Naruto Shippuden Episode 432
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 432 of
Naruto Shippūden ?
It's getting repetitive to point out how this anime-original content has failed to understand the purpose of the "dream world" virtually every week since the Infinite Tsukuyomi fillers began—but that continues to be the case. The Infinite Tsukuyomi was touted as a technique that would send every living being to its respective paradise. The source of the Fifth's inner turmoil was revealed some time ago: the loss of her Naruto-like little brother Nawaki and her lover Dan, who both aspired to become Hokage. So it's natural to assume that her ideal world would involve being married to Dan and enjoying a close relationship with a grown-up Nawaki, and one of these two men would be Hokage. No one on earth would have guessed that Tsunade's dream-come-true would revolve around reading Jiraiya's final (unpublished) manuscript about a world in which Naruto's parents lived to raise him.
I get it. Continuously seeing worlds where everything went the characters' way would get stale fast. (However, since most of the ideal worlds involve battling villains, these episodes needn't be entirely free of conflict.) Plus, Naruto couldn't dream of his own ideal world since he's not under the spell of the Infinite Tsukuyomi, so someone else would have to. Why Tsunade? Perhaps Hinata would have been a better choice, because she would have wanted Naruto to be happy. The screenwriters were clearly more interested in presenting a visual representation of Jiraiya's novel than creating a genuine dream world for Tsunade.
With a premise that revolves around a character dreaming about reading a novel, this week's Naruto Shippūden seems to be channeling Inception, creating a framing device within a framing device. To further complicate matters, the fictionalized versions of familiar characters in the manuscript flash back to events that occurred in actual canon. There's at least three levels of meta at work here.
The bizarre framing of this story notwithstanding, the episode stands well enough on its own. Despite his parents being alive and well, Naruto is still unsatisfied with his life (although probably less so) because he gets special treatment for being the Hokage's son. The villagers still look down on him for being Kurama's host container, but they settle for muttering behind his back instead of showing outright hostility. Oddly, Naruto's mother Kushina, Kurama's other container, doesn't seem to have been subjected to the same passive-aggressive ostracization. Although the Uchiha clan was never wiped out, Sasuke remains cold and standoffish, though not quite as much as usual. Since this is fiction within fiction within fiction, it's forgivable, but it still feels off. It's long been established that Sasuke was a happy kid until his brother wiped out his clan. Here, the perpetual chip on his shoulder stems from jealousy over perceived nepotism on Naruto's part.
This week's Naruto Shippūden features an overly complicated framing device and doesn't really make sense according to the rules of the Infinite Tsukuyomi. I'm willing to acknowledge that the episode stands well on its own, but it's hard to ignore the flagrant disregard for established plot points. If you can get past the unconventional setup, episode 432 does a passable job of creating a world in which Naruto didn't experience so many hardships. Still, that idea isn't entirely original, since it was a focal point of Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie. The latest dream world arc is reasonably entertaining, but it's easy to see it wearing out its welcome if it continues past next week.
Naruto Shippūden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for two decades.
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