Gold Knight's Ten Comments Special (Naruto Volume 39)

Gold Knight

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Team Hebi, as depicted by the wonderfully talented colorist [user]Vhea[/user].

Greetings all! Yep, I've finally returned to the reviewing scene. Starting with Chapter 360 this weekend, I'll be doing them on a weekly basis once again. I have to say I've been flattered by all the private messages asking for the return of my Comments. Thanks and I'll try not to let anybody down.

So what happened to me that I stopped reviewing for the last six chapters of Naruto? Pretty much, after one year, I became tired of reviewing. Just as much as I became tired of being an admin here. That's pretty much it, nothing special really. But I'm reinvigorated again and I believe I'll be able to keep up the weekly grind for at least the rest of the summer, and hopefully the fall as well. No guarantees, though, but we'll see!

Okay, so now I'm sure you're curious about this review. What's this one about? It's just me trying to catch up on what I've missed commenting on in the rest of Volume 39 (I did do four chapter reviews from Ch. 350 to 353, though). It's not going to be as in-depth as my extended review of Volume 32 from last summer, but it'll cover all the loose ends that I haven't commented on yet.

Also, pretty convenient, too, that each volume of Naruto is now stacked with exactly ten chapters - perfect for my Ten Comments reviewing system, hmm? [/Dei] Anyway, I'll try to get to all the important points but if I missed anything that you're curious about, just post about it and I'll respond ASAP!

By the way, I'm not going to go overboard with images for this review - it's just too time-consuming - but rather, I'm just selecting some character images per Comment that I think represents these chapters well enough. No captions, because it wouldn't fit with these images. Don't worry, though, I'll resume both with the next chapter review (Chapter 360). Should be out before next Tuesday (assuming we get a nice RAW soon, anyway.)

Please enjoy! Thanks to lovely Kylara for finding all the RAWs, the great Edited Manga group Japflap for their beautiful releases, which I'll be using here for images, and all the translators, Manga Editors, and artists that's contributed at MH during the releases of these chapters.

Onward we go...!

* * * Gold Knight's Ten Comments on Naruto Volume 39 * * *

350: 衝撃の報せ... !!
1. Shocking News... !!


At the outset, we saw a conference in Tsunade's administrative office where the well-endowed Godaime gravely informed Naruto and Sakura that their former and vengeful comrade Sasuke had finally escaped from the ruthless Orochimaru. And OH, incidentally, he had seemingly killed his redoubtable master in bidding his fond farewells.

What the...!?

Understandably, the two remaining members of the original Team 7 were astounded at this piece of monumental news. You would have almost expected them both to have taken a double look at each other in total disbelief. Had it been so easy? So effortless? After all these years of rigorous and miserable training that they had both willingly done in order to be able to bring their friend back home, was Sasuke now going to be completely free without their help after all? To be on the side of angels again, just like that? Wait, should they have been thrilled?

Of course, Jiraiya would soon confirm that their wayward brother-in-arms was still dangerously intent on finishing his mission of vengeance. Perhaps Sasuke would still need some heavy persuasion to be led back to the Fire Country. Maybe, just maybe, his soul might be in need of a little more saving. Well, at least he was safe from any more molestation, anyway...!

In any case, the readers were possibly even more startled than Naruto and Sakura in this instance. Many had admitted that they had automatically assumed that these two would have to first defeat Orochimaru themselves before they could succeed in recovering their friend. Thusly, nearly everybody had set up their varying theories and predictions of future plotlines around that probability.

Oops. So much for that.

What now? Actually, to me, that was the most intriguing part about how this volume started off. Nobody knew what was to be expected next, besides Sasuke obviously questing after Itachi, and Team 7 once again chasing him. Even despite that, nothing was as certain as it once was. Compared to the Immortals Arc for example which was far too predictable, this was actually incredibly refreshing...!

What else happened in this chapter? We also saw Sasuke with his two new comrades, Suigetsu and Karin, storming the Northern Hideout in their search for their fourth companion, the mysterious prisoner known as Juugo. Effortlessly battling through a horde of CS2 activated fighters, Suigetsu was unable to kill any of them due to Sasuke's implicit insistence that they not rack up the body count. Suigetsu contemptuously claimed that Sasuke's conscience was due to his upraising and training at Konohagakure.

