Naruto Shippuden
Episode 489

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 489 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

Naruto Shippūden rolls out its second light novel adaptation in a row with the opening chapter of Shikamaru's Story: A Cloud Drifting in the Silent Dark. Interestingly, in contrast to Sasuke's Story: Sunrise, this latest arc appears to be straightforward adaptation of its namesake novel so far. As a fan of the book in question, I'm reasonably pleased with the anime version's freshman outing, which gives us an extended glimpse at 19-year-old Shikamaru's daily life and sets up the forthcoming adventure in the Land of Silence.

Set two years after the conclusion of the Fourth Shinobi World War, Shikamaru's Story opens by revealing that its titular character is working his tail off as the Sixth Hokage's right-hand man. In addition to advising Kakashi on government matters, Shikamaru meticulously keeps track of the Hokage's files and serves as the Leaf's representative at Shinobi Alliance meetings. Although all appears to be well, demand for shinobi services has been dwindling in many of the Hidden Villages, and the Leaf has secretly collected some info on why. According to a report filed by Sai, many of the shinobi who went missing during the war are believed to have fallen under the control of Gengo, the mysterious ruler of the Land of Silence. Furthermore, Gengo and his followers may now be taking all the missions from the other Hidden Villages. To make matters worse, Sai and his 10-man cell have yet to return from the Land of Silence, suggesting that they too may have fallen under Gengo's spell. Accompanied by two ANBU shinobi—Ro, with the power to hide the presence of chakra, and Soku (real name Hinako), who possesses the power to shoot impeccably accurate chakra needles—Shikamaru sets off for the Land of Silence, intent on getting to the bottom of Gengo's plan.

With his talent for strategy and espionage, Shikamaru has always been one of the franchise's more interesting secondary characters. Giving him a turn in the spotlight is a smart choice, and since the show's anime-original content established that he and Naruto shared a much deeper connection than they did in the source material, his insistence on seeing Naruto become Hokage seems fitting. Still, given his desire to live an incident-free existence, it's odd that he would base his entire life around this goal. It's also possible that he's being a bit too thorough. As Shikamaru tells it, not even saving the entire world from certain doom is enough to guarantee Naruto a spot on Hokage Rock. To make absolutely certain that his friend one day assumes the Leaf's highest office, Shikamaru wants him to go on as many missions as possible before Kakashi steps down.

There's nothing in the way of action this week, which is strangely fitting considering this arc's central character. (Plus, Shikamaru's primarily a pencil-pusher these days, albeit a very important one.) The relaxed mood of the episode is suited to Shikamaru's perpetually laidback demeanor. Like Chino and Nowaki before them, Ro and Soku seem like a colorful pair of new sidekicks, even if all they really do this week is introduce themselves and hint at a few recurring character quirks.

Episode 489 does a nice job of setting up this latest post-Kaguya adventure, illustrating the quiet and focused life Shikamaru has committed himself to for the purpose of helping Naruto achieve his life's goal. At present, we know very little about the new villain or his home village, but I'm sure all will soon be revealed. If the anime version of this tale continues its straightforward approach of adapting the source material (instead of going completely off the rails à la Itachi's Story), the remainder of this arc should prove even more enjoyable.

Rating: A-

Naruto Shippūden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.

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