Slightly explainy with a chance of flashback
Clear faces with no revelations in sight
"I'm glad you're my student."
If you're anything like me, then going into Annihilate you were wondering how Kakashi would leverage the knowledge he gained last chapter about Tobi's abilities. He knows how Tobi's spacetime ninjutsu works and that he can send attacks to Tobi since his Kamui is connected to the same dimension. But Kamui is a limited use jutsu which, as he confirms again this chapter, can only be used so much. So how then will he stop Tobi? What can he send with Kamui to do the maximum amount of damage?
But before that, I want to share the results from the last poll. I asked the readers who the final villain in the series will be and they answered, in order of most to least likely: Sasuke, Madara, Orochimaru, the Ten-Tails, Tobi. For the majority of the voters, Tobi's defeat paving the way for some new threat is a foregone conclusion. Now for the chapter review...
Naruto 598 Annihilation
The images in this review are credited to Mangastream.
The chapter opens with Naruto launching an attack against Tobi while in completed tailed-beast mode. Of course, Tobi effortlessly slips through his attacks and spiritedly fires back some over-sized throwing stars in response. Naruto's helped by Killer B (who loses a tentacle for the save), but his sensei watches helplessly from the sidelines. Kakashi is paralyzed by what he's learned: the thought that Tobi could possibly be Obito or that, even if he's not, Tobi is a reminder of Kakashi's failures. Though he empathizes with what his friend must be feeling, Guy points out that the time to attack is now. They're working against a deadline (the Gedo Mazo) and need to capitalize on the advantage they've just gained.
Witnessing Naruto's determination, Kakashi quickly snaps out of his funk and Team Kakashi tries a new strategy. Tobi, though, remains unimpressed since Kakashi hasn't even mastered Kamui to it's fullest extent. B notes that if Tobi materializes when he warps things away, then he must materialize when he warps thing back too. Tobi doesn't give them much chance to between a volley of tailed-beast-subjugating stakes which Naruto must dodge and which also pin down B. Tobi recognizes the same strategy they tried last time by noticing the deforming Rasengan. He activates his own Kamui to suck in Naruto but a warping stake in the area seems to dissipate what was in fact a shadow clone. Off in the distance, the real Naruto lets rip a Tailed-Beast Ball which Tobi avoids by warping all of himself away.
Which brings us back to the question I asked in the beginning. If you've just figured out a way to send object, anything at all really, towards an otherwise untouchable enemy, what do you throw their way?
If you're Kakashi, you send in the Army, or at least the one-man, ramen loving army that is Naruto Uzumaki. It turns out Tobi totally mistook Kakashi's grand plan. He didn't Kamui in Naruto's earlier Rasengan. He Kamuied Naruto's clone himself with a bit of expert timing*. First he slowly begins warping the Rasengan to fool Tobi into recognizing an attack pattern he's already seen. Then, after Tobi's activated his jutsu, he waits until a stray stake causes some debris and mess so that it looks like Naruto's clone dissipates when it's actually rocketed into the alternate dimension. Clever strategy mixed with expert sleight-of-hand to lull Tobi into making a mistake.
*This bit of action is admittedly hard to follow, so my interpretation may be off.
So when Tobi arrives in his alternate dimension feeling particularly safe from atomization by a condensed ball of energy, Naruto is there to deliver the beating we've been waiting for. At the chapter's end, Tobi lies unmasked and outmatched by a dojutsu he himself seems not to have mastered. Just what revelations lie in wait...
This was a mostly well illustrated chapter, though I have a couple of quibbles. First, while I like the look of the TBB, I'm not crazy about the sky growing dark when it's fired. I get that the contrast makes for a more stylish effect and is an oft-used manga/anime trope, but narratively it doesn't make much sense. It's not like the jutsu is absorbing all the sunlight in the sky.
Secondly, the action surrounding Kakashi's ruse was a bit hard to follow. It almost seems intentionally designed that way to make Kakashi's strategy harder for the reader to discern and thus preserve the surprise a few pages later. I'm on the fence about this one. On one hand, it's an effective technique. By combining some artistic sleight of hand and an unreliable narrator in Tobi, the chapter generally surprised me. But it's also a very hard section to read. I've read those couple of pages ten times and I'm still not fully confident in my assessment of what happens.
Finally, the one that rubbed me wrong the most, was the double-page spread at the end. I'm all for a great knock-out shot, but showing the impact from three angles is unnecessary. I get that it makes sense to save the reveal for the next chapter, but what does showing us that moment thrice accomplish. It's not adding clarity to somewhat complicated action. And I don't think any of the three images was among Kishimoto's best, so it's not a shot that's so awesome it bears indulging the artist a bit. Maybe it's just me, but I found the spread so strange that it took some of the impact away from the conclusion.
