Boruto episode 216 was one of the best to date. The animation for each fight was fluid, crisp, and noticeably higher in quality. Dialogue-heavy scenes were faithful to the manga, often being one-for-one with the Viz translation. Additional scenes for the anime were important; the battle created callbacks to anime-continuity content and enhanced this episode’s battle by retroactively integrating it into many of Boruto’s ostensibly filler fights. Overall, I was impressed. Finally, this battle revealed a new form for Naruto, something manga fans were looking forward to for quite some time. It’s a sign that the anime is preparing for a viral episode next week.
But, that also makes it worth pointing out a continuous flaw with the Boruto story. While I personally enjoy the manga, it has to be said that lot’s of the series’ hype comes from Naruto and Sasuke. Boruto episode 216 cut against that problem somewhat by putting Boruto a bit more in center stage than the anime. But, if I had to guess, next week’s episode will be one of the most watched. Crunchyroll will probably immediately spam clips of Naruto fighting all over social media. Once again, the wave of wannabe early backers of the series will proclaim “it’s always been this good.” A reliable rejoinder of naysayers will trash the series. Just like always.
This episode has a few details that make me less wary about its falling for that problem than other large fights. In discussing it however, I’ll obviously be discussing the plot. Read with that in mind.
A Desperate Battle
After Boruto transported himself, Naruto, Sasuke, and Isshiki to another dimension, the latter three begin fighting after some dialogue. Back in Konoha, Amado explains the significance of Boruto’s being a vessel to the other shinobi while also giving the audience some degree of context into how the Otsutsuki operate in pairs and travel to planets. In comparison to the manga version of this section, scenes were much more visceral. Music and voices allow a lot more of the tension in the scene to come through. Even for non-combat moments, like Kawaki’s discovery of his missing karma, everything felt a bit more emotional.
This was true of last week’s episode as well. Small changes to expressions, the addition of vocal intonation, and tenses on words make stress, frustration, and anger come across much more clearly. The inherent tension between Kawaki’s rage and despondency and Amado’s scientific, cold expression are much more gratifying in the anime version.
Within the battle, I appreciated being met with visually impressive sequences. Previous episodes all but left out some of the more satisfying elements of fights. Punches and kicks felt weak upon connection. The slowed moment of impact, something that is almost compulsory in a Naruto fight, was missing. Now, it’s back and as satisfying as ever.
Changes to the Manga, for the Better
There are two more changes from the two manga chapters Boruto episode 216 covered that I want to highlight. First, let’s talk about Boruto’s presence on screen. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that his involvement was improved. In the manga, his actions didn’t include trying to shield and save Sasuke and were more geared toward attacking Isshiki. I think having him utilize his Compression Rasengan was incredibly key; it calls back to the lessons he learned about penetrating defenses from the anime-only arcs. Even more, Sasuke swapping places with Boruto to receive Isshiki’s attack was a perfect parallel to him shielding Naruto way back in part one.
This first change felt like a massive wink to me. The anime made massive improvements to the fight between Naruto, Sasuke, and Momoshiki. One of the best parts of that fight were the constant callbacks to part one of Naruto. Seeing that again is making me expect a fight of that quality again.
The second change makes me even more excited about what’s to come. Naruto and Sasuke are, in general, much more injured in Boruto episode 216 than they were previously. Naruto’s conversation with Kurama is on his literal deathbed rather than just in his head as he dashes around. This raises the stakes of the battle and makes his transformation at the very end seem much more meaningful.
Next week’s episode is going to look incredible and I would put money on it. The episode quality was noticeably strong this week. Going forward, however, the anime is quickly running into the manga. More specifically, its 11 chapters from where the manga current sits. Taking into account both rates of output, the two would likely arrive at the same point in 6 weeks. This likely means a long set of anime-continuity content is coming.
Personally, I think this content is going to concern the remnants of Danzo’s secret organization, Root. The anime went out of its way to show Naruto unlocking a high level seal on the secret facility where Kawaki is hiding out. Little details like that don’t make sense to add without a reason. My guess is that something or someone was sealed down there and the next arc will be Boruto and company dealing with it while Naruto and Sasuke recuperate. This would be a welcome chance both to give side characters some screen time and appropriately round out the arcs from before Isshiki’s revival.
Overall, this needs to happen for the series to survive. I think the pacing in the Boruto manga is fast, but fast without heavy exposition. Many of the characters, with the exception of regulars like Kawaki, feel incredibly flat. I look forward to the anime both enhancing what’s remaining in the manga and creating its own innovative (and arguably canon) content to integrate into the broader storyline. For any who don’t want spoilers next week, I’d recommend avoiding any social media until you watch the episode.
Check out last week’s review here!
Boruto Episode 211 Images courtesy of VRV
BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS © 2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO / 2017 BORUTO. All Rights Reserved.