Here's some early Ten Comments from me...! Surprise, surprise...
First, I just wanted to thank you guys for all the comments! Please keep them coming, they're helping me see some things I haven't seen before! =) Thanks for reading in advance.
* * * Gold Knight's Ten Comments on Naruto Chapter 313: The New Team! * * *
1. Smile for the Birdy, Guys!... er, ok For once, we get a cover of new characters early on and just right after they make their first appearance in the series. (Unlike poor Zetsu, who STILL hasn't gotten his due.) Well, it's not that dazzling a cover... just another direct look at our new Akatsuki duo, Hidan and Kakuzu. And unlike in Deidara's and Sasori's respective covers, the sidetext didn't even reveal any interesting tidbits about these guys... like the bewildering mystery that is Hidan's original Hidden Village!
The only thing apparently confirmed now was that Kishimoto didn't just accidentally draw the four straight vertical lines of the familiar Rain Village symbol as a three-claw mark on Hidan's forehead protector. Interesting... Hidden Village of Fury? Hidden Village of Blood? ...Hidden Village of Religious Nuts? (Credit goes to Raine_Joybringer for that last one, btw. ^^ )
2. A Little Divine Protection Never Hurts... So, religion finally enters the story somewhere, and in the form of a crazed bloodthristy S-rank missing-nin criminal at that. This scene of Hidan pausing to pray despite Kakuzu's readiness to attack at first reminded me a little bit of another religious nut named Cross from 666Satan, the manga created by Kishimoto's twin brother, Seishi. So I was somewhat disappointed, thinking that Kishimoto Masashi was out of fresh ideas and "borrowing" a little material here from his bro, so I was happy to see later on that unlike Cross, Hidan wasn't working for anything resembling "justice," but rather was honest in that he was a harbringer of destruction and death. I'll comment on that more later.
Kakuzu's immediate retort, "You're always such a pain in the ass," did make me chuckle, by the way. No love for Hidan's religion there at all.
3. Who's Got Who? Though it turned out to be a fatal mistake of Yugito's in the end, I didn't blame her for believing it was an acceptable strategy to trap Hidan and Kakuzu inside a closed-in chamber so that she could freely take them out in her Nekomata form. That's a veteran jinchuuriki thinking right there - first, she didn't have to worry about injuring or killing any of her fellow countrymen (assuming that's the Hidden Village of Cloud that they're at) while in her berserked form. (Recall how Naruto nearly blindly killed Sakura with but a swing of a tail.) And second, as an avatar who apparently could "become" the bijuu inside her, she's probably never had any trouble before in similar situations. But this time, Yugito bit off more than she could chew - she evidently had never faced one of the Akatsuki before.
On the positive side, this also tells me that she was probably a very proud kunoichi, and probably never fled from a battle, no matter how overwhelming the odds might seem (she seemed to have heard of the Akatsuki, so she was probably aware of how dangerous they were). In that way, she's pretty similar to Naruto. But pride always cometh before a fall...
4. A Madman's Ranting. I actually kinda like it. It's different from the other Akatsuki, ya know? Especially guys like Itachi, Zetsu, Sasori, and now, apparently, Kakuzu. All these guys are reserved, stoic, and morbidly quiet... but this guy, Hidan... well, just look at all the different facial expressions he put on in the span of one fleeting chapter! That's more than we ever got from Itachi, whose face only changes when he looks at you funny. Anyway, Hidan obviously adds a different kind of crazed personality to the Akatsuki, which I think was sorely needed in the series for a villain. It's something we really haven't had in Naruto since the very first chapter when Mizuki nearly busted a gut laughing as he was taunting Naruto for being the "Nine-Tails Demon Fox".
It's also comedic in that Kakuzu can be so exasperated by his partner's incoherent ramblings, too. "Just shut up, Hidan, just shut up!" Not that I blame him. And he probably can't really complain about it, either. What did I ever do to deserve this?... Oh, that's right, I did slaughter a country here and there....
