For the first time in a while, the anime being semi unfaithful to the manga turned out incredibly well. Boruto episode 218 covered the final stages of the fight against Isshiki Otsutsuki. Last we saw everyone, Kawaki hid from Isshiki while tortured by memories of his childhood. Isshiki, still Jigen at that point, abused Kawaki constantly. The motif of a broken vessel is one that Isshiki constantly reified in Kawaki’s life; Isshiki took care to dehumanize Kawaki and remind him that he was nothing more than a means of reincarnation. Obviously, this episode was not going to have as much action as the fight between Baryon mode Naruto and Isshiki. But, where it lacked in hand-to-hand combat it had emotional and character-driven content in droves.
One of the more notable aspects of this portion of the anime has been how much visual details and voice acting supplements the storyline. On paper, only so much is conveyable. Details such as shadows around the eyes are difficult to showcase on panel. Moreover, there simply aren’t enough pages in a chapter to dedicate large drawings to single individuals’ expressions. I think, in a broad sense, that has been the most impressive part of this portion of the anime’s adaptation. Boruto episode 218 and 217 both leveraged this from both Isshiki and Kawaki. For the former, the audience was treated to a constant juxtaposition of his alien arrogance and mortal fear. For the latter, it was a progression from fear to confidence.
Spoilers ahead for Boruto episode 218.
Kawaki’s Final Stand
In his final moments against Isshiki, Kawaki makes use of a very simple trick. He uses the shadow clone jutsu to deceive Isshiki, wasting the final seconds of the Otsutsuki’s life and defeating him. While this trick is just basic ninjutsu, there are some thematic elements very much worth highlighting. Fans of the original Naruto series will remember that for Naruto, that jutsu has always been tied to loneliness. Sasuke points this out in their first final valley battle and Naruto references it when he explains the technique to Kawaki. Kawaki making use of ninjutsu, rather than his weapon body, is a clear rejection of Amado and Kara. He notes he can only make one and it’s something he only manages when he fears losing Naruto, who is his entire world.
Curiously, Boruto episode 218 made the choice to not show Kawaki using one-handed hand seals. I think this somewhat detracted from the level of expertise Kawaki showed early in his learning of ninjutsu, but that detail isn’t incredibly important. Overall, this entire sequence was well executed and was an excellent way of continuing to round out Kawaki’s character. His resolve comes through much better when his self-immolation comes with clear facial expressions of agony. Even more, watching his eyes looking down on the dying Isshiki truly conveyed the depth of hatred he had for the man who tortured him for his entire life.
The Death of Kurama
Kurama’s death was the most notable change from the manga and for good reason. To be frank, the Boruto manga’s treatment of this moment was absolutely pathetic. Kurama’s death originally happened over the course of about 7 and a half manga pages. For comparison, a single Boruto chapter is about 44 pages. For even more comparison, Asuma’s death got about 17 pages, nearly a full Naruto Shippuden chapter. Boruto episode 218 dedicated nearly half of the episode to Kurama’s death. In it, we got to see Naruto and Kurama reminisce over good times with new, improved dialogue.
I felt like this portion of Boruto episode 218 could have been a bit less recap and a bit more dialogue directly from Kurama. However, Naruto’s sadness, alongside Kurama’s dry sense of humor and wit, came through well. For the past several episodes, Naruto has very much acted like a serious Hokage. In the face of death, he was confident in himself to the last minute and gave his all against Isshiki. In Kurama’s final moments, his voice nearly jumped an octave and we got to see a juvenile level of sadness more like Naruto in part one than a grown man. This was even more impactful as Naruto wakes up to Boruto reacting to his apparent death just as he just did to Kurama’s real one, reminding him of his remaining responsibilities despite the loss of someone who he was perhaps even closer to than Sasuke.
This death seems like it’ll be permanent and I truly hope it is. Naruto as a franchise has a habit of occasionally undoing pivotal death scenes (e.g. with Guy and Kakashi). However, having Kurama revive would be an insult to both his character and the integrity of the series. This needs to be a loss Naruto can never undo.
God Tiers Brought to Earth
Now, the elephant in the room. Sasuke has his Rinnegan stabbed out and Naruto has lost Kurama. Ninja Jesus and his pal are no longer as strong as before. The question is, how much weaker are they? The short answer is: it depends. I plan on dedicating a separate article to answer this question fully. But, here are some highlights:
Naruto, despite having lost Kurama’s power, still has access to the remaining Biju chakra via their “meeting place” in his body. While it seems likely he won’t have access to abilities like the tailed beast bomb and Kurama’s boosted regeneration, he still will be quite strong by the series’ standards. Sasuke, on the other hand, is weakened in a pretty clear-cut way. The Rinnegan was a massive increase to his power and jutsu arsenal. He still has access to the power of his Sharingan and techniques like Amaterasu. However, he no longer can use any of the space-time techniques that have become mainstays for him.
Following this episode, the anime is likely to begin another round of new content. Boruto episode 218 did a great job of developing Kawaki and I’m hoping other characters get the same treatment. Even Boruto’s teammates have gotten basically zero shine since the fight against Boro. Even more, the non-team 7 characters are all but nonexistent at this point. Having more time to dedicate to the rest of the cast hopefully means the next months, or even years, of content, will be new, but not filler.
Boruto Episode 218 Images courtesy of VRV
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