MH Senpai伝説メンバー / Densetsu / Legendary Member
- Nov 16, 2005
- Reaction score
Showtime! (Credits to Dynamic Dragon for the coloring.)
Sorry for the delay, guys. The first week of every month's always a busy time for me, but this month I also had to deal with PC problems as well... Fortunately, though, things are going well, and I was able to find some free time this Friday to do a Chapter 337 review. That's about three days earlier than I thought I'd be able to do one. Hope you guys enjoy it.
Thanks to Touch for finding the RAW, all our translators here for doing their usual bang-up job on smartly deciphering all the kanjis and kanas, and Dynamic Dragon for his MQ Edited Manga, which I will be using for this week's review, and also his terrific coloring of the last double spread, which made for a very nice header! And most of all, to all of you guys for being patient with me. ^^
And Happy New Year's, y'all! Hope 2007 has so far been a good one for you guys. As always, feel free to comment and I'll come back on Monday to join in on the discussion.
* * * Gold Knight's Ten Comments on Naruto Chapter 337: Shikamaru's Genius...! * * *
Eat Your Heart Out, Bruce Lee!
Eat Your Heart Out, Bruce Lee!
1. [Insert War Cry!] So to commemorate the arrival of the new year, Kishimoto decided to allude to the "fresh look" of the latest Team 7, with Sai and Yamato as the newest members, doing the classic flying side kick all together in color. Okay, I guess. I would probably have liked it better if it didn't feel like it'd already been done before - but maybe I just watched a few too many karate movies.
Best thing about this double spread, though, is that we finally get some confirmation of Yamato's official colors. But again, it's nothing too earth-shaking - I think quite a few colorists had already guessed that his expanded forehead protector would be metallic silver in hue and that his hair would be a dark brown. Sometimes I wonder if Kishimoto wanted to wait to see how his fans would prefer Yamato to look like in color before actually deciding on the palette himself. Whatever the case, I had been waiting for Yamato be featured in color, and although I had hoped for him to appear on a volume cover instead of an interior colored double-spread, the wait's at long last over, anyway. Cheers!
(I'll admit, though, I got weird feelings about the fact that Kakashi wasn't considered one of "Team 7" anymore, though...)
Talk about being a pain in the neck!
2. Never Say Die. There were some last week who suspected that Hidan was becoming nervous and suspicious due to his "voodoo make-up" not having dissipated, even after he had dealt an apparent fatal blow to Shikamaru. Since here his skin DID gradually return to normal, it seems as though that wasn't the case, and I guess it was just instinct that caused Hidan to look around just in time to barely escape a potentially decapitating sneak attack. And, pure and simple, luck.
Seems like it's just one close shave after another (literally in this case!) in these battles. Yeah, I know that's the way it usually goes when powerful ninjas do battle, but when it's done too often, you can't help but think that luck plays a major role in whoever gets the final victory, and I'm not too crazy about that.
I mean, I don't want luck to be too much of a deciding factor especially in THIS battle. Shikamaru's a strategist, not a gambler, and I always liked that about him - but he's lucky to still be even alive right now. And he still hasn't taken out either Hidan or Kakuzu for good, so that has to be considered a measure of defeat for him right now.
That being said, nice try Shikamaru. You nearly dealt what would have certainly been a winning blow to Hidan, if only you had cut his entire head off - not just half of his neck. Guess without strategy, Shikamaru wouldn't have even gotten this far, so there's something to be said for that.
Staring death in the face? That's nothing new for this kid...!
3. Deft of Hand...! Speaking of which, hey, how exactly did Shikamaru get Kakuzu's blood on the scythe? That was a question I had been wondering about last chapter, because I couldn't believe that he had just relied on pure skill and quickness to get that blood on a blade that was aimed right at his face point-blank.
Good and bad news. First, the good news, Kishimoto did offer us an explanation for how Shikamaru got the blood on the scythe this chapter. Now for the bad. Unfortunately, pure skill and quickness seem to be exactly what happened.
On the one hand you have to admire Shikamaru for being as fast as he was in that kind of dire situation, and keeping his composure and calm enough to do something so tricky, not to mention having to fool Skull-face at the same time and keeping him unaware of what he had just done.
On the other hand, it's impossibly hard to believe. Even if it had been Kakashi who had performed such a feat, I think I would have been amazed regardless. I definitely would have liked a prior scene giving some insight into Shikamaru's deftness just to prepare us for such a possibility - possibly even a case of pick-pocketing an opponent - but I don't think we ever got one. Also, I'm disappointed that Shikamaru had to depend on such a risky gamble as part of his strategy, even though it wasn't his initial plan (which, you'll recall, was to quickly dispatch at least one of the two Akatsuki via his "chakra blades" and Kagemane at the beginning of the battle.)
