“A Ninja’s Job”
Post-War Pains in Konoha
Hagaruma’s plight highlights a serious socio-economic problem that plagues us in modern times. Capitalists may advocate trickle down economics, but when your typical wages cannot keep up with the rate of inflation, can you honestly say that everyone is getting richer? While general wealth is on the rise, the income inequality continues to widen: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Those with money are also the ones who use their economic power as a nasty leverage. The workers get exploited by their higher ups, and are easily expendable as the system sees fit. Unfortunately, this isn’t just limited to programming for video games. Could this possibly have been a silent cry by overworked animators? Who knows. Socio-economic issues fascinate me, and I’m absolutely astounded that a kids show like Boruto would try to broach such a contentious subject.
That said, this episode hit too close to home and for the wrong reason. You might think that I’m a poor blogger who gets exploited by a tyrannical overlord. Or perhaps I’m a university student who gets treated unfairly by professors, who are actively ignoring the validity in my legal arguments. However, I can 100% guarantee that these wouldn’t apply for me. I have a fantastic working relationship with my various professors, and I get on swimmingly well with the staff on Random Curiosity. Plus I absolutely love writing for Random Curiosity, as it’s one of my dreams which came true. Anyway, for those wondering, I managed to talk someone out of committing suicide. Believe me when I say it was unimaginably stressful and ranks up there as being one of the worst experiences in my life.
Words cannot describe how badly it messed me up for a long time. Even though she promised me she would never attempt it again, I began to experience random panic attacks during my daily life, at the very thought that she might suddenly decide to give it a go once again. It might look like an easy way out of a hopeless situation, and typically it is. That’s only because you won’t be around to suffer the consequences, the ones that would break the hearts of everyone who cared about you.
On the one hand, I’m quite miffed that Boruto took the incident in his stride without exhibiting any concern. Having been in that situation myself, I hate how Boruto treated this mission like a game to further his progression as a shinobi. He literally doesn’t care that a guy is about to kill himself, despite being straight up informed by the police chief, only becoming serious once goaded by Sarada. However, I’m also pleasantly surprised that the series decided to tackle the topic of suicide, even if it was done in a trivial fashion. Additionally, Boruto fundamentally recognises that human life holds importance, and asserts a strong belief through his successful application of Talk no Jutsu. He might lack the maturity to fully process the gravity of Hagaruma’s situation, but at least his heart is purely gold, where he wholeheartedly thinks of how he can do the right thing in saving Hagaruma’s life.
While I think that this episode could have done a better job tackling the significant themes on the table, I thought it was a fantastic effort for something that was ultimately filler. We weren’t only receiving action against criminal organisations, where Neo Team 7 could effortlessly demonstrate what incredible prodigies they are. We’re also seeing the incorporation of real problems from the everyday life of a working adult. But ultimately, I think that they superficially explore this topic and merely use it as a platform for Boruto to change his bratty perspective – the one where he thought tasks weren’t worth doing without the recognition. While that’s not a bad thing, as I’ve expressed earlier on, the lack of maturity in conjunction with such weighty topics left me rather annoyed. I’m also uncomfortable with the power of money prevailing, since it’s only a band-aid fix to a huge problem. Not everything can be resolved through money, and it sends out the wrong message. At the end of the day, workers can still be exploited, and lack agency over their lives. As such, Naruto should really look into creating some trade unions.
The lack of worker protection has allowed for some dubious organisation to secretly pull the strings from behind disillusioned individuals. Hagaruma’s attempt to rob a bank and commit suicide were no coincidence, and I look forwards to seeing how Neo Team 7 might further investigate the reason behind his actions. I would wager that the villain shown at the end has some sort of connection with Haku, by also wearing a mask, in addition to possessing ice as his kekkei genkai.