This week’s episode 209 of “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations” served as a bit of a palate cleanser. In general, brief periods of lighter content bracket major fights in Boruto. Within the manga, this is a bit more drawn out. In terms of what fits on a page, it’s harder to cram tons of dialogue into a single chapter. This isn’t the case for anime, where full episodes create space for plenty of conversation. So, there has to be a bit of extra content in anime episodes in order to achieve the same effective spacing. Otherwise, what may have amounted to a week break in action in the manga becomes a few minutes of a break in the anime.
This episode filled the role of the beginning of a break. In last week’s episode of Boruto, the anime had a slight change from the manga. Following Naruto and Sasuke’s fight with Jigen in the manga, Jigen states he needs two days to regain his chakra. In the anime, that period is much longer. It is unclear if the extra events this creates for the anime storyline will be critical to the plot. But, this episode, despite not having major events occur, did give us a good look into Kawaki’s state of mind.
This is definitely a welcome addition. Action anime are notoriously lousy at interrogating the mindset of their characters. In a series like Boruto, where allegiances, family, and bonds are central themes, characters’ thought processes are super important. And especially considering the clash between Kawaki and Boruto from the series’ opening, having additional context will only improve the plot.
As you might have assumed, this article has heavy spoilers for episode 209 of “Boruto: Naruto Next Generations“. Read with that in mind!
Message via Metaphor
The focal point of episode 209 of Boruto is a wounded, emaciated wolf Himawari found outside the Leaf Village. Sneaking food from the rest of her family, Himawari slowly nurses the wolf back to health. While she isn’t aware of why the wolf doesn’t have a pack, she supports it anyway. The episode doesn’t shy away from the obvious comparison to Kawaki; Kawaki himself even notes he was like the wolf. He hypothesizes that the wolf, whose fur is entirely white, was cast out from his pack. Since he is a lot more visible than his brown-furred packmates, he makes the group more visible to predators. By voluntarily keeping himself away from the pack, he ensures their increased safety by sacrificing himself.
This mirrors the anxiety festering in Kawaki as he observes the aftermath of Jigen’s attacks. For one, Kawaki has grown attached to the Leaf. He considers the Uzumaki household family (even if he never says it!) and Boruto a brother. But, he also knows that he is a prime target for Jigen. Kawaki sees himself as an attractant for Jigen. In other words, he has the bright fur that might make the pack suffer in the long run. For that reason, he plans to leave the Leaf. Presumably, he would surrender himself to Jigen, just as he attempted to do when Jigen initially appeared beside him and Naruto.
This mindset is an incredibly interesting one in the series. While the episode doesn’t state this, the will to sacrifice oneself for the village is one consistently attributed to the Hokage. Naruto was willing to do this multiple times for Kawaki’s sake. In the original Naruto series, 3 of the past Hokage died to save another. In the Itachi light novels, Itachi is praised for having a similar mindset to Kawaki.
The Tag Team Talk-no-Jutsu
Obviously though, the members of the Leaf have no plans to let Kawaki give himself up. Like Kawaki, they also want to protect those close to them. When these various wills to protect clash, the end result is conversation. The Naruto and Boruto stories are well known for having main characters talk others out of decisions, with fans calling this “talk no jutsu” as if it were a ninja technique. In this case, the unlikely tag-team of Boruto and Shikamaru convince Kawaki to stay in the village. Boruto adopts a protective stance and Shikamaru a practical one. He points out that even if Kawaki were to leave, it’s likely Jigen would still want to invade the village again. After all, Boruto still has a Karma that Jigen will certainly consider a threat.
While this might seem like an obvious conclusion from Shikamaru, it’s not something Kawaki considered. Moreover, it serves as some useful framing for the kinds of threats in the Boruto series. Unlike prior fights, location and distance are no longer factors for safety. No matter where our characters are, they are constantly at risk. Notes like that give a different air to the show. Now, even the safest places have a constant element of tension to them. Even more, the next few episodes of anime content will bring more events that add substance to that tension.
Boruto Episode 209 Images courtesy of VRV
BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS © 2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO / 2017 BORUTO. All Rights Reserved.