You know what? I don't know if that's actually so much true as it was that Sasuke just refused to be as much a mass murderer as he perceived his brother to be. If he left too many dying bodies in his wake, after all, how would that make him any better than the brother he detested so much? Ever since he made the decision to leave Naruto alive and defy Itachi's wishes of him, I think he's made a conscious effort to be as unlike his brother as he could possibly be. Ironically enough, he actually ends up resembling Itachi more! I'm not sure that Sasuke realized that Itachi was also just as equally hesitant to seriously battle anybody to the death nowadays! Nice one, Kishimoto.

As for the action here, well, readers of my past reviews may remember that I wasn't exactly thrilled that we weren't able to see how Sasuke and Suigetsu defeated the CS2 beasts. Okay, I'll revise my feelings there. I understand what Kishimoto was doing a little better now considering all the action that DID come after it in the next few chapters. So I won't hold that against the chapter anymore. ;)

Rating still stays the same though, since it didn't really influence my opinion of the chapter that much in the first place, anyway - "teases" like that are nothing new in the Naruto series! (But have you noticed we've not had any more, really, for a while? Color me glad!)

To see my original review of this chapter, click on me!

Rating: 4/5

351: 男との対話... !!
2. A Conversation Amongst Men... !!


All right, since I already did an in-depth review on this rather action-packed chapter focusing on the confrontation between Sasuke, Juugo and Suigetsu (which I did enjoy very much), I'll just comment on a few things that I didn't really think about the first time. For the rest, feel free to re-read my older review. ;)

Well, you know about Juugo's split personality that we found out about at the end of the chapter. Everybody relates him to the Akatuski Leader, right? Because of the hairdo and all. But what about this:

What other character in the Naruto universe ALSO has a split personality?

Hint! He speaks with two distinct voices.

Yep, it's everybody's favorite plant-wearing Akatsuki cannibal, Zetsu. I really believe that Juugo and Zetsu might be destined for a confrontation at some point, and I believe that would be a rather cool battle as it would pit two similar characters (at least in make-up) against each other. This also makes me wonder a little bit about the possible abilities that Zetsu has. Does he have something like the CS2, except he's able to control it to the extent that he can retain both personalities at the same time? And can he completely switch between personalities? Yin and yang, so to speak. Well, guess we'll find out in due time...!

Overall, this chapter was still as dramatic a read as the first time I read it. Even if I'm not much of a fan of Sasuke's, it was still good to see him back in serious action against an unfamiliar opponent again. I was also relieved to find out that Juugo was less psychotic and more normal than he had first appeared to be, too, back when we all thought he was a hermaphrodite or bisexual rapist or sumo wrestler or whatever. I do like characters who are at least a little sympathetic. At the same time, though, I was too thrilled to find out Suigetsu was even more of a psycho killer than what we all thought! It just fits his character design perfectly. I'm still disappointed by Karin, though, but this chapter was really more about our first introduction to Juugo than anything else.

Hopefully we'll get to see him in action again soon, as well, and see whether he's able to keep his "blood-thristy" persona in check the next time. As Suigetsu seemed to suggest while battling him, Juugo may be a completely different kind of shinobi when he's not in CS2 mode, and may have his own blood-limit abilities as well.

To read my original review of this chapter, click on me!

Rating: 5/5

352: 目的は... !!
3. Their Motives... !!


Just a few things here to add to my older review, again.

First, what exactly did Karin do to Sasuke in the past? The way Suigetsu tauntingly said it, we were all either thinking that she did some experimentation, or some pretty perverted stuff, without his explicit knowledge. (I'm guilty of thinking the latter.) But how about this?

Maybe it might have just been an innocuous act of following somebody around, finding information about them, and watching them from afar. Commonly known, I think, as stalking. :o

We still don't know what village Karin is from and all that, you know? For all we know, she might be from Konohagakure, and she's been observing Sasuke even longer than Sakura or Ino! Well, the way she's such an unabashed fangirl of his, I could certainly believe that. And since Naruto has Hinata, why shouldn't Sasuke have his own little personal secret admirer, as well? (Alright, alright, I know he already has a ton of 'em, but you get my point!) ;)

So assuming she's from Konohagakure, then boy do I have a crack-head theory for you. ...Remember Suzume?

Don't know who I'm talking about? Hey, I don't really blame you. Maybe this might refresh your memory. (click!)

That's right - the prissy teacher of Sakura and Ino way back when they were just beginning to be friends. See the resemblance? Karin's similar enough that Suzume could possibly even be her mother! Fun to ponder, isn't it?

So basically, Karin's motive would make perfect sense in that respect, simply because she's been following Sasuke everywhere. She might have even come to Orochimaru for THAT reason! Hey, who knows.

