The mystery of the recently-discovered Curse Marks deepens as new threats emerge in this week’s Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. With Jugo completely overtaken by his Curse Mark, Konohamaru swoops in to protect his students and is injured in the process. After Jugo is able to return to normal with the help of a powerful tranquilizer, it’s revealed that removing the Curse Marks from infected birds and their victims has caused Jugo’s existing Curse Mark to become even more aggressive, thereby shortening the amount of time that passes between his transformations.
With their sensei in the hospital, Team 7 and Tosaka accompany Jugo as he continues his investigation. While wandering around on the outskirts of the border, the gang inadvertently crosses over into Land of River territory, where they encounter a group of researchers who claim to be investigating the bird incident as well. Since Jugo promptly hides, Boruto elects to play coy when the head researcher asks if the genin have found anything. Meanwhile, Team 15, who were sent back to the Hidden Leaf to explain the situation and request reinforcements, are approached by two mysterious enemies—siblings who are able to control Curse Marks with the aid of collars—while en route to the village.
Despite its brevity, the Jugo/Konohamaru fight is fast-paced, fluidly animated, and serves as an action-packed highlight in an otherwise relaxed episode. Konohamaru’s shinobi prowess is on full display as he unloads nearly every trick in his tool belt against his super-powered opponent before finishing the match with a particularly powerful Rasengan. The bout is truly a testament to how skilled Naruto’s former protégé has become since the end of the war and is arguably his coolest action sequence to date. A fully-transformed, out-of-control Jugo might even prove problematic for Naruto, making Konohamaru’s willingness to take him on without a second thought all the more impressive.
The rest of the episode unfolds at a comparatively leisurely pace, with new narrative seeds planted at various points throughout. Although Jugo is initially hesitant, it doesn’t take him long to develop a rapport with Boruto, whose trademark stubbornness prohibits him from complying with Jugo’s wishes. Having spent a fair amount of time with Taka and the newly-reformed Orochimaru, the animal-loving loner seems a little more willing to trust people, but it’s clear that he still prefers the company of wildlife. While Boruto killing an infected bird was a black mark against him in Jugo’s book, he ultimately realizes that the young man means well and accepts Team 7’s help. This sort of dynamic frequently plays out whenever Boruto (or Naruto) encounter a guest character, but since the audience has a preexisting connection with Jugo and firsthand knowledge of his background, it feels more rewarding to see the two overcome their differences.
After kicking things off with a frenetic action sequence, episode 99 eases up on the pacing and devotes its remaining runtime to the central mystery. Fortunately, the proceedings never feel padded—which has intermittently been a problem in the show’s more ambitious arcs. Neither Genin team sees much action this week, but with Konohamaru laid up and new enemies making themselves known, that’s liable to change very soon.