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Boruto -Naruto Next Generations- – 48, 49


“The Genin Documentary!!”


「下忍ドキュメンタリー!! 」 (Genin Dokyumentarii!!)

Quick Recap

There were consequences to Team 5’s suspension, and I was glad to see how they didn’t miss the opportunity in further developing some characters. Iwabe has been taken on a rough ride by an educational system lacking flexibility, and it’s certainly taken a toll on him. He has fears about being left even further behind, and as someone who clearly has talent, it eats away at him to no end. A breaking point is reached, when Udon withdraws the team from their filming mission, possibly meaning that they won’t have a chance to prove themselves worthy of taking the Chuunin exam. Iwabe almost threw away his forehead protector, the symbol of a shinobi’s pride. Did he almost lose faith in himself, or did he almost lose faith in the shinobi system that unfairly held him back? That’s hard to say, and the answer could possibly be both.
 
When he turned on Metal, I thought that it was over for him. But with the power of friendship, and the help of a guiding figure, he stops short of totally losing it. In fact, the group even got a chance at redemption. They rescue the film producers, and Udon reveals his speciality jutsu, proving his point to Iwabe. Being a ninja isn’t really about flashy skills, so much as protecting people, and having the tenacity to persevere. But if that’s the metric we’re going by, how come Iwabe was made to repeat so many times, in spite of his resolve? Something seems oddly contradictory here, but it has been shown many times that Konohagkure is in need of some reforms, especially on an administrative level.
 
Many times, the series have flirted with the implication that Iwabe is Kawaki. Personally, I wouldn’t want that to be the case. It was quite unfair that Iwabe was held back, in spite of his evident skill in certain applications of ninjutsu. Most educational systems wouldn’t harshly penalise an individual for coming up short in one particular area. However, he’s overcome these obstacles in a spectacular fashion. Is that to say that his heroic struggles will ultimately be meaningless? That’s a really pessimistic outcome. But if they come up with a justified reason for such a hypothetical defection, like having the village play a dirty part in Denki or Metal dying, then I’ll have absolutely no qualms. Bring it on!
 


“Wasabi and Namida”


「ワサビでなみだ」 (Wasabi to Namida)


Escaping animals is a classic genin mission. This time, they put a bit of a twist on the concept, by having these animals escape from the zoo, as opposed to running away from overbearing owners. Sumire does her best to adjust within her new team. Namida and Wasabi get into a silly fracas, where they fall out for a bit, before making up when the situation takes a dangerous turn. In my opinion, we’re returning to the dreaded kinds of storylines that were used to pad out the original series. I can’t bring myself to care about Namida and Wasabi. And from the kickass girl who tried to take on Konohagakure alone, Sumire has quickly become a shadow of her former self.
 

Zaiden’s Proposed Storyboard

 
What I’m suggesting is by no means a magic fix, and I’m not saying it would be ‘better’ per se, than what we actually got. But here’s the storyboard I’d come up with if I was hired to write for this episode, to address the complaints I’ve raised, while keeping a good chunk of the original ideas intact.
 
1. I’d have the monkey and the wolf be friends with each other, coming up with an escape plan so that they can return to the homes they were kidnapped from. After all, animals have their own families and friends who they care about as well. Let’s make the wolf’s story extra sad, and say that the rest of his family died during his capture as a pup by the zoo, making him the very last of his kind.
 
2. Sumire, wanting to establish a social place for herself, finds herself becoming a third wheel to the bromance between Namida and Wasabi. She gives it her all to become better friends with them, but is being crippled by the insecurity of being excluded from their inner circle. It doesn’t help that she suffers from abandonment issues, due to prolonged loneliness, as a result of her father’s death at a young age to seal the Nue inside of her.

 
3. They are sent on the mission, which Sumire sees as an opportunity to deepen their bonds. After doing everything she could, like making her friends those cute animal outfits and a nice bento for lunch, it reaches a breaking point. She voices her complaints about feeling unappreciated, before running off by herself. Sumire feels guilty about her hypocrisy, since she never told her friend about the Nue, and wonders if she could ever have genuine friendships with people she cannot be honest with.

 
4. She comes across the wolf, throws away her facade, and fearlessly engages in combat, getting to show off what a badass she’s always been. Just as she’s about to get overwhelmed, Namida and Wasabi show up to turn the tides, apologising while explaining they didn’t realise how they’d made Sumire feel. They give their own speeches expanding upon their personal backgrounds and personalities, while continuing to help fight the wolf.

 
5. e.g. Namida has always been put down for having such an obnoxious jutsu, which she doesn’t have any control over, because a propensity to cry has been coded into her personality through shinobi genetics. She never asked for these kinds of powers, that cause others to see her as annoying, and secretly hates it.
 This has been the struggle she’s lived with all her life.
 
6. The two girls always knew that Sumire was the master of the Nue, and have been scared of her all this time, considering it almost destroyed the village. However, they’ve come to realise that she was just a girl who was scared of the circumstances out of her control. Recognising her genuine want of friendship, they promise that they’ll earnestly reciprocate Sumire’s feelings.

