"It was more than enough."
Oh, man, has it been a long break. Nigh on a month without my shonen fix. Well, everything's back on schedule and Naruto with one hell of a chapter...
Naruto 616 Dance of the Ninjas
The images in this review are credited to Mangastream
You can tell it's going to be a great chapter when we check in on the long missing Sasuke, Orochimaru, and company as they make their way...somewhere...and make their way speedily because Sasuke's a bit annoyed that Naruto's latest power-up is producing such overwhelming chakra. Is this antagonism? Is he searching for a power-up of his own? Or is he just eager to finish he journey so he can join the party before it ends?
Back with our heroes, Naruto's become the Oprah of chakra handouts, converting Kurama's chakra and transferring it to Hinata, Choji, Ino, and Shikamaru. And he's still got energy enough for some tailed-beast shadow clones, whom he sends out to give chakra to pretty much everyone.
Madara and Obito seem to be actually impressed and more than a little worried about this, and rightly so. Hinata and Choji are having no problem keeping the Juubi busy now, which gives Ino and Shikamaru time enough to execute Shukaku's last plan: a superpowered Ino-Shika-Cho that successfully stops the Juubi in it's tracks.
It might be a predictable strategy, as Madara notes belatedly, but it works. And Obito's already lost the ideological game. Both Naruto and Kakashi have come to terms with the burdens they bear, and they bear them proudly so long as they can protect their comrades in the future and learn from their past failures. The chapter ends with the first part of the strategy successful, but what will Naruto do with the Juubi now that it's where he wants it?
Besides a brightly colored, Shonen Jump cover, Kishimoto delivered a solidly illustrated chapter in which he got to show us much we've not seen before. Everybody in 616 is sporting Kyuubi-chakra shrouds, which makes for an interesting effect, and the actions as clear as it's ever been.
But my favorite image is perhaps Lee breaking down at Neji's death. This is a character we rarely see lose it, and he looks appropriately devastated cradling his comrades lifeless body.
Well that was something. We had action and some smart strategy. We had great art and dialogue. Actual worry from our antagonists. And an overriding sense that the series is barrelling towards a climax. But the standout section of the chapter is the emotional goodbyes from Ino and Shikamaru's dads which we see here in flashback. Shikaku gets a comic beat from the grave, but it's mostly serious stuff with parents telling their children how much they've meant to them and children assurign their parents that they felt loved and loved them in return.
And to top it all off, we got to check in with one of my favorite characters, Orochimaru. All in all, this was a great chapter to return with, so I'm giving Naruto 616 a...
5* out of 5
*The high grade might just be because I’m happy to have the series back.
I still think Obito's going to go all jinchuriki and I think he'll be forced to do so once Shukaku's plan is executed. I expect this final power-up to be overwhelming until the Kage show up to lend a hand and I'm on the fence as to whether Sasuke will show up as a final antagonists or jump into the fight beforehand.
Well, it's almost been two years exactly since I started reviewing this series. I don't want to get sentimental and I'll save that for next week when I can collect my thoughts a bit, but this has been a fun journey. I don't know what exactly I was expecting when I started. I think I just wanted to indulge my geeky nature and share my thoughts about a series I was passionate about even when critically it was held in both good and poor regard.
And it's been a fantastic run. You lot who have read and commented have really done more than you know in showing me perspectives I hadn't considered. There's been plenty of great discussion and though I haven't commented or responded to every response, I've probably read all or most comments.
I've got some thoughts on this past year of Naruto, but until I get them as articulate as I want, know that I've appreciated all the discussion. From the Obito reveal to the thoughts regarding Kabuto as a villain, you've all been great. But one thing I haven't had much of is feedback on the reviews. What works. What you want to see more of. What matters most.
When I began, there were a good three or four reviews per week showing different views on each chapter, but that sadly petered out and I'm here alone. I try to make clear what I love and question about this series, but I understand my views aren't always shared. And since the amount of reviews here have dwindled (though the discussion threads are always strong), I want to make sure that you're interests are addressed. So have at it in the comments. More recaps? More theory? More art? More on the technical limitations/strengths of the plotting? Comparing fan expectations to authorial intent? Let me know what you want to see more of in the new year.
Until then, I'm heading to Disneyland, so I'll catch you later.
One Line Reviews
- The crewmates who haven't had much chance to shine took center stage in One Piece 695. Nami, Franky, and Usopp utilized their abilities to the fullest in helping retrieve Ceasar, but the Strawhat's fight isn't over. A new challenger appears by chapter's end.
- Bleach 523 goes big, very big. It gives us a mob of angry and nameless zanpakuto, small bits of shinigami/Gotei 13 lore, a throwdown between Kenpachis, and best of all: Unohana delivering some grade A death stare.
- The Devil of the Right Arm arc in Tower of God S02 Ch44-47 is shaping up to be quite the intriguing event, veering in a direction I didn't expect. Someone's playing a larger game than our heroes and using Teddy's tank-brother as bait, and the question remains who. Gongbang? FUG? Headon? Whatever the case, I can't wait to find out.
- All my regularly followed series were great this week, so picking a best is hard. Naruto comes as a runner up, but I'm gonna give Pick of the Week to Bleach which was, for my money, the most exciting chapter of the Big 3.