Boruto: Why Chōchō’s Freaky Friday Arc Is Problematic

The Boruto anime expands on a key plot point in Chocho’s development, which leads to a Freaky Friday arc that feels quite problematic.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Episode 222, “The Night Before The Final Round,” now streaming on Crunchyroll.

One of the most comedic characters in the Naruto anime was Chōji Akimichi, who belonged to Team Asuma alongside Shikamaru and Ino. He was often chided for his eating but it was really his sloppy behavior in the field — and Asuma’s insistence that he’d eventually be a badass warrior — that left fans constantly laughing, especially as his incompetence frustrated his teammates. However, as the Boruto series leans even more into his clan’s traits and Chōchō’s development as a shinobi, a Freaky Friday arc plays out that feels quite problematic.

While Chōji wasn’t necessarily made fun of for eating or being overweight all the time, for some reason his daughter is. Insensitive jokes of this nature may have been part of anime, manga and even Western cartoons and such years ago, but honestly, it’s decades later, so there should be more sensitivity in a time when we’re more awake and progressing as a society.

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inojin, shikadai and chocho from boruto

Sadly, that doesn’t happen with Chōji’s daughter Chōchō in Boruto, and it’s even worse as the two people she trusts most — Shikadai and Inojin — are the ones poking fun at her. Firstly, when Chōchō says she doesn’t mind remaining a genin rather than endure the rigors of new exams to graduate, they mentally bribe her by saying that if she passes, she’ll get paid more and can buy more food.

They literally play on her greed, which excites Chōchō who all of a sudden wants to excel. This lacks substance, however, and shouldn’t be her motivating factor. She is already inspired by Shikadai, who’s already graduated and is waiting on them to follow before he rocks his Chūnin jacket. Plus, seeing as they’re a legacy team who should want to inspire their parents, the reasons are already there to elevate herself for future threats.

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It’s even worse in the field when Inojin is actually racing with Chōchō, calling her “chubby” and such. It’s disrespectful and, at a time when so much cyberbullying and body image issues occur, it has no place in the Boruto franchise. The most condescending and insulting aspect, though, comes just before the exam when Inojin tries his mind-swap powers on her a-la Freaky Friday.

Sarada and Chocho Akimichi from Boruto

When he gets into her body, it’s awful and condescending as he can’t control her eating. Chōchō’s body is automatically trying to feed itself at the ramen restaurant, but this is tone deaf and makes it seem like she has no agency.

This doesn’t correlate to her family’s powers of being able to expand their bodies, nor does it touch on how their appetites may help their metabolism — it’s a gimmick just to show Chōchō can’t stop eating, even if she wants to. It’s quite cosmetic and ultimately, for a series that is still yet to elevate its women, such as Sarada and Sakura, Boruto should scrub these toxic arcs that run a high chance of making people feel insecure.

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