The last thing is Juugo's motives for going along with Sasuke, which still baffles me a little bit, especially considering he obviously knew that Sasuke needed him to kill somebody. And in his normal state, he doesn't seem like the type to hurt a fly.

He also didn't even ask Sasuke to help him on finding a cure for himself, which really bothered me. But at the same time, I suppose that he knew he was just going to be on a killing spree again if left unattended, and Sasuke did promise to be his "prison" of sorts. So I don't know if he really had any choice either way. Also, that Sasuke was supposed to replace Kimimaro probably convinced Juugo that the leader of "Team Hebi" was at least capable of keeping his violent self in check (not to mention already having been stopped by him the previous chapter). That probably helped as well.

Juugo might also have felt a little hesistant about asking somebody to help him again after his experiences with Orochimaru. After all, he doesn't know if Sasuke is any better of a help yet. So, essentially, Juugo's just observing Sasuke for now, like he said. Okay.

Despite my changed feelings, though, I'd probably still keep my rating the same as it was. Besides the explanation of Juugo's past and reason for going with Sasuke, as well as Suigetsu's, this was basically just a chapter celebrating the formation of Team Hebi and also the much-awaited initiation of the current Itachi-hunting story arc - but that was about it.

To read my original review of this chapter, click on me!

Rating: 4/5

353: 〝暁〟集合...!!
4. Akatsuki Assembles...!!


Well, this is the last chapter that I reviewed before I took my long break. After this one, we're exploring unchartered territory! (At least as far as GK Reviews.) But bear with me for a bit...

There's one conversation between Itachi and Kisame in this chapter that still confuses the heck of everybody at times, including yours truly. So I went to ask an experienced translator about the dialogue from page 5-6. His translations are as following:

Kisame: "Why don't we just catch it (the nine-tails) now and restraint it - wouldn't that be best?"
Itachi: "Heh... I don't really care either way. Deidara failed as well. If we're going to seal it last, then it is the same as catching it last."

So going by that, Kisame was just anxious and impatient to go ahead and catch the Kyuubi already. He was obviously spurred on by how the other Akatsuki had nearly gotten to him first, such as Sasori and Deidara. Furthermore, Itachi didn't seem to share his partner's sense of anxiety, even going as far as idly commenting that Deidara did fail to capture the Kyuubi, and that the nine-tailed beast had to be saved for last no matter what, anyway.

So even if somebody else brings Naruto to the Akatsuki cave first, there may still be a certain waiting period until they finish capturing the rest of the bijuu. Wonder if there would be an Akatsuki vs Akatsuki battle in that instance? Itachi would be battling Naruto's captor for his "ownership" so to speak? There certainly seems to be some sort of struggle for the "rightful" capture of each bijuu, and I don't think it's just because they like challenges.

Or that they were promised more rewards, like some common bounty hunters. (In the case of greedy Kakuzu, it's possible, though, heh.)

Whatever the case, all this leads me to believe that Naruto will possibly be captured at some point, although he won't be put into the "sealing ceremony" until the Akatsuki brings back the last remaining bijuu. What do you think? Are we due for a "Rescue Naruto" storyarc now? Oh, boy.

My overall opinion of this chapter hasn't changed much. We saw the Akatsuki find out about the deaths of Kakuzu and Hidan, and Orochimaru as well. And Deidara starting to ponder whether he should take their little Sasuke problem in his own drooling hands or not.

Of course, it wasn't until the end of the volume that we would find out exactly WHY Deidara wanted to go against Sasuke so badly!

Sidenote: I certainly hope the Databooks are going to give us more information on all the bijuus that we've only glimpsed briefly in the series.

Though even if they do, I was pretty disappointed in this instance. If the Youbi, the four-tails old hermit who was caught and killed in the span of two chapters, used techniques that controlled magma or could fuse several elements together, I would have loved to see how Kisame defeated him. Ah well!

To read my original review of this chapter, click on me!

Rating: 4/5

354: 動き出す者たち...!!
5. They Who Now Make Their Move...!!


Here we go, new chapters!

Just one thing that I must mention. Did you guys happen to notice that the entire time that Team Hebi was being created at the North Hideout, we STILL hadn't seen the end of the meeting in Tsunade's office!? Wowee, that must have been a LONG conversation - or else they all just froze in place! That's pretty crazy, and I'd be willing to bet that the anime will change that aspect of this story in order to have the timeline appear less uneven. ;)

Alright, so we saw Kakashi explain what their strategy should be in order to catch up to Sasuke - form two squads and scout out, no more than that. Of course we wouldn't find out who would accompany Naruto's team until the end of the chapter - standard suspense writing. I'll get to that at the end of this chapter review.