5. Wanna Join the Dark Priesthood? Okay, I said I'd comment more about Hidan's religion. Here's where he revealed a little something more about it:
Hidan: My point is that this mission conflicts with my beliefs.
In Jashin (literally "Evil God," the name of his religion), we believe in slaughter.
Anything less than utter destruction is a sin.
(Taken from Hisshou's Translation)
Obviously, it's not your typical benevolent deity that he worships. And this actually makes more sense to me in the context of Naruto's living in an often-violent world of ninja and assassins. Is it so hard to believe that somewhere in this world there resides a hidden cult of crazed shinobi worshipping a God of Slaughter?
And since I believe that "Dark Clerics," if you will, are a class that is severely overlooked in fantasy stories, even the ones that give you a polytheistic pantheon, I'm enjoying Hidan's character more than I thought I would because of what he represents. I like him more than I would have liked, say, a blind zealot who believed he was an instrument of a more benevolent God (another example of this type is the character Scar from Full Metal Alchemist - obviously, that idea's been done to death already.) I do tend to like villains who believe that they're not the bad guys, which is very realistic and normal. But... sometimes a guy who just likes to be bad can be an appealing villain, too. What makes me wonder is what exactly is Hidan's rationale in joining this religion? What led him down this path? Is it more access to more (unholy?) kinjutsu not normally taught to just any shinobi? Or was it just what his village was all about?
I also can't help but wonder if Hidan's "God" has a connection to that "King of Hell" chained statue that the Akatsuki summoned together for their rituals. That could help explain how Hidan would be of such great value to the others that they would tolerate his annoying personality.
6. Finally, A New Tailed Beast! Okay, last chapter I was obviously jazzed about the arrival of new Akatsuki. So much, in fact, that I think I overlooked the fact that something else also appeared that we hadn't seen since Gaara lashed madly at Sasuke in the outskirts of Konohagakure.
Well, when Yugito transformed here into a huge two-tailed monster cat, it was hard to miss!
Fans have commented already that the Nibi looked very similar to Sai's drawings. I think that may be because the Nibi here wasn't actually in its original, physical form, but rather was made of pure chakra, and this may be the same type of chakra that Sai's drawings are built from. Naruto's Kyuubi obviously emulates a very different kind of chakra, a bubbling, fiery kind. Wouldn't it be interesting if Kishomoto had thought out his mythology to such an extent that all the bijuu would be the source of all chakra in the world, with each responsible for a different kind of energy. Maybe that's what the Akatsuki are going for in capturing all the bijuu: crippling the rest of the world.
Anyway, besides that, the Nibi sure doesn't act very differently from the Kyuubi... almost a mindless beast bent on wanton destruction. I had somewhat expected it to be a little... different, more intelligent, or at the very least not so evil-seeming. Or perhaps we're just looking at something alike 4-Tail Naruto: an in-between form between Yugito and the Nibi that's only bent on chaos and not really possessing any rational thought.
Its size and brutal strength, for example, in its original form, might be much more formidable. Regardless, it was pretty gutsy of Kakuzu to think he was able to withstand the force of the Nibi's paw. And despite Hidan's self-deprecating remark of being the "slowest of the Akatsuki" last chapter, he was still pretty quick to dodge her fireball. Must be experience working in their favor.
7. Kumogakure...? If that's the Hidden Village of the Cloud that was revealed when Nibi blew up the ground (it probably was, the clouds seemed very low), I expected it to be more... grand-seeming than a bunch of hospital-like buildings and spiral mountains. Not that I was expecting Kumogakure to be like the Cloud City of Bespin from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. ...
Well, maybe I was. In any case, I still hope there's more to Kumogakure than what we saw there. I was left somewhat disappointed.
8. Here We Go Again...! I know this scene annoyed a lot of readers (except Asuma-Kurenai fans, you know who you are!) but I actually got a chuckle out of Kakashi being left in the dark, just like he did to Naruto. But it did disprove my prediction from last time that we'd learn more about what Asuma intended to do in this chapter, so that did irrirate me a bit. We didn't get to learn about Shikamaru's whereabouts, either. Phooey. And what's with all the visitors to Kakashi's hospital room in one day? Leave him alone people! He's sick! He's recovering from a very tiring episode of using his MS! And he's reading Icha Icha Tactics!
