Naruto Shippuden
Episode 492

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 492 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

Shikamaru's Story enters its endgame this week, as the source of Gengo's mysterious power is finally revealed. Now that everything is out in the open, this arc's master villain doesn't seem quite as menacing as the rumors made him out to be, but he's certainly a unique antagonist if nothing else. Based on what transpires this week, it's hard to imagine the big showdown will be anything world-shattering, but I'm looking forward to seeing what a final battle between two master strategists looks like.

Things aren't looking for good for Shikamaru and company. With Soku and Ro both under Gengo's spell, the charismatic despot tries in vain to recruit Shikamaru, going so far as to reveal the source of his power. It turns out Gengo's words aren't the only thing helping him win over rogue ninja—he's also using a special type of hypnotic flower that helps draw out painful memories. After Shikamaru fails to dispatch his target, Gengo makes his escape, leaving the brainwashed Sai, Ro, and Soku to take out their former comrade. However, just when all seems lost, Ino, Choji, and Temari arrive on the scene to lend a hand. This frees Shikamaru up to pursue Gengo and dispel his powerful genjutsu once and for all.

Since this story's main character is a strategist, much of the “fighting” this week involves mental gymnastics. For example, after being imprisoned in the Land of Silence, Shikamaru staves off boredom by playing shogi matches against the game's masters in his head. Even when considering the best course of action to take against Gengo, his mind goes directly to shogi, prompting him to envision himself as a knight piece. Leaving the fisticuffs to Temari and the other two-thirds of Team Asuma ultimately frees Shikamaru up to do what he does best: strategize. True to character, Shikamaru is able to keep his cool throughout the entire ordeal, even when he's at an obvious disadvantage.

After being built up this entire arc, Gengo is a disappointment of a villain. He makes some good points about the unfair manner in which shinobi are treated in this world, as well as the harm caused to smaller countries by the Five Great Nations, but there doesn't appear to be much depth to his proselytizing. Unlike other prominent Naruto villains, his lack of a backstory makes him difficult to emphasize with, and despite his lofty ambitions, the character speaks and acts with such little passion that he almost seems brainwashed himself—which might actually make for a cool twist.

Watching how Shikamaru will outwit his latest opponent is always a highlight of episodes that focus on the genius strategist. However, given what we saw this week, it doesn't seem like Gengo will prove much of a match for the Leaf's finest tactician. With Sai, Soku, and Ro still brainwashed and the master villain at large, hopefully the final battle will be able to surpass expectations.

Rating: B-

Naruto Shippūden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.


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