This week’s episode of Boruto: Naruto Next Generation brought another batch of anime exclusive content. This period of the anime storyline takes place in a sort of bonus period. Essentially, there are several days that the anime has added and plot points between the fight against Jigen and Boro in the manga and the next arc. Generally, this would end up functioning as filler as far as the series is concerned. That filler, as people who watched the Naruto anime remember, is usually inconsequential to the story (and also usually…quite painful to get through). Conversely, Boruto episode 210 actually rounds out some neglected portions of the overall storyline.
In general, the manga moves from fight to fight. There are, as usual, points of calm between those fights. However, the “speed” of the manga’s story is primarily via combat. The anime, both in order to not run out of the story to animate and supplement the manga, doesn’t do that. This episode builds from the cult storyline following Boro. This cult, while not something that causes a lot of combat, is an incredible part of the story. One of my biggest frustrations with the Boruto manga was how little they contended with the less rosy parts of a peaceful world. While it’s certainly true that the major villages flourished after the war, the same isn’t true of everywhere else. Peacetime meant shinobi with no work and the war tore apart smaller nations. Arcs like this cult arc examine how ninja warfare refracts onto regular people.
If it’s not obvious already, this article will review and discuss Boruto episode 210. This includes spoilers for the episode, so read with that in mind.
The Remnants of Boro
After Team 7 takes down Boro with the arrival of Boruto’s partial transformation into Momoshiki, his cult remains somewhat in limbo. The anime made clear in the past that Boro was making use of a virus to recruit followers. By spreading a virus, curing it, and then claiming credit, Boro was manufacturing miracles. In this way, he was able to gain immediate credibility in rural areas of the world. Naruto and Shikamaru, fearing the continued presence of the cult, dispatch Konohamaru and Sai to investigate. Boruto episode 210 was a welcome return to the story for Konohamaru; he had a strangely extended stint in the hospital and is woefully neglected as far as screen time goes. The two quickly make their way to Boro’s sanctuary and discover a cult of followers praying for the Infinite Tsukuyomi and slowly finding themselves used as test subjects.
For reference, the Infinite Tsukuyomi is the strongest genjutsu in the entire Naruto/Boruto universe. It was the technique used by Kaguya, the final villain of the Naruto series, to capture the entire world. This genjutsu puts the targets under complete hypnosis with almost no possibility of resistance. It activates via the reflection of light from the moon, putting anyone on Earth in its range. While this seems rather scary, it’s actually not a horrible thing in the context of some people in the Naruto world. Imagine a life torn by constant war and struggle. Now, imagine that this near-constant war around your homeland intensifies, with the new adversaries of war being godlike villains capable of launching nuclear-size explosions across continents with no difficulty.
The Infinite Tsukuyomi puts its victims into a sort of personal paradise. Those captured by it are essentially in a dream forever. Not too bad compared to spending your entire life at war.
Crossing Science with Spirituality
After discovering the state of the cult, the episode isn’t too eventful. Konohamaru and Sai confirm the purpose of the sanctuary. After that, they reveal both the truth of the cult and announce Boro’s death to his followers. All the while, Kara dispatches Delta for “cleanup duty,” basically meaning she’s charged with wiping out the cult remnants and destroying the temple. Unsurprisingly, the truth isn’t enough to change Boro’s followers. Like cults in the real world, they subsume their own identities with Boro’s will. By devoting themselves so thoroughly, they would rather stand in a crumbling temple and die by the very hands that promised them salvation.
The most intriguing juxtaposition of this episode was around the old and new ways of the ninja world. At the start of Boruto, this was a central conflict. But, it mostly came in the form of the Leaf Village’s ninja fighting against scientific weaponry from Kara. Now, the Leaf and Kara are both using science. Both Leaf and Kara created vaccines and used them to accomplish their goals. For a ninja, this is a remarkable step toward integrated technology further into the way of the ninja.
Like last week’s episode, Boruto episode 210 did an excellent job of adding these extra moments. Expository episodes may feel like a drag to those who are waiting for the manga storyline. And while I sometimes feel the same, I think these bonus moments are just as important. In any anime, there’s always a choice between useless filler and supplementary content. In this case, I am more than happy to receive additional worldbuilding in places the manga sprinted past.
Check out last week’s review here!
Boruto Episode 210 Images courtesy of VRV
BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS © 2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO / 2017 BORUTO. All Rights Reserved.