Boruto: Naruto Next Generations 1×280 Review – “Breakthrough”

Breakthrough Boruto anime episode 280 review
Shamo gets injured during Boruto and Kiseru’s fight in ‘Breakthrough’ (Screengrab: Boruto Anime Episode 280)

Boruto anime episode 280, ‘Breakthrough’, ended up giving me a very unexpected reveal about the experiments that Boruto’s been trying to survive. I can’t wait to see how this arc will conclude!

‘Breakthrough’ picked up from where the previous episode left off, with Boruto deciding to confront Kiseru and get him to tell the truth about whether or not he’s working with Ouga and if he killed some of the other prisoners. If you have been following my reviews of this particular arc, you would already know that I quickly side-eyed the anime writers trying to make Kiseru the bad guy. I could feel that there was something more to him, and I’m glad that my theory was confirmed as the latest episode progressed.

It was revealed that Kiseru was indeed a double agent. Working for the Great Five Nations’ Joint Investigation Team, he had been tasked to infiltrate the Kara organization as an Outer member to collect intel. His current mission was to get to the bottom of why a bunch of people had disappeared from across the Five Great Nations. Turns out, some Jonin also went missing while trying to uncover the truth behind the disappearances, with the final message coming from Kiseru’s best friend (a ninja who also went on the same mission) about how his team shouldn’t trust anything they see.

I really liked how the characters came to learn about what was going on. Shamo and Yatsume got to learn the truth about Kiseru after he dropped a scroll containing certain details. Salad, Mitsuki, and Kawaki were brought into the loop after confronting three hooded ninjas that were revealed to be from Konoha’s ANBU department.

The scene where Salad realized that something was suspicious was handled well. I liked how she decided to test the mysterious ninja woman in front of her and got to realize that her opponent was indeed from Konoha. I get that some people might not have liked Salad being thrown to the ground by the mysterious woman. However, from what I could understand, Salad was holding back during their brief fight because she wanted to check whether or not the woman would use Konoha’s fighting style.

Salad being the one to pick up something being suspicious made sense for her character. She’s Team 7’s leader after all and a Chunin-level ninja. However, I do think that Mitsuki should have sensed something, too. He did attend and graduate from the Leaf Ninja Academy. I wasn’t expecting Kawaki to have a similar intuition because he’s new to Konoha. But anyway, kudos to Salad! 

Even though learning about Kiseru’s true identity allowed Salad, Mitsuki, and Kawaki to feel better about Boruto’s fate, they soon changed their opinion after talking more with the ANBU ninjas. Understandably, the ANBU ninjas were concerned about Kiseru’s mental health. They hadn’t heard from him in a while and they were worried that maintaining his cover might mess with his mind. He wouldn’t be the first to break under the pressure of being a double agent, especially with the job being accompanied by a sense of seclusion because you can’t form actual bonds with the people around you. Kiseru also had a personal stake in the mission because he was trying to find his best friend. So, that added another layer of stress.

With Boruto fighting Kiseru, ‘Breakthrough’ also spent some time giving Shamo some character development. Shamo realized that he had ‘supporting character’ energy. And you know what? That’s okay. Not everyone can be the main character. However, what Shamo could do was work through his fear and take on the responsibility of telling Boruto the truth about Kiseru before the two injured each other more.

The scene where Shamo ran directly into Kiseru and Boruto’s line of fire reminded me of how Sakura tried to do the same thing during Sasuke vs Naruto decades ago. Even though Boruto was able to dissipate his Rasengan to not hurt Shamo, Kiseru was unable to stop his attack and ended up injuring Shamo. At least, the young ninja didn’t die and was able to tell Boruto what he knew.

As for the major reveal, it linked to the message of not trusting anything you saw. Boruto talking about how Kiseru’s fake personality was just an illusion made Kiseru link certain dots in his mind and conclude that all of the experiments were indeed fake.

Truth be told, I had no idea that Boruto and the rest of the prisoners were trapped in some kind of advanced Genjutsu/Simulation. I didn’t even see that theory come up during fan discussions. So, yeah, the reveal really took me by surprise.

Kiseru, a trained medical ninja, helped Boruto escape from the Genjutsu/Simulation by stabbing our lead character’s chest with a kunai and then using Medical Jutsu to release Boruto from the Genjutsu’s influence. The scene where Boruto realized that all of them were being kept in pods made for a very exciting visual. Of course, I’m looking forward to seeing how he will help the other prisoners escape.

The fact that the prisoners are still alive in the real world made me glad because I ended up liking Batta as a character. Even though Batta died during the experiment in the previous episode, I think she’s still alive inside the pod. The same goes for Namua who sacrificed himself to keep the gate open for Yatsume, Rokuro, and Shamo. 

Also, what will happen to criminals like Rokuro? Will he be sent to prison once he’s released from the Genjutsu?

And who the heck kidnapped and put everyone in Genjutsu in the first place? Is Yatsume the real villain? I hope the anime writers are able to provide satisfying answers when the arc concludes next week.

For those wondering, after the current arc’s finale, the Boruto anime series will begin adapting Sasuke Retsuden. The first episode of that particular arc will air on January 8, 2023. From what I know, (and I could be wrong about this), the Sasuke Retsuden arc will last for six episodes. I’m very interested in seeing how the anime writers will decide to fit the story in the current Boruto timeline, considering the events of the Sasuke Retsuden novel were supposed to occur before the Kawaki and Kara stuff. Anyway, whatever the anime writers decide to do, I can’t wait to see Sakura and Sasuke working together!

What did you think of ‘Breakthrough’? Were you surprised to learn about the Genjutsu/Simulation reveal?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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