Naruto Shippuden
Episode 468

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 468 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

This week's Naruto Shippūden brings Ashura and Indra's story to a satisfying (albeit rushed) conclusion. All things considered, this has shaped up to be the show's most entertaining filler excursion in recent memory. Although Itachi's Story was all over the place and Kaguya's origins were never properly fleshed out, this latest anime-original mini-arc was evenly-paced and shed some additional light on the source material's established canon. When it comes to Naruto filler, my standards have gotten pretty low, and this latest outing was by no means perfect, but the fact that it served a purpose outside of keeping the series on life support earns it a few extra points in my book.

Even though Hagoromo left us hanging last week, we all knew episode 468 would open with him naming Ashura as his successor. In a textbook case of “teach a man to fish,” the Sage of Six Paths decides on Ashura because he inspired others to work together for the greater good instead of simply creating an irrigation system on his own—as his brother apparently did. Needless to say, Indra is less than magnanimous in defeat. Shortly after his father's announcement, the spurned Indra murders his two closest friends, thereby causing his Sharingan to evolve, and launches an attack on the village. However, even with Complete Body Susano'o in his arsenal, Indra is no match for his brother, who's able to awaken his Six Paths Chakra with the help of his fellow clansmen and the friends he made throughout his journey. Thoroughly defeated, Indra leaves the village and establishes a sect of Ninshu that idealizes power.

Many years later, a dying Hagoromo is visited on his deathbed by Indra, who informs his father that he intends to undo everything he and Ashura have worked for. Realizing that one lifetime may not be enough, Indra vows to continue reincarnating until his goal has been accomplished. Upon hearing of this, Ashura promises his father that his soul will be reincarnated as many times as it takes to stop his brother. The final moments bring us back to the present, where Hagoromo finishes relaying his tale to the undead Kage and informs them that they must do everything their power to save Naruto and Sasuke.

My primary gripe this week is the abruptness of Indra's crossing over. Sure, Black Zetsu's been manipulating him since childhood, but resorting to murder mere hours after Ashura was named his father's successor struck me as too hasty a turn. Seeing him at least attempt to work with Ashura before deciding to go postal would have made his turn a bit more believable. Until this point, the story had done a decent job of juxtaposing the brothers' differing worldviews, and even though the audience was clearly supposed to favor Ashura, many of Indra's ideas still held merit. However, now that he's entered “stereotypical shonen manga villain” territory, all shades of gray have been dispelled. While this gives us a more clearly-defined antagonist, it ultimately makes the material less thought-provoking.

I'm glad we got a chance to see Ashura meet and build a rapport with his wife Kanna, since the omission of Hagoromo's wife was a bit jarring. Did the producers figure they'd already created enough original characters for this arc? For a series that emphasizes the importance of personal relationships, it's generally not very good at showing how these relationships are cultivated. Case in point: Did we ever see Indra interacting with his supposed best friends for more than a second or two prior to this episode? The past few installments would have us believe that he doesn't particularly care for anyone, so why should the deaths of these two nameless cronies serve as sufficient Sharingan fuel?

Like the previous arc, this one ends with an info-dumpy outline of important events that the show will likely never explore in greater detail. The epic war between the brothers and their respective sects sounds like it could have made for an entertaining story, but in all likelihood, we're now done with this time period. Of course, this being Naruto Shippūden, Ashura and Indra's tale wasn't cut short in service of returning to the main story, but rather paving the way for more filler. Going off the preview, next week's installment will take place during the original series' timeline, with the members of Team 7 donning their “classic” appearances. At this point, the only thing consistent about this show is its stubborn refusal to conclude.

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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