"There's no need for me to lie anymore."
"This mission...will you accept it?"
Naruto is back after a week off following a chapter that I was less than enthused about. Aside from giving away the last line and key theme in the title, Naruto 490 pretty much confirms that Itachi has successfully ended Edo Tensei. My main worry is that ending the technique in this way would harm the narrative. Part of me thinks the more satisfying route would have been for the combined Kage to defeat Madara on their own. They showcased some solid teamwork and resolve in their battle and a win would have validated that they are ready to inherit and fix the problems of the previous generations. Likewise, I'm a fan of how Kabuto's evolved over the course of this arc and thought it'd be clever for him to have a counter to the Uchiha's genjutsu or maybe a trap triggered by Edo Tensei ending. This may yet be the case, but for now we're left with some major players being knocked off the board without them having fully fulfilled their narrative potential. Kimimaro, Chiyo, Dan, Kakuzu. All wiped from the board without further exploring those characters. Also, consider what this means for Tobi. The Zetsus are not really a threat anymore. The summoned ninja are dispatched. That leaves just him against a whittled down but very angry army of ninja skilled enough to have survived his assault.
Yet, I also understand that I'm reading a work in progress and have no way of knowing where Kishimoto plans to take the story. Only with time will we be able to accurately judge what Kishimoto set out to accomplish with this story and how successful he was in doing so. Before we jump into this week's revelation filled chapter, let's go over last review's poll. I asked whether you were satisfied with how the Madara fight ended and the vast majority voted that it wasn't over yet. And while this sentiment won't be true until Madara fully crumbles to dust, it certainly looks like it's finished. Now for the chapter review...
Naruto 590 I Will Always Love You
The images in this review are credited to Mangastream
The chapter picks up where last we left with the various undead shinobi returning to the afterlife. Tobi is understandbly frustrated by Kabuto's failure and the Kage have got to be relieved that their fight is finishing. Meanwhile, Itachi, before his conciousness fully fades away, reveals that what Tobi and Danzo told Sasuke about Itachi's double life is all true. It's a long expected acknowledgement, but what follows is unexpected. He shows Sasuke his memories of that time through genjutsu.
First up on the memory tour, is Itachi's final meeting with his best friend Shisui. Shisui attempted to stop the Uchiha coup, and thus prevent weakening the village's power and inviting other countries to attack, by utilizing his uniquely powerful genjutsu. However his right eye was stolen by Danzo before he could do so. Though he still has a left eye, given that the recharge time for that jutsu is very large, it's likely the jutsu in his left eye was unavailable because it ten years hadn't passed from the last (and likely first) time he used that genjutsu. Failure puts Shisui in an unsual position. He trusts that Itachi can resolve the crisis before Danzo does and without tarnishing the Uchiha name, but he is responsible for keeping an eye on Itachi though he know's Itachi is a double-spy. So he reliquishes his last remaining eye and removes himeslf from the equation.
Later, the village elders, including Danzo, and the Sandaime discuss the coup situation with Itachi. Danzo is in favor of direct action, believing the ideal plan would be for he and Hiruzen to team up for an ambush against the Uchiha (including the children). Yet Hiruzen would rather seek a peaceful solution through dialogue. All the while, time is running low and Itachi can only buy so much of it for a decision.
Danzo meets with Itachi in secret and offers him an oppurtunity to take matters into his own hand before the coup, thus sparing Sasuke's life at least since his brother, ignorant of what's happening, will have no desire to seek revenge so long as the Uchiha plot remains secret. It's a characeteristically scumbag move, manipulating others emotions to force his own agenda. Shisui could have ended the situation himself, but Danzo obviously has ulterior motives. He may care about the village, but how against coups can he be if he plotted conspiracy with, at various times, the Hanzo of the Hidden Rain and Orochimaru.
There are more options than Danzo offers. Itachi could join the Uchiha, but given his character, he's firmly in the Konoha camp at this point. So however it plays out the Uchiha are doomed. But by taking an active role in their demise, he can save Sasuke at least. Danzo's ploy works and Itachi makes the choice we know he'll make. At least there's some small satisfaction in knowing that karmically Danzo sets up his own demise by offering Itachi a chance to save the boy who would become his killer.
