Gold Knight's Ten Comments (Naruto 343)

Gold Knight

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Hey, that ice cream looks GOOOOOD! *drool

I had wanted to finish this review much earlier, but unfortunately I couldn't. But this was a chapter I think a lot of people were eagerly expecting - more or less the "real" return of Sasuke, in a sense. Will explain later in the Comments. But for that reason I did want to release my review sooner than I did, but ah well. Sorry about the lateness. Here you go though!

Just as well though that I didn't get to post the review until now for one very good reason. Fnuckale did great cleaning some of the early images in this chapter for me, they're beautiful! Enjoy 'em guys! Also used and modified some images from Kokotas' Edited Manga (with help from Allashandra and LadyHatake) for the rest. Credits to Touch for bring us the full raw (after only half a raw initially, lol), and NJT, Hisshou, Centimetre, and Winterlion for providing their wonderful translations. Thanks also to Des for my header and Kokotas for the cover image, and I couldn't resist using one of Dynamic Dragon's colorings for one of the images.

Doing something different this week, not sure if I'll be always doing it like this from now on, but if there's a cover, I'll include it as a separate comment from the 10 Comments. Well, sometimes I may not do that - but this chapter had enough to talk about that I ended up not having room for the rare cover as part of the usual ten! Hah! Alright, let's get this show on the road!

Hope you like the review and feel more than free to make your own comments. I'll reply to everybody as soon as I can.

* * * Gold Knight's Ten Comments on Naruto Chapter 343: Merciless...! * * *


Oro, I told you to watch my back, not watch my...

Cover 343. About Time! What's this? Holy Uchiha Crest, Batman! Yep, a return to black and white covers for the first time since Chapter 330! Seemingly to celebrate the return of Sasuke to the series, almost on purpose. Been a long time coming in BOTH cases, I'd say! Colorists must be thrilled with all the material that they can experiment around with this week, not only the cover but also some later pages in the chapter. Ya know, I was thinking all along that Kishimoto was probably going to resume his cover drawing habits with this next arc, so let's see if he keeps it up for a few more weeks!

Anyway, there's little to say, really. An ominous image of Sasuke looking across his shoulder directly at the reader certainly sets the tone for the intense events we'll be soon seeing directly from Sasuke and Orochimaru's perspective for the first time. Nothing more really needs to be said!


Besides, are you trying to say me SITTING on my defeated opponents is not merciless enough?

1. To Kill One's Emotions... or Not? Quite a lot of fallen shinobi on the ground, aren't there? I wonder if Sasuke used his command of electricity at all to wipe everybody out, although you'd think there would be at least some tinge of smoke rising from the piles of bodies. Of course, with the superhuman speed and uncanny abilities that Sasuke naturally has at his disposal, that's all he probably needed to knock everybody out. So, who were these guys, anyway? Some random army of goons that came too close to one of Orochimaru's hideout? Or were they just more of Oro's own toys that he decided to test Sasuke with? Either way, I guess we'll never know. Kishimoto isn't likely to shed any light on just what happened - annoyingly enough. But not really important, anyway. We can always use our imagination, right - it's fun and all. Alright, moving on...

We see here a continuation of dialogue from last chapter when Orochimaru scolded Sasuke for being too soft. Oro's certainly trying his best to milk all he can out of Sasuke's burning desire for revenge with the hope of keeping his student in the "darkness" so to speak. Guess he was hoping to avoid any possibility of Sasuke attempting to leave him. Must have been tedious! You know, having to, for the last two years and so, convince Sasuke that he still had more to learn, more reasons to stay with them, and just simply keep him around. Not letting him out of their sight. Day after day, constantly mentioning the name of Sasuke's brother to keep him driven. Wonder if we'll ever have some flashbacks, or even a Gaiden, to show what they all had been doing all these years while Sasuke was training with them?

