Blackjack612 Reviews Naruto 634 The New Trio
"That's the understatement of the century."
Naruto Uzumaki, not in reference to Team 7 usurping the Sannin's position
"It is indeed a new age."
Hiruzen Sarutobi, definitely in reference to Team 7 usurping the Sannin's position
Before we get to this week's chapter, I want to go over the poll results from my last review. There I asked who you were most excited to see in action. The results, in descending order of excitement, are:
- (tie) Sasuke and Hiruzen
It's not surprising that the rarely seen Hokage are all at the top of the list, though it is strange that Sasuke is the only member of Team 7 to rank up there with the Hokage given his prominent presence in the series compared to someone like Sakura who rarely gets time to shine. Personally, I'm just wondering where Orochimaru is and when he's going to join the fray.
Naruto 634 The New Trio
The images in this review are credited to Mangastream
The New Trio begins with more evidence of the inevitable passage of time as Naruto's summoned animal turns out to be no-longer-so-little Gamakichi. With all the preparations made, Team 7 gives their marching order and springs into action. First up is Sakura. Providing a little more information on her skills, Katsuyu reveals that the reason Sakura never used her seal against big name enemies like Pain during his assault on Konoha is because she hadn't yet mastered the seal's activation. Last chapter made it seem like she had proactively chosen to store her chakra up for years, so I'm glad Kishimoto took a few panels to address the details of her jutsu.
Sakura splits up Katsuya and uses her stored up chakra to hastily revive everyone she can. Meanwhile, Naruto and Sasuke make a couple of beelines towards the Juubi. Their coordination reminds both Minato and Hiruzen of the Sannin's glory days. But not everyone's won over by their display. Sai is both impressed and wary. And Juugo keeps to himself.
Sakura's healing works well and the boys are successful in setting up their synchronized attack. Sasuke's combination of Susanoo and Amaterasu is boosted by Naruto's Rasenshuriken, leading to a solid direct hit on the Juubi. Even the previously skeptical Konoha rookies are ecstatic that the team's back together once things start going in their favor.
The only remaining skeptic is, again, Sai, who probes Juugo about Sasuke's real objectives. Juugo claims not to know, but at the same time, the remnants of Team Hawk show up in a long forgotten corner of the globe led by Orochimaru. His words, which close the chapter out, provides a glimpse of what could be coming next...
"You don't look so well Tsunade."
Well, it wasn't a perfect chapter artistically, but enough here worked and worked well that I'm willing to ignore the few missteps within. And even the more confusing, cluttered panels help play up the chaotic pacing of the chapter. What's most important, though, is that there is a clear throughline, a discernible pattern to the action, as there was here.
Aside from the action and the running and the jumping and the jutsu, what's most notable about this chapter in comparison to the series' norm is the above average amount of pulled back shots and densely packed pages. The former is a consequence of needing to fit so many characters on a page and also needing to show the scale of the summoned animals compared to the shinobi and the scale of the Juubi and its creations compared to the summonings. On the other hand, we've got a few densely packed frames (Kishimoto fits 11 panels on one page midway through the chapter) that illustrate parallel action or actions occurring very quickly one after the other.
My favorite image from The New Trio, though, is actually rather simple. It's the series of nostalgia inducing four panels (shown below) in which Hiruzen commands the Team 7 to go forth.
After last chapter's ending, 634 had the task of showing how Team 7 stacked up to their tutelage and did not dissappoint. What's surprising isn't just how much Sakura, Sasuke, and Naruto have grown, but how quickly they fell back into the groove of things? There are still major issues to be dealth with regarding Sasuke's redemption, but they've moved passed that temporarily and unleashing super-coordinated strategies despite being complicated frenemies for years now.
Naruto 634 gets a ...
5 out of 5
Not really predictions, but I do have a couple of concerns that have lingered after finishign the chapter: Sai and the Sannin.
Sai made a big entrance last chapter but so far its felt wasted, as though he's there just to show how far the original trio came. I don't have a problem if that's the case, but Sai formed a close and I think important bond with his teammates since joining as Sasuke's replacement and it seems a shame to just let him drop off like this without even showing off those crazy jutsu from when he was fighting zombies with Kakashi.
As for the Sannin, it occurs to me now that while Jiraiya is 'dead' as far as the series is concerned and the maturation Naruto needed, his body was never found. I know it's unlikely, but with Tsunade and Orochimaru reuniting like this, I almost fear that Jiraiya will be revived or show up to complete the original trinity, united behind a common cause rather than divided. It almost feels blasphemous to complain about more of the J-man, but I like how Jiraiya's arc ended and bringing him back would rob that sacrifice of some of its staying power.
Oh, one more thing I just thought of, how accepting will Gaara be of Orochimaru's help given that Oro is responsible for his dad's death?
I had a longer review of Further I'd planned to post last weekend, but lost my working copy when my flashdrive got corrupted. So to keep things brief, I thought it was a solid chapter, even if it didn't advance the plot all that much. It worked as a character showcase which is something that happens all to infrequently these days with big arcs focused on a handful of main characters. In the wierd narrative lull before either Madara or Obito or Orochimaru becomes the Ten-Tails jinchuriki, all (or most) of the Konoha rookies get enough page space to show how far they've come and the results are great. The art and action is more dynamic than it was in 631 and the evolution of some of the more familiar jutsu is exciting to see. For that alone, I would have given the chapter a...
5 out of 5
One Line Reviews
- Tower of God returns after a brief hiatus with Vol 2, Ch 66 which introduces the next arc and its major supporting players. The most interesting new face, though, is a high ranker whose turning a personal profit with a probably illegal side operation going that lets people bet on workshop battle participants.
- One Piece 710 throws a monkey wrench into our heroes' plans and the Ceaser hostage situation gets some prime page space, leading to plenty of laughs.
- One Piece 711 carries a bit more plot momentum by introducing a new faction to the mix that happens to tie everyone's plots together. The chapter also ends on a "twist" that should further complicate the cold war between Doflamingo and the Strawhats.
- Bleach 540 takes a bold move in providing some definitive answers in what feels like a potential 'jumping the shark' movement. It's the kind of reveal so big and integral to the story and Ichigo's development that it recontextualizes all that came before and leaves you wondering if maybe this isn't a twist too far. For now, I'm ready to run with it and see where Kubo is taking us, though I'm very wary.
- whereas Bleach 541 walks a tightrope between plothole inducing twist and promising reveal quite successfully. I'm not crazy about the power level implication at chapters end, but 540's worrying reveal actually makes some sense from a character perspective given what we know about Zangetsu.
- But the best of the week was definitely this week's Naruto which gave quite a bit of its ensemble time to shine (except you Tenten).