But I guess the risk was the reason that 'Plan B' wasn't 'Plan A' in the first place. Again, though, luck played a big part, which I'm not too happy with... but Shikamaru certainly must have had extreme confidence in his skills to even think of trying it. Hope he's got a 'Plan C' up his sleeves, though!
What's a few holes in the chest anyway?
4. Leggo My Heart! Aha, so Kakuzu did "drop dead" as a result of his "heart attack." I was wondering how the heck Kakashi would have gotten out of that situation alive, otherwise!
Short comment here, but felt it was worth the observation. Kakuzu had Kakashi on the ropes, and now it's becoming more obvious that Kakashi would have been a goner if not for Shikamaru's timely caper. It wasn't even one of his bunshins. And I doubt his Sharingan would have done him any bit of good there at all. Guess Kakashi's human after all.
But at least he was keen enough to recognize that Kakuzu's body going limp wasn't going to be the end of it, unlike naive Ino who seemed to think that the battle was over. Nope, nope, there's still the creatures to go...!
Hey, big boy!
5. A Gigantic (But Futile) Effort...! Another short comment here, but worth it to do a few observations on Chouji's maturation process. One thing's for sure, he's still a growing boy!
Looks as though he doesn't need any more stinking pills, either, to get bigger and be intimidating. First, he was able to instanteously increase his size to at least five times (I would guess five, judging by looking at the panel above) his normal mass. And even then, he was still able to concenrate on doing another jutsu ("Mega Palm Thrust?") to attempt to knock away the creatures rushing to their fallen master's body.
Unfortunately anybody with the ability to burrow through the earth would probably be able to escape from that one, and I saw it coming from a mile away that the creatures would get through. But I guess at least Chouji finally did something.
Sidenote: Just something that bothers me a little, but Kishimoto only showed two of the three creatures approaching Kakuzu's body, but apparently all three did get to Kakuzu, as the Raiton creature sacrificed itself to be Kakuzu's new core heart (as shown by the bull mask crumbling to pieces). It's still a bit confusing.
Don't be all heart-broken, Kakuzu.
6. Kakuzu's Seen Better Days. Ok, so Kakuzu wins the prize for being the most funkiest-looking member of the Akatsuki hands down! He looks even more like a real-life scarecrow than Kakashi. Or maybe a porcupine would be more like it.
I'm reminded of when Sasori revealed himself to Chiyo and Sakura as being a puppet body himself, with metal wings on his back, and said that it was the first time he had to resort to using "himself" since, apparently, his early days with the Akatsuki. Well, I get pretty much the same impression here when Kakuzu said that "it's been ages since he lost two hearts." I wouldn't be surprised if Kakuzu had to withstand the same kind of "entrance fee" the Akatsuki demands for membership, which I'm assuming is a battle with an incumbent member.
Also, both Sasori and Kakuzu, when they realized they were in a battle for their lives, also started to show different and more intimidating appearances. Hmm! Wonder if that'll be true for the rest of the Akatsuki as well? Does Itachi, for example, have an even more menacing appearance that he's yet to show us? Yikes! (Probably not, but it's still fun to think about.)
In any case, seems as though Kakuzu's going to be more careful now and keep all his three hearts within or close to his body for the time being. He's rather like a cornered animal, now...
Sidenote: No wonder Kakuzu likes to hide his face behind a mask, by the way! These cheek-to-cheek stitches can't be doing wonders for his love life...
How he can STILL laugh with his neck about to fall off is beyond me...
7. It's Now or Never...!? Well, I mentioned that Shikamaru better have a 'Plan C' in reserve, and now would be a good time to employ it as Hidan's still definitely out for blood. I think it'll involve all the explosive tags that Shikamaru set up in the area, though. The question is, how, if he's out of chakra...?
Well, he wouldn't need too much chakra to put these tags to use, if he can still move around and throw kunais and such. Either way, here I think Shikamaru's just playing possum. Again. Hey, don't worry too much about the kid in any case, he'll live through this one. He's just too popular a character to die right now, and I think Kishimoto has too much fun with his unique style of fighting.
And I sure as heck don't think Shikamaru wants to go down to the guy who killed his sensei, either.
What a way to go out... being killed by bad breath!
8. Trapped... AGAIN! Another thing I have a hard time believing is how Kakashi, Ino, and Chouji could have thought it was a good idea to keep staying in one spot where Kakuzu could easily entrap them all with his tendrils. Oy! Even Sasuke, Sakura, and Naruto in their first bell test instinctively knew it was a better idea to split up than tackle their opponent all at once.