Incidentally, there were some different translations of how Sasuke responded to Orochimaru here, too, as far as how he would act in front of his brother. In one, Sasuke said: "In front of him, I'll be cold hearted enough. Even if he doesn't like it." (A more extreme version was: "When we fight, I won't show him any mercy. Even if he gets on his knees and begs for it")!

In another, however, Sasuke instead declared: "When it comes time to face Itachi, I will become ruthless, whether I like it or not." Well, interestingly enough, the subject in the sentence was actually undefined, so there could either be "I" or it could be "he" in that sentence. Or better yet, neither. Kishimoto probably meant for the line to be deliberately obscure. Thus Winterlion's translation, which I used for the above image: "I’ll become merciless in front of him. Like it or not."

So it's really up to the reader to decide whether Sasuke was talking about Itachi or himself, but in this case it's more likely he was talking about himself. Odd, though, that he would admit right there and then to still being a little hesitant to kill without mercy, but I suppose at that time there was really no way he could deny it. If he fought a thousand men and didn't kill a single one, so it kinda showed!

Is Sasuke, then, still redeemable? At this point, certainly seems so! Surprised me, actually, but guess Sasuke's not THAT far in the darkness, after all - which must be why Orochimaru was egging him on here. But I'll talk more about that later.


Let's ride off in the sunset together, Sasuke-kun!

2. Rising Sun. So, has Sasuke actually surpassed Orochimaru? Boy, that'd be something. Even though Naruto may have at least gotten equal in power as Kakashi, he probably hasn't quite caught up to his own Sennin tutor, Jiraiya. As usual, Sasuke's leaving Naruto behind, but still, did Orochimaru admit to being weaker here?

Maybe not. Sure, Orochimaru said that Sasuke's even more of a genius than he was at that age, but get this - he was thinking about himself in the past here as comparison! Doesn't mean that Sasuke's actually gotten to be SO powerful that Orochimaru himself isn't a challenge to him anymore. Experience still goes a long way. This is typical storyteller intent, Kishimoto's trying to mislead the reader into believing one thing when it's actually not true. That way, a dramatic moment at a later point in the story will be more surprising and a little bit more unexpected. Which is likely to happen if you ask me.

By the way, did you guys notice that Orochimaru actually didn't look all that bad in the early pages? Heh. It was as though Kishimoto was saying, "Oh look readers! Look! Orochimaru is not always so gross!" Until, of course, our dastardly villain of the week opens his mouth and lets that tongue stick out! ""Well, it didn't last long, did it! Ha ha!" Classic Orochimaru, though!

I liked the sunset doublespread quite a bit. With Orochimaru's anxious excitement plainly showing on his face and Sasuke's own expression of grim determination following after, you had a feeling that this was just the calm before the storm - although, it's pretty frightening what "calm" applied to in this case - 1,000 men lying on the ground groaning in pain and Sasuke hasn't even worked up a sweat!


And Sakura-chan is touching me... hubba hubba!

3. A New Hope. Do you guys happen to recall how Sakura felt so useless in the first part? Of course, you do. And remember how Naruto felt so weak after letting Sasuke get away from him a while ago? Well, sure, that wasn't too long ago, right?

Sakura, of course, finally became determined to learn all she could from Tsunade so that she could actually help Naruto in their mutual search for Sasuke, and came through in a big way by growing stronger and more willful. And Naruto also eventually did his part by coming back to Konohagakure from the Grass Country and started training in order to obtain the most powerful jutsu he's ever had. The results? Two members of Akatsuki actually both went down... hard... because of their hard work.

Here, we see them in the hospital room, and as a result of Naruto's confident words to Sakura, I believe that they're finally starting to develop a kind of new trust and an even bigger comfort zone with each other as partners. They both feel like they've accomplished their objective now in growing stronger, and they feel more ready to take on any enemy in order to get their long-lost friend back. They've both done their training, they've taken their bruises and they've earned their marks, now it's about time to really take action as powerful teammates. Good for 'em.

