This week’s episode of Boruto was redemption in more ways than one. First, last week’s episode was quite lacking. Second, and even more, this was one of the first times a fight between two female characters felt satisfying in Boruto. Fans of Naruto likely remember the fight between Ino and Sakura during their chunin exams. That fight went down as one of the (if not absolute) worst fights in the entire series. Flashbacks constantly interrupted combat, the combat wasn’t done well, and the stakes felt low. In general, this franchise does not let its female characters shine. Boruto episode 225 was an incredibly welcome exception.
Last week’s episode struggled to capture the balance between the series’ overall optimism and the severity of the episode’s content. This week, in contract, was able to exemplify it. Sarada, while dealing with the possibility of having to take out her own teammate, is considering the responsibilities she has as a ninja. Cho Cho, for her part, just watched her teammate lose. She goes into battle knowing two things. One, she knows that the dream of her entire team being chunin now is impossible. Two, she knows the odds are against her. Sarada is from the superstar Team 7, an Uchiha, and a prodigy in her own right. Cho Cho is seen as somewhat of a comic relief character both by us viewers and in the show.
Luckily, this week gave her a chance to shine. While it wasn’t an enormous amount of screen time, I felt quite satisfied with the way her power was presented. Plus, the skill she showed has some unique implications for how we scale her abilities going forward. Obviously, in discussing all of this, I will be going over the plot of Boruto episode 225. Read with that in mind.
Best Friends in Battle
This matchup was by no means a surprise. The conversation this pair had prior to the exams was enough of a sign. Plus, given Boruto and Mitsuki’s absence and the fact that Tsubaki and Denki are…not too important, the matchups were natural. This one was uniquely special due to the fighting styles of the combatants. Sarada fights a lot like an Uchiha with bursts of her mother’s style mixed in. By this, I mean she darts around the battlefield using the kinetic vision of Sharingan, launching bursts of jutsu or enhanced blows when necessary. Cho Cho, like her clan, mostly fights like a tank. She can take a lot of punishment and she uses the expansion jutsu in order to launch physical barraged. This fight showed off her greatest skill and one that usually ends up as a joke in the anime.
Cho Cho, unlike Choji at her age, has mastery over the Akimichi clan’s Calorie Control technique, which converts calories into chakra. In the anime, we mostly see this as a technique for her to appear slim and conventionally attractive. I think that presentation underscored how ridiculous her skill is. For context, Choji didn’t achieve her level of mastery until he was a chunin and nearly 18. Even then, he was only able to massively manifest the chakra in his Butterfly Mode, not passively apply the jutsu solely to appear slim like Cho Cho can. This means her chakra control is incredible, just like Sarada’s after-time training with Sakura.
Control vs Control
What this means is that unlike Iwabe’s performance last match, Boruto episode 225 was a match between two people with plenty of chakra and good control over it. This is what allowed Cho Cho to spam techniques against Sarada and brawl without immediately collapsing. Even more, the fact that she was able to fight evenly with a Sharingan user in hand-to-hand combat is a testament to her skill. She was able to blitz Sarada while her Sharingan was inactive and land a clean hit. In terms of power, this likely puts her on par if not above Choji during the Sasuke retrieval arc, where he was capable of taking out the most physically strong of the Sound 4. She’s no joke.
As for Sarada, I have mixed thoughts about her performance. While she was definitely trying at the end of the fight, I don’t think she was at her strongest. Her performance against Boro and other adversaries was a lot more technically impressive than against Cho Cho. This either means that Cho Cho is better than those enemies, or that Sarada is just a lot stronger in a life or death situation. Thematically this makes sense. One of the core struggles of this episode was Sarada believing she was fully resolved while not truly being resolved. I think that her full potential is something she struggled to pull out of herself except for in times of true crisis.
Amado and Looking Forward
As I’ve predicted before, I imagine the country dealing with Amada will become the seeds of an anime-original arc to come. The anime is still far too close to the manga; at this pace, the manga story needs at least half a year to get decently ahead. My hope is that the little tease we got of Boruto era geopolitics grows into something a bit more toothsome. Scientific weaponry obviously changes the playing field for warfare between ninja. If one can simply purchase a fighting chance, there’s less of a need to fortify forces.
In any case, I find myself looking more toward that than toward Tsubaki and Denki’s match. Denki is someone who I appreciate conceptually, but who simply does not have enough screen time to feel substantive. Tsubaki, conversely, I like a lot. But, with her planned departure from the village, I can’t imagine she will be a consistent character anyway. For now, I’m looking forward to Boruto and Mitsuki’s fight, Kawaki and Shinki brawling a little bit more, and hopefully the same level of quality that Boruto episode 225 brought.
Boruto episode 225 images courtesy of VRV
BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS © 2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO / 2017 BORUTO. All Rights Reserved.