My Thoughts on “Boruto,” Episode 9: “Proof of Oneself”

Are you gonna say it, or should I?

HANABIIIIII!

I have to say, this episode has been one of my absolute favorites thus far.

It was pretty unexpected how they did that bait-and-switch on us. All this time I was nervously waiting to see Naruto fight his grandfather, and then suddenly Hanabi just steps in like, “Let me handle this, old man.” And she mentioned going easy on Boruto, but she wasn’t pulling any punches when it came to her own father!

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It was actually kind of touching to see Hiashi’s reaction when Hanabi warned him that Boruto could just end up resenting him. Nice to see that he obviously doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes he made with his own children and nephew.

And then…it was on. Holy heck, was it on! Now, I had seen the episodes of Shippuden where we got to see how talented Hanabi was as a little girl, and I’d definitely really enjoyed those. But it fades in your memory after a while, and while I could remember the fact that Hanabi was good, I’d forgotten just HOW good.

Consider my memory jogged. That girl is a BEAST! What’s more…so is Boruto!

While he may have gotten his butt handed to him on a silver platter, I was honestly pleased and impressed to see the level of skill he had, especially during that last section of the fight, where he really went all in.

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That boy was INTENSE. That moment where he threw the kunai, Hanabi dodged, he came up behind her and ricocheted the kunai back at her, and she dodged a second time was absolutely killer—on both their parts! I had to do some rewinding and pausing to even figure out the choreography there—it was so rapid fire.

Think of how both of them are gonna be as they get older and even more skilled!

Moving on, I felt my heart crack a little after the fight when Boruto was trying to play brave and act like he wasn’t bitterly disappointed by his failure to manifest the Byakugan during the fight. But he’ll be alright, as we see later on in the episode.

After all that intensity, we got a chance to see the family spending some quality time together at the meal and afterwards.

Boruto, though…how’s the guy gonna get a wife with this sort of subtlety and tactfulness:

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Chill detected: NONE.

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The scene afterwards where Naruto and Hiashi talked things over was lovely; it felt very peaceful, and it was really nice to see the two relate to each other as adults, and really see some of Naruto’s thoughts and emotions in the role of father now.

It was also a great relief for me to see that both men believe that Boruto does have something going on and that he’s sincere in what he’s saying. I tend to get really upset and frustrated when there are these scenarios where someone’s telling the truth but few or no people believe them, so I’m glad we don’t have an example of this here.

It isn’t the Byakugan, but they realize that something must be up.

Also…who ever expected to see Hiashi telling Naruto that he was worried about him? All that time spent as a pariah, spent in loneliness…and now Naruto is treated as an integral and respected part of the community, and he truly has a family now. Looking at the grown man, you’d never guess how difficult and dramatic his past was on so many levels.

Ahh, if Boruto only knew…

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Ah, and speaking of our young new protagonist, that scene with him and Hanabi chilling out on the porch was simply great. Hanabi just seems like the quintessential Cool Aunt, and I also get this feeling that she serves as a bridge between Boruto and the older adults like his father and grandfather (I don’t know how old Hanabi is here, but I’m thinking at least mid teens, although probably closer to late teens and early 20s.).

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I really hope that we get to see Hanabi as a truly recurring character here, as they seem to be foreshadowing here. I don’t need to see her super often, but I definitely want to see her more than just every blue moon. I also agree with what one YouTuber said about hopefully seeing more power and potential unlocked as far as the Byakugan itself goes. Although I would remind him that Toneri basically said that the Tenseigan is an evolution of the Byakugan, so we actually do have an example of the fact that there’s more to the eye.

In any case, after all the family fuzziness in this episode, we then get a very unexpected shot of humor when Boruto encounters the out-of-shape actor behind the popular movie hero Evil Jammer Kagemasa.  I definitely didn’t see any of this coming. In fact, I initially thought that Sarada had just made up the cancellation idea in order to get Boruto to react and thereby prove that he was a serious fan.

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To be honest, I couldn’t help wondering about the main intended audience of the show, and what their feelings would be regarding the humor here. To some degree it definitely feels rather universal—”I’ll start my diet TOMORROW! This is definitely the last potato chip I’m eating—it’s all fresh veggies after this, I promise!”

However, Boruto and Sarada’s unapologetically blunt comments about the guy’s physique definitely had me thinking about how much complaining there might be if this was a show directed mainly at a young American audience these days.

 

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But I don’t even want to get into all of that, nor bring up that vocabulary of complaints.

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In any case, I enjoyed the sequence, and laughed throughout at how blunt and out of left field it all was, and I also found myself rather surprised to see that the actor in this case actually was a genuine martial-arts powerhouse. That’s actually quite cool.

The most significant aspects of the fight, though, were two-fold.

The first aspect is the fact that we got to see what I believe are the seeds of Boruto and Sarada’s working relationship and camaraderie as teammates. I haven’t seen the movie yet, and don’t plan to until we get further on in the series—hopefully to a point at or after the period covered by the movie—but I get the impression from the opening sequence that Boruto, Sarada, & Mitsuki will be assigned to the same 3-genin team. Even if she does think he’s a knucklehead…and who can bloody argue with her after seeing episode 8, ha…

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…Sarada has shown that she trusts Boruto and has his back.

