Boruto: Naruto Next Generations – Season 9

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations – Season 9

Boruto and Sarada hear some rumours of some odd behaviour involving the birds around a village and, upon further investigation, find Jugo – one of Orochimaru’s associates. The birds have been suffering from the effects of a curse mark, and Jugo is slowly catching them and removing the taint by absorbing it into himself. Unfortunately, this causes him to become unstable and, when he is overwhelmed by his own curse mark, he transforms into a ferocious monster.

The two of them try to find out what is happening to the birds whilst trying to protect Jugo from both the misunderstanding villagers and himself. However, it dawns on them that someone is using the birds to experiment with the curse marks, and they have their eyes on Jugo as the ultimate test subject. Together with help from the young ninjas of Konoha, as well as Suigetsu and Karin, the two of them manage to thwart the plan before the birds migration spread the symptoms of the curse mark far and wide.

After which, we have a couple of episodes that focus on Mitsuki – the first being Team 7’s discovery of a stray kitten, which they believe needs to be looked after. They suggest Mitsuki look after it. At first, he doesn’t have a clue how to look after an animal – he tries to feed it human food and doesn’t even think to give it a name, but he soon becomes accustomed to the companionship and protects the kitten until it is reunited with it’s mother. The second episode seems like filler, with Orochimaru going through Mitsuki’s memories and experiences throughout his time in the Land of Stone with Kou and his group.

We’ve also had a story arc that focuses on Mirai Sarutobi, interestingly. This narrative doesn’t have a single member of Team 7 involved, and follows Mirai as she takes up a bodyguard mission for Kakashi and Guy to a hot spring. Obviously it’s not a serious arc – things quickly devolve into ghost sightings, festivals and Make Out Tactics – but it does give us some insight into a character who was only just a small child at the end of Naruto Shippuden and it was good to see how she has grown. Mirai hears people talk about her father a lot, and clearly is disappointed that she never got to meet him, and though she looks like her mother, Kakashi informs her that she is much more like Asuma when it comes to her personality, and she should continue to work on perfecting the chakra blades, like he had. And, of course, any story that has Might Guy making an appearance is an absolute winner in my book.

So we’ve had small story arcs for what seems to be most of the season. Boruto needs to get it’s teeth into some meaty, extended plots again to really pull me back in. It seems to be preoccupied with light, mildly-comic stories that have cameos for the sake of cameos. And whilst I love all of the characters in the extended Narutoverse, having them pop up randomly wherever the protagonist seems to be sort of… cheapens them a little bit. I love seeing them, but the experience is often tainted by the knowledge that they don’t actually need to be there. Sometimes their appearances don’t make any different to the story. For example, Mirai’s narrative features cameos from both Kiba and Ten-Ten. Great characters, but the story would be completely the same without them. They don’t actually contribute anything. I remember them being general bad-asses as young ninjas and now, as fully-grown adults, they’re just there for comic relief as the writers just crowbar them in there. It literally could have been any character – it didn’t specifically have to be them.

I’m still, still waiting for Boruto to impress me like the Naruto series did. Surely all the story arcs for Naruto weren’t so short and shallow? Whilst entertaining, don’t get me wrong, I guess I was still xpecting more from this anime this season – a bit of a real threat that doesn’t have Boruto screwing up and the adults coming to the rescue. Now, I know Boruto has to be different in some ways – different tone, different time, etc, but is this really the route they’re deciding to take all the characters down? I’m sure things will get more serious as the cast gets stronger and more capable, but surely we should have started to see more results by now. Boruto has big shoes to fill, particularly in my eyes, but I’m starting to wonder if it will ever be worthy of being the successor to one of my favourite anime…