Naruto Shippuden
Episode 433

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 433 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

This week's Naruto Shippūden repeats the odd framework from last week: in Tsunade's dream, she reads Jiraiya's final, never-published manuscript. It's this fictionalized setting that takes up most of the screen time, except for establishing shots of dream world Tsunade reading the manuscript off a scroll. Strangely, if not for the clunky framing device, the fictional world presented in the manuscript might stand on its own as alternate world fiction.

Minato, in his capacity as Fourth, sends the various genin teams on an A-rank mission. A team of the Hidden Leaf's jonin went missing during a mission outside the village, yet the genin accompanying them managed to make it back (mostly) unharmed, albeit with no memory of what happened to his superiors. Convinced that jonin are being targeted for their advanced understanding of ninjutsu, Naruto's father reasons that sending twelve genin and their teachers to investigate is the wisest course of action. Since the mysterious abductors appear to value experience, the Fourth believes the relatively inexperienced genin won't be in any real danger.

Sure enough, each of the jonin-level instructors are enveloped by vines and pulled into the ground shortly after arriving in the area where the jonin were last seen. As Minato predicted, all the genin are left unharmed. When Team 7 discovers that Minato's secret plan to teleport onto the scene and help them won't work, these teams of dysfunctional youngsters are forced to work together to figure out what they're up against. By the end of the episode, several of the groups are confronted by members of the Akatsuki, who are presumably behind the various jonin abductions. Naruto and his Team 7 cohorts are intercepted by Hidan, the immortal holy man who's technically still alive (in pieces) and securely buried back in the real world. However, this is a fictional setting within a dream, so anything goes.

As an alternate take on the Naruto-verse, the world presented in the manuscript is somewhat interesting, but it prompts a number of questions. Why did Jiraiya use fictionalized versions of Hidden Leaf regulars to write a story that's less compelling than the "real" version? (This assumes that what we're seeing constitutes the actual manuscript's contents and not just what Tsunade dreams the novel would be like.) Why does Tsunade's ultimate wish fulfillment involve being a passive reader? If she did create the contents of the manuscript, is the brief appearance she made as a medical ninja indicative of the life she'd like to lead in a world where she never became Hokage? The episode opens itself to so many more questions than the producers likely intended. They probably wanted to make an animated version of Jiraiya's novel, but so far, it hasn't been worth examining—especially because Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie covered similar alternate universe ground.

Inoffensive but entirely unnecessary, episode 433 is another anime-original story wedged awkwardly into the overall storyline. The manuscript-within-a-dream set-up is convoluted and wrong on so many levels, but I've made those complaints before—and likely will again, since the arc continues next week. Given the random selection of featured dreamers and the show's proven propensity for padding, there's no indication when—or if—Naruto viewers will ever awaken from this perpetual dream state.

Rating: C

Naruto Shippūden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

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