Naruto Shippuuden 221 – 222 Breakdown: All is fair in love and war, or is it?
Voices… soft and desperate whisper in the darkness, a distant cry of pain and sorrow, a calling of mercy and compassion ruthlessly denied.
A cold tremble, a fallen tear, rasped breaths raked with fear soon give way to tormented screams, and the darkness and shadow succumb to the cries of a thousand innocents. The blackness is painted with a deep scarlet and the air around you is choked with the vile stench of death.
You feel your heart thrashing madly against your chest, as if trying to escape a tormenting prison. Your gaze becomes lost in the infinite shadow that has now engulfed your entire being and your body becomes numb with an icy chill. You can feel the warmth of blood flowing down your hands, starkly contrasting against the prickly cold of your skin, gathering into sticky drops at the end of your fingertips – the cruel evidence of the many lives you have ruthlessly denied an existence.
And then, suddenly, you feel the air rushing back into your burning lungs and the taint of darkness that covers your vision quickly falls away. You look down the earth bellow you, only to see the lifeless eyes of your victim gazing coldly back up at you, his face laced with sorrow and regret. You blink away the warm evidence of tears gathering at the back of your eyes, you take another deep breath and retrieve the sword that was plunged into the heart of your foe.
You don’t spare a moment to wipe away the blood. There is no time for honor or compassion. The day is not over yet and there were many lives yet still to claim.
Yes I know, it was one of my strange intros again. I guess when I feel moved by a certain theme, I tend to get carried away with the writing side of things. But, I suppose with the Fourth Great Shinobi War now on the horizon, I wanted to portray what might have been an experience through the eyes – or perhaps even the soul – of someone on the battlefield.
How would they feel? What would they hear, touch, taste or smell? Would they be able to discern reality from a dream, or would they simply be lost in the chaos of their own, turbulent emotions?
What we are dealing with in our current episodes, however, is not a war, but rather, a look at the preparations that precede a war. It’s the calm before the storm. The serene quiet that embodies the peak of a snowy mountain, before the first shift of ice gives way to a raging avalanche. Allies are united, enemies begin to move in the darkness and a shadow starts to engulf the entire world in the suffocating grip of despair.
In our first episode out of our double featurette – after a small glimpse of Kabuto’s own ventures – we are bought back to Naruto, who is still in the council of the Great Elder Toad Sage where he is contemplating the possible consequences of acquiring the key that could release the beast within him that has largely tormented his life in one way or another.
What I found interesting about this particular scene was the flashbacks involved. Now, I know that in most cases, the very mention of the word “flashback” sends Narutards running for the hills, but because these particular flashbacks involve Jiraiya – a character we all know and loved – they are somehow pleasing to watch. The fact that these are the only moments we get to see our favorite ero sennin anymore makes them that much more alluring.
It was also interesting to gain a bit more insight into Naruto’s training regime to control the Kyuubi’s chakra, even if the results were a little less than pleasant.
It’s the kind of filler content you don’t mind seeing, and it brings us back to those moments shared between student and teacher that instilled the values in Naruto that he still carries with now, long after Jiraiya’s death. The lessons instilled through Jiraiya’s words are quite interesting to listen to and the way he manages to convince Naruto to keep trying despite all the odds stacked against him, form a nice bridge to our current scene, where it is those very words that eventually push our orange-clad jinchuuriki to stepping forward.
After realising that the Kyuubi’s power was entrusted to him not only by his father, but also by his mentor as well, Naruto decides to take the plunge and accept the responsibility of controlling the very power that had hurt his loved ones on more than one occasion in the past.
It’s too bad he never developed a taste for French cuisine.
Vive la France…
Besides Naruto’s culinary mishaps, another scene that most would have found intriguing would be Kabuto’s appearance in front of Madara and his subsequent performance using Edo Tensei. I’m sure we are all wondering who the final summon is that has Tobi so worried, but the anime – unfortunately – doesn’t give us many more visual clues as to who might be in the last mystery coffin than the manga does.
It’s anyone’s guess as to who, or what, has Tobi so anxious.
All in all, episode 221 was everything one could hope for in a Naruto episode. It was intriguing, it had fairly good pacing, and the extra content, although filler in nature, was good enough to satisfy.
Unfortunately, its numerical brother did not fare quite as well.
For one thing, the filler content contained therein was far less endearing than that which came before. One particular scene that made the bile rise in me throat was one that involved Sakura being shown a few pictures of some grizzly deaths by another medical ninja who was clearly experienced in war, and her reaction was – to me – a bit exaggerated to say the least.
I find it stupid that a shinobi who witnessed the destruction of Konoha and who was working in a medical ward tending to ghastly injuries at the time, some which must have eventually lead to deaths, would suddenly become squeamish over a few photos.
But what really took the cake was where she actually took the time to consider who she would save first between Sasuke and Naruto if both of them were inured on the battlefield at the same time. Let me help you a little there Sakura….
Sasuke: Is an enemy of the world, an avenger who wants to destroy Konoha and someone who tried to kill you, your teammates and your sensei on more than one occasion, and is someone who would probably kill you right after you heal him anyway. (For a reference, see Karin).
Naruto: Has remained loyal to you even after Sasuke deserted your team, has put his life on the line to save you countless times even at the cost of his own safety, bore the burden of a lifelong promise for you and has saved you from above psychopathic killer as well. On top of all that, you poisoned him and nearly killed him, so you owe it to him.
It’s such a hard decision, you know. <_<
Besides that awful moment, there are a lot of pointless scenes strung together by pointless banter, with ultimately pointless outcomes. There are also some very disturbing deviations from cannon, such as a scene that involves the Raikage suggesting to Tsunade that he had planned for Bee to train Naruto all along. That one really made my stomach churn.
All-in-all, episode 212 is not as good as its predecessor, but it is saved by a few deeper moments that, although fleeting, help bring some depth back into it. In particular, a discussion between Shikamaru and Chouji about the upcoming war managed to be quite involving. Ultimately, however, this is an episode that could quite safely be given a miss.
I guess that’s it from me for now.
Starting from the next episode, we have a new filler arc making its way to our screens. Let’s hope it is at least as good as the 6-tails filler arc and not as cumbersome as some of the more dreary fillers we have had before. We can only hope, right?
In any case, here is last week’s caption contest winner.
4th) Thelaughingwiseman: And that’s how the theory of quantum mechanics inversion square root diminutive intra-dimensional phi-collateral time travel was solved!
3rd) Eugen: So your saying that if I concentrate really hard I can see Chuck Norris ???”
2nd) Jeniffer Uzumaki: Frog: What do you see, Naruto? Naruto: Llama’s entering a portal to their world! =D
Well done to everyone. There were quite a few good ones, but there can only be one winner.
As for this week’s screen, I guess we’ll play on the theme of that French kiss gone wrong.
Let’s see where you guys take this one.
Of course, for those who like to see it, here is the preview for the next episode.
See you all in the comments. ^ ^