Image source: アニメ BORUTO-ボルト-【公式】 on Twitter

The character Mitsuki from Boruto: Naruto Next Generations almost always defers to his friend Boruto. But, that’s not because he doesn’t want to make decisions for himself. It’s a decision Mitsuki deliberately made well before meeting Boruto.

After passing their Ninja Academy final exam, Boruto, Sarada, and Mitsuki are placed in the same team. Before they go on their first mission, though, Sarada is curious why Mitsuki generally follows Boruto. And Mitsuki recalls what lead him to that decision.

Whenever Mitsuki has to make some sort of choice he often follows Boruto’s lead. This gives Mitsuki the impression he has no free will, agency, or personality. Because of this he appears more like a skilled mook, rather than somebody who is on equal footing as Boruto. However, the latest episode of Boruto upends our perception of Mitsuki by showing us what made him decide to “follow” Boruto.

Image source: アニメ BORUTO-ボルト-【公式】 on Twitter

The entire premise of the episode is Mitsuki’s memories have been taken away by a mysterious ninja. In order to get his memories back, though, he needs to follow the character Orochimaru. What’s interesting about Mitsuki and Orochimaru’s relationship is how it’s very one-sided. Orochimaru tells Mitsuki to only believe in him and follow his every word. By doing this Orochimaru is removing any need for Mitsuki to think or act on his own. In other words, Orochimaru is saying, “Be a mindless automaton.” It’s not all that surprising considering Mitsuki is very near to this when he’s with Boruto. Yet, the key difference lies in Mitsuki questioning if Orochimaru is telling the truth. It’s not that Mitsuki doesn’t trust Orochimaru, but is more skeptical of what’s going on due to his amnesia.

Mitsuki, for the most part, complies with Orochimaru through out the episode, though. That is until a stunning truth is revealed to Orochimaru. The mysterious ninja who stole Mitsuki’s memories is in fact an older clone of Mistuki made by Orochimaru. The twist is the clone is trying to protect Mitsuki, which is why he took his memories to begin with. This sets up an intriguing conundrum for the young Mitsuki. Does he listen to his older clone or does he put his trust in Orochimaru. It’s the first real decision we see Mitsuki make since it relies on his free will. In other words Mitsuki actively has to choose the path he wants to take. Orochimaru and the clone can’t make the decision for him.

Image source: アニメ BORUTO-ボルト-【公式】 on Twitter

The mere fact Mitsuki has to make the choice himself is a radical departure from what we’re used to with him. What we’ve seen of Mitsuki in the past is taking one course of action: follow Boruto. But, the most recent episode gives Mitsuki two distinct options: believe in Orochimaru or his older clone. The thing is, what we’re actually shown is an illusion of two options. There are, in fact, several options Mitsuki can choose from. For instance he could just walk away from both of them. What Mitsuki ultimately decides, though, is to betray Orochimaru, ignoring his clone’s warnings, and leaving them both behind. It’s the first time Mitsuki makes a life changing decision and sets him on his own course in life.

However, it’s reveal to us that Orochimaru and the Mitsuki clone actually devised this setup for Mitsuki. It’s sinister to say the least, but their reasoning behind it is captivating. They want Mitsuki to find an alternative to the two choices they give him so he can be a beacon to other mindless clones—a majority of which Orochimaru created. Still, Orochimaru and the clone worry Mitsuki will never truly be that shining light. So, they take the deception one step further and “engineer” Mitsuki to find his own beacon first. In this case, that person is Boruto. But, again, it’s up to Mitsuki to decide whether or not he wants to follow that path. And as we know, he does.

While it may appear Mitsuki never really has any agency when it comes to following Boruto, it really was his choice to begin with. Some might say this is by Orochimaru’s design. But, the fact stands that there was always a possibility Mitsuki could have taken a different path. And that’s what Orochimaru is striving for with his son: to be able to make his own decisions in life.

BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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