Naruto Shippuden
Episode 488

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 488 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

Episode 488 brings Sasuke's Story: Sunrise to a satisfying, if action-light conclusion. For the first time in a long while, Naruto Shippūden is able to wrap up a non-manga-inspired story without leaving any gaping plot holes or a sense of incompleteness in its wake. While some viewers might be tempted to give credit to the author of the original novel, this story apparently shares little in common with its source material outside of the title, so kudos go to the anime staff. If this much effort went into all their anime-original material, many fans would probably view Naruto filler in a more positive light.

With everything out in the open, Chino reveals herself as the mastermind behind the exploding human incidents and informs Sasuke that her goal in attacking the Hidden Leaf was to draw him out and take revenge on the Uchiha clan. Following a quick skirmish, Sasuke tells Chino that he was able to overcome a similarly tragic past thanks to an endlessly supportive friend (Naruto) and helps her realize that she has a similar friend in Fuushin. Although Chino and the remaining members of the Lightning Gang are taken into custody by the Leaf, Kakashi remands them to the custody of the Mizukage, who wishes to end the cycle of hatred between her country and the Chinoike. Meanwhile, Sasuke, Ay, and the Raikage's entourage free all the captive shinobi from the Coliseum and place all of its patrons under arrest. However, En Oyashiro is able to escape, and during a tea date with Orochimaru, it's revealed that he's also a surviving member of the Chinoike—and Chino's father to boot.

Like this arc's previous installments, episode 488 features high-quality visuals and fluid animation, at least by television standards. The Sasuke/Chino showdown is exuberantly paced. Even though Sasuke never finds himself at much of a disadvantage, Chino does her best to put him through his paces as she uses her blood/iron/water dragon to make him twist and turn like a dancer. The revelation that Chino is under a genjutsu during the final moments of the battle doesn't come as much of a surprise, but honestly, there's no way Sasuke could have lost this battle.

It's a bit sad that Naruto still holds Sasuke in the highest regard. When Chino mentions his name while talking with Kakashi, the spiky-haired hero appears out of nowhere to sing his best friend's virtues. For a long time, I've thought Naruto's devotion to his former rival bordered on unintentionally comical, and his actions this week only serve to reinforce this assertion. He even takes multiple opportunities to state how amazing it is that Sasuke is protecting the Hidden Leaf despite spending little time there.

For the most part, all of this arc's lingering plot threads are wrapped up nicely—with the exception of En Oyashiro's connection to the Chinoike clan. I can accept him being a closeted Chinoike and Chino's estranged father, but that's a lot of information to dump in a quick, casual conversation with Orochimaru, and it raises more questions than it answers. What were the circumstances surrounding the death of his wife? Why did he kill the remaining members of his clan, sans Chino? Why did he never reveal his true identity to his daughter, even after being reunited with her, and why did he treat her like his other indentured servants?

Minor issues aside, episode 488 is a well-rounded finale to a consistently entertaining story arc. The theme of atonement comes full circle as Chino and her cohorts embark on a similar path to Sasuke's, ending the story on a hopeful, optimistic note. If the remaining novel adaptations turn out this well, I might be a little sad when it comes time to pass the torch to Boruto in April.

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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