Naruto Shippuden
Episodes 427-428

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 427 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

How would you rate episode 428 of
Naruto Shippūden ?

Naruto Shippūden is no stranger to long periods of anime-original content, and the Infinite Tsukuyomi is the perfect excuse for more filler episodes. Every person under the all-encompassing genjutsu's spell—everyone in the world besides Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke, and Kakashi—is experiencing their own personal utopia. In fairness, the countless dream worlds created by the Infinite Tsukuyomi are ripe for further exploration. However, delving into them at this stage in the game isn't the best way to keep viewers invested in the earth-shattering final battle currently unfolding in the "real" world.

The first in what's sure to be a long line of dream-world-based filler episodes focuses on Tenten. Having received virtually no focus in the source material, she's far from the most important secondary character. However, as fans who are well-versed in filler know, the show's producers have a marked preference for this weapons expert. Their love for her shines through in Tenten-centric episodes, which are often among the best anime-original offerings.

The real world serves as a framing device in this week's episodes, and it's effectively used to show Tenten before and after she fully succumbs to the genjutsu. In her personalized dream world, she retains her memories and the general feeling that her surroundings are an illusion. Determined to break free and return to reality, she decides to research techniques for releasing genjutsu. She pushes the alternate-world versions of her comrades away, much to their shock and indignation. By the end of the arc, Tenten figures out that she can save the day when the Village of the Hidden Leaf is under attack—because it's her world. Her love of being appreciated, as well as the fact that Neji is alive and well in this world, ultimately causes her to embrace the illusion.

As a two-episode arc taken on its own, episodes 427 and 428 are a fun watch, albeit wholly unnecessary. With all the stock-still, unblinking background characters and choppy movements, the usual animation shortcuts are hard not to notice. Additionally, the episodes squander a prime opportunity to finally show us Tenten's parents. However, there's enough humor in the first half and action in the second to keep viewers engaged. Seeing this world's Naruto—named "Menma," as he was in Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie—use Kurama like a summoned beast is breathtaking. The epic conclusion of Tenten's battle against the story's cookie-cutter antagonist is strangely not shown, but even that makes sense in a "dream world" kind of way. People don't always dream logically, and Tenten's happiness is more contingent on being appreciated by her friends than on the techniques she displays in combat.

Although there's a lot to like, this arc also features some questionable elements. First, the Infinite Tsukuyomi is supposed to be the ultimate genjutsu that no one under its spell would ever think to question—certainly not Tenten, who's not a genjutsu specialist. Her knowledge of what's going on may be necessary to move the story forward, but it still feels off. Secondly, although the about-face in everyone's personalities is amusing, it's also strange. If this is Tenten's ideal world, why does she feel the need to change everyone so drastically? (Many of their personalities are the same as their counterparts in Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie, but that has nothing to do with Tenten.) She apparently wants the shy and reticent characters to be loud and brash (and vice versa) and for everyone obsessed with something (be it food, bugs, or dogs) to absolutely hate it instead. Her wish for Lee to be more suave and fashion-conscious actually does make sense, but I'm also unclear on why her ideal Neji is an outspoken pervert who has no qualms about using his Byakugan to see through girls' clothes. There's some Freudian stuff at work here, if you were to take it seriously. It's also strange to see characters interacting when Tenten isn't around. This is her imaginary world, so it shouldn't exist when she's not there to observe it.

Minor gripes aside, Tenten's struggle to free herself from the Infinite Tsukuyomi makes for an entertaining diversion, even if logic takes a backseat. If this level of quality is maintained throughout the coming weeks (and that's a HUGE "if"), the Infinite Tsukuyomi arc may not be a chore to sit through.

Rating: B+

Naruto Shippūden is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is a YA fantasy author who has loved anime for two decades.

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