There was one more thing I was also wondering about at this point. Where exactly had Sai been during this entire discussion? Though Sasuke was a personal matter to Naruto and Sakura specifically, wouldn't it have occured to Tsunade that perhaps Sai would have liked to know what was going on with his teammates? After all, wasn't his own place within the team part of the equation, as well?

I have a feeling that Sai was purposefully left out because Kishimoto still doesn't want us to get TOO used to seeing Sai with Team 7 very often, and I have a gut instinct that's because he definitely intends for Sasuke to come back at some point, especially after all that's transpired lately. But that's just a guess.

Moving on now to Team Hebi. They were now browsing through an apparently abandoned city, where the Uchiha clan once owned a weapons storehouse in a hideout called "Soraku," or Sky Area. Somehow you just felt like the downfall of Sasuke's clan somehow had a great deal to do with the reason why the city fell into disrepair, but again, that might just be what Kishimoto wanted us to think. Since the Kyuubi had once been on a rampage in these parts, maybe the people simply fled the city, thinking it doomed, and the Uchiha clan merely moved in and used it to their advantage?

Aww, cats. I wasn't expecting that. Were cats, then, the favorite "familiars" of the Uchiha clan, just as toads seemed to be Jiraiya's and dogs to be Kakashi's? Well, they certainly weren't normal cats as they spoke and even fancied themselves as nin-cats. Cute.

Then appeared someone that decidedly was not cute. Granny Cat. What the---! Seriously, I think this was just a case of Kishimoto trying to be too cute. Granted, I knew there were many old ladies in real life with a real attraction for cats, but I've never seen one wearing a cat-earred headband! Though I have a feeling this elderly woman was more than she seemed, just as Chiyo was, but perhaps even more. I wouldn't be surprised that she was in actuality a giant cat, of similar disposition to Gamabunta, wearing a human disguise for comfort's sake. With a few flaws in her illusion still left intact, perhaps for amusement.

Well, we've always wondered where exactly summoned animals came from. Another dimension? Another world? I never thought so. They were probably inhabitants of the same world as Naruto, just called from other areas. We may just have stumbled, finally, into one of their residences. I don't really expect to see Granny Cat again, but who knows.

Team Hebi was then properly equipped and attired for the rest of their journey, except in Juugo's case, since he seemed to be too big for any of their clothes, and he wore a curtain instead - I liked the look, actually. The black cloaks might have been going a little too far, though - reminded me of the Hobbits from Lord of the Rings!

Back to the Akatsuki cave, where after the extraction of the Yonbi, we see Deidara deciding to leave with Tobi to hunt for either Sasuke or Naruto. Itachi was surprisingly (to some) shown as seeming to be emotionally conflicted - at least as far as his facial expressions will ever allow him to be. Looks like he wasn't as certain about Sasuke's fate as he was about their chances to catch Naruto a few chapters ago, eh?

After all that, to everybody's immense pleasure, the team of the day was finally revealed to be none other than Team 8! Minus Kurenai, who was of course dealing with her pregnancy - but still, Team 8 was the only squad in Part 2 that still hasn't been in any real action yet. So a job well done to Kishimoto for being able to write in ALL his pre-existing characters into the story somewhere after the time-skip. Too bad it's mostly brief stints so far, but that probably couldn't be helped with such a gigantic cast. Maybe we'll have more of everybody later on, though.

But as far as the ultimate scouting squad went, you certainly couldn't go wrong with Shino and his bugs, Kiba and Akamaru's sense of smell, and Hinata and her Byakugan.

Rating: 4/5

355: どっちへ...!?
6. Which One!?


So we went from cat admiring to puppy love, huh?

You probably already know what a Kakashi fan I am, so y'all must have known I was more than thrilled to see his ninja pups also in full force on this expedition! To this point, we've only really seen Pakkun, so it'll be fun to see more from them all, I think.

However I am very skeptical of the plan here. Rather than just start exploring in a random spot in all directions, I would have thought the idea would have been to investigate how the rumors started until they happened across Sasuke's scent. That would, at least, have been a good way to follow up on Suigetsu's whimsical demand of the freed prisoners that they must spread word of Sasuke "the savior." Though I suppose it did already lead to everybody already being aware that Sasuke was free in the first place.

