Naruto Shippuden
Episode 375

by Amy McNulty,

Naruto Shippūden 375 promised an epic "Kakashi vs. Obito" fight. (It's right there in the episode title.) Fans can rejoice—we get that, for the most part. Some episodes ago, Obito and Kakashi pulled each other into "Kamui's Dimension," an alternate world populated by gray boxes (okay…) and accessible via the Sharingan. Until that point, Kakashi used Kamui's Dimension rather cleverly to attack Obito in pieces, transporting part of his body to pummel Obito, who was partially in the other dimension and seemingly invulnerable during his attacks. Now it's just the place to get these two major players away from the rest of the action to focus on the one-on-one fight between them.

There are a few moments where the other characters, particularly Sasuke and Minato, display some impressive moves in their own fights back in the real world, but this episode's showstopper is in Kamui's Dimension. We get to see every punch, kick, jutsu and block—and it all flies by so fast on the screen in a mesmerizing dance, you almost have to re-watch the fight to see it all. A new flashback to Obito and Kakashi training as kids is artistically woven throughout the current fight, which is set to a melancholy, tension-building score.

The fight-to-end-all-fights between these two doesn't quite pay off with the hoped-for resolution, but by the end, episode 375 does propel Naruto Shippūden ahead with a pretty epic finale. (The preview for a lighter-hearted "special episode" next week that has nothing to do with the main story kind of takes the wind out of its sails, though.)

However, the gorgeousness of this episode's animation is a double-edged sword for the series as a whole. It's an example of the inconsistency in Naruto Shippūden's design and animation. As with many long-running series, different groups of animators focus on different episodes and it seems with Naruto Shippūden, there's a specific group that gets some of the "major battle" episodes and more of the budget. This episode, directed by fan-favorite Hiroyuki Yamashita, is one of the better animated ones.

That means the animation is more detailed and fluid, but there's also something just a little off about the designs. They don't look bad, per se, but they seem out of the ordinary compared to the majority of episodes. However, the trade off for "slightly strange-faced" characters is the almost film-worthy action that many fans want to see and would probably prefer if budget wasn't an issue. However, after this long, I'm partial to the more generic look when it's done well.

Episode 375 features exactly the type of battle Naruto Shippūden fans—or fans of any action anime—dream of. It's about two almost equally-matched former comrades going head to head, their skills exploding across the screen. There's none of that cheap "character throws a punch and jumps back" shortcut that most Naruto Shippūden episodes seem to take. Every turn of the head and every parry with a kunai is choreographed like in an action movie, only the animated format makes it seem faster and more fluid than anything you'd see in live-action. In other words, don't miss this episode. Even if you're not caught up, if you don't mind the spoilers, it's worth watching just to see the fast-paced action.

Rating: A

Naruto Shippuden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

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