 
7. After defeating the wolf, the monkey rushes out, and tries to stop them from taking away his friend. Sumire sees the friendship between the animals, regarding what they would do for each other, and recognises that they have something she’s desired all this time.
 A transcending friendship, made in spite of their differences.
 
8. Not wanting these animals to become recaptured, she convinces Namida and Wasabi to help them escape into the Nara Clan forest. But Konoha can’t have a wild wolf running amok on sacred grounds, so Hanabi intervenes, and makes sure that the wolf is subjugated. She scolds the team for their failure, but doesn’t blame them for demonstrating sympathy towards the animals.
 
9. Not wanting to leave his good old friend behind, but not wanting to be put back in the zoo, the monkey joins Team 15 as a pet. They promise to regularly take him to see his friend, the wolf, at the zoo. That way, this cheeky monkey can become a reoccurring character that can be marketed as a mascot.
 Personally, I found his antics to be quite entertaining.
 
10. The girls make up over some dango, and Sumire is truly initiated into their friendship group. However, they get pranked by the monkey, who steals all their dangos. The End.
 

Concluding Thoughts

 
Quick disclaimer. I’m not a professional, have never given this alternative format a shot, and don’t want to make it a habit either. However, I wanted to prove that it’s not difficult to create more relatable and sympathetic characters, if greater effort was given when approaching the storyline. If the ending theme has anything to go by, and perhaps the manga too with recent occurrences, something bad might happen to Team 15. For that to have any impact, you need to build up the characters, so that the audience can be emotionally affected. Unfortunately, my complaints shouldn’t come as any real surprise. The Naruto franchise has had a poor history of fleshing out female characters, whose involvement is typically limited to background support, or being the subjects of romantic shenanigans. I definitely like the aforementioned in moderation, otherwise I wouldn’t have enjoyed Naruto. That said, I cannot help but yearn for something more.
 
Anyway, we’re edging towards the Chuunin Exams, and it seems that next week will cover the selection process. Although I’m somewhat disgruntled that we won’t be getting to the main course straight away, I’ve always been curious to see how these things are decided behind the scenes. Provided that my curiosity can be satisfied through exemplary world building, I should be okay with waiting a little longer.
 
Preview

March 19, 2018 at 5:08 pm
8 comments »
  • March 19, 2018 at 5:16 pmKabble

    I heard episode 49 was THAT awful.
    So I’m doing myself a favor and preserving the image of the previous arc in my head for my own good.
    :)

    • March 20, 2018 at 5:41 pmZaiden

      My thoughts on that episode? I don’t think that Namida, Wasabi and Sumire are ready to take the Chuunin Exams as a team. A terrible shame, because I think on an individual level, Sumire easily has it in her to reach the expected level. I mean, she managed to hold her own against Mitsuki, but got relegated to fodder :/

  • March 20, 2018 at 11:31 amLaura

    I’m sorry, but I don´t agree with your opinion on these chapters.
    You have obviated the reason (Or at least I don´t think you had empathized enough) why Udon asked them not to do that mission, since the idea of ​​ninjas and being “cool” from the customers are quite frivolous, and Udon wanted to teach Metal, Denki, and Iwabe (who were very much doubting their abilities due to suspension) what it really meant to be a ninja or cool.
    I don´t know if you’ve seen the previous Naruto series, and I don´t like to compare Boruto’s series with Naruto, but it doesn´t take away the fact that it’s his sequel. Udon never had a growth or an important role in Naruto, see how those days have turned him into a good teacher who knew how to use his weaknesses as an advantage, I have to say that I liked it a lot.
    In the matter of changing the education system, they changed it before it was easier to pass the exam, you only had to know some jutsus (What cost Naruto and Udon), but now it also requires a theoretical exam, to have more work options in society and adapt to times of peace, where fighting and winning is not everything.
    By the way, what does the theory that “Iwabe is Kawaki” have to do with this chapter? (Which I don´t think is possible for obvious reasons)
    The episode of Wasabi and Namida, it is true that it wasn´t very exceptional, but I found it quite funny and curious, as well as expressing quite well how Sumire was trying to trust others and that they could trust her, since she still felt that she was hiding something to her companions (The character of Sumire seems to me quite complex, always has many sides, and that’s what I like most about her). I won´t deny that Wasabi and Namida’s fight was stupid (although it also seems good to me, since not all fights have to deal with serious issues), but the purpose of this chapter was the true acceptance of Sumire, show the dynamics of relationships of team 15, and how is their team work.
    I won t deny you that they could have done better, or use some of your ideas XD, but it didn´t seem like a bad chapter or a waste of time for me.
    Let it be clear that I respect your opinion, it’s just that I think you haven´t noticed a few positive points that the chapter had (Although it may only be my tastes).

    • March 20, 2018 at 5:38 pmZaiden

      Hey Laura! I would like to address some of the points you’ve directed towards me.

      I don´t know if you’ve seen the previous Naruto series, and I don´t like to compare Boruto’s series with Naruto, but it doesn´t take away the fact that it’s his sequel.

