This week’s episode of Boruto closed out the previous arc and confirmed the state of the next one. Last week, as Naruto, Sasuke, Boruto, and Kawaki returned from fighting Isshiki, the focus was on the present. What I mean by that is that the episode wanted to make sure the audience understood the state of the adult characters. It confirmed that Naruto lacked any abnormal (tailed beast) chakra inside of his body and that Sasuke had permanently lost his Rinnegan. This week, Boruto episode 220 turned toward Boruto for just about the entire episode as the Naruto and the Kage debated Boruto’s fate in the face of his transformation into Momoshiki.
Notably, this episode changed some parts of the continuity. Some elements from the manga appeared in this episode. Those elements appear a bit later in the manga timeline. Additionally, the episode targeted the juxtaposition of Naruto’s two roles. This happened alongside a continuation of Boruto’s mental crisis from last week. For Naruto, the tension comes from his many responsibilities. On the one hand, he has a responsibility as Hokage to the village. On the other, he is Boruto’s father and wants to protect his child. For Boruto, he has to confront his own existence as a ticking time bomb. While some of the characterization of them both felt shallow at times, the episode overall was quite satisfying. We’ve been treated to lots of action for weeks; having lots of dialogue creates balance.
Spoilers ahead for Boruto episode 220.
An Impossible Choice
I have a lot of praise for the way the anime handled the conversation between Naruto and the rest of the Kage. Similar to many of the conversations in this portion of the story, this one was quite emotional. Naruto rarely gets a chance to showcase his maturity. In this case, the story interestingly blended his naivete and his adult mindset. His bold choice to kill Boruto should he ever fully manifest as Momoshiki showed a thought process befitting a Hokage. But, arguably, his choice to not act proactively and kill Boruto does not. Instead, it feels reminiscent of how Naruto responded to challenges as a teen. When the impossible appeared before him, he simply swore he’d find a way to solve it.
The choice of sacrifice for the sake of the village is something generally presented as the choice any Hokage needs to be able to make. For Naruto, however, we know he struggles to sacrifice anyone but himself. Even Kurama notes this; the tailed beast tricked Naruto by making it seem like Naruto’s life was the cost of Baryon mode. Even in the time of the Third Hokage, Itachi was once asked what he would do should a man with a contagious, deadly disease be amongst healthy ninja stranded at sea. Itachi was praised as having the mindset of a Hokage for answering that he would throw the man overboard.
Room for Depth
Personally, I thought Boruto episode 220 could have gone deeper into this choice. Naruto did a lot of introspection, but I would have loved to hear his thought process more. All the audience really heard was a brief argument between Naruto and Sasuke. Naruto very easily could’ve spoken more about his emotions even then. He has spent almost no time grieving Kurama aloud. Even more, this isn’t the first time he’s had to face the possibility of the 5 Kage ordering the death of someone close to him.
At one point Sasuke was targeted by all five nations for the same fate. Kakashi, Naruto’s teacher, has had to kill one of his closest friends to prevent her from rampaging as a tailed beast. Sasuke’s brother, Itachi, killed his entire family to prevent a coup against the village. It feels wrong to not mention these comparable situations. At the very least, as in times past, it makes sense for Naruto to consult with someone like Kakashi, a former Hokage.
By all rights, this is Boruto’s story and I understand that. But part of retiring Sasuke and Naruto as the primary protagonists is letting their experiences inform their decisions. If their arcs are concluding, they need to reference the past. This ended up feeling like a regression for Naruto’s character. Not because of the choice he made, but because the lack of vocalized thoughts surrounding it suggested he acted purely on surface-level emotion and nothing more.
For Boruto, Boruto episode 220 showed another level of his fear. He avoids sleep multiple nights in this episode. While not stated explicitly, this is likely because he is afraid he’ll lose control in his sleep, because of stress, or both. In either case, he is constantly confronted with his impending mortality. However, his actions reveal that this isn’t his main concern. Clearly, he doesn’t want to die. But, he has an even greater fear of hurting those around him by becoming Momoshiki. Ironically enough, the behavior he showcased in this episode is what he scolded Kawaki for. Boruto distanced himself from others and tried to lock his fear behind a calm disposition.
In the end, he is able to take Amado’s pills and suppress his becoming an Otsutsuki. This is the event that happened sooner than in the manga. This part of the episode, in my opinion, missed the mark. The pills are quite literally a Deus Ex Machina for one. But, additionally, because of the impending anime-introduced content, they work too well too soon. This moment feels a lot to me like the filler in Bleach between Ichigo losing his powers and those powers actually going away. It feels like a backpedal to a viewer in certain ways. Hopefully, these pills don’t remove all danger of his power going out of control.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing that become a threat in the next arc. Especially considering part one of Naruto, where Sasuke’s curse mark and the Nine-Tails had similar risks as the Karma, I want this connection to come up.
The New Chunin Exams
Finally, the episode confirmed that the next arc is a Chunin exam. Kawaki is likely to become a genin and participate alongside the rest of the genin we know. This will be a great way to bring a lot of forgotten characters back into relevance. Even more, it’ll help give an idea of where everyone stands at the moment. I imagine Boruto won’t use Karma out of fear or via exam rules. In an OVA years ago, the exams banned Sage Mode, so Karma likely will fare similarly.
Boruto episode 220 had a lot of content and paved the way for more. The Chunin exams are certain to be action-heavy. But, they also have the chance to layer onto the narrative of the world. News of Boruto’s condition likely reaches elsewhere. Even more, it makes him somewhat of a target. I want to see the world’s reaction to the Leaf. On top of that, I’m quite excited to see if the Leaf Genin, especially Sarada, Sumire, and Kawaki, have some new tricks up their sleeves.
Boruto Episode 220 Images courtesy of VRV
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