“That bastard Naruto...He can even pull stuff like this off now?!”
"I already know all of it! Everything that you guys ever wanted to tell me!!"
Well I'm back after a two week break from reviewing and boy am I glad to be here. There's a lot to cover since I've been gone, so let's get right to it...
Naruto 644 I know
The images in this review are credited to mangastream
Having once been one, the two Kuramas that were split by Minato reconnect when their jinchurikis bump fists.Outside, everyone is rightly freaking out. They’re imprisoned in a barrier with four bijuu chakra balls charged up and ready to explode. Hashirama is occupied. Shikamaru doesn’t have a plan. And Sasuke is so out of his depth that he deigns to ask Naruto what to do. Naruto, though, has a plan and it requires all his concentration.
While connected with his son, Minato wonders at the kind of life Naruto must have lived to grow into who he is. The kind of ability and strategy he’s acquired isn’t the kind of thing that comes easy or can be learned. Everything Naruto has he gained by persevering through the tough times, whether he was struggling with social alienation, emotional rage, or physical beatdowns.
After Naruto reassures his dad that he’s fine and over his past, he restores everyone’s share of Kurama’s chakra. It was diminished, not disappeared altogether, so he pumps up the volume for the next stage of his plan...
Obito’s attack goes off and takes…nothing with it because Minato, through his son’s connection, is able to teleport everyone outside of the barrier. Well, everyone except Hashirama and Madara who were busy doing their own thing and who were never given a slice of Kurama’s chakra. And Hiruzen, assuming where he fell was within the barrier’s confines. So that puts potentially the First and Third Hokages out of the match for a while.
Obito survives, of course, protected by his yin-yang chakra. Upon yet another last minute reversal, Minato and Naruto team up for the counterattack.
There was some interesting art this chapter. Obito’s ticking time bomb jutsu was impressive all the up to the end and the characters were all very expressive in the face of and after surviving impending doom. For the first time, perhaps ever, Sasuke appears unsure this chapter. We’ve seen him in a daze, or fearful, or at a loss for what to do. But here he tries on a new face. The face of prideful man staring at a rival’s progress and unable to comprehend just what they’re capable of or thinking in the moment. A shout-out also goes out to Tobirama’s excellent rage face. He’s the odd straight man out in a sea of weirdos and makes for some funny scenes.
The images that struck me most this chapter, though, were those of the Yin-Yang chakra circuit Naruto, Minato, and the Kuramas formed. To start with, it’s great imagery, juxtaposing the rigid seal structure with dynamic fluidness of the tailed beasts contained within. But more interesting is that Kishimoto depicts the shape of Naruto and Minato’s chakras so differently. They are father and son and they’ve got similarities aplenty, but they’re abilities and fighting styles do differ and so the image of their chakra differs too. Naruto’s chakra is fuller and more fluid, very closing resembling Kurama’s and that makes sense. Growing up a jinchuriki, is nature’s been influenced by the wildness and is fighting style relies upon explosions of energy. Minato, the more methodical of the two, has chakra that takes on a more rigid, blocky shape. It’s geometrical whereas Naruto’s is organic, and that too makes sense if we think of Minato as someone intelligent enough to devise a fighting style using the Hirashin and who mastered seal jutsu.
I missed a couple of chapters, and since they’re linked so closely to 644, I’ll include quick write-ups of them here
Naruto 642 Impressions
What's not to love about this chapter? Our heroes' perfectly executed attack failed, pushing them into a corner and upping Obito's credibility. Tobirama deduced the nature of Obito's jutsu. There was a lot of cleverness all around from both Tobirama and Naruto. Dark Kurama was finally revealed in that cliffhanger. The art, characterizations, and dialogue were all on point.
I had no complaints after first reading Breakthrough and I still don't know how some of what it set up pans out. Usually you can count on a Naruto chapter having at least a couple of good moments (usually rating a 3 of 5) but this one, even with brilliant bits scattered about, did five things really well:
- It defines the nature of Obito's abilities and just how he's so easily defeating everyone's ninjutsu.
- It provides a counter to Obito's jutsu that both makes sense and pays off a skill Naruto learned much earlier but hasn't used as often as his Kurama-cloak.
- It pulls Minato's guilt over his son to the forefront which pays off later...
- It provides Naruto with a pretty epic smackdown. Naruto gets a lot of these in the series, but this was one of his better ones in a while.
- It introduced a fatal weakness to Edo Tensei.
Overall, I think Naruto 642 was the best installment of these three chapters, so I'm giving it a...
5 out of 5
Naruto 643 Impressions
Like this week's chapter, Naruto 643 felt a little like it was spinning its wheels. It was a chapter whose majority was devoted to Obito glaring menacingly, and then pointing some very large and very slow to charge bombs at the Allied Shinobi Forces. There were other things going on in the periphery, but honestly that was the gist of the chapter.