Still, just as well, because Kishimoto obviously wanted the focus to be on the Nibi's battle with Hidan and Kakuzu and for it to be over in one chapter. Answers should be forthcoming in the next few chapters from here on.
As for Kurenai and Asuma, they're definitely a couple. No doubt about that. (Either that, or Kurenai's stalking Asuma, which is still a distinct possibility, considering Asuma had an annoyed look here...!) But I think what Asuma wanted to tell Kakashi was probably something dangerous he didn't want Kurenai to know about, so to not involve her, too, and he was probably a bit perturbed that he shooed all the kids away for nothing. Oh well, at least it wasn't man-love.
9. Sacrifical Kinjutsu? Now this is something new: Hidan seemed to "sacrifice" himself to his God in order to get the necessary power he needed to beat Yugito. Definitely a kinjutsu if I ever saw one. Note that the symbol on the floor was the same shape as the pendant he was praying to in the start of the chapter.
We obviously missed all the important details of how Hidan accomplished this jutsu (I don't think it just took thirty minutes; that was just the ceremony itself), but I think Kishimoto is just saving it for when Hidan actually faces one of the characters we're already familiar with, so don't get too upset about that. Would the battle between Sasori and Sakura and Chiyo have been as interesting if Sasori had already shown all his tricks against Kankurou? Probably not.
Also, I liked that Hidan, unlike Deidara when he lost his arms, at least showed pain when he pulled a stake out of himself. Seems more human, anyway.
Anyway, my interest is definitely piqued by Hidan, and that's good. I was hoping these two Akatsuki would show something new, and at least one did.
10. Next, Naruto... ! I already commented on this in the 314 Predictions Thread, but I'll repeat myself here for the sake of anybody who didn't see my post. At first, I thought the markers on the map Kakuzu was studying at the end of the chapter might be representing the locations, not the captures, of all the jinchuuriki. I figured that would mean that Hidan and Kakuzu were actually on the hunt for another jinchuuriki in the area, not Naruto.
But then I saw that there was NOT a marker in the general area of Konohagakure for Naruto. No 'X' to mark his location. So it would seem that the Akatsuki has indeed captured all but one jinchuuriki (since there are seven 'X's' and Gaara's Shukaku has obviously already been captured.) If that's true, then we may be much closer to an epic all-out battle with the Akatsuki than anybody realized.
That may have been what the report to Tsunade was all about. If she knows that the Akatsuki only have Naruto to go now, then I'll be expecting her to pull out all the stops and have the whole village on guard. No more "messing around," as she so eloquently said to Shizune last chapter. And also, if, and only if, Naruto is the last jinchuuriki, then Hidan and Kakuzu may be acting as a decoy team while another team of Akatsuki sneaks in to capture him. I still fully expect this team to be Itachi and Kisame. Or just Itachi, in fact. Who better to sneak into a village unannounced than a master of genjutsu?
It also may be that somewhere on the way, Hidan and Kakuzu will likely pause in order to drop Yugito off at a hidden enclove and the whole Akatsuki team will appear again in order to aid in the extraction of her bijuu. However, she's not dead yet (otherwise the extraction wouldn't work, I expect), and I believe she will have a role later in the story, so in order for that to happen, they may just drop her off in a prison of sorts and save all that for later.
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Very intriguing chapter. The only minus would be that the "tease" of Asuma leaving Kakashi in the dark is a little bit of a low blow on Kishimoto's part to the readers. And also to add to that, that scene made us miss the part of how Hidan defeated Yugito, no doubt making some readers groan two times in a row.
Predictions: I think the training arc will start next chapter, or at least show us Naruto's thoughts before he meets up with Kakashi, and that we won't see Hidan and Kakuzu again for a while, since they do have some travelling to make.
Veeery interesting chapter, overall... ^^