Depends on how the fights wrap up...
Only if there was also a final Naruto vs Sasuke fight.
No, it's too soon for Naruto to end.
No, this arc has been really underwhelming.
Other (elaborate on in the comments)
Welcome all to this week's Naruto review. Before we jump into what I thought was a rather mediocre (but not bad) chapter, let's go over last review's poll results. I asked you, the readers, whether Tsunade was done for and the majority of you thought that wasn't the case. For now, you guys are right. But her battle is still far from done. Now for the chapter review...
Naruto 578 A Weakness of Despair
The images in this review are credited to Dragon&Fly Scans.
Before the chapter opens, we're treated to a cover page depicting the three main battles of the war drawn chibi style and declaring that the ninja world war is at its climax. I guess that we've finally arrived at the endgame of Naruto. It's been a long time coming but we've always known this would end someday. Two of the three battles are already underway. Tobi is facing off against Naruto and his allies while the five kage square off against Madara Uchiha. A Weakness of Despair begins setting up the last climatic battle by having the brothers Uchiha confront Kabutomaru in his hideout. Unlike the other two fights, this one more complex than good vs evil. Each of the three combatants is in a morally grey area and they have each fought each other. Itachi shattered Orochimaru's delusions of what genius meant. Unable to overcome that blood limit, he lusted after the sharingan and was defeated by each brother in turn. As for Sasuke and Itachi, their relationship is underpinned with just as much tragedy as affection. Let's take a look where all three stand now:
First, there's Kabutomaru who's delighted by this chance encounter with Sasuke, the goal he was after all this time. Tobi promised Sasuke to Kabuto, but there's little reason to think that Tobi has any intention of honoring his word. After all, he allied himself with Kabutomaru reluctantly.
Next, Itachi wants to aid Konoha and its allies by ending Edo Tensei. As we'll see later, he has a plan to accomplish this, but Sasuke presents an unwelcome interference. Sasuke might not have understood Kabuto's motives, but Itachi is quickly realize that Kabutomaru wants Sasuke for himself. For now, Itachi is showing restraint, judging that it's best not to involve his brother in this fight.
Then, there's Sasuke. Sasuke who stubbornly followed Itachi and demands answers to the many questions he has. Getting those answers is his main priority, but he wasn't expecting to chance upon the second coming of Orochimaru.
While Kabuto explains the events leading to the war to Itachi and Sasuke, Madara is choosing his next victim. Before he can make a deliberation, he discovers that Tsunade wasn't nearly as dead as he assumed. She uses the opening she created by faking a mortal injury to snap off the piece of susanoo she was stabbed with and hurl it Madara who narrowly avoids injury. This surprises the other kage as much as Madara. Madara recognizes Tsunade's technique as being similar to Hashirama's, able to heal the flesh without the need for seals. Onoki uses that opportunity for a dust release jutsu that fails to harm Madara. Thanks to the Rinnegan, only direct attacks or seals are effective against him. The only reason Onoki's dust release was effective against him a few chapters back is because Madara allowed his Hashirama implant to be exposed in order to demoralize the kage.
Tsunade points out that although Madara's wood clone was able to fool them, it was a technique he was forced to use because his real body was cornered and sealed. Far from deny it, Madara acknowledges their strength and creates a massive amount of wood clones: five for each kage. As if it weren't bad enough that each kage is isolated and surrounded by Madara clones, Madara threatens to have the clones all use Susanoo.
Back in Kabuto's hideout, Kabutomaru's finished summing up the situation. He proposes an alliance between himself in Sasuke figuring that Itachi is a nuisance to both of them since he can no longer be controlled by Edo Tensei and is still responsible for the massacre of Sasuke's entire family. Sasuke flat out refuses. He doesn't consider Kabuto a fellow disciple because he never considered Orochimaru his master (although he didn't have any problem using the man's experience and knowledge at the time). Sasuke attacks Kabuto, officially kicking off the third climatic battle, only for Itachi to block his attack.
Exasperated by his brother's determination, Itachi finally compromises. He'll answer all Sasuke's questions later, but first they'll team-up to take Kabuto down without killing him. Just as Hiruzen once stated, Itachi says that killing Kabuto won't end Edo Tensei. Instead, he plans to subdue Kabutomaru with Tsukuyomi then make him reverse the jutsu. Kabuto is surprisingly not bothered at all about any of this which suggests he's already considered this contingency. But he's also arrogant. No matter how much he may protest about Edo Tensei having no weakness, Itachi is living proof that it does because he was brought back from the dead and rebelled. Now one of the most skilled, infamous shinobi in the world is back from the dead and has Kabuto in his sights.
