5 Point Discussions – Boruto: Naruto Next Generations 44: “Shikadai’s Doubts”
by Sage Ashford
The Byakuya Gang continues to ransack the rich of Konoha Village. And yet their popularity is spreading?! Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. “Shikadai’s Doubts” kicks off with the cops asking for the Genins help dealing with the Byakuya Gang. Not actually helping of course since all the information they’ve gathered on the gang pegs them as high-level ninja that shouldn’t be challenged by mere Genin…so they’re just being asked to inform the cops of the gang’s whereabouts if seen.
Of course, that doesn’t go as planned. Immediately after being told being a “professional snitch” is in the job description of low-level ninja, Iwabe tries to capture the Byakuya Gang as they’re escaping from a job with his Earth Wall technique. They escape, wind up injuring his teammate Metal, and he has to be hospitalized for his (minor) injury while Iwabe gets confined to his home for disobeying. To be fair, they’re not entirely wrong. The lengthy peace society has enjoyed means it’s no longer necessary to risk the lives of children in matters like this. But it looks bad if we keep focusing on what the kids can’t do, since there were always things that wound up being left to the teachers and higher-ups in Naruto but they never let that drag the show down.
2. There’s a lot of discussion this week on the moral ambiguity of the Byakuya Gang. While Metal is in the hospital, they catch a news report in which it’s explained the Byakuya Gang are stealing from the rich, selling what they steal and using the money to fix broken villages. As a result, the general population’s opinion on the Gang has changed for the positive.
Boruto and the others however are blindingly oblivious to the entire thing. Metal legitimately can’t understand why people would like them even after being directly told this is a group of people fixing the wealth inequality in the nation. Someone LITERALLY says in the news report that it’s a result of growing discontent in the nation, but Shikadai writes it off as jealousy while Denki claims “not everyone can be a success”, as if there isn’t a planet’s worth of distance between being so successful your family runs a railway company and starving.
Boruto tells the story of “A Ninja’s Job” with so much finesse. They managed to clearly come down hard on the unfair, cruel world of game development and the abuse of workers by their bosses. But the way it’s now fumbling about with the subject of wealth inequality is so frustrating it makes me wish they didn’t tackle it in the first place. Of course by the end the Byakuya Gang reveals they’ve been going with so much noble thief behavior for a selfish (though still unknown) reason. It’d be too much work to make the show deal with the complexity of thieves who merely steal to help people.
3. For the past two episodes, Shikadai’s been trying to learn shogi. As a child of the new generation, he’s been more of a video game kid like the rest of his friends up till now. But Shikamaru noticed his son was straying from being an exact clone of him, I guess, and offered him money to learn Shogi and the strategies behind it.
Despite intense study, his attempts go poorly until he meets this purple-haired kid named Ryogi. Ryogi isn’t just obviously a member of the Byakuya Gang, he’s the member Team 7 ran into in the village the prior episode. They bond over the game, but you can tell heartbreak is coming, and it even seems like Shikadai already has a clue who Ryogi is. Kind of a shame–I’m not usually that guy, but they looked cute together, and Shikadai could use friends who aren’t knuckleheads like Boruto.
They have a discussion (in which Shikadai uses the phrase “it’d be a drag” so many times I thought it was my Japanese diary) about how important it is to change the world, and Shikadai seems comfortable “letting the adults” handle it while kids should do their best at what they’re able to do. It’s logical, but it also feels like a bit of a cop-out to just hand the job over to someone else. It just reminds you of how comfortable and privileged their lives have been up until now.
Anyway, while they’re playing, Ryogi actually runs into Boruto, who wants to show off his new game. But since Ryogi has a mission, he decides to leave and reunite with the rest of his gang members. Everything’s all cool, except he leaves in a blur of ice, which should’ve tipped everyone as to his identity.
4. These are the worst freaking thieves I’ve ever seen in my life. Aside from their very first crime, where they had to use a decoy to distract everyone from what they were doing, they spend the majority of this episode getting caught by someone or another. At the start of the episode some normie points out one of their thefts to Iwabe, then at the tail end Sumire and the girls of Team 15 manage to track them down too?
Nothing against Team 15, but let’s be real about this: none of them are particularly excellent at their jobs right now. Sumire is too busy being nervous because the writers think its cute and the others are barely developed in the first place. At this point, this gang has all the subtlety of a Scooby Doo villain, and it’s difficult to figure how they haven’t been getting caught by the cops since day one.
5. Give them all credit for not being idiots like Iwabe and knowing their limitations as Genin, though. Instead of rushing headlong into battle against the Byakuya Gang, they at least try to find a Jonin. Fortunately, one manages to appear in Temari, Shikadai’s mother. A Jonin who seems to be just as active in battle as her husband, she’s got no problem chasing down the gang.
I love that her character doesn’t seem to have changed at all. By all accounts she’s a great mom and wife, but she’s still a fiery ninja who doesn’t seem to give a single crap about the rules. The entire episode Boruto and the others are told “just alert a Jonin and stay out of it”, but Temari pops up and immediately drags both Boruto and her son into the fray. She’s clearly confident enough to keep them safe, so she has no problem putting their talents to use to bring this case to an end.
Unfortunately Shikadai freezes up at the last moment, allowing the gang to escape. It feels like he clearly knows what’s going on, but is that the case?
Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is available for streaming on Hulu and Crunchyroll.