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Naruto Chapter 497 – Mom’s Here to Scare Off the Big Bad Fox

naruto-retro1Post Author: Bob

Well holy crap, after the lacklustre reading of the last couple of chapters, Kishi really pulled an ace from his sleeve this week. Not only did he answer my prayers for a one-on-one physical brawl fest between Naruto and Kyuubi, but he also dropped a bombshell at the end by making Naruto’s mother, Kushina Uzumaki, appear. Kishi also kicked up the art a notch this chapter; just check out the detail on the spread on page 3/4. Finally we have a chapter I can really dig into and talk about. And that goes for all you Shannarolites, too! No more wimpy comments like those of the last few weeks, I want to see some real discussions this time so go all out!

Personally, Kushina’s appearance completely caught me off guard. I was thinking she would have a role influencing Naruto down the road, but certainly not this directly. But her appearance also made me think about just how crowded it must be inside Naruto‘s psyche, inner self, or whatever you want to call it: there’s the giant evil fox, Evil Naruto, a fragment of Minato’s spirit, whatever essence Itachi left in him from their last encounter, that toad who holds the key to Kyuubi’s seal, and now his mother’s spirit. I was always interested in learning more about what happened to Kushina, next to the mystery behind Madara, I think she has me most interested. I initially thought I’d be one of the few fans who would be really excited to see her appear, but judging from the comments in the preliminary chapter post, she’s pretty popular with a lot people. It’s strange though if you think about it… she’s only made one appearance prior to this chapter so far and her past has only been hinted at through Jiraiya and Tsuande’s conversations — yet those tidbits were enough to really kindle our imagination about her character. So far we don’t know much about Kushina at all: she’s originally from the now-defunct Whirlpool country and Jiraiya mentioned that she had fiery red hair and a tomboyish personality that Naruto takes after. Other than those small details, we don’t know anything about her abilities, why she left her country, or how or whether or not she died (her spiritual appearance in Naruto’s mind seems to suggest that she has passed away already) — and this makes the cliffhanger at the end especially bad this week!

I’m really glad Kishi decided to go with a literal battle in this chapter for Naruto and Kyuubi’s showdown. We know this is all in Naruto’s mind, so really it could have been some surreal trip or a mental tug-of-war with no fighting at all. But just think how exciting that would be? I think Kishi must have realized that too and also knew that the fans want a full out brawl between our protagonist and his inner demon, and he promptly delivered that in spades. Those 13-14 pages of continuous action were a breath of fresh air after the lull of the last few chapters. I think we were pampered with non-stop action during the Sasuke-a-thon, and now we’re bitching when Kishi resorts to more humor and plot-focused storytelling. But hey, I think it’s about time Naruto was given another decent battle that we can really sink our teeth into. Even though most of the jutsus used in this battle from both sides were only recycled or slightly altered versions of existing techniques, I can’t really complain since the action flowed smoothly and had a lot of climaxes as it swung back and forth between Naruto and Kyuubi. The part I loved most was when Naruto landed his Rasen Shuriken into Kyuubi as he was down and then Kyuubi getting up looking like a pissed off, half shaven dog, lol.

It’s too bad Kyuubi’s evil overwhelmed Naruto so easily even after Naruto supposedly cleansed himself of (or at least came to terms with) his dark side. But we all know that Kyuubi has always been a total beast in more than one sense of that word. He is malice and hatred incarnate and he can take advantage of even the smallest remnant of darkness left in Naruto’s heart. It’s a little cliché for the answer to defeating Kyuubi’s hatred be motherly love, but I honestly can’t think of a better person to help Naruto out of this situation other than his mother, Kushina. Now, I definitely don’t think Kushina’s appearance is just a manifestation of Naruto’s inner mind (or maybe even an illusion by Kyuubi); much like Minato’s appearance during Naruto’s battle versus Pein, Kushina’s appearance was planted ahead of time and must have been triggered by this very situation Naruto is in. If this is true, then it means both Kushina and Minato consented and likely worked togther to seal the Kyuubi inside Naruto. They knew the consequences and the risks to their son and so each left a part of themselves inside Naruto to assist him during the worst of it.

Next week will almost certainly be a dialogue-heavy chapter, nonetheless I’m real excited about it since Kushina might finally spill the beans about her story. Okay, thanks for reading everybody, see you next week!