「黒幕の影」 (Kuromaku no kage)
“The Shadow of The Mastermind”
In hindsight, letting the children go on work experience trips was a pretty bad idea. The Ghost Syndrome incidents still hadn’t been resolved, and seeing someone finally get hurt really hammered it home. Naruto has a point about Boruto being fortunate enough to avoid any kind of serious injuries. Seeing this serious side of Naruto, where he acts really mature and strict feels so weird, because can you imagine finally seeing the day where Naruto pulls somebody’s ear?!? But it fit well into a situation where general safety, and potentially even lives were at stake. I would have been really disappointed in Naruto if he goofed off here, given the gravity of the circumstances.
No situation is straightforward. Although I feel inclined to side with Naruto’s objection, that letting the kids continue with their investigation is dangerous, Shino isn’t entirely wrong when he voices his opinions. I was actually pretty damn gobsmacked, when a teacher like Shino dared to step out of line, and I daresay he successfully out-Talk no Jutsu‘d the President Ninja Jesus. Naruto, have a taste of your own medicine! I suppose it helps that they knew each other well from back in the days, especially since Shino was a part of the Sasuke Retrieval Squad. That said, the kids are actually quite competent and Boruto’s special eye gives them an advantage when it comes to scouting out occurrences of the Ghost Syndrome. Mitsuki also seems to have cards hidden up his sleeves, which makes it unlikely that any harm will come to them. While they definitely shouldn’t be relied upon as the main task-force for this investigation, there’s nothing stopping them from taking up an auxiliary role to support ongoing efforts.
THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
Strangely, I didn’t think Sai’s involvement in the investigations possibly had deeper meaning, namely guilt borne out of his affiliation with ‘The Foundation’. It should have been an obvious connection, once Danzo and the Hashirama Cell were brought up last episode. Sai denouncing Danzo’s twisted ideology as misguided really shows how Naruto changed him, considering Sai’s prior unwavering loyalty towards Danzo. It should seem obvious that this programme was intended for creating a super army out of ordinary civilians, capable of fighting off threats to Konohakagure.
Speaking of which, if Naruto can invite Sai out for ramen, what stops him from inviting Boruto out for ramen? Heck, this could even be extended to the whole family. Given the technological advancements in the current era, surely the existence of phones should make it easy to communicate, by making a call to home? It makes me wonder if Naruto is intentionally avoiding extensive use of technology, so that he can strictly abide by edicts of the Ninja tradition. Of course, there’s no real evidence to make this kind of statement. However, these details can possibly be inferred where Naruto refuses to accept help from others or utilise modern technology, while working on his Hokage duties.
SHADOW IN THE POST OFFICE
Last week, I had predicted that the postman Tayori would be the next person to fall foul of the Ghost Syndrome. Instead, his boss was afflicted by the condition, rampaging across the Post Office depot. And the trap was sprung. Not only did Boruto and Co catch the Masked Assailant in the middle of the act, they also verified their suspicions that someone was keeping tabs on their activities, in order to coordinate the Ghost Syndrome outbreaks in locations they were not present at. However, the Masked Assailant immediately hightails away from the scene of crime, leaving Boruto and friends to deal with an out of control person who you would think has letters and packages as his Nature Transformation. Thankfully, no lessons were taken from Konan, so this issue was quickly resolved. Only Boruto could see it, but I have to wonder what the subsequent spiralling vortex of sentient, dark chakra meant.
So, who is the Masked Assailant? I’m getting a creeping suspicion that it’s Sumire. All the other Ninja Academy students were there to apprehend the mysterious masked figure apart from her. And if you think about the moment where she looks out of the window wistfully at her classmates getting picked up by their parents, you might think that she was an orphan. Thus, it makes sense that she may have been picked up and exploited by a third party. Possibly Orochimaru, since the Ghost Syndrome is afflicted through the bite of a corporeal serpent, not to mention we all know his love for unscrupulous experiments and little orphaned kiddies. The fact that Mitsuki let go of the Masked Assailant in the water pipes further reinforces that suspicion, and makes me wonder if Mitsuki is Orochimaru’s agent, tasked with smoothly seeing through this operation. If both Sumire and Mitsuki turned out to be rogue, I think it would make for a really interesting arc resolution. For someone who staunchly believes in protecting those he cares for, how will Boruto handle a situation where his friends turn out to be behind these harmful incidents?
Judging by the preview, the next episode will focus on the relationship between Boruto and Mitsuki. What I have really liked so far about Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is the fantastic development of friendships between each member of the new generation. Every little interaction is authentic and feels good to watch, an example being when Shikadai steps in to protect Boruto from the assaulting flurry of letters. This episode made me realise how much I would loved to have seen Shikadai, Mitsuki, and Boruto forming a team together. It’s too bad Shikadai’s fate was sealed the moment he was born.