“The Figure I Want to Be”
Cop Out Villain
Gekko is a piece of trash. It’s a shame that he turned out so nefarious, because as an individual who represented a movement against Konohagakure’s brand of capitalism, credibility was lost for legitimate concerns from the genuinely impoverished. Not only did he murder his accomplice, so that he could gain all the proceedings to live out a cushy life, but it is implied that he murdered both of Ryogi’s parents, then rewrote Ryogi’s memories so that the boy would end up serving him. How sick and twisted is that, where Ryogi is enslaved by the murderer of his parents? Few words can describe how disgusting these actions truly are. Despite the fact he managed to get away from Boruto and Shikadai, I’m actually quite glad that Naruto appeared in order to deliver a Deus Ex Machina – a plot device that I usually dislike. It also restores some degree of good opinion that I had lost, though more needs to be done by Naruto, before he can truly prove himself in his capacity as Hokage. His military credentials are indisputable, but in my opinion, his approach to administrative matters are in need of heavily overhauling.
Examining Boruto’s Anime Original Characterisation
One criticism I would have of Ryogi would be that as an anime original character, compared to Sumire and Kagura, he didn’t receive a similar level of attention. There’s no doubting he had a much rougher life than the other two, and I was deeply invested in the socio-economic narrative being put forwards through mass demonstrations and the Byakuya Gang. However, his characterisation felt more like a platform for Shikadai to mature, when he should have been an equally fleshed character in his own right. Shikadai’s development is not a bad thing, and served as a definitive highlight for this arc. That said, there could have been a better balance. For example, both Sumire and Kagura were able to play off Boruto, to an extent where you could really empathise with where they were coming from. You could tell that Ryogi really wanted to avenge his parents, and how deeply their deaths affected him, given how the anger exponentially enhanced his ice kekkei genkai. But it was a point that the series fell short in hammering home, mainly due to how they kept his backstory mysterious for so long. It doesn’t help that he seems so well adjusted, for someone who suffers from having such a tragic backstory.
Despite what I’ve said, there’s no denying that Ryogi brilliantly fulfils the role assigned to him, by enabling the plot to advance in a particular direction. As a sympathetic poster child for the opposing ideology, who had been wilfully misled, I was pleased that Ryogi was ultimately ‘saved’ by Shikadai. Accounting for his circumstances, where he lost everything while living a life that was essentially a lie, the boy of ice may have been given a reason to live by his friend. Their friendship through shogi was so simple, yet succeeded in being a beautiful and believable connection. Anyway, if Sumire could be granted some sort of exemption, I hope that Naruto will have the acumens to pardon Ryogi, and have him undergo a rehabilitation process so that he can be returned to ordinary life. The kid had his memory rewritten at a young age, which conditioned him to carry out the crimes he committed, and I really wouldn’t place much responsibility onto his shoulders. Considering his share of traumatic experiences, especially when he recalled how his foster father actually murdered both of his parents then used him as a tool, I’m amazed he hasn’t been mentally shattered.
Recently, anime-original characters have been canonised through the ongoing manga, such as Sumire and Kagura. Provided that Ryogi can make a recovery, I look forwards to seeing his eventual reintroduction through the manga, so that he can have his shot at redemption!
That’s the end of a less conventional arc. I can’t say I’m satisfied with the overall resolution, or how Gekko really manipulated the masses, but I believe it marks an essential and experimental step, which opens up many different possibilities as to how the series can choose to progress. Most importantly, meaningful ideas were incorporated into the story, that deserve to be revisited in the future. I don’t think anyone could have expected a case study on the socio-economic failings of capitalism, even if the trigger was never pulled on taking a deeper dive. When the production team started dancing around these themes, I thought the series was superficially posturing for superficial depth. But my expectations were utterly exceeded, where they went far and beyond in comprehensively exploring these ideas. As a bonus, the importance of technology in a modernising world is slowly being cemented, and Shikadai received some really good development as a character through his interactions with Ryogi. Though our Robin Hood was depicted as being ‘in the wrong’, I believe that Ryogi can reapply his convictions, by becoming the pawn who protects the villagers, meaning that he could potentially inherit the Will of Fire espoused by Hiruzen Sarutobi.
Judging by the previews, we will be getting the last of our anime original content, as the Chuunin Exam arc is being lined up. While I’ve enjoyed seeing what manners of original story that the anime production team could cook up, I’m excited that we’re returning to the adaptation of existing source material. Personally, I would love to see them touch up some of the events, by readjusting them to better fit in the context of what the anime has chosen to represent. Either ways, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.