Kishimoto’s insistence on prolonging this flashback even further is inexcusable. Its continuation into the last chapter was horrible enough, given how nothing it presented was relevant to what is happening in the present-day action. Extending it into this week is lunacy.
This initial conversation between Orochimaru and Kabuto does provide one interesting sliver of information, which is the method that Konoha used to brainwash Nonou. Such a clever little trick is reflective of a well-run agency which might have deserved some more spotlight earlier in the series. Of course, revealing this information here does nothing to redeem this flashback, but this is at least a nice individual plot point.
Unsurprisingly, the rest of the chapter has little to offer. Showing off Orochimaru’s intelligence and unique abilities is a clear last-ditch attempt by Kishimoto to legitimize Kabuto by reestablishing his association with his far superior mentor. However, this tactic by the author is used far too late, as it would only have worked if Orochimaru was still fully alive and somehow acting in the present. Highlighting the past ties between these two has backfired completely on Kishimoto by reminding the audience that the days of this series having a good villain are long gone.
The final pages are a perfect demonstration of why this flashback is awful. These pages serve no purpose; showing old characters like this with no warning or developed context is another cheap ploy to evoke nostalgia in the reader. Akatsuki was deeply flawed, but like Orochimaru, it was easily preferable to Kabuto, because at least Akatsuki acted with urgency and intent. Kabuto’s lazy approach to villainy is exemplified by his meandering and useless flashback, and considering that the end of the chapter didn’t transition back to the present, this embarrassing peek into the ruination of a character still might not be over.
The only way this flashback could be relevant to the current fight between Kabuto and the Uchiha brothers is if this is a precursor to Orochimaru taking over Kabuto’s body within the next few chapters. Unfortunately, such a plot choice would also be poor, as it would invalidate the intended meaning of all the time spent examining Kabuto’s history. Kishimoto has backed himself into a corner.
Final Flash: This chapter has beaten a dead horse with a nuclear missile, which incidentally would have been more enjoyable to read.