Naruto Shippuden
Episode 393

by Amy McNulty,

The Tailed Beasts have been free of the Ten Tails for just a few episodes before Madara pulled them back inside. This time, he even secures the actual Gyūki and Kurama, who previously managed to stay inside Killer Bee and Naruto due to some complex reasoning: something about having part of Eight Tails' body and part of Kurama's chakra being enough to summon Ten Tails before. Now that Madara has control over every Beast, Ten Tails ought to pose a greater threat than ever, but the episode doesn't do much to build the large-scale threat, instead focusing on individual characters retreating, attacking Madara and reacting to the events unfolding.

From start to finish, episode 393 is well-paced. There are no instances of obnoxiously static movement or obtrusively long flashbacks. However, the action is still limited, and Madara grandstands for a time in the tradition of most villains. While not as grating as Obito's incessant whining about Rin, Madara's proselytizing is by-the-books and doesn't teach us anything new about the character.

The episode tries to be engaging. Not one, but two major characters are in mortal peril, almost as if these two best-frenemies share a similar fate in a nod to the recurring theme of best-frenemies being at the center of everything in this series. However, as usual, the threat of character death is virtually meaningless in Naruto Shippūden. Not just because so many characters have been brought back from the dead, but because of who these characters are. Is the story going to end long before they've had a chance to finally work out their issues with each other, as they die at the hands of Madara? No way. You don't have to know a thing about the rest of the manga to figure that out.

It's refreshing to see Orochimaru, Karin, Suigetsu and Jūgo back in the spotlight, if only for a few moments. Unfortunately, they don't do much other than emphasize the peril their comrade has found himself in. Orochimaru hints to having something up his sleeve, some reason for staying and not retreating while everyone's distracted, but as with the rest of the episode, it's just part of a build up to something bigger, some more exciting event that may occur in the future.

The episode is notably lacking in humor, but humor wouldn't have been appropriate considering the sense of tension the show is trying to convey when it comes to the two characters' fates. Nevertheless, since there's no way the show will succeed in tricking the audience into thinking either character might die just yet, humor might have helped to liven up the proceedings. Unlike Obito or Orochimaru, Madara has never shown himself to have a sense of humor, which makes him a duller villain. (However, he's still more threatening and palatable than Obito after he went full-on emo.) It would have been nice for Orochimaru and his crew to break up the seriousness instead of feeding into it.

A thoroughly necessary if unremarkable episode, Naruto Shippūden episode 393 tries to toy with viewers' emotions but fails to exhibit a real sense that characters are in danger. Adequately paced and free from overlong flashbacks, there's nothing particularly disagreeable about the episode. It's simply not as gripping as it intends to be.

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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