Sidenote: Incidentally, when Sakura said that medical jutsus couldn't always heal Naruto and that he had to be extremely careful when he used his jutsu, I wonder if she was unaware of the healing power of the Kyuubi inside Naruto, or that she didn't feel like it would always get the job done either. Yeah, we know that Sakura realized that the Nine-Tails is inside Naruto now, but I'm not sure she still knows much about his healing properties. Just something I wondered here... well, probably not a big deal.

EDIT: chvis002 pointed out that Sakura did indeed know about Narutos ability to heal himself through the Kyuubi from chapter 297. Thanks chvis002.


You're the best student I've ever had! Here, eat up! <3

4. Got Ramen? A scene definitely needed here to break the tension of the overall chapter, first we had an affectionate Sakura willing to help her injured comrade eat his ramen, but of course Sai butted in and ruined the mood, heh. Strange that Sai, who had seemed so melancholy or cold in his first appearance, turned out to be more comedy relief now than anything else! But his blunder was definitely in character as he's got a certain bold streak where he's not afraid to do or say anything, and it's always showed in how he tries to get along with his friends. He just needs to acquire either some common sense or a certain sense of timing!

Kakashi coming in and starting to feed Naruto himself was pretty unexpected and funny in its own way, too. Not something I'm used to seeing Kakashi do for anybody. It was as though he was showing some pride in his student and was more than happy to help feed him! Or maybe we're just seeing the gentle side of Kakashi which Obito passed on to him. You know, despite Kakashi always using helping others as an excuse for his lateness, he very well might have been doing just that every day, just because Obito was always prone to it!

Anyway, the biggest thing that people noticed here was Sakura almost seeming to come on a bit to Naruto. Well, Kishimoto has always wanted to include romance in the series, but don't be so quick to jump in and say that Sakura and Naruto's canon now. They're still more friends than anything else - growing closer, yes, but still just friends. But he IS doing more with them, and it's good to see.


...I can still push up on my finger 1,000 times, so I'm ok! =)

5. Up and Walking! I was pretty surprised myself to see Kakashi out of the hospital. Even though he didn't use the Mangekyou Sharingan... which by the way, we've yet to hear about how exactly he learned - and I personally think that's because Kishimoto is waiting to explain it with Sasuke when he also gains it in a possibly similar way... the Sharingan all by itself, which he did have to use a whole lot in that battle, was usually enough to render our sensei immobile for at least a few days. (Remember his battle with Zabuza?)

Well, maybe Kakashi did improve his endurance and stamina over the time-skip to the point where that's not as much an issue anymore. Maybe that was a requirement in order for him to be able to train his body enough to be able to handle the MS. Was pretty obvious that Kakashi was trying to hold back on using the MS during the battle with Kakuzu, almost to the point where he was completely out of chakra. Was he trying to conserve chakra just so that he could have enough to use the MS at the end if he had to? Was that the reason he was so much on the defensive? Might also have been the reason why he was relatively comfortable in letting Naruto have a second chance against Kakuzu, because if he failed that, it still wouldn't have been the end of the world as Kakashi would just have to use his MS to finally put the battle to an end. And if Naruto's technique at least destroyed one of Kakuzu's hearts, so much the better.

Kakashi also being distressed here over how his students viewed him was pretty clever of Kishimoto, too. Sometimes I think our mangaka's pretty much in tune with how his readers feel about certain parts of his story, and he probably knew that the fans were becoming antsy about how Kakashi always seemed to end up in the hospital bed after every dangerous mission. Kakashi's reaction here seemed to reflect how the fans (including myself) were feeling about him currently, and I think it was a good move on Kishimoto's part to already have Kakashi up and moving around despite just having been in a tussle with an Akatsuki. His current health does bode well for his involvement for the next storyarc, which has to make Kakashi fans happy.


So, kid... don't use "that"...... too much.

