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Naruto 515

[scanlation by Binktopia]

Not much of a Jump cover, it must be said, but the color page and chapter cover are markedly better.

Tsuchigumo carrying the entire turtle-island is the proper way to amaze the audience with his power and ability. It’s unfortunate that this wasn’t his first action after leaving the Kage Summit. That entire showdown with Deidara Mark II should never have happened.

Explaining Naruto’s thoughts in the introductory text blurb is no better than explaining plot in a narrative box. In fact, it might even be a bit worse, because at most, the introductory blurb is supposed to be a throwaway recap of what brought us to the beginning of the current chapter. Kishimoto has his strengths (art, creative concepts), but considering this alongside his recent over-reliance on thought bubbles, proper storytelling clearly isn’t one of them.

It’s incredible how disheartening the mere mention of Sasuke is. My will to continue reading this chapter has suddenly diminished.

Sasuke? Motoi does not approve.

An Aburame clan member appears! My will is restored. I realize that my hope for Shino to become a vital part of the cast will never come true, but his personality and his clan’s ability are so interesting that I can’t help but be excited to see any of them, even if I realize they’ll again be relegated to the background soon enough. As far as relevance to the story, I’m pleasantly surprised with the pace at which the war arc is moving forward. I don’t want a return to the unnecessarily rapid pacing from back around the Invasion of Pain arc, but Konoha finding out about Madara’s Zetsu army this soon after it was unveiled is a good choice.

Bee is right, Naruto; stacking blocks is considerably more important than returning to wait for Sasuke.

Do well and you'll graduate to Lego blocks

Despite a succession of wise decisions by Kabuto, Madara continues to focus all the credit on Orochimaru. I respect that Kabuto had to get his knowledge from somewhere, but this much focus on a supposedly deceased character implies that we haven’t seen the last of him, at least in some capacity. If that must be the case, I hope for something more imaginative than his consciousness overtaking Kabuto’s.

The frantic planning at the Kage Summit sets the tone properly for the impending war. That said, Gaara’s contribution to the proceedings is a little… misguided.

Fighting without fashion? Folly.

Gaara is an interesting choice of Commander General. I’m pleased that Kishimoto didn’t overly favor Konoha by putting Tsunade in charge of everything. With military divisions being formed on the basis of combat range or specialty, Gaara is a logical tactical choice; despite his other position as Division 4 (Long-Range) General, he is not exclusively a distance fighter, as his abilities can support the entire battle. I’m also pleased to see Kakashi in a position of importance, though Guy surely mustn’t enjoy being his subordinate.

Afternoon Tiger aftermath < being the lesser eternal rival

Temari and Shikamaru are logical choices for the long-range division, but Chouji’s inclusion in such a group is bizarre. Unless Kishimoto later provides some explanatory strategy (such as every group needing close-combat muscle in the event of an ambush), I can’t see any sensible reason why Chouji would be in this group. Surely, he’s been included because of his chemistry with Shikamaru. Speaking of Shikamaru, I’m a bit disappointed that he wasn’t given a leadership role. I have no particular complaints with those who have been chosen, but with so much emphasis having been placed on Shikamaru’s tactical brilliance, an outright position as Division General (instead of a proxy role under Gaara) would have made sense.

Kiba certainly is excited to go off to war. He is certainly a brash character, but I hope this arc is authored in an honest, horrifying way, enough to have characters such as Kiba come to shocking realizations about the senselessness and brutality of war. That’s not to say I’m hoping for meaningless character deaths, of course.

With this chapter building up excitement for the war arc so well, the last two pages come as an immense crushing blow. This isn’t a Mega Man game; Naruto and friends shouldn’t have to re-prove their superiority over previously defeated enemies right before the final boss. Also, while the overall idea of resurrecting old characters is bad enough, the choice of characters revived is even worse. Reviving Akatsuki is groan-inducing, given the growing sense of achievement and relief readers have felt as the series has progressed, but it’s also understandable; they were some of the most powerful characters in the history of the series. The Kages are the most sensible and least irritating of the bunch, because hearsay strength aside, they’re an unknown quantity. All that said, though, reviving characters like Zabuza and Kimimaro is heinous. They provide no creative edge to the storyline, no tactical benefit that couldn’t have been covered by introducing new characters or even by giving each Zetsu clone individual abilities. They have been brought back merely for a parade of nostalgia, for a self-congratulatory reminder by and for Kishimoto. I have lost some respect for this series and this author because of the end of this chapter.

Final Flash: Sasuke’s brief appearance aside, the chapter was admirably raising anticipation until a spectacularly awful train wreck of an ending. Expectations and excitement are decidedly gone.

  1. Sam
    November 5, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    ” I have lost some respect for this series and this author because of the end of this chapter.”

    My thoughts, 100%. Completely agree with your review. I can totally tell how disappointed you are with what has happened… As am I.

    Such a shame how Kishimoto can make his series considerably worse by just one chapter. Also, as soon as Sasuke starts to appear I don’t even know if I will have the strength or will to read it…

    Ofcourse.. saying all this, the Naruto fans in Japan and hard-core Narutards on the internet probably find this the amazing. :\

  2. [Cross]
    November 5, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Ignoring all common sense within me, I’d probably think this was the most awesomest thing evar. Just giving it an inkling of thought makes me feel insulted.

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