Of course, Kishimoto would put Sasuke or one of his teammates in the vicinity for the sake of the plot. But in real life, the two squads could have been exploring forever and fruitlessly! How did they even know Sasuke WAS in Konoha at that time? Oh well. I would have liked to see a little better writing there. Maybe somebody had seen Sasuke, or somebody suspicious, and they could be looking into that, for example.

There was something else I noticed, and this one makes sense. Sure, Kakashi claimed that Naruto needed to be with Hinata and Yamato, as well as the big pup, because he was one of the Akatsuki's targets.

But I think Kakashi also figured that Naruto was the only one that could NOT be trusted to avoid the Akatsuki in a confrontation. Yamato, at least, would be able to restrain Naruto from charging head-first into battle with one of them - to say nothing of the Kyuubi. Good move there. Hinata could also detect danger from afar if the bulldog warned her about it, too - and incidentally, this is actually the first time we've ever seen Naruto and Hinata on a mission together. About time! I confess to being a bit of a NaruHina fan, so it'll be interesting to see what happens there.

Well, more interesting than seeing what might happen between Sasuke and Karin, anyway. We got quite a contrast there. Whereas Naruto accepted Hinata's assistance warmly and without reservation, Sasuke certainly gave Karin the cold shoulder! Not that it was surprising - Sasuke's goal has always been revenge. There's no room in his mind for affectation of any sort at the moment.

Change of scene to Deidara and Tobi. We see them getting ready to set off into the skies atop a pair of Dei's make-shift clay roc birds. Gotta admit, Deidara's style is fun and different from what you'd expect from most 'explosive-type' antagonists. I also don't think he ever really doubted that he was really after Sasuke, despite his pretense of being undecided on their mission. We also finally discover that Deidara's left mid-arm, once destroyed by Kakashi's Mangekyou Sharingan, was replaced via Kakuzu's stitches by a wooden-like flexible conduit. Odd. You would have expected that at the very least to have affected his ability to spit out clay with that hand-mouth, but guess not.

Back to Team Hebi, also on an investigation of their own for Itachi's whereabouts. We saw Suigetsu interrogate with his Cleaver a bunch of Kakuzu groupies, and Juugo using considerably less violent methods of searching, by communicating with a bird. Just what you'd expect from a former prisoner-for-life to be able to do, heh - guess Kishimoto wanted to show that birds weren't afraid of Juugo normally. He did activate his Cursed Seal, though - but not to the point where he went into Level 2. Looks like he could still control himself then, so he has that in his favor, at least.

Sakura's pups added a little more mystery to the ending of this chapter, as one caught wind of Sasuke's scent. (Wow, that didn't take long.) Then we saw two different people creep up on Naruto and Sasuke, respectively. We wouldn't find out until the next chapter who they were, of course.

Overall, I hate to say it, but due to my misgivings about the "plan" and since this was basically a prelude to the next few chapters, this one didn't impress me all that much.

Rating: 3/5

356: 衝突...!!
7. Conflict..!!


Well, we have a lot to cover in this one. First of all, despite the rather garish double-spread that revealed the colors of Team Hebi in this chapter, there still seemed to be many beautiful fan-colorings that came out of this one. More than I've seen for any previous chapters in a while. I was actually wondering if it was just that the colorists truly admired Kishimoto's artwork, or that they saw the first spread and thought, "You're kidding me, I can do better than that!" So if you're a colorist too, you'll have to let me know! Heh.

As for Team Hebi's colors themselves, I had no problems except I never exactly saw Karin as a flaming redhead. Guess she's going to have a temper to match, now, huh? Sakura better watch out. Speaking of whom, of course Karin was the one that HAD to be near Sakura. These two are probably destined for a "Sasuke is mine!" battle that used to be reserved for Sakura and Ino. Whether it'll be tedious or entertaining probably depends on how many articles of clothing are ripped off in the process...

Back to the story. How about the return of Kabuto, huh? Now that's what I called unexpected - I don't think anybody expected him to re-appear for quite a while. And he forked over a black book of much speculation, on which I can only suspect that it would hold information on the subordinates of the Akatsuki, much like the ones that Suigetsu was beating up on last chapter. Or a clue to their hideouts. That would give Naruto a slight advantage over Team Hebi, and I'm actually expecting him to beat Sasuke to Itachi now. Of course, Kabuto still had another secret to reveal. I'll discuss that more at the end of this review.

So, of course, it was Deidara and Tobi that Sasuke encountered at the fringe of the forest on that fateful day. Speaking of which, why was Sasuke still there? Team Hebi had just gone into all directions, and what was our Uchiha avenger doing? Smelling the roses? Yeesh. Well, I guess he marked the spot for them all to meet again later on in the day. Wonder if they will.