6. Always a Price...! Kakashi's warning here to Naruto about the "bigger the jutsu, the bigger the risk," which obviously referring to the RasenShuriken, also could apply to his own usage of the Mangekyou Sharingan as well. And with that in mind, Kakashi might have been foreshadowing that Sasuke might finally suffer a set-back of his own as well, so don't be surprised if we happen to see Sasuke experiencing one very soon.

I mean, I've always felt that the Sharingan was more of a curse than a blessing, because it's more or less a temporary god-like power that has the possibility of ruining the body afterward. I've always thought Sharingan was something you had to pay a price with, because otherwise the Uchihas would now be rulers of the world!

I think that was the reason why Itachi wanted to go beyond the limitations of a Uchiha. He realized that even the Mangekyou Sharingan was a dead end if he didn't figure out a way to improve on it, and for that very reason, he aspired to be more than an Uchiha and destroyed his clan, which he felt was too content with accepting their fate, and left Konohagakure. Even as the Akatsuki's primary goal seem to be conquering the world, I do think they have other agendas on mind, especially individually, and in Itachi's case, I believe he's definitely just trying to somehow get himself to be more than an Uchiha.

For that same reason, also, Itachi might not care if Sasuke did end up killing him, if it meant that Sasuke had surpassed being an Uchiha as well. As long as one of them did it, and no longer have to pay the price anymore, Itachi would feel like he accomplished his objective. I believe that's exactly why Itachi left Sasuke alive and hating him. He believed that at least one of them would do it in the end, especially if Sasuke was motivated enough by pure hatred.


Sometimes, I hate my job.

7. Not Taking Sides? Okay, let's return back to Oro world, where we find our snaky-tongued antagonist sick in bed and violently suffering once again from "Sandaime's curse," despite the seals around his arm which I assume are there to prevent his arms from falling off as if he's some leper. Gee, looks like the hourglass is running out on Sasuke soon, doesn't it? Or would it be Orochimaru, instead?

EDIT: It has come to my attention that Orochimaru has already rid himself of Sandaime's "curse" by transferring bodies and that he's more or less experiencing a state of body deteroriation due to "the result of natural decay of the host body due to the unnatural soul conversion's time limit," as sahugani so nicely put it. Somehow I had imagined that the "curse" would remain with Orochimaru even as he changed bodies. Thanks to sahugani and Winterlion for clarifying this point for me. I suppose the decorations on his arms are for something else entirely. Sorry for my misassumptions here. - GK

What interested me the most here, though, was how Kabuto looked backwards at Orochimaru as he was leaving. I don't think it was because of Oro's hollow laughter. He almost seemed to know what was going to transpire in a few minutes right after he left. Here I think Kabuto's loyalty to Orochimaru might have taken a seat on the sidelines, and he's leaving it to the upcoming confrontation to decide his own fate as well. Would the dread Sennin survive and continue being his master, or would he have a new master...?


Sasuke-kun! I told you I'm NOT in the mood!!!

8. The Power of a Genius...! Here Orochimaru is suddenly attacked by an extending, long blade of lightning that shot swiftly through the door directly at him. What caught my attention was the fact that Oro had absolutely no idea what this jutsu was and how it was made. Sasuke had just invented something that Orochimaru had never seen before, and considering his deep interest in all forms of jutsus, that's amazing.

No wonder Orochimaru was so quick to call Sasuke a genius. This reminded me of the Chinese movie Wo hu cang long (also known as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) when the student, Jen Yu, had surpassed her master, Jade Fox, by learning techniques that she could never fathomed on her own. Jade Fox, needless to say, wasn't at all pleased. Even if Orochimaru survives this attack, that's probably going to bother him quite a bit, as well.

Unless, of course, he gets his wish and is wearing his student's body...


You're going down, pal!
(Colored by Dynamic Dragon.)

9. The Return of Sasuke. Many fans already consider this the proper return of Sasuke. This is the fiercely independent Sasuke we're so used to seeing, who finally decided to take matters into his own hand, not willing to accept whatever others had in mind for him, not Konohagakure, not Naruto, not Itachi, and especially not his snake of a teacher.

