5 Point Discussions – Boruto: Naruto Next Generations 98: “The Cursed Forest”

by Sage Ashford


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1. We’re picking up with the start of a new arc, and with that comes a new cast member, and he’s…weird.  Boruto spots him up in a tree right next to a woman’s apartment and assumes he’s a Peeping Tom, and instead learns he’s obsessed with nature–birds in particular.  He and Mitsuki waste just enough time with Tosaka to be late to their latest assignment, only to discover they’ll actually be working with Tosaka minutes after being briefed.

I don’t mind quirky new characters but it’s always off-putting when they display scientists as basically idiots. The goal is to make them stand out next to characters we’ve known for nearly one hundred episodes now, but having Tosaka run around licking everything still doesn’t feel like the smartest move.  It was one thing when he was licking bird eggs as a way to confirm if it was really the type of egg he hypothesized, even if it made no sense. But licking bird poop?  It was animated and I couldn’t even look at that scene. How’s he managing to be a scientist in a post-industrial world with televisions and railways but doesn’t know introducing fecal matter to his system probably isn’t recommended by the (ninja?) surgeon general.

2. Despite being a joint operation between Team 7 and Team 15, the mission winds up being relatively simple: who’s harming the wildlife? With Team 15’s leader away patrolling the border (this will hopefully play in later), Konohamaru is left to lead the kids as they patrol the forest outside the main city to discover the cause of the threat.  Somehow, Team 15 always gets roped into some animal related missions, which given their powers makes a bit of sense.

People knock Kishimoto sometimes for how haphazardly he put this universe together, but I have to give him this: there’s an enormous amount of flexibility here.  They can just as easily do episodes about toxic corporate culture as they can fighting people from outer space, and now we’re doing weird horror sci-fi about animals being experimented on and turned into creepy bird/bat creatures.  It’s hard to get bored, that’s for sure.

3. So once again, Konoha’s been duped.  While in the forest, Boruto also runs into a giant, fearsome monster with incredible strength. With the help of Sumire, he just narrowly survives when the monster is knocked into the river.  After this, Boruto and the others help a citizen of the village who made the request back to his home. The citizen gets knicked by one of the birds and starts displaying odd symptoms–fever, fatigue, generally becoming unresponsive. He’s dragged back to his home and one of the elders reveals they’ve got a host of victims displaying the same symptoms…and worse, they’ve started displaying symbols which look like the Curse Mark. None of this information was reported because they didn’t want to panic members in the village,but it probably should’ve because between the presence of villagers having a Curse Mark and a giant monster, this is probably over the heads of your average genin.

This is why one of the earliest arcs in the original Naruto involved a promotion exam to the next level. Genin are supposed to do simple missions like cleaning up trash and delivering groceries, with things being low level dangerous at best. Later on in the series, they start dealing with circumstances which are extraordinary, but Boruto is still firmly in the “unprecedented peace” era, so this just makes Konoha borderline incompetent for not checking on what the real requirements of these missions are.

4. So when are we going to talk about Orochimaru? The Curse Seal is basically an instant “this is about Orochimaru” thing, and seconds after they learn this one of Orochimaru’s people, Jugo, pops up at the village. This is fine–the guy spent most of Naruto as a villain, so you’d expect him to be up to…villainous things like creepy, mad scientist experiments and finding a way to make sure they never get your order right at fast food spots. But you’d think at some point someone would start side eyeing Mitsuki and asking what’s up with his pops? At some point that’s going to be a necessary conversation, unless we learn Orochimaru has had a very permanent change of heart.

5. I guess it doesn’t really matter how many times Konoha gets suckered into sending genin on missions that are way too dangerous for them to handle, as long as the ones who get sent have Boruto on the roster. After he watches the monster who attacked him get knocked into the river, then witnessing Jugo wash up from the river…it’s hard not to immediately assume Jugo is the monster. Especially once we start seeing all the people covered in weird Curse Marks and one of them waking up and going on a rampage in the village. After evacuating the village, they all agree to look into what’s affecting the animals by checking out the river, splitting up and deciding to summon each other if they find anything.

Except when Boruto discovers a hidden door inside of a mountain, rather than going to get Konohamaru and the others, he drags Sarada down into the hidden cavern and discovering the obvious: Jugo was the monster they fought, and he can’t control his transformations. Welp, guess it’s time for the most important power-up: Main Character Powers.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is available for streaming on Funimation and Crunchyroll.

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