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Team Asuma Reunites
Battle Against Kinkaku and Ginkaku
Hanzo vs Mifune
Naruto vs the Raikage
Fight Against the Former Kage
Madara vs the Five Kage
Tobi vs Naruto
Welcome all to my landmark 50th Naruto review. It's been more than a year since I started contributing reviews, so to commemorate the occasion, I'll be reviewing both the latest chapter and the last year of the series as a whole. Before we continue, though, let's go over the results of the two previous long-running polls. First up, Son Goku has barely topped out Kurama for the best tailed-beast name. Next, Sasuke wins his poll as the character readers think is most likely to be the final villain with Tobi and Orochimaru tied for second place. Now for the chapter review...
Naruto 574 Eyes That See Darkness
For the first time, images in this review are credited to mangazone.
Our friends over at mangastream/binktopia, who are credited for images in my previous 49 reviews, have closed up shop on scanlating WSJ titles (though they still cover non-Jump series) after threats from Jump.
My two cents: I'm all for buying manga and have no qualms about shelling out cash for series I love and do so. Yet Jump's official digital offerings are underwhelming, shamefully unable to release as near as speedily as fan groups (especially shameful since they have access to the source material before anyone else) and refusing to offer more than a few select titles to certain markets. Personally, I think before crying of the supposed harm done to business from enthusiastic fans, they need to give some serious thought to their business model which does not respect the very people that it caters too.
The chapter begins by focusing on an unlikely character: Karin. Team Hawk takes center focus in Eyes That See Darkness as our erstwhile antagonists (?) converge upon Sasuke. Karin, under guard by Konoha shinobi, is manically attacking a picture of Sasuke torn between loving his coolness and hating him for almost killing her. The pathetic display turns out to be a misdirection that lures her guards into a fall sense of ease, setting up her inevitable escape. Will she go to Sasuke? Probably, although I don't know why. She must be a smart girl to have worked for Orochimaru which means she understands now that Sasuke has no place at his side for her or anyone for that matter. She also knows that she's unlikely to get revenge because she's out of his league.
And what of the Taka members that Sasuke hasn't tried to kill yet? Juugo and Suigetsu learn of the war and decide to seek Sasuke out before committing to one side or the other. Complicating matters is that Juugo has a violent rage. Suigetsu subdues him, but not after Juugo conveniently destroys a wall in one of Orochimaru's hideouts that reveals a hidden room. Inside, Suigetsu finds a scroll containing data that could apparently turn the tide of war. Which brings us to the final member of Taka...
...Sasuke who's found by a group of Zetsus after mindlessly travelling about in the rain. Sasuke, unaware of the war, wants to know why he's come across two empty villages, but Zetsus more concerned with why Sasuke's out and about. Sasuke has no intention of being herded about or taking orders and in his defiance he reveals he killed that Zetsu in the cave, a Zetsu who turned out to be the original Zetsu. With the original dead, what does that mean for the clones. Did he possess some unique characteristic that the others don't share? Was he stronger than the imitations? Was he the command structure? Was he, as the original, the only one from whom imitations could be made? The implications from this will seriously affect Tobi's fighting strength. The Zetsus foolishly charge Sasuke before being easily dispatched. Sasuke casts a genjutsu on the lone survivor who reveals information about the war, Tobi's objective of capturing the tailed-beasts, and that the Zetsus had been headed to intercept the Allies who were travelling to Naruto's location.
As he discards of the last Zetsu, Sasuke's wonders about Naruto. He thinks back to how he told Naruto that true stregnth comes from lonliness and who he acknowledged that Naruto was like him in that he'd been alone for so long. But the Naruto that wallowed in pity at his circumstances is long gone. This older, more mature Naruto has moved past his own suffering. Sasuke, though, still obsesses over his and resolves to kill Naruto as he promised when last they met. As the chapter closes, Sasuke's thoughts shift toward his brother, whose eyes he's using to view the bloody swath he's cutting through the world. At the same time, Itachi Uchiha heads ... somewhere. Will a tragic reunion between brother and brother happen?
The art this chapter went above and beyond the usual. Character's faces were unusually expressive, whether it was a crazed look on Suigetsu's face or Sasuke's tragic melancholy. Almost every panel was finely drawn when in even the best chapters there's occasionally a panel that doesn't feel polished. I loved the design of Orochimaru's hideout. The standout artistic piece this chapter was Sasuke's brief scuffle that was carefully composed to make it obvious to the reader Sasuke's victory took no effort at all.
