We had to wait an extra week for a new Naruto chapter, but now that it’s arrived, it’s time for another Naruto review …
Naruto Ch. 533 An Oath!
*This review uses images credited to mangastream
Tough Love, Asuma style!
This week’s chapter jumps right into the action. Having escaped Shikamaru’s Shadow Mimic, Asuma uses the opening to launch a wind element technique at the distraught Chōji which forces Ino to push Chōji out of the harm’s way. Instead of hitting Chōji, Asuma's attack takes out Kakuzu's lightening monster. Meanwhile, the other members of First and Second Division deal with their own fights. Tenten manages to find the Banana Fan and perhaps will be able to show off her weapons handling skill in future fights. Additionally , while Chōza continues to spar with Dan, Izumo and Kotetsu give chase to Kakuzu.
But the Ino-Shika-Chō fight is the focus of the chapter and it is just getting underway. Chōji is still unprepared to harm his revived sensei so Asuma goads his student into fighting by insulting Chōji’s weight. It’s a gambit that almost works if it weren’t for Chōji’s recollection of his Team Ten days.
A violent ballet of flesh and steal!
Chōji has completely frozen up in front Asuma. Shikamaru attempts to protect his teammate with a chakra blade, but Asuma easily deflects it with a kunai and moves to attack Chōji next. Surprisingly, Chōji, or rather Ino using Mind Body Switch, blocks the incoming attack. As a side effect, the technique leaves her body vulnerable and a White Zetsu wastes no time in exploiting the opening. This is one of the few times during this battle where we’ve seen White Zetsu’s acting competently aside from clashes with some fodder-nin. Shikamaru then steps in with a Shadow Mimic and stops the Zetsu mid-charge. Back on Ino’s end, she shows considerable skill by reassuring Chōji in a mental conversation while simultaneously fighting Asuma in his body. In fact, Ino demonstrates that she is able to keep up with Asuma’s taijutsu even in a body that does not belong to her. Although, she’s probably very familiar with maneuvering in her teammates’ bodies.
If one back can’t carry the future, we’ll use three...
As Ino is fighting, she pushes Chōji to remember what their earrings represent. Then, the chapter flashbacks to Asuma disbanding his team once they have all attained the rank of chūnin. Having become chūnin, Chōji, Ino, and Shikamaru are all eligible to form their own teams. As a reward, they each receive ball shaped earrings to commemorate their time together in Team Ten, earrings that also represent their status as adults in their respective clans.
Back in the present day, Chōza shields his son from Asuma’s Searing Ash Cloud with his body. Shikamaru, reflecting on Asuma’s lecture about who the King in shogi represents, tells Chōji that he needs to grow up. It’s now their job to protect the future era and Asuma’s child is part of that era. Shikamaru makes an interesting, if not dark, observation. If the Allied forces lose the war, then the world will be at the mercy of Madara and Akatsuki. Thus, there will be no guarantee that Asuma’s child, the offspring of two notable ninja, would be allowed to live if Madara pulls a Pein. Both Ino and Chōza chime in with similar sentiments, prompting another flashback related to Chōji’s earrings.
Shippers start your engines. Who will Chōji end up with? Ino?
This flashback begins with young 16th generation Chōji Akimichi being lectured by Chōza on his clan’s history. Chōza reveals that the Akimichi, Nara, and Yamanaka clans have been working together for generations, revealing that the Ino-Shika-Chō formation wasn’t simply inherited from Team Asuma’s parents but from a much longer lineage. Furthermore, the Sarutobi clan fosters unity between the three clans by providing each generation with a special set of loop shaped earrings. Most likely, it is for this reason that Asuma was specifically chosen to be the leader of Team Ten. It may be that Asuma’s son will serve as a team leader for the children of Team Ten. Traditionally, these special looped earrings belong to the heads of the three clans and represent an oath between them. When a new generation arises, they are loaned the earrings from the time they are a genin until the time they become a chūnin. Though, young Chōji is concerned less with his history and more concerned with whether or not getting his ears pierced will hurt. I would like to knote that we’ve seen a Sarutobi working with an Akimichi before in Chapter 481: Danzo Dies. In that chapter both Hizuren Sarutobi and Torifu Akimichi were part of the teams that accompanied the Second Hokage on his final mission.
The chapter then shifts to Chōji returning the looped earrings to his father, replacing them with Asuma’s ball shaped earrings to symbolize his growth into adulthood. Chōza tells his son that one day he will pass those loop earrings unto his own child. Still, Chōji is concerned he’ll never get married. Given how sensitive he is about his weight, he lacks the confidence that he’ll be able to snag a wife, regardless of his father’s protestations otherwise.