I have to admit though, I was somewhat disappointed at first that Sasuke and Deidara were going to be in a battle. I was thinking, "oh sheesh, just another battle to try to prolong the story." I was feeling like Naruto was getting a little too DBZ-ish, ya know? Thought that Kishimoto had simply decided that it was time to remove Deidara from the series, since he's already had his share of highlights, and since he was such an unexpected fan favorite, Sasuke as No. 1 in the last popularity poll was the chosen character to defeat him for once and all. Felt like a filler battle to me. Well, I still feel that way, but I have to admit, Kishimoto's really knocking himself out on this one. So I'm enjoying the ride right now and I suppose it would have been odd if Sasuke had run into Itachi before any of the other Akatsuki, anyway.

So how did this "conflict" begin? With a bang, of course!

But what's this - Sasuke brought forth a gigantic snake to protect himself from Deidara's bird, huh? He's becoming more and more like Gaara it seems. Wonder if that's intentional? Of course, Sasuke's still more of an incredibly talented athlete whereas Gaara tended to let his sand do most of the work for him. Well, I suppose Sasuke still has to do some work by himself, or the snakes were going to rip his contract apart and quit on him. That had to hurt!

Okay, so the action's getting started. Little did we know that it would be fast and furious, for a change...! But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Back to Orochimaru's former crony...

Or maybe not such a crony anymore? Turned out that Kabuto has been inspired by Naruto, but in a whole twisted, different way from the usual! No new devotee to the Church of Naruto, this rogue is, no sirree! Instead, spurred on by how Naruto's been able to overcome the Kyuubi within himself, he's decided to finally betray Orochimaru in the worst way possible - by attempting to steal his powers and surpass him totally! Looks like ol' Oro had a good reason to have been paranoid all along!

But will ol' "Kabutoro" succeed...? Well, we'll go into that next chapter. Initially, I hated this chapter because one, I was confused by how Kabuto had a part of Orochimaru in himself, and two, I wasn't ready for Sasuke to fight Deidara, but in hindsight, this was a pretty fun chapter all things considered with a twist I totally didn't expect.

Rating: 4/5

357: デイダラVSサスケ...!!
8. Deidara vs Sasuke..!!


This is when I started having fun with the Naruto series again. Didn't take me long, huh?

I was glad that right off the bat, Kabuto explained how he had a part of Orochimaru within himself. We all thought that Sasuke had somehow absorbed his master via his Sharingan - and had left him into an empty dimension of his own, right? That was why I was so confused last chapter.

But that was just Orochimaru's spirit, I suppose. That didn't stop Kabuto from trying to incorporate a piece of Orochimaru's dying body within himself. Of course, after countless experiments that mostly concentrated around how to either heal Orochimaru or enhance his body-jumping abilities, Kabuto would have the know-to-how to do all this. So I'm thinking it's not exactly Orochimaru inside Kabuto right now, but it is part of his life force... but not enough of it that I think Kabuto will be able to suppress it enough to keep his own consciousness.

At least, until whenever Kabuto confronts Sasuke again as he hopes to someday. I think it's then that we'll actually see the true resurrection of Orochimaru, who will likely sense a golden opportunity to return to "life." I did think Orochimaru went out a little too easily... We'll see.

But here's another fine sub-plot that's been added to the story! We already knew Sasuke was on a hunt for Itachi. Now we know Kabuto will be seeking revenge of his own, too. Or maybe not exactly revenge, but just a way to dispose himself of Orochimaru's killer, as well. After all, can't have somebody out there that can potentially threaten your existence all the time, right?

Wasn't surprised to see Naruto charge at Kabuto here. Well, I guess Kakashi didn't mention Kabuto as one of the enemies they had to retreat from, anyway, so Yamato let Naruto have his way this time and decided to join on the fun himself, too. Funny how he seemed to know exactly how to take advantage of Naruto's attack that he was able to instantaneously appear behind Kabuto and almost captured him at the same time. Guess Yamato's beginning to understand how Naruto operates, huh?

Still, didn't work, and Kabuto escaped while typically smugly promising another battle down the line... but wait, isn't this chapter titled Deidara vs Sasuke, anyway? Okay then, on to the main attraction.

