Naruto Shippuden
Episode 459

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 459 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

After a full episode and a half of plot progression, Naruto Shippūden is slated to embark on another filler excursion next week. However, on the plus side, our forthcoming trip to Filler Land looks like it will give us a bit of insight into ill-defined master villain Otsutsuki Kaguya. In light of how Naruto Shippūden has carried itself for the last year and a half, the show's refusal to stick to its source material is hardly surprising—but it is pretty frustrating.

Not wishing to damage her “playground,” the newly resurrected Kaguya transports herself, Obito, and Team 7 to an alternate dimension that resembles the inside of an active volcano. Fortunately, the ever-resourceful Kakashi is able to save himself, Sakura, and Obito from a fiery death because Sasuke makes no effort to protect anyone but himself and Naruto. As usual, the brooding young Uchiha is practical to a fault, reasoning that the world is doomed if either he or Naruto is killed. While his rival is technically correct, Naruto acknowledges that this isn't his way of doing things, once again highlighting the stark contrast between Naruto's idealism and Sasuke's pragmatism. Following a brief skirmish with Kaguya, the boys are immobilized by Black Zetsu, who proceeds to tell Naruto, Sasuke, and the audience his mother's backstory.

The battle against Kaguya has been a long time coming, but there isn't much action this week. Although episode 459's visuals are on the high end of average, the proceedings are rife with blatant animation shortcuts. When Naruto and Sasuke briefly throw down with Kaguya toward the end of the episode, there's little movement, and the fight is mainly conveyed through still shots. There were some cool images, like Sasuke whipping out Susano'o against an operatic score, but actual movement would have upped the excitement factor considerably.

There are a couple of times the episode tries to make Kaguya seem frightening but fails, largely because we know so little about this all-powerful goddess. For example, the sound cutting out when she sneaks up on Naruto and Sasuke is reminiscent of a horror movie moment. However, Kaguya isn't scary or full of menace, and the show hasn't spent as much time building her up as it did Madara. While making my way through the manga, I often thought that Kaguya would be a more impactful final antagonist if we knew more about her personal history, so there's hope for these fillers yet. Still, if the anime's past attempts at improving upon the manga's canon are any indication, I won't get my hopes up too high.

Naruto Shippūden barely spends any time building up tension in the final battle again before it's going to take another break. Episode 459 did an adequate job of advancing the plot, and the segue into Kaguya's backstory comes off as surprisingly natural—which is more than I can say for the set-up for Itachi's Story. Still, the battle so far is bogged down by unclear exposition and ineffective attempts at horror. While I'm game for learning more about our recently-introduced master villain, my confidence in the staff's ability to craft original stories is waning.

Rating: B-

Naruto Shippūden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

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