That said, these are minor issues that don't distract much from the generally crisp chapter.
Despite rough patches in the action and art, the strong dialogue, plotting, and character development make Annihilation a good chapter and that ending elevates it to greatness. Long time readers will know that I enjoy the fights in the series most when they're rooted in the rules of the series and employ cunning and coordination rather than constant one-upmanship. I enjoyed that Tobi's loss was as much rooted Tobi's foibles as Kakashi's cleverness. Tobi gloats early on in the chapter that understanding his jutsu won't guarantee Kakashi's victory and that Kakashi hasn't mastered the jutsu to the extent Tobi has, but that mastery is Tobi's big weakness. He's only ever been bested with it by speed (Minato) or brute force (Konan). Konan and Minato exploited weaknesses in Kamui's speed and duration, but Tobi's always had that safe spot to fall back. Because of that, he never realized how vulnerable he was in that dimension, especially since he jumps into it blindly.
Naruto 598 gets a...
5 out of 5.
Well, this is probably the last chance to speculate on Tobi's identity unless Kishimoto switches to another setting next week. I've thrown a poll up and will stand by my long time prediction that Tobi is Izuna Uchiha. Other popular theories include a Madara/Hashirama clone, Obito, and even Kagami (though there's not enough backstory even hinted at there to justify that one). Who do you think he'll be and why? Go crazy in the comments.
Until next week, allied shinobi...
One Line Reviews
- The stakes continue to rise in Billy Bat 70 as we delve ever deeper in Urasawa's time-travel murder mystery.
- Gantz 369 is filled with answers to long-running mysteries and raises questions about what comes next for humanity.
- The Strawhat-Smoker-Law alliance begin their counterattack in earnest in One Piece 678. It's a thoroughly entertaining read and surprisingly focused one given the large casts of characters.
- Tower of God Ch28, the third and last chapter of the FUG arc, details the complicated relationship between Baam and the criminal conspiracy he's been forced to join.
- A new Bankai is revealed in Bleach 504, as well as some backstory for the Captain Commander and his late lieutenant. Even more than ToG, I was tempted to call this one the best of the week for the full-page spread of angry Yamamoto's face.
- But the best of the week goes to Naruto 598.
Thanks a lot for your review . Great as always
awesome review,man! with that explanation about naruto's clone kamuied,even the dumbest user would understand and appreciate the chapter! that's what a review really is!
btw,this chapter was epic nonetheless,utterly unpredictable!
To some extent I expected them to unmask Tobi and the way they did it was impressive. I think Blackjack612, Kishi and his crew perfectly illustrates the underlying problem of conveying action on page and how difficult it is to telegraph the nuances of a dynamic battle. Truth be told, this type of hyper fighting on page has been done no where as clearly as I've read in Naruto and I've read thousands of 2d battles. Bleach for instance is incredibly cryptic during battle scenes and it is interesting that in some places, the anime had to clear it up for me.
Great review, as always!I just love reading them. I hope we will find out who Tobi is in 599 because I'm going crazy If I see another theory )
Nice review but there is one thing I can't agree with. I think Tobi never tried to suck Naruto into his dimension but rather activated his Kamui to through out a rod with the intention to pierce Naruto. Thinking about it should be a great risk to suck someone in right now because there would be enemies in both dimensions making it difficult to keep the "invincible status" up.
in fact,tobi didn't expect that to happen. btw,according to these chapters,to be hit in that other dimension he must be near that place. that's why he sucked torune and fuh without worrying. also,they were trapped in an illusion,so tobi could use genjutsu to knock them down.
Yeah, what actually happened? There was a (supposed?) clone of Naruto attacking Tobi, then there was a big stake-thing. Naruto (or a clone?) ended up being Kamui'd into the other dimension, but... before that?
Was Tobi trying to suck in Naruto?
Was Tobi trying to phase himself out of the way?
Was Tobi trying to shoot that stake-thing at Naruto?
Did Tobi think Kakashi tried to Kamui that stake-thing at him?
WTF actually happened?
Naruto made KB, went at Tobi, Tobi was spamming those stakes, Kakashi Kamui'd Naruto's KB, Tobi thought he hit it and Kakashi took Rasengan, but then he said something like "I didn't think Kakashi was so fast with Kamui" and here we go, Naruto in other dimension. Or something like that. xd
And warping Naruto would actually be an easy win for Tobi. Naruto was Kamuied right next to Tobi, but had he been properly warped by Tobi, then he would have been properly deposited out of the way in the separate dimension ala Karin and Sasuke. Then he can warp himself away (different from intangability) and be alone 1 on 1 against Naruto or teleport them elsewhere for an easy fight.