Next, Itachi meets Tobi, having roughly deduced his identity and motives through observation. He gains an ally for his mission but that's really an excuse to force this dangerous man to focus his revenge on the Uchiha rather than both the Uchiha and Senju and to further secure his brother's future.
And finally, the fated night arrives. Itachi arrives before his parents fully armed. Without saying a word they understand his purpose and accept their fate. They exchange words and we learn that despite the tension and ideological differences between them, his father loved him and respected the shinobi he became.
The chapter ends back in the present. Itachi laments holding Sasuke at arms length, believing that if he had trusted in his brother, maybe he could have changed his parents and thus the Uchiha's minds. With a smile, Itachi speaks his final words, the quote that gives the chapter its name. Sasuke finally has the truth he sought. What will he do with it?
There was nothing particularly showy about the art this chapter, though that doesn't mean that Kishimoto didn't meet the standards of consistent excellence he's sets for himself chapter after chapter. Elements of the chapter like Madara's towering Susanoo, the decaying Edo Tensei summons, and the backdrops are as well illustrated as ever. But the more impressive artistic flourishes this chapter were more subtle, which befits a chapter devoted mostly to flashbacks, secret histories, and emotional, often quiet, character moments. Facial expressions are particularly important for this type of chapter and Kishimoto doesn't disappoint, from Itachi's ever so slightly wariness of Danzo to Itachi's grief before his parents to his father's pride in him.
This is a hard one to grade. On one hand, it cements a plot point I've complained about enough as it is. On the other, I thought Itachi's flashback of the truth -- which I totally wasn't expecting -- was interesting and the dialogue was as good as it's ever been. There's a certain lyricism to the dialogue this chapter with dialogue rhythms not unlike those found in samurai films.
"Our pain will end in an instant. It's nothing compared to what you will face."
It did enough to humanize and differentiate the different parties involved, though if the flashback was given more pages or another chapter, it would have been nice to see from the Uchiha perspective some of the discrimination they faced, the buildup to the coup d'etat, and Danzou's interference with Shisui's plan. Hell, I'd really like to see just how Itachi found Tobi and deduced who he was or how that uneasy partnership worked when they were in Akatsuki together. But it's hard for me to find fault in a chapter that takes one of the more memorable scenes from the initial Uchiha massacre flashback and uses a differing persepctive to flesh out the dynamics of Itachi's household. If memory serves me correctly, this is only the second time we've seen Itachi cry (tears not blood) and it fully earns that moment of emotion. I'm also very interested to see the ways in which that truth will erode Sasuke's resolve to destroy Konoha.
4 out of 5.
It's still too early to tell whether my previous predictions will hold up, though I do believe that Tobi will try to prematurely revive the Ten-Tails possibly capturing the Eight-Tails before doing so. Another prediction I just thought of would be for both remaining jinchuriki to be captured leaving B and Naruto kind of alive since Tobi doesn't really have the time to fully extract their beasts. Then, after Tobi's genjutsu is cast on the world, Sasuke breaks free of it and frees Naruto which sets up Sasuke for redemption and acceptance back into ninja society, though I'm sure the two would still have their fated battle once Tobi was disposed of.
I predict that we'll see Madara fully released along with the other summoned ninja and the Allied forces celebrating. I don't think we'll get the buildup to the big Tobi vs Naruto fight next week. I think we'll spend more time with Sasuke and he works out what he wants to do next (revenge against Tobi?) and maybe get a scene of Kabuto earning some redemption by giving up on his destructive goals.
One Line Reviews
- In the brilliant but pretty dark Gantz 365, Kurono has to make a choice between genocide of an alien species and reviving the girl he tried so valiantly to rescue.
- Bleach 497 puts Soul Society in a tough position by eliminating the captain's most powerful weapons. The chapter sets an excellent tone and features my favorite captain losing an eye but it's more setup than payback so it's not really essential.
- Easily winning pick of the week is Tower of God S02 Ch19 and Ch20 which feature action, some excellent twists, and the general intrigue of an unknown social order that S.I.U. delivers so effectively (despite his self-deprecating comments otherwise in his afterwords).