Naruto Shippuden
Episode 391

by Amy McNulty,

The next stage of the Fourth Shinobi World War finally kicks off in Naruto Shippūden 391, although it takes a while to get the ball rolling. The first five minutes of this week's episode consist of a scene we saw at the tail end of the Obito confrontation, minus most (but not all) of the long flashbacks to Obito's youth. It's as if we're now seeing that segment paced as it would have been without all the filler and excessive stare downs. Perhaps if the scene had been paced this quickly the first time around, it would have kept the momentum going, but seeing the scene again so soon is just irritating.

After Obito finishes flashing back to the time he spent flashing back earlier, he finally decides to do the right thing. (Convenient, considering he's so battered and weak he can barely move, and Kakashi and Minato tell him that if he lives, he's going to pay for his crimes.) Unfortunately, his attempt to revive those who lost their lives in the war (consisting of very few characters we cared about) goes awry when Black Zetsu co-opts his Rinne Rebirth technique to revive Madara.

"Revive" the already-fighting Madara? This time, Madara is brought back to life for real, not as a reanimated zombie-like version of himself. You'd think staying immortal and reanimated would make more sense when trying to put the world under a jutsu, but he apparently needs to be flesh and blood to become the Ten Tails' jinchūriki—which was his plan ever since he took Obito under his wing and set him down the path of evil. Now that Obito's stint as the Ten Tails' jinchūriki has ended in failure, Madara's original plan is back on track. There's something about Black Zetsu being Madara's "will" in there too. As a whole, the episode's revelations are convoluted and the story demands you pay close attention or get left behind.

While not packed to the brim with action, there are a couple of short bursts of combat to dance onscreen, giving viewers a taste of what makes better episodes stand out. Sasuke attempts to take Madara down on his own, and the two roll around to attack and parry in smooth, fluid animation. If only more of the episode were devoted to battles of this caliber, this week's entry could have been more engaging.

While viewers can breathe a sigh of relief that the series is finally progressing, Naruto Shippūden 391 suffers from more laggard pacing and overly complicated explanations tossed out one after another. To an extent, this can be forgiven since it's the start of a new arc. Moving forward, the producers will hopefully work on some of the pacing issues that have plagued recent episodes. If not, the rest of the series will consist of the same "stop and go" momentum that ultimately hurt the Obito battle.

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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