Another excellent entry in the series. Kishimoto ties this chapter into the previous by the title, keeping up the symbolism of light and darkness for love and hatred. Between sharingans, byakugans, rinnegans, and tailed-beast eyes on humans, Kishimoto's always had a bit of an eye fetish. Beyond being stylish, though, he's used those inventions in constructive ways by introducing individuals with exceptional visual prowess yet who are unable to see the value in intangibles. For the most part this chapter moves some pieces around on the board, setting up promising events to come. Sasuke vs Naruto? Check. Premonitions of someone taking control of the war from Tobi? Check. Karin escaping custody? Well that I could have done without. I'm not sure how much more of a role she has to play, which I would say about the rest of Taka. Sasuke's moved well past the point of needing or wanting comrades so I don't see him embracing their return. I do like that Kishimoto is raising the stakes by having the first Zetsu Sasuke killed be the original Zetsu.
Not everyone is a fan of Sasuke, so how much you like this chapter will probably depend on whether you're sick of the character or not. After spending a year with Sasuke mostly absent, I thought this chapter hit all the right notes which is why Naruto 574 gets a ...
5 out of 5.
When I first started reviewing, the war was just getting revved up. Naruto 525 The Kage Revived was such a wonderfully promising chapter that I was lured into reviewing. Five tankobans worth of chapters later, I'm still here. It's been an interesting journey and what I'm most surprised by after a year of this is just how consistent Naruto is. The writing has been solid and there were very few bad chapters. Compared to the other big three, I think Naruto had the best showing. One Piece started the year strong but the Fishman-Island arc wasn't nearly as engaging as previous stories. Bleach was the most ambitious of the three, but the Lost Shinigami Representative arc was wildly uneven and didn't lay down enough groundwork or investment in the new characters to earn its ending. Contrastingly, Naruto deepened its mythology while paying off long gestating plot points.
In no particular order, here are my favorite moments from the chapters I've reviewed:
- Hanzo vs Mifune and all of Hanzo's flashbacks
- Itachi freeing himself from Edo Tensei.
- The fight against the former Kage who all acquitted themselves well.
- Madara Uchiha revived with Edo Tensei complete with Rinnegan.
- Naruto winning Kurama over.
My least favorite moment: Night Falls. The premise was interesting but the execution was botched. In hindsight, that story could have been handled better by really digging into the terror of that situation.
The biggest disappointment: that we still have yet to see Dan's much hyped Spirit Transformation Technique.
And in my opinion, the standout character from this group of chapters was the Second Mizukage, a character who remained mysteriously unnamed for such a charismatic fellow.
5 out of 5.
I really don't know where the manga is headed. There are so many wild-cards in the air right now that Naruto and co. might face defeat soon despite pushing Tobi back:
- Tobi who still possesses the Six Paths, the ability to use Izanagi, and a Gedo Mazo with seven tailed-beasts stored inside.
- Kabuto's as yet unrevealed trump card.
- Madara Uchiha in prime condition with Rinnegan.
- Sasuke Uchiha in the prime of his youth with a very effective EMS.
- Itachi Uchiha, a once in a lifetime genius, revived from the dead.
- And now Orochimaru's fail-safe found by Suigetsu. Something capable of turning the tide of war.
What would I like to see? Really, Orochimaru stands out in my mind of one of my favorite villains. He was unabashedly evil (kidnapping and dissecting his allies), exceptionally ambitious (he created a new nation and threatened world war before we knew who Tobi was), he was flamboyantly stylish (puking up swords), and yet there was an understandably sympathetic guy underneath all those snaky layers of malevolence. I mean, who among us doesn't want to die. He was surrounded by war and death and had the means to transcend it all and by god if he didn't try. But I don't think that scroll is going to bring him back. It makes more sense for Kabuto to lose control of Orochimaru's cells in the midst of battle and for Orochimaru to take over that way. I think that scroll either holds Tobi's true identity or somehow is a means of resurrecting the Sage. Will Itachi meet up with Sasuke? I doubt it. I can't see Sasuke meeting Itachi and still having the hatred left to fight Naruto. And we all know that a final Naruto vs Sasuke fight is happening.
- "You...are not normal, do you know that?" As if anyone in this manga is normal.
- "You are the one I hate the most among them!"
- "If you don't like me being here, why don't you try to capture me? You even have a lot of people on your side this time."
