Welcome all to my review of what was a really excellent chapter. There was no poll last chapter, so let's get straight to the chapter review...
Naruto 581 Everyone's Leaf
The images in this review are credited to Mangapanda
? which may or may not be Mangazone
. It's hard to tell since the sites
not up yet.
I'd have gone with a dare...
Everyone's Leaf begins with Kabuto remarking on the oddness of Sasuke choosing to team up with Itachi. After all, with their shared history, Sasuke should want nothing more than to destroy the man responsible for massacring his people. Sasuke dispels that notion though, leading Kabuto to realize that Sasuke has learned the 'truth' about his brother. He deduces that after learning of Itachi's secret mission to prevent an Uchiha coup, Sasuke joined Akatsuki in a bid to destroy the Leaf. Knowing that, Sasuke's actions now make perfect sense to Kabuto. It explains why Sasuke is doggedly following Itachi. But Kabuto points out something critical...
An unlikely voice of reason...
Itachi is a spy, a born liar. Any truth from him couldn't totally be trusted. Moreover, Sasuke's aims are a direct contrast to what Itachi wished. Itachi wants only to protect the Leaf. Both Kabuto and Sasuke seek to destroy it. To that effort, Kabuto proposes that Sasuke eliminate Itachi and join him in his mission.
While Sasuke considers how to answer that question, the chapter switches to a flashback in which Sasuke is in a cafe where he overhears some Leaf shinobi discussing Sasuke's fight against the uchiha. All of the leaf shinobi for the most part applaud Sasuke's actions, though a little rash, and condemn Itachi as the worst kind of traitor. This visibly bothers Sasuke who considers picking a fight with them and then, when Tobi advises against such action, wants to tell them all the truth about Itachi. Tobi points out, though, that the evidence for Itachi's secret mission isn't enough to persuade the Leaf ninja. Even the current hokage, Tsunade, has no knowledge that the village's higher ups sanctioned the massacre of the Uchiha.
Birds of differing feathers...
Back in the present, Sasuke asserts that he is very unlike Kabuto. His vengeance is admittedly motivated by selfish desires and he's unwilling to share it with anyone else. Nor is he like his brother. For avenging the Uchiha, Sasuke would have been treated like a hero in the village, with money, awards, and fame. But he has no desire to profit off a village oblivious to the fact that it profited from the very crimes that it's condemned Itachi for.
Kabuto counters that he is more similar to both brothers than either would care to admit. An orphan taken in by the village, Kabuto was used as a spy from a young age until he lost all sense of himself. When he could no longer keep track of who he really was amidst the lies, the village discarded him. Like itachi, he was rewarded for his sacrifice with shame and dishonor. He raises the most important question of the chapter "What did the village do for us?". The purpose of the village is to protect its citizens and yet to do so it has damaged or sacrificed some of those same people. Kabuto makes a compelling argument that Sasuke should join up with him since they were both molded by that shame into seeking village against the Leaf.
Itachi intervenes before Sasuke can answer and points out that Kabuto, as a spy, cannot be trusted. Similar he might be, but Kabuto does desire Sasuke and the Uchiha eyes. Itachi acknowledges that the village and he himself are imperfect, but he promises that there is one thing he would like to impart unto Sasuke once they finish defeating Kabuto.
But how will they accomplish that? Kabuto can't be killed or else Edo Tensei won't end. His regenerative ability will allow him to recover from any wound he received very quickly. He has excellent sensing ability and has clouded his vision to eliminate the possibility of genjutsu being used against him. As the chapter ends, Itachi reveals the answer: Izanami. A forbidden companion genjutsu to Izanagi that affects the target regardless of the state of it's 5 senses. Where Izanagi is a jutsu that changes destiny, Izanami decides destiny? But just what destiny does Itachi desire? And how will he create it?
The art was solid all around. The chapter itself was mostly stage setting with little action so the majority of Kishimoto's artistic ability went into composition and storyboarding, framing the brothers together or the brothers and Kabuto in opposition to one another. The character designs were spot on with everyone effective in displaying their emotions. The highlight of the chapter, though, has to be both flashbacks, each of which hammered their points home with limited space. If there was any doubt before now how much Itachi's decisions affected Sasuke's life, Sasuke's crazy eyes when the Leaf were trash talking his brother said it all. Likewise, in four panels, Kabuto grows smaller and less defined until he is completely formless, symbolizing the degradation of his identity.
However, I did have one caveat about Kabutomaru's design this chapter. While well drawn, in one panel (below) the placement of his Mewtwo-esque snake tail makes it look like a whole nother kind of snake (if you know what I'm talking about). I don't know, maybe it's just me but it struck me as odd.
I enjoyed the hell out of this chapter. There wasn't much action and the plot didn't get pushed forward in a big way and we still haven't checked back in on either Naruto's fight or the Kage's fight. But none of that really bothered me because the chapter was so engrossing. The dialogue was sharper than usual here, serving to really develop these characters motivations and desires. Kabuto's been a fun villain from the start, but one thing he lacked even in this arc, was a clear sense of purpose. He had goals of his own but he hid them from the other characters and thus us, the readers, too.
