What a twist!
Overview (Spoilers Below)
Mitsuki reveals to Naruto that he’s figured out who the culprit behind the chakra spirit attacks is. Surprisingly, its none other than their class rep, Sumire Kakei. Naruto finds this out as well and is furthermore informed that Sumire is the remnant of the Foundation, the organization Danzo founded many years ago. Mitsuki continues to say that Sumire isn’t just trying to manipulate the village but actually has been gathering the victim’s chakra as well. Meanwhile, Kakashi and Shikamaru advise Naruto on what to do, and Kakashi, who was supposed to be at a hot spring, explains that he’s found some documentation revealing that Sumire is the gate that “Nue” is to be summoned through.
All this is interrupted when Sumire, after being disabled by Sai, lets loose Nue from the seal on her back. Nue, the giant lion-ape, threatens to destroy the whole village if it isn’t stopped. In response, Mitsuki receives orders from his snake familiar to kill Sumire. Meanwhile, the ninjas of the village try to stop Nue from wreaking havoc on the village. They manage to isolate it with the summoning of a ring of dirt walls, but Nue’s power proves to be more destructive than they thought. Using the tentacles that emerge from its tail, Nue is able to absorb everyone’s chakra into itself. Mitsuki knows this and also knows that the only way to stop it is to kill the person who summoned it, making his mission to kill Sumire all that more important. Boruto won’t have it, though, and tells Mitsuke he won’t let him kill their class rep. Mitsuki dispatches a shadow clone to hold Boruto back, but Boruto is able to summon his own and free himself.
Kakashi, Sai, and the others continue their efforts to stop Nue, and Naruto arrives to assist. However, Naruto’s hands are tied, since using his full power would just give Nue more power through its absorption. At the same time, Mitsuki confronts Sumire. Mitsuki is able to disable her and is about to kill her when Boruto arrives to save the day. He tries to convince them to stop, but when words fail, his eye jutsu releases an electric charge and somehow seals away Nue in a portal in the sky. However, Nue grabs Sumire at the last moment, and Boruto jumps in to save her.
This would probably be the first “real” episode of Boruto that I’ve seen so far, in the sense that it feels like the first time anything of real importance has happened. For a good while now, this show has felt a lot more like elementary school drama with some ninja flavor, but here we start to get more into the nitty gritty of things. You’ll find this episode to definitely be more entertaining than what Boruto typically provides, but still ultimately lackluster. It’s not terrible, but it doesn’t hit any real emotional chords with me, and that defeats the impact of the fighting and lessens the tension of the danger. Like most anime with troubled beginnings, Boruto can’t seem to get up off the mat when its time for its more involved story to begin.
12 episodes of poor storytelling and weak characterization has not done this series well. And now that it decides it wants to be more interesting than a ninja slice-of-life, it can’t really bring me to care much about anything that’s going on. It’s nice to have a throwback to Danzo and the original series, but that’s a small consolation to an otherwise “meh” villain. It was a decent twist that Sumire was the perpetrator of the trouble around town and not Mitsuki, who had been clearly hinted to be the bad guy, but because Sumire doesn’t have any real development or connection to Boruto, she’s not very interesting. Villains need to have something to make me interested in their machinations, and “Naruto” has been historically good at bringing the audience very close to the villains, who are usually themselves victims. That theme is echoed here in Sumire, but a weak execution leaves a lot to be desired.
There’s just a lot missing here. This episode isn’t so bad its insulting, which is good, but its just so damn boring. It’s not anything we haven’t seen before, and it’s not even close to anything that “Naruto” has made prior, which is sad. Boruto should be a show that pushes the mythos and world of “Naruto” forward, but instead feels like its just a diet version of the original. Even bringing back Kakashi doesn’t excite me, and he’s one of my favorite characters. The arc isn’t finished yet, so there’s still the possibility of recovery, and I hope that it does, but my expectations are not high.