Naruto Shippuuden 174 Breakdown. Changing the story.
And so we finally come to this, the end of many things both bitter and sweet. As the Pein invasion arch slowly comes to its finale, a new story of hope and understanding begins in the life of Naruto, who is, for the first time, finally beginning to understand the true nature of the hatred that has gripped the world of shinobi.
The only question is, will it be a fitting end?
Hello everyone and welcome to another weekly Naruto anime breakdown. It’s Tenrai Senshi here again bringing you the goods and, thankfully for all of us, good they are indeed. I am glad to report that the production quality we saw in the last episode has mostly carried over to this one as well and the result creates a feeling that is just as effectively poignant.
To start things off, I think that it is safe to say that a lot of comparisons will be drawn up between this episode and the manga, mostly because of the controversial nature with which this arc ended in the manga itself.
Some people felt that it was rushed and that it seemed somewhat unrealistic with the way Nagato suddenly and very abruptly, had a change of heart and started seeing things from Naruto’s point of view. Now that we have come to that very same moment in the anime, the moment where Naruto’s answer will sway Nagato’s heart and actions, all one can ask themselves is whether the anime improves on such an important scene.
The answer is, most pleasingly, yes.
I think one factor regarding the manga that plays a big role in how we perceive each moment that passes is that ever-prevalent, obscured sense of time. When one is reading the manga, time is a relative factor determined by the speed at which we read, or how we interpret each scene. We are given no real physical representation of its passing for the most part, so each individual may see it in a different way.
This may also cause some scenes to feel rushed or sudden, regardless of how many details they may contain. This is where the anime trumps the manga, in my opinion, because it can force a predominant sense of time through the pace at which each scene plays out. Long pauses, moments of silence, or even just a glimpse of the scenery, can all contribute to this subtle notion and it can even change the entire feel of a particular moment from the manga that was never conveyed with such a striking and yet subtle effect.
The way the music and pacing of this episode evoked such an thoughtful and emotional response was truly inspiring and it made this moment finally feel whole and complete. However, another factor that really made this episode feel special for me, was the sharp contrast shown between Naruto and Nagato’s choices, actions and beliefs even though both of their stories were ultimately very similar.
It’s really strange to see how two people who have both suffered through so much pain and loss in their lives, but who have also received a fleeting gift of love and faith, could both turn out so differently. Jiraiya entrusted Naruto and Nagato with his will to find peace and both of them had that will tested through pain and suffering, yet the outcome for either of them was so profoundly different.
One line regarding the search for peace from a younger and more exuberant Nagato in particular, caught my attention.
“There is something more important than the method. It is the power to believe in it.”
That is the definitive factor, right there, coming straight from the mouth of the very person who needed to heed that advice the most. The irony is saddening in a way and yet, it is there nonetheless. The truth is that, in the end, Nagato was simply unable to hold onto that faith that made him believe in a better, more peaceful future. He lost the ability to believe that people could ever change and in doing so, he also lost the ability to believe in himself and his own power to change the world. He also lost the ability to believe in Jiraiya, his own sensei and that is the single most pertinent reason why Naruto’s answer was so very important.
“I’m gonna believe in what Pervi sage believed in.”
Bonded by pain and bonded by love their sensei gave them both, I think Nagato, in this moment and through Naruto’s words, finally started realizing that there was truth in the hope that Jiraiya spoke of and that the evidence of such hope was standing right in front of him.
When Naruto recited the words from his sensei’s novel, of how he would find peace and seize it,I think it struck a cord deep within Nagato’s heart. The reason for that is simple, because those were the very words Nagato himself spoke to Jiraiya as a boy. They were the words that gave him a sense of hope and the ability to believe in a better future.
They were also the very words that built the foundation for Jiraiya’s own mission and would eventually filter down into Naruto as well.
The way the anime portrayed this scene and the way Nagato remembered back to the love his sensei had shared with him and his companions, made this moment feel more genuine and realistic, as apposed to feeling rushed and thoughtless. Even Nagato’s facial expressions and the emotions portrayed within were almost palpable. He was finally remembering who he once was and, in a way, what it meant to have faith.
However, even then, he still questioned it. He questioned Naruto on whether he would be able to guarantee that he would never change, that no matter what pain and hardships he faced, he would be able to hold onto that faith. However, in truth, I believe he was questioning himself as well, questioning his own choices and who he had become. His resolve was beginning to break apart slowly, piece by piece, even though he was trying his hardest to keep it together.
Perhaps he feared that having faith in Naruto would simply cause more grief and disappointment. Perhaps he feared that the boy would simply become the same monster he was now beginning to see himself as. However, Naruto was not unfamiliar with pain and sadness and it was his promise never to allow himself to be changed by it or to allow it to destroy him.
“If the hero should change, it’ll turn into another story.”
I believe these words hold more importance than many may realize, including Naruto himself. He was actually speaking more about himself when he mentioned ‘changing the hero’ and that if he allowed himself to stop believing simply because of the hardships in his life, then he would never achieve the happy ending he is looking for, but I think Nagato saw those words very differently.
Changing the hero, for Nagato, meant finally stepping down and placing his faith in in someone else for a change. He would give up his own methods to achieve peace and give Naruto a chance to take the leading role in his stead, essentially changing the hero and changing the outcome of the story. He had long since lost faith in his own ability to change the world, so by allowing Naruto to take up his charge, someone who still had the faith that he himself lacked, he would be allowing a glimmer of hope to exist after all. In the end, hope was more valuable than an empty dream clouded with the shadows of doubt.
“I think I shall believe in you, Naruto Uzumaki…”
And so we come to the end of this very deep and thought-provoking episode, as Nagato finally uses the last of his strength to create a new hope for the world, essentially fulfilling his own role in the prophecy that had been spoken long before.
It was an episode filled with a lot of heart and soul and definitely worth watching.
Next week will finally bring a close to this arc, so let’s hope it ends with a real bang that will redeem it from those few bad episodes that seemed to spoil it in a way. I hope you enjoyed this episode as much as I did, but let’s see what everyone else out there really thinks.
As for the new idea for the caption contest, it seems like no-one made any effort to follow up on that, so there are no winners from last weeks breakdown. There will also be no new caption contest this week, or any time in the near future for that matter, because hardly anyone follows it anymore and it is a time-consuming effort to keep it going for no reason.
Here is a preview for next week’s episode in the meantime. I hope you all enjoyed the breakdown!
Cheers! ^ ^