On the other hand, Obito (literally) boxes our heroes into one hell of a corner. As far as cliffhangers go, that tree of destruction seems infinitely more threatening than that yin-yang chakra ball he stuck to Minato a couple of chapters back. There were enough of those energy masses to make sure they couldn't be teleported away easily, and putting up a barrier to trap everyone inside.
I'm bothered that dark Kurama is so easily on board with helping out. As the eviler mass of chakra, I'd have assumed he'd take more coercing or persuading than Naruto's half of Kurama. But I also give the chapter bonus points for illustrating what a Hashirama and Tobirama might be like while keeping Hashirama preoccupied. Naruto 643 gets a...
4 out of 5
Naruto 644 Impressions
With this chapter, I think it's safe to say that Minato's tied up any lingering guilt or doubt he had about Naruto and the decision to turn his son into a jinchuriki. Everything's come full circle with the two of them fighting together just as Naruto had with Kushina, and as with Kushina, Minato realizes that Naruto already knows everything that needs to be said about the circumstances of their deaths. He's suffered, yes. But he's grown and matured into a hero leagues better than Minato and Kushina could ever have hoped for.
The emotional moments and the dialogue were expertly executed and the art was on point, but I also left the chapter a bit disappointed at its slightness. And it is slight. Aside from the big emotional moment at the end, there's not much else here. Naruto and Minato save everyone, but that's all the featured action. Sasuke is confused and demonstrates a ruthlessness and lack of consideration for his comrades that doesn't exactly paint him in an exactly Hokage-worthy light. And Tobirama reveals that he created another jutsu that now seems to be a foundational component of shinobi strategy.
Still, flashbacks aside, Naruto 644 worked as well as it needed to, so I'm giving it a...
4 out of 5
There's no telling how much damage that'll actually do to Obito, but giving that he actively blocked both Tobirama's counter and Sasuke's initial Amaterasu, I think it's safe to assume that Obito can take damage and be killed.
Well I was right on the money, though the "how's" of how he can be hurt are different than I guessed. Instead of high-powered attacks, it looks like Sage jutsu will be the way to go which puts this fight squarely on Naruto's back unless he can find some way to share his sage chakra with others.
I'd still like to see Sakura get involved in the main fight and provide either support of some kind. It's looking more and more like this will be a fight amongst Jiraiya's successors and that Madara may be the final villain of the series.
Also, Naruto tankoban's tend to be about 10 chapters long, which puts 644 three chapters away from filling out Volume 67. Assumedly, this means 647 will end in a cliffhanger or feature a game changing event. I don't expect Obito to be defeated all within the pages of 10 chapters, so I'm ruling that out. But I do have a couple of other thoughts:
- Kakashi's return.
- The death of one or more Hokage.
- Orochimaru or the Five Kage enter the battlefield.
- Another flashback further detailing what happened to Rin or Minato's reaction to the events of Kannabi bridge.
If a Hokage dies, though, I'm banking on it being Tobirama, mostly because the others have more business to finish up and Tobirama's had a lot of vital screentime as battle support already. I don't think Minato will die before Kakashi returns from Obito's dimension. Hashirama has unfinished business with Madara (which he may lose at). And I don't think Hiruzen will die until he reconnects with Tsunade (and here I'm seriously hoping for Jiraiya to be revived so that the four man cell of Hiruzen and his Sannin can have one last hurrah).
One Line Reviews
- One Piece 717 actually surprised me this week by taking a silly environmental detail I had just accepted at face value and turning it into a source of pathos.
- One Piece 718 starts weaving the various Dressrosa arc story threads into a cohesive whole as it's becoming apparent that everyone is heading towards the same destination.
- One Piece 719 ends as it must because Straw Hat Luffy is the undeniable hero of the story, but his C block fight features an entertaining flashback to the Golden Age of Piracy when Don Chinjao starts reminiscing about his beef with Garp.
- Tower of God S2 Ch73 manages to entertain while tightening the screws in the story. There's a whole lot of plot movement packed in here: Baam evaluating his situation and how he's being used by others, betting game twists, Koon's guys and Zahard's princesses resolving the mystery of Baam/Viiole. But the big ticket item is the matchup between Anak Zahard and Ran Koon
- Tower of God S2 Ch74 has been criticized by some fans for sticking to much to shonen genre cliche, but I'm of the opinion that Anak and Ran's fight is both entertaining and full of some interesting ideas about the psychology of fighting.
- It's been a good couple of weeks, but in picking a favorite, I'm giving One Piece 717 my Pick of the Week for how it spun a silly little story flourish that I wasn't crazy about into another cog in the complex machinations of Doflamingo.