Boruto: Episodes 70-92, Ohnoki Arc Retrospective

I’ve been catching up on Boruto: Naruto Next Generations lately, most recently with the Ohnoki arc from 2018. Sounds like forever ago, doesn’t it? I’m pretty shocked myself to have fallen so far behind a show that is already well within range of 300 episodes, particularly during such a fantastic part of the anime from all that I’ve seen so far. This particular section resonates even more so because of my recent reading of Kazuo Ishiguro’s short novel, Klara and the Sun. Both feature artificial life modeled after the human species, and in both they question the definition of a human soul in manners that would argue for them already possessing souls of their own. Mitsuki, along with members of Hidden Stone Village, stands at the center of this arc’s storyline. His quest to find himself is also our quest to discover our very own heart stone.

While it’s been some time since I first started Boruto, I recall even from first meeting Mitsuki his constant reflection over his friendship with Boruto and his place in the Hidden Leaf Village. We know along with other key members of leadership about his origins and the possibility of defection; however, the more we get to know Mitsuki and see how he interacts with his friends and teammates, the less concerning the original worries become. He is an invaluable member of Team 7 who over time learns to care for others outside of his immediate circle. His journey of self affirmation and exploration is a continual one that covers multiple arcs up to this point and will likely do so in the future. This arc felt like a particularly poignant one given the parties involved.

Much of what we know about Mitsuki is through the eyes of Boruto, who assumes the desires of those around him and doesn’t question their motivations and desires. He’s already gone through a lot in life, but he’s still a kid with little awareness of any deeper existential crises those around him might be experiencing. Mitsuki being as private as he is doesn’t make that easy, either, keeping his concerns close and putting on his usual face of indifference for all things non-Boruto.

When the artificial human agents from Land of the Earth arrive and confront him, it’s surprising that he chooses to go with them. I couldn’t have imagined him before this point leaving Boruto behind and sabotaging any chances he might have to return for reasons other than any programming of his “father,” Orochimaru. Yet the more we spend time with him and the other artificial humans, the more his decision makes sense. Like him, they are man made. Rather than created as a clone of another, these members are formed from earth and as such have a far shorter lifespan, doomed to return back to dust. To them, Mitsuki represents hope. To him, they represent understanding.

The artificial humans, whose original creation and purpose were encouraged by former Hidden Stone Village leader Ohnoki, include the first sentient model, Lord Ku; additional members Sekiei, Ryuuki, Kirara, Kokuyo; and soldiers called Akuta with no will of their own. Ohnoki envisioned the artificial humans as protection for the people of the Earth. The many years of peace have resulted in complacent training and shinobi with little experience or purpose. The death of his own son erodes any confidence Ohnoki has left in present human capabilities, resulting in his complete support for the artificial human shinobi. While his concerns and loss of faith for his people are understandable, his solution prevents growth and ignores the evolving wills of Lord Ku and others like him.

The length of this arc and time spent with the artificial humans through the eyes of Mitsuki gives the characters and their messages relatability and depth; as detestable as I found many of their actions, I wanted to see them find a better solution to survival. Their jealousy, anger, and self-reflection were enough to prove to me they already possessed the souls they questioned so much. In the end, Mitsuki’s true intentions were revealed as were his self doubts and hopes. And even though much of this journey focused on Lord Ku, just as much attention was paid to the human shinobi and the inner strength they must each find to move forward. I loved that this pertains to more than just the children but also to adults like Ohnoki who have already achieved so much success in life. Sometimes our convictions are obscured with fear or greed.

I’m working my way slowly through the backlog of episodes and realizing how much I missed out on in past seasons. Boruto is chock full of fantastic writing and even the “filler” episodes have substance that strengthens our understanding of the characters and the world in which they live. You can hopefully look forward to more belated arc discussions. Feel free to let me know what your favorite story arcs coming up are and what you thought about this one!

Watch Boruto: Naruto Next Generations on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and VRV.

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