Naruto Shippuden
Episode 448

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 448 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

I've got to hand it to Jiraiya's Ninja Scrolls. I know compilation films are pretty popular these days, but I never imagined it was possible to condense over 20 episodes of material into 40 minutes and change. Even though the re-imagined Pain's Assault Arc just kicked off last week, this sloppy rehash of one of Naruto Shippūden's most popular story arcs has already wrapped up. It's amazing how quickly high-profile antagonists can be taken down in the Pervy Sage's twisted little world.

Now trapped in a floating stone sphere, Naruto implores Kurama to give him more Tailed Beast chakra. Strangely, the Nine Tails refuses, claiming that his host container is “too angry.” (I wasn't aware Naruto's temperament was an issue for this bloodthirsty mythical beast, but okay.) Meanwhile, in the larger stone sphere, Kushina senses that her son is in trouble, prompting her to transfer her consciousness to the alternate dimension in which Naruto is trading barbs with Kurama. As previously revealed, this universe's Minato only sealed half of the Nine Tails in Naruto, and he sealed the other half in his wife. (Although Naruto was still ostracized for being a jinchūriki in this world, his mother appears to have escaped such scrutiny.) Inexplicably reasoning that transferring her half of the Nine Tails to her son (which would kill her) is the only way to stop Pain, Kushina prepares to carry out the transfer, only to be stopped by Kurama, who claims that “half is plenty.”

Admittedly, I'm unclear on what happens next. Despite Kurama's claim, Kushina appears to give Naruto her half of the Nine Tails (or half of her half of the Nine Tails?), but the next time we see her, she appears to be completely unscathed. Now in Sage Mode, Naruto breaks free from his stone prison, takes out the reanimated Yahiko, and makes his way to Nagato and Konan's hideout. Both Naruto and Nagato believe the other is responsible for blowing up the unnamed village from the first Ninja Scrolls arc. Even though he doesn't exactly set the record straight, Naruto somehow sways Nagato with his nonsensical ramblings about bringing Sasuke home and becoming the Hokage.

As longtime fans know, the arc that's being rehashed ended with Naruto talking Nagato into submission, but it originally took the spiky-haired hero much longer to win his adversary over. This world's Nagato is one of the most easily swayed characters in all of fiction. After quickly dismissing Naruto's claim that the Leaf played no part in Yahiko's death, he's instantly won over by a slapdash sermon from the Gospel of Uzumaki. Because he sees so much of the late Yahiko in Naruto, Nagato calls off his attack and releases the Village Hidden in the Leaves from his Dr. Evil-esque trap. However, since no one dies in this version, the stakes never seem particularly high. (Does this Nagato even possess the power of resurrection?) At times, it feels like you're watching a show with big pieces missing.

Toward the end of the episode, a weakened Orochimaru is confronted by Sasuke. Following an epic battle that the audience conveniently isn't shown, the snake-like baddie is cut to ribbons by the brooding young Uchiha. Despite emerging victorious, Sasuke quickly succumbs to Orochimaru's poison (I guess he was bitten?), passes out, and wakes up in the Akatsuki's base of operations, where Sasori quickly sells him on the notion that the Leaf is to blame for all his problems. A surprising malleable Sasuke then resolves to crush the Hidden Leaf—and a certain sweat-suited jinchūriki.

On the aesthetic front, episode 448 actually looks good. Aside from a couple of surreally off-model shots in the second half, this is one of the best looking episodes in recent memory. The animation, however, is another story. Despite sporting some nice visuals, this latest installment features almost nothing in the way of action.

This week's Naruto Shippūden is rushed, dull, and confusing. If it weren't for the fact that it's basically a Cliff's Notes version of a preexisting story arc, the audience might have no idea what's going on. There's no emotion or character development—or any fun action sequences to make up for it. With less than a month before the premiere of Itachi Shinden, we can only hope that the final few episodes of Jiraiya's Ninja Scrolls are more entertaining than this.

Rating: D-

Naruto Shippūden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

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