Naruto Shippuden
Episode 464

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 464 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

After a one-episode reprieve, Naruto Shippūden heads back to Filler Land for round two. With Black Zetsu preoccupied, Hagoromo steps into the role of narrator this week. The Sage of Six Paths intends to relay the story of his ill-fated sons to the reanimated Kage… eventually. To ensure that his undead-ish audience is able to fully appreciate the tale, he decides to kick things off by sharing his own life story—which conveniently picks up from where Black Zetsu's recollections left off. After all, it's not like the world's ending or anything.

With Kaguya and Hamura on the Moon, a young-ish Hagoromo sets off on a journey to restore the land that was ravaged during the epic battle against his mother and find a suitable home for the Nine Tailed Beasts. Along the way, the charismatic sage inadvertently attracts a steadily growing number of followers, many of whom are criminals and outcasts whose lives were changed by Hagoromo's teachings. As he reveals to the Kage, Hagoromo soon developed the Ninshu Code and began passing his chakra on to his disciples, with the intent of eventually bonding the human race through chakra. Although the episode ends on an image of Ashura and Indra being stalked by Black Zetsu, we're never actually shown the boys' mother, who apparently died while giving birth to Ashura.

I'm game for exploring the origins of the series' world, but I can't help but feel that episode 464 glossed over things that should have been important and regarded things that could have easily been glossed over with undue importance. For example, the extended bridge-building sequence didn't need to encompass nearly half the runtime, even if it documented Hagoromo's initial encounter with his first disciple. The metaphor is obvious—Hagoromo builds a nation of ninja and creates bonds between people, just as he builds the bridges and brings people together to do it—but a bit too on-the-nose. Seeing more attention paid to the formation of the Ninshu code and the Sage's perpetually unseen wife would probably have made for better viewing.

It's a small gripe, but even by Naruto filler standards, this episode's framing device is pretty weak. Why does Hagoromo think the undead Kage need to know his sons' backstory (as well as his own) in order to help Naruto and Sasuke? How are they going to put this information to practical use? Isn't a battle with planet-wide stakes currently unfolding? Do they really have time for this? The animation is also pretty lackluster this week, but since the episode is virtually action-free, it isn't a huge issue.

While there's nothing inherently bad about this episode, most of the content is superfluous. It might have been better to jump right into the story of Indra and Ashura without devoting a full episode to young Hagoromo's continued adventures. By the narrator's own admission, this is essentially just a lengthy lead-in to the story beginning next week.

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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