Guess Kakashi and the guys were trying to regroup and figure out how to beat this particular incarnation of Kakuzu, but they sure took their sweet time doing so. Either Kakuzu has amazing reflexes and speed beyond them, or Kakashi was too tired to move away or was too concerned about Ino and Chouji to think about self-preservation. I'd probably go with the latter as being the most reasonable explanation, but these kids really haven't been all that much of a help, have they?
And yes, I know Kishimoto just wanted to amp up the drama for the cavalry's arrival, but even so, it was somewhat a rushed job (again). It was like Kakashi, Chouji, and Ino had just gone from the frying pan into the fire, almost obligingly!
Kakuzu, you're all wet!
9. Cue the Dramatic Music! So we get a glimpse of Naruto's growing skill with the Rasengan here - and I'm not sure it's the final result of his training, either. In order to block Kakuzu's Katon/Fuuton elemental attack from finishing off Kakashi, Ino, and Chouji, out of nowhere Naruto conjures a water-infused cyclone barrier! (So does this mean Naruto's also attained mastery of water, as well?)
In any case, I've heard some complaints about Naruto still using his Rasengan. I think this is just the prelims, folks. There's still a lot more to come in this battle, it seems, and it would look as though as Naruto's definitely gotten stronger. Which is what a lot of people have been waiting for all this time, so just enjoy the show for now.
Personally I was impressed by the entrance - not only was Naruto utilizing a water jutsu instead of wind, it's also the first time I've seen Naruto use a defensive jutsu as well. And by clapping his hands together (presumably) with two different powers in each palm, that might look good in the anime, too, hey?
EDIT: Yes, I was mistaken in thinking it was Naruto that did a water jutsu, didn't realize it was Yamato. I apologize for the blooper - GK
Sidenote: Notice the Rasengan's infused with wind here, though. If nothing else, that confirms that Naruto's probably completed his training.
All hail our heroes!
10. The Cavalry Has Arrived...! While not exactly the reinforcement team I had been hoping for, I guess it's just as well that the plot gets moving with Naruto and his crew now firmly on board again.
There's a big issue I have with this turn of events, though. How did Naruto's team get the OK from Tsunade after not seemingly meeting her deadline of finishing the training? If you guys will remember, she made the deadline of 24 hours for Yamato to complete Naruto's training right after Shikamaru's team had left Konohagakure, around the same time the Akatsuki started up on the Nibi extraction, and it's clearly been three days since then.
And remember the scene we saw of Naruto and Yamato chatting about elemental weaknesses and strengths a few chapters ago, at roughly the same time Kakashi had pierced Kakuzu's chest with his Raikiri. How the hell did Team 7 get over to the battlefield so quickly? They must have teleported there! Therein lies the contradiction - if they were still training even then, then they obviously didn't meet Tsunade's deadline.
Unless they had gotten the OK because Naruto had successfully combined wind with his Rasengan, but they were still working on fine-tuning Naruto's "ultimate jutsu" while travelling over to Shikamaru's team, which is the only explanation I'd go for at this point. Maybe Sai and Sakura were scouting for the whereabouts of Team 10 at this point, and Kishimoto made it appear as though Naruto was still trying to complete his "Wind Rasengan" at the time, when in essence he already had?
I also wish that Shikamaru's team hadn't had to be saved by the back-up team. I would have liked for at least one or two of the Akatsuki to go down without Naruto being a cause. Oh well.
RATING: 2 of 5 - Yes, it's the lowest rating I've ever given a Naruto chapter. Lately it's just been very poorly written, especially the battle. Though the series has pretty much hit bottom as far as it could possibly go for me, because as long as the art's still up to its usual standards (and I've always loved Kishimoto's art, even in this chapter), my rating will probably never go below 2, but it's a disappointment that the plot isn't as good right now.
Predictions: What else? Probably Team 7 going into action. Of course, I hope to see how Shikamaru resolves his problem with Hidan too, since he's still a ways from the others. Maybe he, at least, will be able to finish one of the Akatsuki by his lonesome self. I would love to see high-quality teamwork between Team 7 and Team 10, but since we didn't see a whole lot from either Ino or Chouji, I tend to doubt it. I wouldn't be surprised to see Sai and Sakura on the sidelines, either.
Credits: Thanks to Dynamic Dragon's MQ Edited Manga, Touch for the RAW, and our translators here. And all of you for your patience with me this week! ^^
Talk about having a bad hair day?
Okay, comment away!