Remember when Sakura and Ino faced each other in the Chunin Exams? I do, sort of. I think they were fighting over an arrogant a******. I also think one of them cuts their hair with a kunai. If I remember correctly, that fight was absolutely horrendous.
The issues I had with that fight returns in Boruto episode 49. Today we’re revisiting one of the biggest problems with the Naruto franchise—sexism!
Sure, I don’t identify as a feminist; however, I believe in gender equality (the technical definition of feminism). Masashi Kishimoto and the writers of Boruto, on the other hand, do not. So, I will explain why Boruto episode 49 brought out my inner feminist.
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen episode 49 and you plan to, I’d stop here. But honestly, I recommend reading forward and skipping this episode.
Sexism Case #1: Sumire’s Personality
You’d think Sumire, being the first villain of the Boruto series, would become more interesting after her defeat. Well, she doesn’t. She’s become a one-dimensional, female stereotype who knits oversized animal onesies before missions.
Was this strategy effective? According to the episode, yes. But it makes me feel like this aspect of the episode emphasizes the stereotype that women are good at house chores.
Also, you’d think Sumire would apply ninja skills, not home ec skills, to the mission. Why not perform transformation jutsus instead?
Sexism Case #2: Namida’s Crying
Also, why was Namida so quick to cry? I get her name means “tear” in Japanese, but is that the only thing that makes up her character? This would be alright as a simple character quirk or flaw, but as a defining characteristic, it’s not.
Being a ninja in the Naruto world is equivalent to being a soldier in the real world. If Namida were in the national guard, her excessive crying wouldn’t be permissible. On top of that, her signature Jutsu is called “Calling on Tears no Jutsu.” What the f*** is that?
Really, I feel like this quirk symbolizes weakness in women as her crying isn’t out of grief or pain, but out of plain sensitivity.
More than anything else, I would love to see her get over her crying in a character-building episode. I feel like that would make her a more compelling character and a stronger female role model.
Sexism Case #3: Wasabi being Outran by the Miniature Monkey
Wasabi’s special power is the ability to obtain animal-like speeds using her summoning justus. If she’s supposed to be super fast, then why is she getting outran by a monkey that grew up in captivity?
Maybe this is supposed to be funny, but I don’t understand why this would make anyone even smirk.
You would think that a genin specializing in speed could easily catch a monkey. From what we understand of the Naruto world, the most talented ninja have the ability to move at supersonic speeds (e.g. Minato). Thus, this aspect of the episode makes me think that a “quick” female ninja really isn’t that quick. Really, it pays homages to Part I Sakura’s direct characterization as a smart kunoichi who never proves her intelligence in battle.
Aside from my complaints about these characters and their sexist implications, I thought this was a boring, poorly written episode, and I highly recommend skipping it. There was barely a challenge, the entertainment value was extremely low, and the theme of teamwork was regurgitated for the billionth time.
Wasabi and Namida were introduced as tertiary characters who contributed nothing to the plot, and they should have remained as that.
The only interesting thing about this episode was Sumire revealing her former villainy to Namida and Wasabi, but even that was underwhelming. The writers should have saved this plot point for a more intense episode and made it a side plot.
Though I have issues with most female characters in the Naruto universe, there are a few good characters. Examples of good female Naruto characters are Hanabi (who was featured in the episode), Temari, and Tsunade.
How do you feel about the depiction of female characters in Naruto? Is it sexist? Also, what were your thoughts on Boruto episode 49? Leave a comment below.