Naruto Shippuden
Episode 378

by Amy McNulty,

Two weeks ago, one of the best Naruto Shippūden episodes in recent memory ended with a bang. Obito transformed, taking the Ten Tails into himself and becoming the most powerful Jinchūriki. Fans had to wait with bated breath while a special promoting the new Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution video game aired last week instead. If you long for the series' more lighthearted days or Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals, last week's humor-centric episode wasn't such a bad excursion. If, however, you prefer the ninja-on-ninja-on-tailed-beast action, episode 378 should prove more to your liking.

The majority of the episode showcases the four reanimated Hokages' attempts to attack the sluggish, new-to-Jinchūriki-ism Obito. Naruto and Sasuke throw in an attack or two—and simpleminded, pure-hearted Naruto forgets for a bit that the back-from-the-dead Hokages are in little danger as they test the waters of this fight. Will throwing down sealing gates subdue the beast? Will tossing cloned giant shuriken take him down? Will a teleportation attack give him a run for his money? This early into the Ten Tails Jinchūriki fight, it's probably not hard to guess the singular answer to all of these questions.

The most interesting aspect of this episode is watching Obito slowly evolve and come into his own as a new Jinchūriki. He goes through several forms as he attacks and counterattacks, but his emotional presence is muted. There's a hint he's still "there" beneath the new form—long-time fans know it always comes back to his childhood crush Rin—but he doesn't have much to say otherwise. This episode focuses on the physical battle without much introspection on what led Obito to this point, but we've gone over that already anyway. Obito is no longer who he once was—at least for now.

There's no humor at all here. Serious episodes in the past have managed to toss in a bit of comedy to lighten the mood, but this one focuses on the wrong characters for that. That's not altogether a bad or unexpected thing—episode 375 pulled off action without humor divinely—but when the episodes start dragging, the seriousness is a drawback.

The pacing in episode 378 is noticeably slow, as still shots linger for several beats too long. Too many characters ask obvious questions. There's too much commentary in general, probably because it eats up screen time where characters don't have to be shown moving. We get it. Even the most powerful established attacks from the most powerful Konoha ninja in history won't suffice. The Ten Tails Jinchūriki is the strongest foe Naruto and company have yet faced, and if shōnen tropes are any indication, Naruto and Sasuke will have to come up with something new to defeat him by the skin of their teeth. Viewers can accept that it's going to take several episodes, but we don't have to be overjoyed with the lingering stills and slow pacing. Here's hoping the conclusion of this episode is an indicator that the Obito battle will prove more kinetic next time.

Rating: C+

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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