What They Say:
Years ago at the Final Valley, Sasuke told Naruto about high-level shinobi being able to understand one another just by trading blows. Having become a high-level shinobi, Naruto is now able to understand Sasuke’s heart.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Naruto: Shippuden has been in an uncomfortable place the last few episodes as it’s spent a lot of time on flashbacks across different situations. These things have been quick to drain the energy from the show in a big way, especially when so many of the flashbacks are things we’ve seen repeatedly over the years that highlight the same moments, particularly the one with Sasuke and Naruto fighting just as he made his final decision to move on. That establishment of Naruto and Sasuke going back and forth with each other, with Naruto always intending to bring him back, is a good scene but we’ve seen it repeatedly. Sadly, this episode brings us to the newest incarnation of that scene as the two sides face off at the bottom of the valley again and Naruto plainly speaks to Sasuke that he will indeed bring him back home.
That comes after the majority of the first half is given over to various flashback scenes and the small talk that goes on between the two young men as they face each other down. Sasuke isn’t swayed but things are starting to get to him and there’s a tiredness to him at this point. When it does shift back to the reality of the situation, with Sasuke getting a quite save before things get too bad, it all suddenly quiets down. Having the two sides face off as they are, with no real sense of danger as they’re just talking to each other, certainly could be well done but the way that it goes back to simply reinforcing that Naruto will continue to chase after Sasuke is saddening, and that Sakura gets emotional over it all.
The final minutes of the episode is where things do start to move forward again, though not by much, as Sasuke just reinforces his plans while Naruto and his group try to regroup and figure out their next move now that everyone else has disappeared. All paths lead back to the Village of the Hidden Leaf though and it has a curious turn as they’re going to be bringing Karin back there as well. It does offer some potential with what she may become as a supporting character, or as a way of getting more information, but largely the episode ends on a bit of a downer with it coming across as just more of the same.
Long time fans of Naruto won’t be surprised by anything here but it is one of those moments where it all just gets tiring. We’ve seen it all before. There’s been a lead up to big events, a big confrontation, and it all just fizzles out because of execution and excessive flashbacks. Granted, there are less here than in the previous episode, but that’s not saying all that much. There shouldn’t be any flashbacks at this point because they’re not needed. A flashback at the start of the arc to prepare for it? Sure. A flashback in the midst of the confrontation that covers about an episode in length between the last two episodes? Not required. That this just reinforces the status quo only makes it all the less palatable.
Simulcast By: Crunchyroll
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.