Art was the only area in which Kishimoto consistently excelled this week. There may not have been as many standouts as last week, but it was solid all around. The highlights were the character designs and backgrounds. The characters were simply well drawn. Tsunade, Kabuto, Itachi, Madara, the many Madaras: everyone was expertly rendered. The backgrounds were effective at establishing mood. Kabuto's hideout is a great setting for the manga's most morally compromised characters, surrounding them with crumbled ruins and plenty of shadows. The kages battleground was equally impressive, littered with the damage from their fight. Their battleground looks like a place well-worn by conflict and suited for guerilla warfare.
Well, at the very least I didn't dislike this chapter as much as I disliked Stone Will. A Weakness of Despair was a solid chapter but mostly functioned as setup for the (presumed) climatic battles. On the one hand, I appreciate the fact that their are a lot of pieces on the board and sometimes it takes space to properly move them around. On the other hand, I think the pieces could have been moved around more deftly.
Let's tackle the Madara fight first, which was generally the more successful half of the chapter. There was some (though not much) action and it was good to see Tsunade making the most of her technique to create an opening. I especially liked how she used Susanoo against Madara in her counterattack and how Madara commented on the consistency of his abilities to Onoki. Consistency is something that's often commented upon in shonen since the genre of late has relied heavily upon endless powerups that some readers feel break the previously established scale of power in a manga. This dates back to the days of DBZ (over 9000!). There's currently a discussion gong on here* about that very issue. Which is all to say that it worries me that 26 Madara's will be using Susanoo. If Kishimoto keeps it at that but demonstrates that the clones Madara's can't use jutsu as big or bombastic as the unified Madara, then I can suspend my disbelief. But if each of them can continually spam jutsu of the level and size that Madara's been using up to now, I'll have a hard time looking past that fact. When Madara summons a meteor towards Earth in the most powerful offensive attack seen yet but doesn't do so again, that still makes sense within the framework of the manga because Shinra Tensei's recharge time has already been shown. When a clone with 1/26th of Madara's strength can fight credibly against a Kage, then I can't help but think Madara should have won this battle long ago.
*I do want to note I don't exactly agree with the OP's points.
Now let's consider Kabuto's half of the chapter. I like that Kabuto and Sasuke's relationship is stained by the time they spent under Orochimaru. That's the right way to build upon prior characterization for each. I dislike how stubborn and whiny Sasuke was this chapter considering he was supposed to have oh so much grudging respect for Itachi. I also have a hard time looking past Sasuke asking Itachi once more what he's doing when Itachi's briefly explained his mission twice already. Also seriously pushing the limits of my suspension of disbelief: that a shinobi as knowledgeable as Kabuto is supposed to be actually believes Sasuke would fight on his side. Sasuke may have hated his brother, but their bonds were far more complex than how Kabuto explained them. Had Kabuto never bothered to ask why Sasuke would side with Tobi? Or how the young boy once so sickened with how Orochimaru treated people would declare war on the Hidden Leaf? Disregarding even this, Sasuke quite clearly held no affection for Orochimaru and Kabuto. Kabuto didn't even have the respect that Sasuke afforded the former.
Thus, while there were aspects of the chapter that were fine or promising, there was too much there keeping A Weakness of Despair from greatness, which is why it gets a …
3 out of 5.
My predictions turned out correct two weeks in a row! Tsunade played possum in a bid to catch Madara off guard and Itachi and Sasuke are teaming up against Kabuto. It's still too soon to tell how either fight will end. Does Kishimoto have the gall to kill off popular, major characters when the end of the series seems to be so close?
What happens next? Well, it's about time we check back in with Tobi and see how he plans to fight Naruto and company now that the bijuu are out of commission. As for Kabuto, I think his loss is inevitable, but not before taking down Itachi. I also think he has a plan for countering Tsukuyomi or stopping the brothers before either can use that technique. Think about it. He revealed to Tobi early on that someone skilled with genjutsu could force him to cancel the technique. I doubt Kabuto would casually divulge such info to a man with a Rinnegan and a stockpile of Sharingan, one with enough visual prowess to control both the Kurama and the Fourth Mizukage, without thinking up a counter to that technique. As for Madara, creating so many shadow clones will ultimately prove to be a detriment as it splits his chakra 25 ways (perhaps not equally). Edo Tensei may give him infinite rejuvenation, but as Mu demonstrated, it doesn't give you infinite chakra. Otherwise, Mu's split half could continue to fire off dust style techniques with half his chakra. Madara would have been better off conserving his strong chakras with fewer clones.
