Naruto Shippuden
Episode 479

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 479 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

You'd be forgiven for thinking this week's Naruto Shippūden is the show's final episode. After all, the series' most prominent villains have been vanquished, Naruto and Sasuke have made amends, and the shinobi world is finally at peace. Aside from the manga's final chapter, which is really just an epilogue, Kishimoto's grand vision has been animated in its entirety. However, this series must still be turning a profit for everyone involved, because we're headed right back to Filler Land next week. All things considered, episode 479 makes a decent denouement to the Fourth Ninja World War, but it would have made a much more effective series finale.

Following Kaguya's defeat, Naruto and company return to the Hidden Leaf Village to bury their fallen comrades and recover from all the emotional and physical injuries they incurred during the war. Although Naruto and Sasuke (who's currently in prison on charges of treason) are still missing arms, Tsunade is hard at work harvesting Hashirama's cells and creating replacement limbs for the boys. Unfortunately, Guy's legs are beyond repair, but true to character, he's hardly fazed by this news. Meanwhile, Kakashi and Shikamaru have settled into their new jobs as Sixth Hokage and senior advisor to the Sixth Hokage, respectively. As one of his first official acts, Kakashi awards Naruto the title of Jonin—on the condition that his former pupil study his tail off. Even though Naruto has more than proven himself physically capable of the title, Kakashi feels that he should cram his head full of knowledge if he one day wishes to succeed him as Hokage.

Because of the integral role Sasuke played in undoing the Infinite Tsukuyomi, Kakashi ultimately grants him a full pardon, allowing him to go free. Wishing to atone for his sins, Sasuke decides to set off on a journey of self-discovery. Ever the loyal groupie, Sakura expresses interest in accompanying him, but her request is politely declined. (He does, however, give her more reason to hope he'll return her feelings than he ever has before.) Shortly after leaving the village, Sasuke encounters Naruto, who gives him his prized forehead protector as a parting gift. Sasuke agrees to hang onto the item—until he returns to the village and the boys have their “real” fight.

While viewing this episode, I couldn't help but reflect on how much the Fourth Ninja World War shook up the status quo. Characters we've been following for over a decade lost their lives, longtime villains like Orochimaru became unlikely allies, the Leaf has a new Hokage, and Naruto, the eternal Genin, has finally moved up several ranks. It's interesting that despite all the change happening around him, Naruto remains more or less unchanged. Sure, he's a little less foolhardy and stubborn than the pint-sized social outcast we met all those many years ago, but his general demeanor remains perpetually upbeat, he still possess an infinite capacity for forgiveness, and he remains doggedly loyal to those closest to him. Not even being out an arm is able to dampen his spirits—though in fairness, he's aware that a replacement is on its way. (For some reason, replacing Guy's shattered legs with this same technology is apparently not an option.) The only thing that causes him noticeable distress is having to spend the next few years hitting the books.

The technical merits of this latest installment aren't really on par with the past few episodes, but since this is being treated as the end of an arc rather than the end of the series, I can see why the staff didn't go all-out. The visuals and animation are on the high end of average, which is acceptable for an action-free episode dedicated to tying up loose ends. Since this is another attempt at turning a single manga chapter into a 24-minute episode, the anime adds a fair amount of original content, but most of it fits in nicely. For example, in the source material, we never actually saw Sasuke put in prison or Naruto receive his Jonin promotion.

Episode 479 contains no action to speak of, but there are enough poignant character moments and fun comic interludes to keep longtime fans entertained. The fact that the show is continuing beyond its natural ending point feels strange, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in seeing how Studio Pierrot is going to handle things from now on.

Rating: A-

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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