Here, Kishimoto goes a long way to making Kabuto someone we can empathize with, similar to what he did with Kabuto's similarly larger than life mentor Orochimaru. With Orochimaru, we got a glimpse of a gifted, war-orphan with an abundance of intelligence and know-how but an inability to truly connect to a world constantly embroiled in battle. He hid from the world of death with research and knowledge, longing to know everything and live forever. It's important to remember that he, like Kabuto and most of the characters in the manga, was a child when he took on his duty. These are child soldiers and that's an aspect of the manga that doesn't get discussed enough. It's all fun and games while the trainees can go around graffiting the city and pranking each other. But the older generation didn't have the luxury of peace. Kabuto was used by the leaf at a young, impressionable lad to take on dangerous, quasi-unethical missions until he lost himself. Growing up a liar, a spy, for the sake of the village just to be discarded when that role either became too difficult for him or the village to maintain, he is very much like Itachi. The only difference was that Kabuto, an orphan, grew up alone, whereas Itachi had his friend Shisui and his brother to anchor him. Really, Kabuto is like a cross between Naruto and Itachi. Of the many ninja disserviced by the Leaf, he truly got the short end of the stick.
As for the brothers, Itachi reaffirmed his maturity as a ninja and the conflict within himself. He is a loyal (perhaps the most loyal) member of the Hidden Leaf, an organization he trusts but acknowledges is far from perfect. And Sasuke. Since Itachi's death, Sasuke has had an understandable (though not excusable) tantrum, angry at the Leaf and vowing to destroy them all. When that shift first happened, it happened quickly and not a lot of time had been spent post-revelation explaining why Sasuke feels so strongly about destroying the village. Last chapter we saw that he and his brother did have good times together. This chapter we saw that it was the legacy of betrayal Itachi bore for the leaf, one that would be all but impossible to erase, that drove Sasuke to vengeance. The world would never know who his brother really was because of the Leaf that profited from Itachi's deeds, and so the Leaf must pay for that carelessness.
All that and I still haven't mentioned how effectively Kishimoto hit the theme of formative childhood experiences having profound effects or how he expertly wove parallels between Sasuke and Kabuto and Kabuto and Itachi. Then there's the chapter's cliffhanger Izanami, which we all knew was a technique that must appear when Izanagi was first used, and which I am very excited to see. Overall, this was a magnificent chapter with no missteps, which is why it's getting a ...
6 out of 5.
If Izanami is anywhere near as formiddable a jutsu as Izanagi, the Uchiha brothers have this fight wrapped up in the bag. Eventually. I doubt that they'll end this fight in a paltry four chapters. That and I doubt we've seen all Kabuto's Sage Mode can do. The jutsu he used last chapter was interesting, as are his physical abilities, but I would hope there's something more to that technique.
That's it for the review. See you after next week, allied shinobi...
- Coming from a guy who's raised a veritable army of the dead, Kabuto's claim that he doesn't see what Sasuke wants to know from a dead person seems disingenuous at the very least. I mean, he did verify the secrets of the Rinnegan by resurrecting Madara Uchiha.
- "Ah...uhm, the way you said it...it sounds like you're suspicious of itachi."
- "I said it earlier, but yeah...your brother is a liar... I know. That's why it's weird."
- Seriously, Kabuto had a bunch of great lines in this chapter: "Think carefully...if you want to stab itachi in the back and come to my side you should do it now."
- Sasuke sums up best the tragedy of Itachi Uchiha: "...He did it...for these people...for people that just labeled him a traitor..."
- "My crushing of the leaf is just mine."
- "I had no comrades who knew my real identity. I just kept on erasing my real self."
- I said it above but I'll say it again. This was a great chapter for dialogue.
One Line Reviews
- Air Gear 351 demonstrates both what works well about the manga (emotion and characters desperately trying to overcome their limitations) and what doesn't (cliched, nonsense metaphors thrown in for effect). Telling, character-centric lines like "Hey kid, it seems like through fighting you, I've discovered the real me" or "I remember that I was born for no reason other than to devour the future" work far better than vague plaititudes like "Then the dew must be just like the wind...It must come from the center of the heart." that really don't work as metaphors either because the sentiment doesn't translate well into English or the metaphor itself is nonsense without root in the real world. Another problem is Dr. Minami, a character of seeming great importance to the mythology of Air Gear has had so little interaction with the characters in the story we care about. Because he spends so much time relegated to the sidelines as a commenter with little insight into his motives, it's hard to be invested in this seeming villian/anti-hero. Still, the chapter was still entertaining and there's a great panel of Takeuchi Sora with bloody wings. I've contemplated reviewing a chapter or recent arc of this series, but fear I'd be too negative about it or wouldn't have too much to say.
- Billy Bat 73 is Urasawa at his most absorbing. He delivers another charming chapter with a great intro, a little humor, and promises of tackling the fake Moon landing conspiracy.
- Bleach had it's moments this week and a couple of surprise character appearances (and still no Starrk because apparently every arrancar but him who recieved fatal injuries in the Arrancar arc managed to survive), but it's mostly table setting and I'm reserving judgement on this new arc until we get to know the villians, backstory, and stakes better.
- Tower of God S02 Ch09 is once again my pick for best of the rest, though it doesn't top this week's chapter of Naruto. The latest chapter is lite on action and heavy on character interaction as our new cast gets to know each other better in a shared bath. Plenty of mischievous plotting and a little bit of gender-bending trolling from SIU.
- This was a longer One Line Reviews, and review in general, than normal. Thanks for sticking around!