      Actually, I’ve read the manga as a whole more than once, and seen both Naruto and Naruto Shippuden as a whole.

      You have obviated the reason (Or at least I don´t think you had empathized enough) why Udon asked them not to do that mission, since the idea of ​​ninjas and being “cool” from the customers are quite frivolous

      If you read carefully, I actually do write that being a ninja isn’t about having flashy skills, but my conclusion is that it comes down to hard work, which totally fits with the spirit of the original series. I don’t think having a different conclusion makes my equally valid views incorrect.

      Udon never had a growth or an important role in Naruto, see how those days have turned him into a good teacher who knew how to use his weaknesses as an advantage

      I thought about how Udon’s weakness was turned into a strength, but when put in the context of Namida’s jutsu, I found it difficult to fully justify such a thought. My point does tie on with the core themes of Naruto, especially his mantra of not giving up, and how that kind of resolve makes an exemplary shinobi. To that end, you can say that Udon never gave up in trying to keep up with Konohamaru and Moegi, his beloved teammates that he didn’t want to let down. Konohamaru is progeny of the Sarutobi clan, and Moegi is the only person who has naturally developed Wood Release since the First Hokage, both being incredibly talented in their own rights.

      In the matter of changing the education system, they changed it before it was easier to pass the exam, you only had to know some jutsus (What cost Naruto and Udon), but now it also requires a theoretical exam, to have more work options in society and adapt to times of peace, where fighting and winning is not everything.

      There is no wartime requirement to produce as many capable combatants, hence the incorporation of a theoretical aspect to exams, so that well-balanced individuals can be created. I’m not denying the utility of such an inclusion, rather what I’m insinuating is that rigidity in such a system is far from progressive. Say Iwabe had learning problems (ADHD, Dyslexia, etc), which went undiagnosed. That would basically have made anything impossible for him, despite his clear talent. He ought to have been streamlined into the ninja course, which he had shown great aptitude for, even if he lacked proficiency in theoretical tasks. Would we look at a kid genius with multiple sclerosis, and hold them back on the basis that they can’t complete physical tasks due to their illness? No. And based off that standard, I would say the same should apply in reverse. The only reason he ended up passing was because Denki helped him out, so he never actually succeeded off his own merit anyway, meaning it all came down to luck that he ever ended up becoming friends with Boruto and Co.

      By the way, what does the theory that “Iwabe is Kawaki” have to do with this chapter?

      I think it’s possible that Iwabe might become Kawaki. Don’t you think that Boruto’s conversation with Kawaki at the start of the series implies a degree of familiarity? I don’t think it’s out of the question that Iwabe’s reverence towards the ninja might end up being shattered, if terrible things were to happen.

      The episode of Wasabi and Namida… it didn´t seem like a bad chapter or a waste of time for me.

      You aren’t wrong, this chapter wasn’t bad or a waste of time. I just had bones to pick, which were highly subjective. Kids will be kids, and will have stupid fights. I remember having equally stupid, if not worse fights with friends at a younger age. I admit that I was overly harsh, and apologise for going overboard with criticisms made about Episode 49. Other than Mitsuki, Sumire is my favourite character from the new generation, and I think there is so much untapped potential with regards to her character. One day, she was important, and the next day, she became largely irrelevant.

  • March 21, 2018 at 1:51 pmGreed

    http://randomc.net/image/Boruto%20Naruto%20Next%20Generations/Boruto%20Naruto%20Next%20Generations%20-%2049%20-%20Large%2005.jpg
    Hinata’s sister is looking after Hinata Mark II. How very nice. Somewhat different since no one is using bugs. Sad Shino doesn’t have a kid.

    http://randomc.net/image/Boruto%20Naruto%20Next%20Generations/Boruto%20Naruto%20Next%20Generations%20-%2049%20-%20Large%2023.jpg
    http://randomc.net/image/Boruto%20Naruto%20Next%20Generations/Boruto%20Naruto%20Next%20Generations%20-%2049%20-%20Large%2035.jpg
    Are monkeys this smart in real life, to use keys and carefully differentiating when eating the edible and inedible, glad the monkey didn’t bite the wooden stick.

  • March 22, 2018 at 11:00 amTucci

    I think after a certain point, we just have to look at these strange contradictions and points where we say that “Konoha is in need of reform” and just admit that this is simply overall bad writing and bad worldbuilding.

    • March 22, 2018 at 11:28 pmGreed

      Well I wouldn’t go that far.

  • March 25, 2018 at 2:21 pmJackpot21

    I though episode 49 wasn’t that bad. It was a nice change of pace, but I can see why most people would think otherwise. The thing is though, Sumire hasn’t really lost her edge. During her fight with Mitsuki, they were trying to kill each other, but against the wolf, she held back so as to not hurt it as it was born and raised in the zoo. Also remember that Sumire was on her own at the start, existing as tool for her father to seek revenge on the village. This time, she’s surrounded by friends and a teacher who care for her, and by that point, the personality she adopted while stealing chakra had become her true self. So you could say that Sumire is acting as how she see’s herself instead of the weapon her father had seen her as.

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