What do I doubt will happen even as I think it would be cool? Kabuto's fight forces him to neglect controlling his Edo Tensei's allowing those with prior allegiance to the five great nations to help their former allies. This would give Dan a chance to join the fray and maybe sacrifice himself against Madara to further inspire Tsunade. Moreover, summoned ninja with grudges to settle like Madara would continue fighting the allies regardless.
That's it for the review. See you after next week, allied shinobi...
- Not a great chapter title this week, but that just may be the translation. The alternate translation on wikipedia is 'Weak Point of Despair' and that's really not much better.
- Also, a spotty chapter here or there would hardly be worth thinking about. But it speaks well of the last years worth of Naruto that two moderately spotty chapters in a month comes off as inconsistent.
- "After all it's 5 vs. 1..."
- Sasuke: "At least this one time...keep your promise!"
Itachi: "Your nature stays the same until you die...buit I did die once...I will keep it."
- Kabuto's quote in that last panel of the summary section is the best line of the chapter.
One Line Reviews
- One Piece was really entertaining this week as Trafalgar Law's bluff quickly came apart due to the Straw Hats' shenanigans. Smoker vs Law!! That's a fight I can't wait to see!
- Tower of God was solid but mostly set up, so it wasn't as entertaining as the last couple of action-oriented chapters. But it did feature a flashback that sheds some light on the mystery of the Tower.
- Sadly, Bleach is on a (one-week?) break again, even though it's only been back for a few chapters following a lengthy, nearly month-long break.
great review really , i haven't finished it all yet so i'll come back when i do... but good job
thank you Black for the review! The analysis was perfect,but the predictions and especially the impressions were too long. Also,I disagree with your mark,I'd give it a 5 out of 5,since kabuto VS the brothers is really a plot twist. For what concerns the poll,it was great,and so goes for the possibilities. I voted Other because I think the answer is a mix of some of those you already pointed out.
Last edited by mattiaildivino; March 18, 2012 at 08:34 AM.
The last 3 or 4 chapters have been rather unimpressive.I am tempted to skip a few weeks of Naruto
2/5 for this chapter
anyway,about the content of the chapter,I hope madara will be a bit weaker now,since he has splitted his strength into those clones,which aren't immortal as the real one,though. However,you said(in the second paragraph above the picture with kabuto with his tongue) that madara's real body was conrnered and sealed,but that's not true. if his real body had been sealed,then the fight would have already ended. madara was "shot" against rocks/underground,where gaara's sand sealed him,but he did something similar to what Muu did,he used a clone when he was underground,not to be sealed.and then came out after the sealing.
As always its great to read your reviews as it offers so much insight. I too keep thinking about how Kabuto will counter the MS of the 2 Uchiha brothers. I will offer that the Kabuto they are fighting is not the real Kabuto but a sacrificed clone similar to the one Tsunade and Jiraiya fought back when Tsunade became the fifth hokage...what do you think?
The Madara battle seems to be one true filler in all three battles. True that Madara is all powerful and have been given some very nice power-ups by Kabuto, yet something seems to be missing here. Why would Kabuto give over so many power-ups to a clan he has to know will eventually look to betray him in the end? There has to be something else that's yet to be revealed with Kabuto other than this whole 'I just want revenge against Sasuke and crush the Leaf' plot line he is currently going down.
Finally, its time for Naruto to wrap up Tobi. The one thing I always notice when it comes to this manga is that neither Tsunade nor Sakura actually runs into true mortal danger before being saved by Naruto in one way shape or form. I don't expect anything different here. I look to Naruto finishing off Tobi, receiving some new insight into the 'ultimate' plan of Madara then rushing off to save Tsunade and the other kages.
3/5 is a good score for this chapter. It sets up the battles and advances plot which is what it was designed to do in the first place. It has to be hard to manage so many battles and intricate plot lines as Kishi manages to do. And, so far, he has stayed true to the course.
Last edited by mosesgunn; March 18, 2012 at 08:01 PM.
in the predictions,I'd add something: what if this alliance between itachi and sasuke,which was shown at the end of this chapter,was a joke by kishi? I mean,what if kabuto summoned their parents,and then sasuke tried to kill him to let his family alive,whereas itachi is forced to fight sasuke to stop him?
Hey, Black. I just wanted to give you some props where they are due. I dont comment often here, but I am a faithful follower of the site and I have to say that your reviews are a big reason I continually return every week. They're almost always spot on, and you often have knowledge about events that I had clearly missed. It always helps me see the chapter a little differently. Keep up the great work, I know I will continue to read your reviews and appreciate your efforts.