So Deidara and Tobi almost make the mistake of underestimating Sasuke's blazing speed and find themselves both nearly cut into pieces by his deadly sword! Well, actually, Tobi was caught... but gets up without even a scratch on his robes. I know people are all saying he's Obito and he's using some kind of dimension-manipulating powers in order to phase himself out of reality. I still don't believe the former, but the latter could be true. I'm still enjoying watching Tobi in action, either way. He's like a n00b that can't be taken down. Remember when Dei and Tobi both fought the Sanbi, and Tobi was at first afraid but in the end was able to take it down with a "1-hit KO" jutsu of some kind? Can't wait to see him in serious battle someday and see just exactly what the hell he is, but here it was obvious he was just acting as Deidara's "support," so guess we gotta be patient on that one.

The real battle was between the master of clay explosives and the prodigy of the Uchiha clan. Seemed like Sasuke was going to totally own Deidara at first, though, especially when he started to toss his chakra needles to send all his C1 beasties away.

But then pops up Deidara's C2 dragon. Whoa!!! Gotta give Kishimoto credit - even if he is falling into a typical DBZ pattern of power displays, one after another, down to "ultimate attacks" and all that, he makes them interesting visually at least. Same reason I'm also enjoying Bleach at the moment. I enjoyed the battle between Sasori and Chiyo & Sakura, too, and this is shaping up to be the same kind of battle, only one with a little bit of a faster pace. Unlike in Sasori's case, we had already met Deidara, so it makes sense.

Excellent chapter for all the following reasons: the art, story and the action.

Rating: 5/5

358: 追いつめるC2...!!
9. Cornered by the C2..!!


First of all, let me just say this was an AWESOME chapter. It's the one that finally made me decide that I'd return to reviewing (though it took me a while, sorry.)

Remember a while ago in this review I said that I didn't expect this battle to be so "fast and furious?" When was the last time you had seen a Naruto chapter that totally concentrated on a battle, nothing but a battle, and the combatants' frantic thoughts, from beginning to end? No interruptions, no flashbacks, and especially no long pauses, thank God?

Probably not since Chapter 273, which was near the end of the Sasori battle. This was the first time since then that a chapter was totally straight-forward and fast-paced the entire way through. It hasn't happened much in the series - the only other battle since the Chuunin Exams that I can think of was the Rock Lee-Kimimaro one. So for that reason, chapter was a sheer pleasure to read for me, both for the adrenaline boost and the fun of figuring out what they would do to off-set each other's moves!

Although Deidara's C2 dragon, while impressive and all, seemed to me just another variety of a summoned animal jutsu. Especially after it started spewing out all these smaller explosives, it really reminded me of Kidoumaru's spiders.

And there was also another very brief argument about art, though a little more one-sided this time. Must be that Deidara felt his art had moved on to a whole new level because he seemed to be too offended at Tobi's "pop art" remark and delighted in correcting him and calling it "superflat art" instead. Well, you'll certainly never him lacking for a discussion in art, it seems!

So we get another bang, followed by a quick disappearance by Tobi (and whoa, he sure collected up all these bombs fast!), and the battle was then in full heat.

We find out a little more about Sasuke's electricity blade here. Turns out it's indeed an improvement on Kakashi's Raikiri - with the ability to go long distance. Wouldn't Kakashi have liked to know how to do that back when he didn't possess the Sharingan! It would have saved him the trouble of having to predict the counterattack of the opponent. Anyway, seemed like the "Raikiri blade" wasn't long enough to reach Deidara in the art, though - only five meters. Well, you just wait, though. That'll likely grow to ten meters before the next time he meets Itachi! Still, nice to know there was a given limit on it right now.

One thing's for sure, though. Sasuke doesn't possess the Mangekyou Sharingan right now. Not the same one as Kakashi's, anyway. He definitely would have thought about using it at this point on Deidara while he was flying just out of reach - just as Kakashi had in the past!

I was rather surprised that Sasuke concentrated only on Deidara after realizing that Tobi was nowhere to be seen, but I suppose after Tobi's antics where he appeared to be a fraidy-cat, Sasuke just didn't overly concern himself with him. Woops, bad call.

Suddenly, he found himself standing on very precious ground, indeed! Clay mines hidden everywhere! (Tobi definitely seems adept at earth jutsus.) Now Sasuke didn't even have an option to move anywhere without getting blown up. Cool. That wasn't what I expected from Tobi's declaration of "that" last chapter, I did like it - very clever strategy, and one of the first instances of real Akatsuki teamwork we've seen in the entire series. No wonder they tolerated each other.