End of the Chrysalis Age
Back in the present, Chōji realizes that things won’t just fall into place just because he has grown older. After reflecting upon the oath he made when he became a chūnin, he finally becomes determined to face Asuma and asks Ino to give him back control of his body. Then he ends teh chapter by doing something spectacular. He activates his Butterfly Bullet Bombing technique without ingesting any pills, a feat that surprises his father and teammates and arouses pride in Asuma.
I’d like to take a moment to talk about the art direction in this chapter. To begin with, the quality of the artwork was solid again this chapter and the panelling continues to be dynamic and cinematic. A great example of the chapter’s art quality was the panel in which Chōji releases his Buttefly Bullet Bombing technique. Also, I think Kishimoto did a great job of laying out Team Asuma’s teamwork so that it looked complex enough to be an engaging action sequence, but simple enough so the action was easy to follow, like Shikamaru using Shadow Mimic on Ino to take out a White Zetsu.
For me, the most unique facet of the art direction was how Kishimoto chose to lay out his panels so that Asuma kept a great deal of spacial distance between him and his students. His students must emotionally distance themselves from the situation to fight Asuma, and this distancing effect is mirrored in the art. For instance, consider two of the scenes included above.
- In the panel in which Asuma and Chōji were sparring while Ino was controlled by Shadow Mimic, the view was from overhead so that we get as wide a look as possible at the fight. Ino and Shikamaru had a good deal of space between them and Asuma. Only Chōji was close to his sensei, but really, he’s not even in control of his body at that time. In fact, the following two panels underlined this point. They were side by side panels wherein Chōji/Ino physically fought Asuma in one. In the other, Chōji/Ino mentally conversed. The idea is that even though they may be in physical proximity with Asuma, their thoughts remained with each other.
- The panel in which Asuma addressed Team Ten, with their backs to the reader, in the first flashback panel holds was also fairly interesting. Asuma, back from beyond the grave, was the only one of the four who was facing the reader, as if to say that he only properly exists in the past. The other three, still presently alive, conveyed with their backs to the reader and a good distance between themselves in Asuma that Team Ten was officially disbanded. Moreover, they were no longer looking back at the past but moving forward. And emphasis was placed on their backs as if to say that these three possess sturdy backs upon which to carry the future,
And there were more examples of this distancing effect in the chapter. An unrelated panel that I also liked was:
Overall, I really enjoyed the teamwork on display by Team Asuma and little background details like a White Zetsu trying to take advantage of Ino’s opening. As much as I like a good ole fashioned brawl, I think the manga is at it’s best when the characters use their abilities efficiently. I also think Kishimoto did a great job with furthering Team Asuma’s character development and fleshing out the history of some of Konoha’s clans. Ino continued to impress with her display of ninja skill and Chōji’s finally got his moment in the sun. There was plenty of thematic connection this week as well. Chōji’s struggle tied into the theme of believing in yourself and achieving success through effort and hard work. No longer content to just coast by in life and wait for things to fall into his lap, Chōji is ready to take his life into his own hands. Really, it’s a nice callback to the themes from Part I that haven’t been focused on as heavily in Part II of the manga.
Honestly though, the emotional beats were hit and miss for me this week. Chōji’s floundering determination had already been covered in previous chapters, so I am tempted to give this a 3 out of 5. However, the flashback were intriguing, the panels designs were top notch again, and the fight was well choreographed, so I’m bumping up the grade to a ...
Rating: 4 out of 5.
My predictions last week were pretty spot on. The only misstep was that we didn’t see any of the Hyuga fight. Nor did we check in with the other fights I wanted to see set up.
Next chapter, I predict we’ll continue with Asuma vs Ino-Shika-Chō, which will probably be concluded next chapter. When the battle does finish, I don’t expect any of Ino-Shika-Chō to be of much use in the war. They’ve gone through a couple of intense battles and Chōji especially should need medical treatment after unleashing that technique in this chapter’s cliffhanger.I would also like to catch up with the other First and Second division fights with Kakuzu, Dan, and the Hiashi. I also predict that Tenten will be the one to make use of the Banana Fan and she'll do very well with it. After all, she'll only be using one treasure versus Darui's four.
As always, I’d like to thank everyone who’s been reading my reviews. I’ll see you in next week space cowboy...
- “And now, our team is officially disbanded.” A sentiment that held all the more meaning given the context of the situation, because Team Ten must permanently disband their relationship with Asuma by returning him to his grave.
- "This thing looks pretty sweet ... wonder who dropped it." Carefree Tenten
- "Stop your blubbering you worthless fatass!"
- "Man the hell up, Chouji! We're not kids who need adults to protect us anymore!"