Naruto Shippuden
Episode 379

by Amy McNulty,

Naruto Shippūden 379 isn't a bad episode by any means. However, it's not memorable, either. When it comes to long battles, it's not unusual for a series to go through lulls. Shōnen anime frequently rely on fights that last several episodes to effectively convey the toughness of their latest opponent. So long as the end of the episode brings us a little closer to a resolution, viewers will be satisfied.

This episode, Hashirama battles Madara via giant wooden-golem-and-dragon combo versus perfected-Mangekyō-Sharingan spirit beast Susanoo. Tobirama, Minato, Sasuke and Naruto take on Obito's newly-perfected Ten Tails jinchūriki form. On occasion, a nameless face or a secondary character comments on the action. By the end of the episode, Naruto and Tobirama make some progress thanks largely to Gamakichi's farewell attack, which highlights a potential weakness.

The pacing is significantly improved from last week's episode. While still relying on stylistic attack shots that don't illustrate the minutiae of hand-to-hand combat, there aren't many lingering stills, either. The inclusion of humor is also an improvement from last week. While the jokes won't have you rolling in the aisles, they do break up the seriousness of the episode effectively. No sooner do you think the show is taking itself too seriously—Minato's ridiculously long technique names, for example—than the show itself comments on the point. (Tobirama manages to make a number of effective jabs at the father-son silliness Minato and Naruto share.)

Last episode, most of the dialogue centered on repeating obvious points or asking obvious questions. This time, that role is relegated to the side characters, who didn't even appear last episode. It's not as intrusive as it was in the previous episode, but when a nameless character remarks that they're all useless when it comes to a fight of this level, he's right. Of course the show will keep its focus on the major characters, but you have to wonder if Naruto Shippūden misses out a little on its grand scale potential. What's the point of making a world with so many ninjas if 40,000 shinobi—half of the number that started in the Fourth Shinobi World War—died mostly off-screen after the first day? The creator was no doubt trying to paint the war on a grand scale, but compared to characters like Naruto, the Kage and Sasuke, the 40,000 remaining ninja are as helpful as ants.

There's no emotional impact at their passing, and all they ever do is get in the way. At the start of the fight with Madara and Obito, before Obito became a jinchūriki, the series seemed to be building to something. Naruto shared his chakra with the army around him, and it could have been the start of something grand. It was nice while it lasted. Now, some episodes later, the crowd is largely superfluous. At the very least, it would be refreshing to see the secondary characters we've come to love be given something more important to do. Then again, that would make the battles drag on even longer. I'd still prefer to see them doing something, though, even if it's just holding hands and singing "Kumbaya" to cheer on Naruto and Sasuke.

Rating: B

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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