And then something I didn't expect, happened. Sasuke did have to go into full Cursed Seal Level 2 mode! This was when the battle became vastly more interesting for me. I figured that Sasuke must have been good if he thought he was ready to meet Itachi now, and he did take Orochimaru down with relative ease. But Deidara just proved, no matter what the result of this battle may be, that Sasuke still had some work to do if he truly hoped to be completely ready. He wasn't invincible. Yet.

And here I was thinking that Sasuke was going to walk all over Deidara. That didn't happen, obviously! Good thing I didn't make a bet on it.

Then Sasuke's wings started to hover, which alarmed Deidara. There was some question on the forums about whether Sasuke could fly or not, and seems like Deidara was wondering himself, too. So to keep Sasuke grounded... he blew up one of his wings. WTF...!???

This battle was definitely NOT going the way I had thought it would.

That's why I enjoyed it so much though. Sure, Sasuke did finally regain the advantage by jumping onto his sword and slicing one of the C2 dragon's wings off, managing to catch Deidara's arms with his giant Shurikens (that wasn't very well explained, though) and sending him into what seemed to be a fiery explosive death. But you still had to know that Sasuke was going to be probably more than a little shaken by this confrontation. Well, I reckon that's why he formed a team to help him out in the first place, though.

One of Kishimoto's finest depicted battles in the series so far. He was really on top of his game in this one.

Rating: 5/5

359: その眼...!!
10. Those Eyes..!!


So Deidara escaped the explosion, eh? At first, I was wondering how he did that, then I noticed the bird he was riding. Must have been a last-minute clay bird conjuration to bring him afloat. That was some fast seal-making, Dei, o' boy! (And boy it is - it's too obvious here that he's indeed a male without his cloak. Sorry, Zarosaki!)

Nice touch by Kishimoto, too, to show how the snakes came from Sasuke. Guess that's how they manifested themselves from Orochimaru and Anko as well. Weird jutsu, but I guess Orochimaru did like snakes. At least Sasuke did learn something new from him. (I'm still waiting for Naruto to exhibit another jutsu that only Jiraiya knows.)

Tobi sure has a very unstable personality. He went from mourning Deidara respectfully the other chapter when he had thought his senpai had died, and in this one, he actually mocked him after thinking the exact same thing! "I told you you'd die in an explosion! Stupid senpai!" Funny, though.

Uh-oh. It's flashback time. You all know what that means. Well, I guess we all knew it was going to be Deidara's final fight, probably.

I was surprised by his initation into the Akatsuki, though. I think we had all thought that people actually fought to be inside the organization! Turns out it's actually the reverse, they were forced into it!

Must have been what happened to Sasori, as well. Somebody probably beat him in order to make him join, too. And I'm willing to beat that is what happened to Hidan and Kakuzu as well. And what about Itachi? Hmmm! Well, that certainly supports the argument that Itachi may not have wanted to join the Akatsuki, much less massacre his clan. Was he honor-bound, somehow, because of a defeat he once suffered...?

Besides that, though, the flashback didn't really reveal much that we didn't already know - other than that Itachi beat Deidara almost effortlessly with his genjutsu powers. I'm still betting on the fact that Itachi is still stronger than Sasuke in that respect.

Well, there was also the part that Deidara actually had a grudge against Itachi, and anybody with the Sharingan in general. No wonder he was so eager to meet Itachi's younger brother to test whether he had gotten stronger or not against the Sharingan! He probably didn't actually care a damn thing about Orochimaru - he probably just used that as an excuse! And also, that explained why he was so familiar with Kakashi - even though he didn't seem to be that interested in him at the time. Must have been too focused on capturing Naruto at the time.

Another amazing chapter and what a way to end a volume!

Rating: 5/5

OVERALL VOLUME RATING: 4.3

Chapter 360 Review will come out on Sunday or Monday Tuesday or Wednesday. See you then! In the meanwhile, feel free to post any comments. :)

Credits:

All Edited Mangas used in this review were by Japflap.

Fan Colorings used in Images:
Chapter 351 Karin Cover by Vhea
Chapter 352 Page 16-17 Itachi by Dralaquan
Chapter 356 Tobi by Vhea
Chapter 356 Page_09 Naruto by Kyubisharingan
Chapter 356 Page 16 Sasuke by GrrGrr
Chapter 356 Tobi & Deidara by MasterX
Chapter 356 Kabutoke by Sarutobikun
Chapter 357 Deidara Cover by Andraga
Chapter 357 Colored Dragon C2 by PsyKhoWolF
Chapter 359 Page 04 Deidara by Gaara
Chapter 359 Page 12-13 Itachi by Amaretti
 
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