Naruto Shippuden
Episode 486

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 486 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

The mystery comes to a head in the penultimate chapter of Sasuke's Story: Sunrise. Like the previous two installments, episode 486 is nicely paced and presents the audience with just enough information to keep them informed, without making any of the big reveals seem obvious. While very light on action, the latest episode's visuals and animation are on par with this arc's first two entries—it looks pretty darn good. Assuming next week's finale can live up to the episode that preceded it, we're looking at one of the show's best non-manga-inspired story arcs.

After preventing a pack of human time-bombs from destroying the Coliseum, Sasuke and Orochimaru have their long-awaited sit-down with En Oyashiro, who reveals some valuable information about the elusive Fuushin. Although Oyashiro is unable to recall if Fuushin himself possessed the Uchiha clan's trademark red eyes, he's certain that one of Fuushin's compatriots—a child from the Lightning Country-based Chinoike clan—had eyes similar to those of the Uchiha. In fact, long before Hashirama and Madara competed for power, the Chinoike were banished to Hell Valley (which is located in the Steam Country) and potentially subjugated by the Uchiha. Ironic, given how subjugated the Uchiha have been throughout their clan's history. Hoping to find answers, Sasuke heads to Hell Valley with Nowaki and Chino. However, shortly after their arrival, Sasuke reads the mind of a shinobi who attacks them and discovers that soft-spoken giant Nowaki is actually none other than Fuushin.

One of my favorite things about this episode—and this arc as a whole—is its myriad of interesting guest characters. Eccentric weapons trader and Kekkei Genkai “collector” En Oyashiro is among the most amusing drop-in characters this series has featured in a while. I particularly like how his laidback attitude and hippie fashion starkly clash with his greed and less-than-reputable business practices. I also love his rapport with Orochimaru, who takes no offense at the man's callous attitude toward his kidnapped victims/slaves.

If I were to revisit the previous episodes, I might be able to identify some hints, but as it stands, I thought Nowaki and Fuushin being one and the same was genuinely surprising—although not in an out-of-nowhere sense. It was pretty convenient that Chino and Nowaki had been at every location we've seen Exploding Humans other than the Hidden Leaf, but I could just as easily see the pair being allowed to function solely as Sasuke's quirky sidekicks for this adventure. The quieter and less conspicuous member of the duo being the puppet master is a particularly clever move. For Sasuke to make this discovery by reading the mind of one of his lackeys makes the danger all the more prevalent.

I'm really hoping that this arc can maintain its quality for just one more episode and finish strong. It's become increasingly difficult to defend the show's forays into non-manga-based material, and it's been quite a while since we've had an outright good “filler” arc. With any luck, the explanation of Fuushin's/Nowaki's modus operandi and the inevitable Sasuke/Fuushin face-off will make for a memorable finale to one of this show's better original arcs.

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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