Boruto: Konoha’s New Kakashi Exposes a Major Flaw in the Chūnin Exam

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Episode 223, "Inojin vs. Houki," now streaming on Crunchyroll.

One of the most impressive yet sadly underused additions in the Boruto anime has been Houki. The shinobi remains a fan-favorite though, as he worships the legendary Kakashi -- the masked ninja who helped Naruto and Team 7 rise up to become legends. However, as Houki carves a similar path in the Chūnin exam, there's a major flaw his actions and overall expertise expose.

Houki battles Inojin, the son of Sai and Ino, who also helped in the wars against the Akatsuki, Madara, Obito and Kaguya back in the day. They're cool with each other, but both hold nothing back in this fight as Inojin uses his scrolls to draw beasts and use them to try to break Houki down. Houki, rocking his mask, shows he's every bit as intuitive as a young Kakashi.

Houki uses his mountain jutsu to turn the arena into a rock base, leaving Inojin trapped in a maze. Meanwhile, Inojin deploys a trap of his own, painting a decoy to lure his opponent. As Houki rushes in for the victory blow, Inojin shoots his mind transfer jutsu at him to force submission.

However, a massive twist occurs in Inojin's mindscape as Houki's mental presence turns into a monster and swallows the brainwashing essence. He literally eats Inojin's astral form, with Houki then holding his blade to Inojin's real-world form after sneaking up from the back. It turns out Houki broke the mind transfer and has now won, impressing Naruto and the others.

The thing is, Houki has an unfair advantage in Boruto's Chūnin exam as he runs missions for the ANBU black-ops team. This has been Konoha's covert-ops unit for decades now, and as Sai admits, he trained these kids to use mental blocks so if they got captured, they wouldn't spill secrets. It's high-level stuff and gives them the upper hand, which harkens back to the days when Kakashi and Itachi were also involved in this squad.

Boruto Episode 223 during the Chunin Exam

This has made them far too elite versus normal shinobi who aren't as experienced. More so, the ANBU kids are groomed to be deadlier, sturdier, more resistant to attacks and are simply in advanced programs, as they're critical thinkers and problem solvers who partake in high-rank missions. And as this case in Boruto shows, they shouldn't be competing against weaker opposition.

Had Inojin fought someone on equal pegging, his progress wouldn't be stunted. So even as he jokes how Sai needs to include his own son in this upper-echelon training, it does feel like an issue to be addressed. After all, not everyone's inherently talented or blessed with a Nine Tails Fox like Naruto, so the Chūnin exam should not be using ANBU's teens moving forward -- it can also harm the losers' confidence while keeping them back a year.

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