Naruto Shippuden
Episode 430

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 430 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

Killer Bee's Infinite Tsukuyomi storyline reaches its climax this week as viewers are left to wonder how many more characters will receive the dream world treatment. (Since Karin appears to be the next character showcased, it's evident that even sub-secondary players will have their personal utopias put on display.) Like Tenten's arc, Bee's is framed with short scenes of him being absorbed by the Divine Tree in the real world. Seeing Bee cackle to himself as he sleeps comfortably in his cocoon helps create an air of spookiness, but aside from that, his juxtaposition scenes are pretty much the same as Tenten's.

The objective of Bee's dream adventure is to protect Princess Rappu, a figment of the rapping shinobi's childlike imagination. The nature of her power is never explained, and her face is never revealed. Since the princess's powers are diminished by the full moon, the baddie's plan is to kill her on the next full moon and release the seal to the Ten Tails. To prevent this from happening, Bee gathers his fellow jinchūriki and heads for Rappu Palace.

Out of the dream world stories we've seen thus far, episode 430 does the best job of creating a distinctly dream-like atmosphere from start to finish. Aspects of the story that could arguably be attributed to poor screenwriting actually kind of work, since dreams seldom unfold in a narratively logical manner. At one point, Itachi randomly abandons the Akatsuki after Naruto informs him that Sasuke is hot on his trail. This causes Deidara and Sasori to flee, allowing Bee and his companions to claim victory without any real effort. Additionally, the side-plot about Orochimaru kidnapping children from a quaint farming village is never truly resolved.

The Pokémon allusions are more pronounced this week as well. Each jinchūriki can release his or her chibi-fied tailed beast and command it to grow to Godzilla-esque proportions. The featured villains are comically inept—especially Orochimaru and Kabuto—screaming about how they'll win "next time" as they exit. The Orochimaru and Kabuto scenes in particular feel like something out of Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals. Overall, it's a lighthearted take on what the Naruto world might be if the jinchūriki were Pokémon trainers.

Aesthetically, this episode is a step-up from last week's installment, which featured wildly inconsistent artwork and surreally off-model characters. (Maybe that was part of Bee's dream, too?) Unfortunately, the show's typical animation shortcuts remain all too noticeable. For example, each time a jinchūriki unleashes an elemental technique, the audience is shown a gorgeous still shot of the attack instead. It hints at something that could have been epic, but since animation is a motion-driven medium, it stands out like a sore thumb.

Setting aside the lack of motion, the visuals are this episode's highlight. From the grandiose Rappu Palace to the jinchūriki striking overblown heroic poses, there's a lot of cool imagery. It's fun to watch the nine jinchūriki act like a Power Rangers-style sentai team when going up against the Akatsuki. Dream world or not, this really is the first time we've seen them all fight together. Seeing all the tailed beasts lined up alongside one another is just the icing on the cake.

Killer Bee's journey to Dream Land isn't without its moments, but this mini-arc is largely forgettable. The Pokémon approach to tailed beasts makes for an interesting alternate worldview, and since Bee has such a close relationship with his beast, he's the perfect character to headline these episodes. However, like Tenten's story, the setting doesn't truly seem like the star character's utopia. For instance, wouldn't Bee's ideal world involve him landing a recording contract? Based on what we've seen, it seems like the screenwriters are more concerned with crafting alternate versions of Naruto's world than tailoring these settings to fit the dreamers' personalities.

Rating: B

Naruto Shippūden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

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