"Going back to what Orochimaru said earlier, can someone elaborate on the whole 'Madara has been resurrected and has begun his genocide of all shinobi' thing..."
"Yeah, well, he stabbed me too..but here I am anyway. I suggest you just go with the flow as well."
There's tons to Sasuke's Reply, so I'm going to skip the formalities and get straight to the previous poll results that way we can dig in. Last review I asked if you guys were or weren't satisfied with how the Valley of the End bout. The majority of you were, and now there's another big event for everyone to get all critical about. Sasuke's reply...
Naruto 627 Sasuke's Reply
The images in this review are credited to Mangastream
Having given Sasuke his requested answers, Hashirama shifts focus back to the battle at hand, which is...you know...happening right now and with great impact to the future of everyone. No worries. Sasuke explains the mechanics of Madara's plot and mentions the irony that the person who most shared Hashirama's POV was Itachi, and Uchiha. This prompts more wisdom as Tobirama points out that there were other Uchiha who shared his loyalty and whom he respected, despite his appearance. Men like Kagami from his squad, who later fathered Shisui of the Mirage. Tobirama explains that he didn't discriminate against the Uchiha specifically. Rather, he kept an eye on all clans who agitated the village, and the Uchiha happened to do so often, despite his attempts to tie them more strongly to Konoha.
This leads to a discussion of Hiruzen's inherited will of fire, along with Kagami, Shisui, and Danzo, who despite being a jerk, still clearly cared about Konoha. Hiruzen starts a pity party that Minato then hijacks, and Orochimaru rubs some salt in the wound about how some thought Orochimaru would have made a better Fourth. He is, after all, the only one of them still alive today.
In the end, Sasuke decides to join the battle alongside the Hokage.
Orochimaru agrees to follow Sasuke's lead, unbinding the Hokage. When asked why, he mentions that he's interested to see where Sasuke's path leads since Kabuto, who followed his own to the letter, failed. Suigetsu contemplates escape, but his attempt is foiled by Karin who abruptly shows up. Her anger at being betrayed is easily assuaged by a quick apology from Sasuke. And with that, everyone's ready to head into battle.
As it has been the past few chapters, the character's reaction faces remain telling and amusing. Just the scene where everyone's waiting for Sasuke to speak was expressive, everyone waiting for a reply. But we had much more: regret filled Hokage, Tobirama embarrassed of his brother, a cheesy Hashirama, Suigetsu's dread, Orochimaru's smugness, Karin's quick change of moods, and Sasuke actually being a little weirded out by how attached she is to him.
Another element of note this week was Sasuke's Itachi collage while he considered his options. The collage which is the static visual equivalent of a film montage, but that reads differently on paper than in motion. Where on film you have successive scenes shown one after another, sometimes at varying speeds or deft editing to disorient the audience, with the collage, you are bombarded with numerous images at once with no set path with which to traverse them. While not very artfully assembled here, that messiness...the haphazard way the montage was thrown together...underlines how overwhelming those memories are for Sasuke. If there's any one moment that helps sell his decision this chapter, it's that one double-page spread.
I've been plenty busy the past couple of weeks, which has made getting these reviews out in a timely manner somewhat difficult. But I had such a blast reading Naruto 627 that it wasn't too hard at all.
In fact, the chapter goes out of its way to provide quick resolution and tidily packed up themes. So let's start with the big one. Sasuke decides, after hearing Hashirama's story and remembering Itachi's unconditional acceptance in death, to join the fight so that his brother's memory and inherited will won't be erased by Madara's infinite genjutsu. In the end, it wasn't Naruto who brought him around, though there might be opportunity there for the two to work out desegregating the various clans. It was Hashirama, whose will of fire was inherited most intensely by Itachi. It took a lifetime for Hashirama to understand what a shinobi was and decide that he would strike down any of his brothers to protect the dream he had for Konoha, but Itachi came to that conclusion early on, which further supports both Hiruzen and my claim that Itachi was easily a Hokage level candidate.
Throughout this decision, some themes were repeated. Namely, regret over the past and the burden of responsibility. Each of the Hokage has it in some way and form. Hashirama regrets being unable to save his friend and perhaps helping initiate the downfall of the Uchiha through his unbridled naivety. Tobirama tried to take a middle road between his brother's naivety and Madara's skepticism, but his conclusion made many the Uchiha feel more secluded from the village. Hiruzen looks at the fruits of his labor, Orochimaru, the Uchiha massacre, Minato's untimely death, and feels a failure. And Minato feels guilty for his brief tenure, believing he may have been able to avert the Uchiha massacre had he lived longer.
Orochimaru and Itachi get in on that action too. While within Kabuto, Orochimaru witnessed what his nihilistic philosophy led when taken to the extreme. With hindsight, both he and Itachi wonder what might have been or might be if they had placed faith in the future. There are levels of miscalculation present and Sasuke seems to respond to them. No longer is the Senju and Uchiha history a black and white affair of grievances and reprisals. It's full of well meaning but flawed people.
Then, of course, there's the theme of inheritance that's always been prominent in Naruto. Hashirama's will was inherited by Itachi and Shisui. Tobirama's by Kagami, Danzo, and Hiruzen in various ways. Hashirama's compassion by Hiruzen. Hiruzen's will by his students and Minato. And Orochimaru's by Kabuto, Karin, Suigetsu, and Juugo.
This lineage of succession doesn't just create a sense of purpose and continuity. By examining their ideals as claimed by their successors, each of these predecessors is able to spot the flaws within and hopefully course correct if they're caught in time.
But besides all that, 627 remained a breezy, quotable, at times humorous read full of small surprises, so it should come as no wonder that I'm giving* the chapter a
5 out of 5
*kind of begrudgingly. The last few chapters have been so consistently good that I almost want to downgrade the rating here out of guilt for so many consecutive fives. But given that I'm grading each chapter against expectation (past chapters), this is still very much better than the serviceable and merely good chapters that this long "Fourth Shinobi World War" arc has produced.
Well isn't this something. Only one of my predictions didn't pan out: Minato mentioning masked-face Uchiha during the Kyuubi attack that preceded his death. However, Kishimoto wrapped things up nicely. Sasuke decided. There was some last minute wisdom. And everyone...literally everyone present...decided to go off to war.
This should be some battle. Naruto, Sasuke, the previous Hokage, the would-have-been-Hokage-if-not-evil Orochimaru, and his choice experiments on the stage. I have a feeling that we'll be seeing a Juubi-jinchuriki (my money's on Obito not Madara for this) soon. The only thing missing now are the current Kages. Speaking of which, it's been awhile since we've seen those guys, hasn't it?
So, the question here is whether Kishimoto can maintain the quality that's been present in the last tankobon worth of material and how he plans to transition into the next mini-arc with 628.
One Line Reviews
- Bleach 533 takes the long route to its inevitable destination. Soul Society, Hollows, Urahara, Quincy, and Aizen intersect in various ways, sometimes without realizing it, in this slow-burning but entertaining chapter.
- One Piece 705 is one busy chapter. Eiichiro Oda seems to delight in taking an already complicated web of motivations and movers and twisting it even further. This chapter touches in with pretty much everyone and introduces even more new characters, one of which is pretty big.
- One Shot, One Opportunity is in full swing in Tower of God S02 Ch58. Everyone's making big moves and risks missing their chance to get into the tournament. But the real draw is the cliffhanger ending that reunites Baam with another Season 1 character.
- Best of the Week is a toss up between Tower of God and One Piece for both being so wild and unpredictable. There’s this since in each that anything can happen and that the authors have a master plot that they’re concealing with some well placed misdirection.