by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 469 of
Naruto Shippūden ?
With the Otsutsuki family's backstory in the can, Naruto Shippūden takes us on another trip to the past—albeit a far less distant past than the one we just spent a month exploring. Episode 469 chronicles one of the Kakashi-led Team 7's earliest—and hitherto undocumented—misadventures. When it comes to Naruto's forays into anime-original content, the humor-focused one-shots are generally my favorites, and this week's outing was amusing. Sure, the show is still shamelessly stalling for time, but taken on its own, this week's episode is sure to delight fans of Naruto's increasingly scarce lighter side.
Episode 469 wisely decides to skip a clunky segue, immediately plunging the audience into the Hidden Leaf Village of four years past. Increasingly frustrated by their sensei's refusal to reveal his face, Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke join forces with Sukea, a good-natured ninja photographer, to get a glimpse of Kakashi's perpetually-hidden mug. Predictably, each one of the gang's efforts fails in a humorously spectacular fashion, which eventually prompts them to enlist the aid of Teams Kurenai and Asuma. I won't spoil the ending for those who haven't seen it, but anyone who enjoys a good comedy of errors is sure to love the clever way the screenwriters bring everything to a head. As the first purely comedic episode in a good long while, this week's installment manages to amuse, tell an interesting story, and entertain across the board.
Still, while very good by filler standards, episode 469 is by no means perfect. For example, episode 101 of the original series did a much better job of building an entire half-hour around this same concept. Frankly, it seems like the best gags they could mine from said concept were used in the aforementioned episode. On a less important note, this episode contained a few mildly irritating continuity errors that are mostly forgivable in light of the over-the-top comedic tone. Had this been set in the post-chunin exams timeline, all of these plot holes would be nonexistent. (Seriously, just make Sakura's hair shorter.)
Since the series is supposedly wrapping up, it's understandable that the producers would want to finally show us Kakashi's face. Although his full face was never shown in the parent manga, Masashi Kishimoto produced a drawing of the character without his mask for an art exhibition last year. If you saw the drawing in question prior to viewing this episode, odds are you guessed the big twist early on. However, you're still likely to second-guess yourself at several points throughout the proceedings.
If you go into episode 469 with the right mindset, you'll probably have a good time. Instead of viewing it as yet another needless departure from the main story, look at this latest installment as a fun half-hour with some old friends. The plot drags in some spots, not all the jokes hit their respective marks, and continuity nerds like myself are sure to have a field day pointing out the various inconsistencies, but I'm hard-pressed to remember the last time Naruto felt this much fun.
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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