Naruto Shippuden
Episode 478

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 478 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

In stark contrast to last week's action-packed tour de force, the latest Naruto Shippūden is essentially a relaxed character piece that examines the complex relationship between the series' two main characters. Despite featuring its share of poignant moments and meaningful imagery, episode 478 suffers from multiple instances of padding—as is often the case when this show attempts to stretch a single dialogue-light manga chapter across 24 minutes. While this episode closes the book on Naruto and Sasuke's rivalry, many of their exchanges this week are very similar to conversations they've had many times in the past.

Having completely worn each other out, Naruto and Sasuke both collapse from blood loss and awaken in a dreamscape they believe to be the afterlife. While there, the boys are transported to a number of familiar locales, including the Hidden Leaf Village and the sites of their most important battles. They're shown images of their respective childhoods, prompting them to reflect on how much they share in common. As Sasuke points out, both boys were orphaned at an early age and ostracized by the Leaf's populace—though in Naruto's case, the ostracization was far more overt. Sasuke also reveals that watching young Naruto play pranks on the villagers in an effort to elicit their attention brought him good cheer during a time when it was desperately needed.

After coming to, Naruto proclaims (for the umpteenth time) that he and Sasuke are kindred spirits—brothers, even—and reveals that their latest fight wasn't a matter of winning and losing, but rather one friend trying to bring another to his senses. Despite this, Sasuke declares himself the loser and no longer appears to have any interest in fighting Naruto or interfering with his plans to become Hokage. As the physically-drained combatants pause to reflect, it's revealed that the blows they dealt one another at the end of the previous episode resulted in Sasuke losing his left arm and Naruto losing his right. (Of course, if you've read the manga or watched either of the feature films set after its conclusion, this won't come as much of a shock.) By episode's end, the stubborn genius finally gives in to the power of Naruto's friendship and agrees to live for him instead of trying to take him out of the picture or dying himself.

Going into this episode, I had no expectation that it would merit much comparison to the previous two, as those represented an impossibly tough act to follow. However, this isn't to say that I'm willing to overlook its glacial pacing and reliance on repeated information. When Naruto and Sasuke aren't telling the audience things they already know, they're showing them clips they've already seen. While I'm glad all of this was unloaded over the course of a single episode instead of being interspersed with last week's action, all the meaningful portions of this latest installment could have comfortably encompassed half the runtime.

Episode 478 features some interesting artistic choices, particularly during the lucid dream segments. The desolate, abandoned versions of old battle sites help convey a sense of finality while emphasizing how much Naruto and Sasuke have been through together. Furthermore, when paired with the imagery, the boys' lengthy exchanges help illustrate how much both characters have grown, as well as how much their relationship has matured. The episode opening with prepubescent Naruto and Sasuke refusing to form the Unison Sign after a practice match at the Academy and ending with them laughing off their blood feud like old friends gives the proceedings a distinctly full-circle feel.

It's been a long time coming, but Naruto Shippūden has nearly exhausted its supply of source manga. Aside from a few additional scenes and an epilogue, we've just about reached the end of the line as far as the Kishimoto-penned material is concerned, so I can certainly see why they chose to draw this episode out—I'm just not thrilled with the results. Nevertheless, this episode holds a great deal of significance, as Sasuke finally learns what the rest of the cast has known for some time: Naruto has the power to move hearts and unite people.

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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