This week’s episode of Boruto features the first round of chunin exams final round. This match was between Inokin and Houki, who we hadn’t seen much of in the series. On face, this match was already interesting for that reason. As I’ve mentioned before, Houki’s surname implied that his techniques and personality will involve plenty of interesting puns with Japanese landmarks and history. Even more, while we’re aware of Inojin’s abilities, we rarely see them used in solo matches and combines effectively. Back in part one of Naruto, Inojin’s mother, Ino, was basically limited to the Mind Transfer Jutsu. Since Inojin can use both that jutsu and his father’s techniques, I expected Boruto episode 223 to show him mixing them well.
Unfortunately, I felt this episode didn’t put much effort into the fight. It was interesting, sure, but in a way that didn’t justify the time spent watching it. Houki as a character represents many things I go deeper into below. Inojin, unfortunately, isn’t a character I feel much attachment to.
Aside from their fight, the audience also caught a glimpse of a side story. Those events seem poised to possibly disrupt the exams. This is to be expected; we’ve actually never had a canon chunin exam without mishap in the franchise. But, this side story has the potential to round out some of the aftermath of the Isshiki fight in a way the manga did not.
Houki is Amazing
I’m mad Houki didn’t get earlier screen time. As I predicted, his arsenal seems to flow from Japanese landmarks with historical significance. The technique he used in this match, Earth Release: Toujinbo, refers to a set of real-life rocky cliffs off of the coast of Japan. There are many stories about these cliffs in myth-history. Today, it is also an unfortunately common place for people to commit suicide. I don’t imagine Houki’s techniques will touch on that bit, but I do imagine they will continuously reference real life locations in the future, such as Mt. Fuji.
Aside from his techniques, I also appreciate Houki simply for serving as a connection to the Anbu. In the past, the Anbu were talked about but we rarely had consistent appearances from their current membership. Even Kakashi, who spent years in the Anbu, scarcely mentions it. What we see of his (and Itachi’s) time there comes from novels and flashbacks. Houki presents an intriguing opportunity for the man series to experience the type of skills and knowledge Anbu trainees gain. Plus, it means the style of combat Houki uses is incredibly unique and suiting to quick killing.
His ability to memorize locations was one of my favorite bits of Boruto episode 223. It made his attacks feel like as assault from the shadows. It was a strategy befitting of someone involved in the anbu. I’m hoping his Kakashi fascination also gets more time later, especially given his similarity in appearance to Kakashi’s younger self. For now though, I am glad he won rather than allow Inojin to struggle and win at the last second with one technique.
I don’t yet have conclusive thoughts on what we’ve seen of these shady folks in the village in Boruto episode 223. For now, I see two possibilities for how this will affect the story. Option one is that this will slowly blow up into something major and stall the final matches of the exams. Option two is that this will be something Boruto and Mitsuki struggle with alone before miraculously showing up in time for the final battle, which will be between the two of them. Given the usual habits of anime, my money is 100% on option two. But, in both cases, there’s potential for this sidequest to be meaningful.
Recall back to the Kara Actuation arc. During this arc, the anime added content about cults that the manga didn’t. That added a “normal people” element to the storyline and felt refreshing. In this era, the chunin exams are at a similar people-focused inflection point. Like those targeted by Kara, the people are distraught after Isshiki (and the Otsutsuki more broadly) easily bypassed village security multiple times.
A kidnapping or insurgency plot would showcase some of the frustration ordinary people have with their leaders. Just like in real life, when you lose faith in the protective capacity of a government against a tangible threat, you form alternative means of protecting yourself. I would like to see some sort of group object to Amado, a former Kara Inner, living in the Leaf village.
Looking toward next week, I’m pretty hype to see Wasabi in action. Her technique (to me) is a bit cooler than Kiba’s at her age. I imagine Iwabe will lose, but we’ll have to see.
Boruto episode 223 images courtesy of VRV
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