Naruto Shippuden
Episode 405

by Amy McNulty,

Tenten's mini arc comes to a close this week, and although the episode adheres to many of the same conventions as the previous two arcs, it features its own distinctive twists. Trapped beneath caved-in ancient runes with Ajisai, the Hidden Rain kunoichi who was her foe just moments before, Tenten quickly gets the young woman to agree to a truce until they find a way out of their mutual predicament. Meanwhile, on the surface, Neji and Lee form a temporary alliance with the other Hidden Rain kunoichi, even stepping in between them and some fellow (nameless) Hidden Leaf ninja.

As was the case with Lee and Shira, Ajisai's style of ninjutsu is conveniently similar to Tenten's: she, too, can summon items and trap them in another dimension, only she uses cards instead of scrolls. (She can also summon one mean-looking panda, which Tenten can't do.) After tag-teaming a horde of giant ants, the pair discovers that their only exit to the surface is blocked. Ajisai doesn't have enough chakra to spirit away all of the debris into her cards, so she encourages Tenten to believe in herself and take over. Since the homicidal panda can't hold off the ants much longer, Tenten doesn't have much choice. However, instead of sucking the debris into another dimension, Tenten summons a deluge of water, enough to destroy the blockage and float the two of them to safety.

These fillers serve as prime opportunities for the producers to not only showcase the secondary characters we see so little of in the main narrative, but also to expand on the backstories of various bit players. It's been a while, so fans would be forgiven if they didn't recognize her, but Ajisai is one of Nagato's Six Paths of Pain—meaning she dies shortly after her appearance here. The clear hero worship she displays during her flashbacks makes her fate all the more intriguing. The tears in her rain-soaked eyes illustrate how she believes so whole heartedly in Pain's vision for her village. She even calls Konan "Lady Angel." Does she volunteer to become a corpse for the technique? While that would be a shocking storyline, it's not necessarily true—she could just die in battle and Akatsuki makes the most of it—but she'd clearly be happy with her fate postmortem.

Episode 405 is a by-the-books tale of a young ninja regaining her confidence, but the ruinous setting and the moment of triumph hinging not on a successful attack in battle but a successful summon sets Tenten's story apart from the other two so far. Summoning a great body of water is the perfect metaphor for drawing on a large amount of chakra. At first, she doesn't succeed, but when faced with a life-or-death situation, Tenten is able to tap into her true inner strength. The two-episode arc sets a good precedent for the similar arcs sure to follow, as it looks like Sakura's up next week.

Rating: B+

Naruto Shippuden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

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