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Plus, what she said about Boruto’s character is also quite significant for me on a personal level; honesty is a huge thing to me, and to me being a liar is one of the worst things to be accused of, because the truth is one of the most important things there is. People often complain about inconvenient statements or their tone, but don’t even address the most important part: is it true?

Heck, even if I can’t stand someone’s guts, that won’t stop 1+1 from being 2, you know? And the reverse is true.

(By the way, it’s nice to see that, despite all the sniping in earlier episodes, Sarada isn’t as standoffish as her father was at that age. Granted, though—he had his reasons, for sure.)

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In any case, the other big element to this fight was to see Boruto’s newfound determination and clarity on what path he needs to take. As I understand it, his focus is now going to be on dealing with the root issue: the “shadow” creature itself. (Well, I say “root,” but I’m guessing there’s something bigger behind that as well. But for now, it’s the main thing we know of.)

Judging from the episode preview, it looks like we’re going to see Boruto demonstrating a little of his dad’s white-knuckle, sweat-like-blood grit. Although as someone prone to overexertion myself, I’m hoping this doesn’t backfire and temporarily disable his eye from strain. That bloodshot-ness did not look good.

Then again, this is a Naruto series. All things can be solved with insane amounts of will and effort, right? Haha!

Ahh, and I know I’m also interested to find out the relevance of Danzo and the shadow elements of the ANBU in all this. I’m guessing that’ll be a treat for a lot of the fans out there. (And this is gonna be the first time we get to see Sai in the series. I expect it’ll be a pretty brief appearance, as the focus is meant to be this new generation, but I still expect it’ll be a pleasant little cameo. It’s weird as heck to think of him as a dad, though! I will say that his son seems to have more social awareness than his dad used to. Nah, I’m serious.

See, Sai didn’t know better.

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Inojin knows perfectly well. And simply gives not a fudge if he doesn’t feel like it. Which actually makes him significantly more brutal, heh.)

Well, those are my thoughts on “Boruto,” Episode 9: Proof of Oneself.

I’ve definitely enjoyed all the episodes of the series thus far, but I have to say that this one stands out to me as a favorite, and I think it’ll continue to be one of my favorite episodes for a while to come.

Ooh, I almost forgot about this. One of the reaction videographers I watch, DBZCuban, made an interesting point about the Kagemasa fight in this episode. I’m sure many fans of the previous series picked up on the reference to an early mission strategy with Naruto and Sasuke—the demon wind shuriken + clone combo. For sure, that move was sick as heck when the originals did it.

Now, DBZ commented that although it was pretty cool this time around, it didn’t carry the sense of impact that it did in the original series, and he believes that it could’ve been done much better.

However, I think it served its purpose well. Someone noted in the earlier episodes how while Naruto was struggling to create clones at the beginning of the series—hence that little scroll incident which was referenced in episode 8—his son is already casually pulling out the Shadow Clone technique as needed.

I believe that the way the demon wind shuriken technique was casually deployed in this episode was consistent with the approach. Just as with our main characters themselves, the writers not trying to simply leave it at repeating what happened in “Naruto” and “Naruto: Shippuden.” If they were, I think they’d be setting themselves up for failure, and people would complain at just getting a rehash, a cheap or needless imitation even, of the originals.

Instead, what they’re doing is paying tribute to the originals and showing us classic elements that we loved and continue to love, but also letting us know that we’re not gonna stop there.

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Naruto and Sasuke used this tactic during the early part of the battle with the very formidable Zabuza. Boruto and Sarada use it in a battle with…an angry and out-of-shape, albeit good at Taijutsu, actor. Does the latter carry the same weight as the former? I would say definitely not. However, I think that very thing is part of the point. Although the fight was significant in terms of the reasons I listed earlier on—character development and interactions—I think it’s safe to say that it doesn’t truly count as a major, significant battle the way Team Seven’s was. Yet we still see that special technique.

 Do you know what message I get from that as a fan?

 There’s nowhere to go but forward…and UP. They can’t get the same impact by simply repeating past elements, nor are they going to try. Instead, they’re paying tribute to those things early on, but have every intention of progressing beyond those as well.

 And when you think of how deep we’ve been taken over the years and the types of insanely powerful characters we’ve faced…I figure that should both scare the heck out of us and fill us with an insane amount of joy and anticipation. If this series lives up to its potential, it is going to absolutely slaughter us…and in the best way possible. I don’t envy the pressure on the writers (or animators, come to think of it…), but I very much have high hopes for them and our new gang of characters. But Lord knows they’re both gonna get some serious butt-kickings, ha!

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In any case, with all that said, I’m looking forward to checking out the new episode this week, and while I suspect I won’t enjoy it quite as much as this one—simply because this one was so killer for me—it’s all relative, and I still fully expect to be delighted. Even the one episode that I thought wouldn’t be that good—”Love and Potato Chips”—ended up being far cooler than I expected, so my optimism is definitely up there.
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