Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Episode 41 - Anime Review
The new Team 7's first official mission closes out in a satisfying (though highly predictable) manner this week, as Boruto and company face off against Hidari and Ashimaru. At the end of the day, the conflict in the Green Banks was ultimately a less harrowing affair than the attempted coup in the Hidden Mist and the Nue incident, but it provided the kids with the perfect opportunity to work as a cohesive unit and recognize one another's strengths. Although the big battle against this arc's villains isn't quite as epic as the previous episode suggested it might be, the action and character chemistry is serviceable enough given the story's surprisingly short length
As it turns out, Hidari and Ashimaru hadn't been working on behalf of a neighboring village but rather Iori, one of Kiri's chief advisors. Unfortunately for him, the duo of rogue ninja don't hesitate to dispatch him after he delivers Kiri to their hideout. Shortly thereafter, Team 7 arrives on the scene and launches a surprise attack. Per their plan, Konohamaru stays behind to deal with the shinobi while the kids get Kiri to safety. Things hit a snag when Konohamaru becomes temporarily incapacitated by Hidari's Clone Trap jutsu and the supersized Ashimaru goes after Boruto and the others. Learning from the mistakes of Kiri, who wanted to tackle every challenge facing her village by herself, the kids take down Ashimaru with a special attack that combines each of their unique strengths. Meanwhile, Konohamaru is able to frighten Hidari into submission with a super-powered Rasengan. In the end, Kiri resolves to start accepting help from others, and the Green Banks' rest area is renamed “The Team 7 of the Hidden Leaf Rest Area.” (This is presumably meant to mirror Tazuna's Great Naruto Bridge.) True to character, Boruto gleefully shares this tale with his friends after returning to the Leaf as Sarada watches with quiet bemusement.
The show's comparatively tight pacing continues to work to its advantage. With the stakes laid bare and the central conflict set up, episode 41 provides Team 7 with a full 24 minutes to just save the day—and save it they do. Team 7 quickly identifying their individual strengths and forming an effective plan of attack is a solid way to end their big mission, although it's preceded by a small round of Boruto and Sarada's trademark bickering. Similarly, Konohamaru's Rasengan scaring the beejeezus out of the formerly menacing Hidari serves as both a fun bit of comedy and an informative illustration of how strong Naruto's former protégé has gotten.
Since this is a by-the-books story, drawing it out for more than two episodes would have shed more light on its core shortcomings—like the bland cookie-cutter villains and the plot being a light rehash of the parent series' first big arc. To be fair, this doesn't leave a lot of time to develop Kiri as a guest character, but since she's essentially a mishmash of Naruto's one-shot filler and movie characters, it doesn't seem like we're missing much. Unfortunately, the story's relatively short length and lack of a genuinely threatening antagonist also means we don't get to enjoy any of the big emotional moments that were central to many of the parent series' finest outings. With the 2015 feature film set to be re-adapted in a few months, perhaps the producers want that story to cover Team 7's first Naruto-level challenge.
Despite being a solidly entertaining mini-arc, Team 7's first mission was paint-by-numbers shonen in many respects. Since the show's world is a far more peaceful place than it was during Naruto's youth, it's unlikely that Boruto would encounter a Zabuza-esque threat this early in the game, but a little more creativity on the part of the screenwriters would have made for a more memorable storyline.