The latest episode of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations was an unexpectedly rich tale of identity and purpose — one that featured some shocking twists, as well as some epic Naruto callback cameos. The twist in question saw Boruto's BFF Mitsuki make a drastic decision about his fate — but for longtime Naruto fans, the return of some major Kage heroes was the real highlight!
Episode 71 was titled "The Hardest Rock in the World," and it featured Naruto holding council with some of his Kage mentors and colleagues, in order to decide what to do next about the lingering threat of the Otsutsuki Clan. Included in the meeting were some familiar faces from the Naruto saga, including:
There were some pretty great little asides for fans who have been watching Naruto since the beginning. Indeed, on paper, scenes of Mei, Kakashi and A debating how to properly eat an orange would seem like a waste of screen time, but watching play out with the entire history of Naruto looming over it was actually one fo the better fan-service moments we've seen in awhile. It was a great scene that helps connect the Boruto era with its Naruto roots, which is a synthesis that's been increasingly working in Boruto's favor, since the start of the Chunin Exam and "Vs. Momoshiki" arcs.
Of course, the real standout of "The Hardest Rock in the World" was seeing the return of old man Onoki. The elderly shinobi was meandering around Hidden Leaf, not even bothering with the Kage summit Naruto had called for. Boruto and Team 7 stepped in to find and help guide the old man back to his meeting - but ended up learning why he is such a hero in the shinobi world - both in terms of his Particle Style jutsu, and his wise view of shinobi philosophy and technique. It's Onoki who makes Team 7 realize the answer to Naruto's riddle of what the hardest rock in the world is - and it was his philosophical outlook that made Mitsuki realize he needed to make a drastic change in his life.
Now that Boruto, Sarada, and Mitsuki have seen the power that Onoki possesses, it will interesting to see which of them begin to master Particle Style first. Like with Naruto, the old man's knowledge could be life-changing for these young shinobi, and not just a massive thrill for us fans.
Catch new episodes of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations streaming weekly (in a new timeslot) on Hulu, Crunchyroll and Funimation.