Boruto: Naruto Next Generations “Rivals: Assemble!” Review
This story arc right now is going to be make it or break it for this series. The start of Boruto as a series was nice for the way they distinguished Boruto from Naruto, but as we got to recent episodes where Boruto started to become more whiny, that was where this series hurt the most. Especially when fans these days are less likely to give those kinds of characters a chance. We all know that things will change after the exam and encounter with Momoshiki, but that makes it all the more important not to lose anyone before reaching that point.
Pacing is this shows best friend right now and I’m glad they didn’t spend too much time building up to the start of the Chunin exam. Our expectation was that the first round would at least begin this episode, and they did not disappoint there. I was more surprised by the time allocated between the start of this day and the exam to explore everyone’s mindsets. The atmosphere is very different when we have more than just Boruto and his team to root for. We know what they’re capable of, the rest of the students, and some of the genin from the other villages as well. It also helped to see the other Five Kage and their excitement towards things finally beginning. They are a welcomed contrast to Naruto who is always busy and worrying about cleaning up after the events of the last Great War. Their commentary throughout was also refreshing since before they were only seen when it came to the fighting.
A good change from the movie was the time taken to give us information on some of these other ninja outside of the Hidden Leaf village. With these exams, we should care at least a little bit about those involved, so the choice to give names and summary of some was the right step to take towards better engagement in what’s to come. Especially since there were opportunities for these characters to actually interact before the exams began. This was the best time to figure out who was trouble and who was a potential ally. It was expected that the competitive side of these young shinobi would come out between the taunting and instigation. This may not have shown in the movie, but I’m sure these developing relationships will matter in the anime.
As the first round began, I was impressed that they changed up what the actual test was. Where the test ended was the same, but everything leading up to that one big question was a great addition. The movie’s first round was a quick one, while this one involved much more movement and participation all around from those major and inconsequential. This was a big improvement when the line was drawn in the sand between those we had to worry about and those we did not. Tenten managing the obstacles was quite brilliant. She has come a long way and was the reason for this being so exciting. When it came to the quiz answer and the pitfall, I liked seeing as well how everyone as a whole who passed saved themselves.
If Boruto: Naruto Next Generations “Rivals: Assemble!” is a taste of what’s to come, then call me impressed. Some might try to go too different from what people know happens, or they don’t change too much at all. I find that they found the right balance between what we know will happen, and what will add further substance to what they now have the time to flesh out.