- "...All the things I see are burned into my brother's eyes..."
One Line Reviews
- One Piece is an entertaining read this week with every moment of the crew getting in a good line or moment and a generally intriguing new character as we're introduced to the Samurai from Wa.
- Bleach I thought it was obvious from last chapter that the Quincy's were making a big comeback as part of a long standing war with SS. Now I'm not sure where we're headed since the antagonist that shows up in this chapter's end looks suspiciously like a Vizard or Arrancar.
- Air Gear, after what feels like forever, delivers a chapter I enjoyed more than I didn't as Sora finally reveals what he's been guiding Ikki towards and how he plans to use the Sky Regalia, even if I think the ideas hit are still too broad and vague.
- Tower of God's latest chapter is a slight but entertaining buildup possibly-but-possibly-not Baam having a moment best summed up by this guy.
this review was really awesome,Black! the picture you chose to make your "year in review" were very cool put together. by the way,you have just said that kabuto has still got his trump card,I think his trump card was just Madara. it's true that he said,in volume 55, "as long as I've got edo tensei and that other technique..." but I guess he meant his whole army of zombies as "edo tensei" and by "that other..." he meant the summoning of madara.
I have just voted itachi's return. koto amatsukami part was awesome! although I liked more or less every part of this war
Let me start off by saying congratulations and thank you on reaching the Big 50 mark. From as far back as I can remember, your reviews have stayed consistently interesting and informative and here's to more to come. I was away this summer and ending up reading a lot of Naruto in bulk, which was a welcome treat. Still, the top moment for me was the revelation/confirmation of the real Madarra. He is easily one of my favorite characters within the series, and if 2011 did anything, it showed for good reason. Still, I appreciated the multiple choice option for your poll because most if not all of them are arguably deserve the top spot.
I got into the series much differently than most fans did. I remember seizing the opportunity of the short break that took place around the time Naruto returned to Konoha to face off against Pain to read the series. I was familiar with certain characters and plot lines, but I literally went from Chapter 1 to 430 in a very, very short period of time. Now while I could go on about how I also read One Piece in bulk, I really like that I was able to see Naruto and its respective characters in a different light than most.
What I'm getting at is the curious case of Sasuke. As far as things that most fans go back and forth over, I'm pretty neutral. Tobi is Obito? Pointless. Sakura or Hinata? Who cares. But when it comes to Naruto and Sasuke, I really don't have a preference of one over the other. Or at least that's what I thought. Knowing Sasuke's past and looking at his actions in the story, Kishimoto is going pretty deep here showcasing a character who is literally the definition of "deranged".
He's lost his mind some time ago and after reading this review and seeing the actions of a certain orange Hokage, I think Naruto gets my vote. While Sasuke is a successor of the Uchiha ancestor as far as "Power" being his philosophy of choice, Naruto is the true successor of the Senju ancestor if not the Sage of the Six Paths himself with his love- for his village, parents, the tailed beasts, and even Sasuke himself.
Out of the Big Three, I read OP in bulk and didn't really have the motivation to pick up on things during the Fisherman Island arc, and Bleach is going through its own transitions of sorts, but Naruto has really been coming together these past couple of months, maturing much like its title character. It's good to know people like you are paying respect to that on a regular basis. So congrats again on the Big 50, and looking forward to more in the future!
First of all, thanks for all your work until now! Keep it up!
Now... I'm pretty sure there's no trace of Orochimaru's conscience in Kabuto and there never was any to begin with. I was also confused at first, but with time I came to the conclusion that Orochimaru really vanished after Itachi sealed him and that's it for him, no more. Kabuto has only received the cells of the white snake, so he became one himself, sort of like contracting a disease. That's my take on it.
I've just re-read this review,and in some days,you will know why .
by the way, I want to add that I didn't notice that Sasuke told zetsu he had killed their original,but that's debatable,since the other zetsu's clones may have already known that their original had already been killed. I didn't realize that Karin couldn't head to sasuke in the first time ,she would be killed this time for real.
furthermore,I wanted toa gree with you about the kages' fights,although I'd expected the name of those 3(Muu is the only one known). and what a pity we didn't see Dan's technique,I hope he isn't done yet,and so goes for other zombies as deidara,kakuzu ecc.,whose "death" hasn't been confirmed.
about the "night" I think kishi's mistake was having killed too many ninjas(40.000) therefore he couldn't kill a lot of ninjas again