried about it. After experiencing Dragon Ball Super’s attempts at serializing a film into their main series, and really failing for the most part to make it noticeably different or better than their film counterparts, I could only be concerned about how Boruto would tackle it. After reading the manga, I was slightly relieved due to slight deviations, enhanced plot lines, and added exposition, but still I worried how this would look episodically. I worried how people would respond to this arc if only due previous fan response to this series via Twitter (i.e. people don’t really like this series, rightfully so sometimes, though for the most part it’s a lot of people hating just for the fact that this is not about Naruto or that Boruto, the character, brushed them the wrong way.).
Now let’s fast-forward to two months ago or so when the movie arc started. We were just finishing the mini-arc where the new Team 7 faced off against a White Zetsu monster, and Boruto was learning that though he’s pretty strong for his age, he wasn’t at the level of strength he aspired to be. He wasn’t at a point where his father would truly recognize him nor was he at a point where he could take true pride in his strength. With the Chunin Exams coming up, how would he show his strength?
And it’s this first difference in motivations that made me know I would enjoy this arc, especially given the attachment I have to Boruto as a character. In the movie, Boruto isn’t given character exposition before the Chunin Exams, so he’s just shown as a bratty child who doesn’t try hard, doesn’t train, and cheats to be strong. He has no motivations shown in the film, and that was hard to make him likeable or something fans would want to focus on in a series, but with 52 episodes to warm up to/at least understand Boruto, we can get more into his justification for cheating. And it’s a mix of feeling weak, despite not being so, and not wanting to disappoint his friends and, most importantly, his father (regardless of all his daddy issue angst). And after watching this entire arc, I can gladly say that the anime version of the Chunin Exams is the definitive version. With each episode we received more insight into supporting characters, the other narrative threads going on were actually visible, and we were given more fights. This arc, all around, was better than the two previous adaptations and that’s wonderful. I mean, while I enjoyed most of the content before this arc, I hope that the wonder of this arc implies that the quality will only go up from here. But before I close this out, I want to highlight two episodes from this arc that just stood out from the rest and enhanced the viewing experience of this show.
Episode 61: The Iron Sand User: Shinki
Now I enjoyed this episode a lot for several reasons. A) We got to see Gaara’s adoptive son, Shinki, in action, but for more than just a simple fight with Chocho or Metal Lee. This fight displayed a lot of Shinki’s skills, and whoo-wee, he is no light weight. The boy’s a monster. B) Boruto and Sarada worked together and it’s always neat to see their teamwork. C) This episode brought Boruto’s daddy issue angst to a climax, and we got to see the consequences of his cheating, and woo-boy did they not disappoint. I like to sometimes judge the quality of a Boruto episode off of how many times I yell, My baby boy!, and I yelled that phrase five times in just the closing minutes. D) Boruto finishing Shinki off with purple lightning was epic, despite the fact that he cheated in doing so.
But let’s focus on point C here. The emotional intensity of Boruto getting caught cheating by his father was intense on an emotional level. We got to see a lot of what Boruto had bottled in. He just wanted to be strong. He just wanted to impress his father. When Boruto goes on his rant, yelling that he probably wouldn’t have cheated if his father was just around more and taught him more moves, the audience had a chance to look at Boruto as more than a character, but also as a child, because that’s what he is. The boy is twelve, and his father, though he could be around more, isn’t around much. Throughout previous episodes you see other fathers, most from the Leaf Village, gloating about their children, bragging about the training they watched their children partake in order to get stronger for these exams. And Naruto, Boruto’s father, has no idea what Boruto’s been learning or how he’s been training. He’s not in his son’s life as much as he should be. And that’s a great moment for both characters’ development.
And then there’s the consequences of Boruto’s cheating. While the movie embarrasses Boruto, it kind of just sweeps it under the rug for the sake of the moving narrative and the next plot point that needs to happen, but the anime, it ruminates on this moment. It lets Boruto drown in his shame as his father calls him out in front of his entire village, disqualifies him as a ninja, and the village insults him. But to make matters even worse, we get to see his best friend, Shikadai, who he also cheated to win against in a previous round of the exams, confront him. And it’s devastating.
This episode was great on an emotional level, and truly showed the weight of Boruto’s actions in a way that felt real, because not only had he failed his friends and the village and his father, he failed us, the audience, who rooted for him to be the best the could be.
Episode 65: Father and Child
And then there was this episode. I watched this episode on Thursday, July 19th, at around 7am in the morning, which is the usual time I watch episodes of Boruto, but when I woke up to watch this specific episode, I did not expect to be in such awe. I did not expect such greatness to be unleashed before me. I watched this episode twice on my projector, then two more times on my laptop that morning. My roommate, the freckled one, walked into our living room and caught me yelling, Why was that so good?, over and over again. And it wasn’t just me that enjoyed this episode, Twitter exploded. Youtubers I followed shouted this episode’s greatness in their tweets. The show trended for a hot second. I watched reactions upon reactions for this episode, and for the rest of the week it was my obsession.
If I were to explain what was great about this episode, I would start with the animation of it. Though there are, on occasion, great displays of animation for an episode, this was a case where it had my full attention. It was so fluid. The small motions were emphasized. It was so good I followed the lead director for the episode, Chengxi Huang, and one of the animators who just goes by guzzu. I was floored by the fight scenes, not only because they were so fluid and gorgeous, but because it had a lot of call backs to earlier in the series. The use of Sasuke’s shuriken with Naruto’s shadow clones called back to their fight with Zabuza. When Naruto’s clone shuriken hits Momoshiki in the face it calls back to his fight with Neji. The entire episode was a fight where you could see Naruto, Sasuke, and Boruto being true ninja in their strategy and tactics rather than just throwing jutsu around. The amount of trickery and feints in their combat was delightful. I had a childish smile on my face the entire episode.
But it was also a resolution to this conflict between Boruto and Naruto. Boruto got to see his father fight full power, see how much of a bloody beast his Pops is, and respect how much Naruto had to go through in order to reach those feats. Naruto got to understand how much he wasn’t paying attention to his son, because he didn’t know Boruto could make the Rasengan. And though it was only for about 40 seconds, the father and child looked each other in the eye and understood each other.
And this episode showed that Boruto didn’t have to cheat at all for the exams, he just had to believe in his skills and throw that Rasengan (a move he didn’t use the entire exam). Lastly, as a jaded adult turned Sasuke fan, I love anytime my guy gets some shine. What I’m trying to say is that this episode is perfection. It was just amazing, and in the episode following this one we got to see the true passing of the torch. Only after understanding his dad’s story could Boruto start his own. And it was a great way to close out the arc. So if you can watch the show, watch it. You’ll find it on Crunchyroll. The arc after this is filler though, so my next piece on this series won’t be for a while. Gotta act like I’m still excited about the show even though a few episodes will be focused on Chocho… I leave you with a clip of guzzu’s animation for episode 65, just so you can understand the work put into that episode. Later days.