Naruto Shippuden
Episode 496

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 496 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

Naruto Shippūden delivers another solidly entertaining foray into silliness this week as the wedding gift hunt rolls on. Despite focusing primarily on Shikamaru, episode 496 also gives Ino, Choji, and Sakura plenty of opportunities to display their unique quirks. While not as zany as Lee's turn in the spotlight, this latest installment offers plenty of laughs from some of the franchise's most popular supporting players.

After deciding to give Naruto and Hinata a honeymoon package as a wedding gift, Shikamaru enlists Temari's aid in finding the perfect destination. However, due to a series of miscommunications, Temari believes that Shikamaru is interested in scouting out potential honeymoon destinations for them, even though she and Shikamaru have yet to go on a single date. Meanwhile, Ino and Sakura get into yet another fight when they set their sights on the same wedding present. This gives way to an argument over which one of the girls is more feminine, which results in an impromptu cooking competition with Choji acting as the judge.

Since Shikamaru's Story didn't feature much in the way of humor, it's interesting to see the character used in a comedy-focused episode so soon after the conclusion of the aforementioned arc. Fortunately, this episode doesn't feel tonally at odds with the series as a whole and nicely illustrates Naruto Shippūden's ability to deftly shift between comedy and drama. Shikamaru's relationship with Temari might have benefited from evolving a little after their agreement at the end of Shikamaru's Story to go on a date, but in all fairness, the purpose of the episode is to amuse, not advance existing plot threads. Still, Temari's willingness to visit potential honeymoon destinations indicates that she's certainly open to the idea of a future with him.

It's been a while since any light was shone on Ino and Sakura's longstanding rivalry, and an episode devoted to comedy is a fitting place to revisit it. Even with Sasuke out of the equation, these two have a complex relationship. While it's clear that they value one another as friends, their years of mutual hatred didn't just vanish into thin air after Sasuke's departure and his seeming acceptance of Sakura as his romantic partner. Although both characters have blossomed into young adulthood, it doesn't take much to get them at each other's throats. The big reveal at the end of the cooking contest—the fact that both girls made food pills suited to the other's tastes—serves as a touching reminder that their uneasy friendship will always win out.

While the plot is somewhat scattered, this week's Naruto Shippūden is a pleasing enough sendoff for Team Asuma. All three members get to show off some of their defining characteristics—Choji's obsession with food, Ino's competitive streak with Sakura, and Shikamaru's obliviousness when it comes to matters of the heart—and two out of three of them have matured a bit by episode's end. It's nothing particularly memorable, but as far as filler goes, it suffices.

Rating: B

Naruto Shippūden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

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