Naruto Shippuden
Episode 471

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 471 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

The fight against Kaguya continues to unfold this week, albeit at a slightly slower pace than I'd prefer. Although the latter half of episode 471 kept the story moving right along, this week's outing was hampered by a frustratingly slow first half chock-full of superfluous information. The fact that we haven't taken another detour to Filler Land is a hopeful sign; I just wish the show would stop acting like it's in danger of catching up to concurrently serialized source material.

Still stuck in the Kaguya's Root Time-Space, a weakened Obito decides to reflect on his tragic past for the umpteenth time. What follows is yet another extended flashback to Obito's childhood—just in case the dozen or so episodes dedicated to this character's past hadn't sufficiently filled you in on his backstory. Once again, we're shown clips that showcase the Naruto and Sasuke-esque rivalry between Obito and Kakashi and assorted tender moments between Obito and Rin. There were several instances where I found myself hard-pressed to distinguish between replayed footage from previous flashbacks and new material—largely because the audience knows everything there is to know about Obito at this point. Even though there were plenty of clips we hadn't seen before, there was absolutely no new information to be gleaned. Despite being a relatively new addition to the series' massive supporting cast, Obito has had more attention paid to his respective history than any other character—the only possible exception being Itachi. Strangely, the most interesting part of his past—the time he spent with Madara—has received very little focus compared to his days as a generic Naruto clone.

After getting his bearings, Obito transports himself, Sakura, and Sasuke back to the arctic dimension where Naruto is duking it out with Kaguya. Realizing that it's time to step up her game, Kaguya then transports the group to a high-gravity dimension and proceeds to bombard her foes with her All-Killing Ash Bones technique. Ever the tragic hero, Obito steps in front of a projectile bone meant for Sasuke and finds himself mortally wounded. When Kakashi attempts to make a similar sacrifice for Naruto, Obito uses his last ounce of strength to perform the Kamui and save his old frenemy.

I understand that the lengthy flashback was meant to make Obito's sacrifice seem more meaningful, but there's no reason it needed to encompass half the episode—especially if it had nothing new to offer. It doesn't make Rin, his eternally fridged crush, welcoming him into the Great Beyond more poignant, nor does it elicit any additional sympathy for one of this war's chief architects. In addition to his ridiculously drawn-out redemption arc over a year ago, there have been several anime-original stories dedicated to chronicling Obito's childhood. At this point, we almost know more about him than Naruto, and if the preview is any indication, his death knell has only just begun.

It's hard to deny that Naruto Shippūden has become a case study in how not to adapt a battle manga. Even when sticking to the source material, the show is laden with frequent and obvious grabs for time that detract from the main narrative. In fact, many of the dreaded filler excursions offer more substance than these piecemeal battle/flashback installments. I'm glad that the latest Obito love fest was limited to half the episode—but it shouldn't have even eaten up that much time.

Rating: C-

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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