by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 475 of
Naruto Shippūden ?
Even though the Fourth Shinobi World War has come to an end, all isn't quite right with our heroes. Before freeing humanity from the Infinite Tsukuyomi, Sasuke intends to kill the five slumbering Kage, along with Naruto, who's now become the partial container for all ten Tailed Beasts. Reasoning that the Kage are responsible for leaving the ninja world in such a sorry state, the brazen young Uchiha plans to get rid of them and create a new world in his image. Needless to say, Naruto isn't about to let his eternal frenemy's plan come to fruition. Madara and Kaguya may be gone, but one last brawl is taking place before curtain call: Naruto vs. Sasuke – Round Two.
Whereas last week's episode served as a breather between Kaguya's demise and Naruto and Sasuke's long-awaited showdown, this latest outing is essentially a 24-minute preamble to the show's final battle. (Its final source material-based one, anyway.) Fortunately, as far as drawn-out preambles go, it's pretty good, but I'm not sure we needed such a long lead-in to the main event. Since the producers were clearly determined to save the first blow for next week, this episode features numerous instances of padding and characters restating things every viewer knows by this point. For example, Hagoromo takes several opportunities to point out that Ashura and Indra (and their reincarnates) seem fated to continue fighting regardless of the choice he makes. Entrusting all his power to one son resulted in deep-seated hatred and massive conflict, but dividing it equally appears to have produced the same results. An interesting observation, to be sure—until he decides to beat us over the head with it. Not even the elementary school boys at whom this series is aimed need this information repeated with such regularity.
Although Sasuke is still as arrogant as ever, it's interesting that his motivations are no longer purely self-serving, even if they are incredibly misguided. True to character, he thinks he knows what's best for the entire world, and much like Indra, he's willing to kill anyone who stands in his way—even his adoptive brother/best friend. As evidenced by his desire to destroy the Tailed Beasts, the Five Kage, and Naruto to achieve his idea of a peaceful future, he believes the ends justify the means. (Did I mention he also punches Sakura in the gut after she lays her feelings bare for the umpteenth time?) There doesn't seem to be anything he can do to make Naruto and Sakura reassess their opinion of him, though it certainly isn't for lack of trying. He doesn't deserve their unwavering devotion, and on some level, he appears to realize this.
Like the previous installment, episode 475 represents the show's aesthetic A-game. There's very little in the way of action, but the art is near flawless, the colors are vibrant, and the characters are incredibly expressive. Since we know where the main characters stand on a variety of important issues, the idealistic back-and-forth between Naruto and Sasuke isn't quite as poignant as intended. However, since this is the last time we'll get to hear these two quibble over personal morals (in the Kishimoto canon anyway), I'm willing to indulge Naruto Shippūden.
While lacking in action, this week's Naruto Shippūden propels the story forward in a major way. Despite not being as high-stakes as the Madara and Kaguya fights, the upcoming smack-down between Naruto and Sasuke is imbued with a substantial amount of meaning. With any luck, the anime staff will focus on adapting the fight without tacking on any of the fluff that's become all too characteristic of this series. At this point, I think the viewers have earned an unforgettable final battle.
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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