Naruto Shippuden
Episode 387

by Amy McNulty,

If there's one thing Naruto Shippūden makes clear, it's that long-running arcs aren't served well by frequent side stories wedged into the wrong places. Flashbacks and fillers can entertain, but they work best between arcs of the overall story. Even though there are smaller arcs within this overall larger one, the end is at hand, and the next arc will be a direct continuation of these events. Sticking multiple episodes of Obito's backstory right before the climax of his role as the ultimate villain is not working well. All the momentum built up over the rest of the Obito fight was lost several episodes ago.

When that climax finally occurs, more or less, it's stuffed between even more flashbacks. Will Naruto finally sway Obito or won't he? The episode plays on our expectations at a slow pace until Naruto finally triumphs, and we see the most action we've seen in the Fourth Shinobi World War in quite a few episodes. However, that action quickly screeches to a halt for more focus on Obito's youth. Everything you needed to know about Obito—he was a lot like Naruto, but he chose a darker path—was established long ago. These segues into his life as a young ninja do little to add to his character or the overall story. Obito can't go for one moment of screentime without bemoaning the loss of Rin, but he's lost all sympathy through repetition and stubbornness.

At the very least, we see Kakashi back in action again as he emerges from the stark, alternate dimension where we saw him last. However, his anger shifts into calmly discussing Obito's past and delivering some predictable lines about Naruto's strength of character. The episode is peppered with shorter flashbacks to other moments in the series too, as if the obvious ploy to delay the end of Naruto Shippūden wasn't apparent enough.

The reappearance of the individual Tailed Beasts is promising for future episodes. Incredibly powerful, dynamic onscreen, and occasionally even humorous, the Tailed Beasts could help turn the tide of the war. (Madara, absent as he has been for weeks, is Naruto's next target.) The moment where Naruto's friends and the rest of the nameless shinobi rip the beasts free of Obito is visually striking and demonstrates the need for the crowd to begin with. They work better when given some task instead of simply serving as panic-stricken lookalike casualties waiting to happen.

Naruto Shippūden 387 is equal parts riveting and tedious, as a clumsy concoction of the progress we've been waiting for wedged in between more flashbacks. If more of the episode had focused on the final few moments of the Obito fight, it might have been among the better episodes as of late. However, its emphasis on flashbacks to Obito's youth, particularly scenes we've seen before, detracts from the overall enjoyment.

Rating: C

Naruto Shippūden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

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