The Sasuke that we had seen in Chapter 306, by comparison, wasn't his true self. I had suspected it then, and I'm glad to see that I was right. Sasuke, all along, was misleading his tutor into thinking that he was a little docile boy willing to "give his soul up" in order to accomplish his objective. At the time he practically had to, in order to learn all he could from Orochimaru, and so that they wouldn't get suspicious that he would betray them at any time and attempt to enslave him instead. But he still never intended to live up to his own part.

When Sasuke realized that his time was almost up, he had to take action. Orochimaru's sickness had been the trigger - evidence that he was about to have to do the transfer of souls - and Sasuke just decided that it was now or never to attack, simply because his life was in danger right there and then.

So he chose his moment to attack - not because Orochimaru was bed-ridden and vulnerable - but just because it was the right time for him to leave.

You might think, "so has Sasuke all along never needed rescuing? Was Naruto's effort all a waste?" Actually, I think Naruto had already rescued Sasuke - back at the waterfall. I think the results of that are just now showing themselves, other than Naruto still being alive and Sasuke's decision not to be manipulated by Itachi. Naruto just never knew it.


Revenge time for all these nights!

10. Still Full of Fury! I think Orochimaru always suspected that Sasuke would betray him all along, though - he's so paranoid that he keeps believing Kabuto would betray him, after all - but I think that he was actually hoping that he wouldn't have to deal with such a confrontation. Too bad for him!

Anyway, Sasuke here is obviously still full of fire and salt, and that's because he NEVER killed his emotions, like Orochimaru wanted him to. Think about it, if he had done that, what would he care anymore about wanting to kill Itachi? He'd have killed so many people by now, he would have become numb to the very act itself. Losing his emotions meant that he would lose his burning desire to dish out some revenge on his hated brother, and that was certainly something he wouldn't allow. He's a self-appointed avenger, and hell if Orochimaru was going to turn him into just some kind of killer. That was what Orochimaru wanted him to do in order to have him become a faithful servant like Kimimaro. Well, forget it, buddy. Choose your weapon and get up, Oro, you're going to have to fight him!

RATING: 5 of 5 - Oh wow, what can I say. When was the last chapter that gave me THIS much to talk about? Kishimoto's on a roll lately; this is the first time in a while that I've rated consecutive chapters a 5. Hopefully Kishimoto keeps it up because I certainly want to be entertained by the next storyarc more than I've been lately.

RATING ON SHIPPUDEN EPISODE 003: 4.5 of 5 - This episode focused on Kakashi's second bell test with Naruto and Sakura, and I really liked how they added to the fight with more scenes. Made it feel more satisfying somehow, yeah, even more so than the manga. Deidara was also entertaining in the episode. Both were enough for me to like any Naruto episode. The only reason it wasn't a 5 rating was because of the lag of the animation at times, Gaara not quite being done right, and that I didn't like that Gaara's fight was going to take place at night at the same time as Kakashi's bell test. (Are these countries even in the same timezone?)

Predictions: For the next chapter, I actually have quite a bit to say again. I believe that Orochimaru will survive and be able to hold Sasuke off through sheer will - and he has an advantage in that on Sasuke's neck is a curse seal that he himself placed on there. He can probably take away Sasuke's powers anytime, or even use it to drive him into pain. Orochimaru may not be in the mood to toy with Sasuke at all here, considering his illness, and he'll likely de-activate the seal as quickly as possible. That may not be enough to stop Sasuke from being able to injure Orochimaru critically, though, and he might still be able to leave on his own account. Anyway, I wouldn't be surprised to not see the end of this fight next chapter, and more than likely, Kishimoto will have a few cutscenes to Naruto and company again, too.

Well, that's it! Fun chapter to review.

Knock-Knock!

The Boogey-man!
Comment! XD
 

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