Naruto Shippuden
Episode 386

by Amy McNulty,

Naruto Shippūden apparently wants to make sure that no one could have any questions left regarding Obito's life story. Episode 386 is another flashback focusing on young Obito as present-day Obito and Naruto continue to stare each other down in the telepathic void. The episode gets points deducted immediately for continuing the trend of totally halting the fight's momentum. Still, if you can accept that the series has a penchant for filler—and if you've watched this many episodes, you already have—you can think of this as watching part of an Obito miniseries.

The problem is, the flashback through Obito's life isn't interesting enough to justify this in-depth examination now, moments before he's sure to be defeated. At the very least, the animation doesn't suffer in this episode. There's plenty of movement and comic action as Obito and his friends take the Chūnin exam. It's never boring, although flat-as-cardboard Rin is painful to watch. (Even Naruto himself didn't have a cheerleader girl with no personality in his life.)

Talented young Kakashi makes for better viewing, although his perverted and laidback adult self is more fun to spend time with. Obito himself is the strongest draw here. Remember when "Tobi" was a funny villain? We understand why after spending so much time with goofy young Obito. However, his way-too-obvious correlation to Naruto—the two are practically copies of one another as youngsters—means we're just retreading the same ground. After all the flashbacks and clip shows showcasing Naruto's youth, we've all had enough of plucky, clumsy, hardworking young ninjas.

What little time we spend in the present showcases Naruto at his angriest—which isn't that angry—trying to talk Obito out of his pursuit of evil. It sounds laughable, but Naruto's actually succeeded in doing that before with Pain. The hurt in Obito's eyes as Naruto reminds him of who he once was is moving, and Naruto just may be on the verge of a counseling breakthrough.

Whether Naruto will wind up successfully talking Obito down or there will be one last detour battle hurrah before we move on to the next villain remains to be seen. The next episode's preview includes even more flashbacks to Obito's past, so we may not find out anytime soon. Naruto fans are no strangers to filler, and you can bemoan how they bring the canon story to a halt at the animators' whims or you can learn to accept them.

If the entire episode focused on the Naruto and Obito present-day talking showdown, it might be a snooze-fest. As it stands, the episode is good for a couple chuckles and a dash of emotional poignancy. It's an obvious play for more episodes before the animators have to say farewell to the arc, but it does an adequate job of entertaining.

Rating: C+

Naruto Shippūden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for nearly two decades.


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