This week, Boruto episode 224 continued the final rounds of the chunin exams. Last week’s episode covered the incredible match between Houki and Inojin. In a refreshing change for this arc, that episode was filled with incredible action. Plenty of fans felt impressed with the detail put into the jutsu sequences of that fight. Even more, while much of that episode was dialogue heavy, the dialogue felt relevant. This episode attempted to follow that same format. Unfortunately, it fell a tad bit short. While the brief action sequences were satisfying, Boruto episode 224 fell into two traps. One trap is one quite common to this series in particular: it mismatched the substance of the plot with the tone of the episode. The second trap is a bit more subjective and has to do with the Naruto franchise’s consistent hypocrisy around the subject of heritage and destiny.
Ultimately, I liked the episode for the messages it represents and the skill it showcased from these two fighters. However, I think there are a few ways it could have been much better, both in terms of the fight and the dialogue that buoyed it. Wasabi and Iwabe are fun characters; I want to see them shine. Obviously in discussing those things I’ll be spoiling the events of the episode. Read on with that in mind.
Narratively, this fight was also one between two outlooks. Iwabe is very much a Naruto-esque character, having failed to advance as a ninja for years and wanting to become Hokage. Wasabi wants to be a powerful ninja. But, she feels immense pressure from her clan’s desire to finally produce a splendid ninja worthy of even becoming a jonin, let alone Hokage. From that alone, Boruto episode 224 created a cool fight. Wasabi was able to give Iwabe a reality check about pressure while Iwabe was able to inspire Wasabi to scoff at low odds and shoot to make dreams a reality.
The earliest stages of the fight involved mostly taijutsu and nothing all too impressive. This felt starkly in contrast with last week where Houki used some pretty explosive earth style techniques. Most of all, I felt frustrated with the music and tone of Wasabi’s revelations about her family. The music playing in the background of her telling her story was the same joyful little background that plays when Boruto characters chat and eat burgers. I think a natural comparison is Rock Lee’s story in part 1 of Naruto. His story felt heartfelt and the music, style, and presentation fit that. The world of Boruto is one that exists post-war, where ninja lacking prestige barely have careers. Boruto episode 224 had an excellent opportunity to lean into that but didn’t.
I’ll speak more about the Susanno-esque transformation Wasabi eventually achieved, but I’ll talk about Iwabe now. I was relatively confident Iwabe would get jobbed this episode but he didn’t deserve what he got. His earth style, while precise, paled in comparison to Houki and he just ended up looking like a fool. But, unlike Naruto, he didn’t finish his foolish rant about destiny with a win.
On Ninja and Destiny
With that in mind, it’s really time for both Naruto and Boruto as franchises to start shifting their presentation of this “anyone can be powerful” mindset. Let’s be realistic — destiny in this series is real and where you come from matters a lot. The first Hokage was the reincarnation of basically ninja Jesus and hailed from one of the most powerful clans ever, which also hailed from ninja Jesus. The second Hokage was his brother. The third Hokage was trained by them while also hailing from a powerful family. And before someone questions that last bit, remember that Sasuke was literally named after a powerful Sarutobi ninja in the hopes he’d be like him. Every Hokage after them was either trained by someone legendary, directly related to a previous Hokage, or (in the case of Naruto and Tsunade) both.
Conversely, rando ninja just die all the time. Over 10,000 died in the war and the weaker clans, as Wasabi’s story makes clear, never advance. Even under Naruto, a ninja who champions the idea that anyone can become great, this remained true for her clan. Rock Lee, who previously championed this ideal, was constantly outclassed by his classmates. Neji, who Naruto once convinced was not doomed to his destiny of protecting his clan, got shish kebabed and died…protecting his clan.
This is not all to say that ninja trying is bad. It is more a commentary on how Wasabi’s mindset and Iwabe’s sought resolution. Boruto episode 224 ends implying that Iwabe was right and Wasabi was wrong. A much more refreshing conclusion to that clash could easily have been that anyone can reach a level satisfying to them, even if not the absolute strongest.
Not much is there to say about Iwabe. His jutsu was actually pretty impressive in terms of the detail that went into constructing a giant cat. It’s a bit sad that he has so little chakra that he can’t move after using it, but whatever. Wasabi however, might actually be a monster. Her cat god possession was even faster than her standard jutsu, which already made her as fast as speedy genin like Sarada. Plus, it looks like a Susanoo (obviously it’s not as strong, but look at it!). If she can use it like one then she’ll be an absolute menace on the battlefield and I really cant wait to see it in a proper fight. Her punch looked pretty regular, she didn’t just shatter that rock. She pulverized it into dust, which requires much more force than most from the original series’ chunin exams could output.
Moving on from Boruto episode 224, it looks like we’re due for continuation of the Amado pursuit next week. From the current progression of things, it’s quite obvious Boruto and Mitsuki will fight each other and fight last. If I had to guess, I don’t think either of them will become chunin while Sarada will. It’s possible the two of them either get disqualified or simply tie.
As for next week, I would love to see Sarada really go all out. With the Sand Village ninja all being chunin and one of them having beaten Sarada last exam, she has plenty to prove. Cho Cho, while usually being comic relief, is actually pretty strong now that she has access to her clan’s butterfly form. I’m expecting a brilliant fight there and I am hoping that the animation budget from this episode went to next week’s.
Boruto episode 224 images courtesy of VRV
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