Nice chapter this week, I think we’ve reached another pitstop in the fight against Tobi/Madara. Naruto has proven he can stand toe-to-toe with the multiple Bijuu and has literally stated to Tobi’s face that he knows more about the Bijuu under his control that he does, essentially throwing a monkey wrench into Tobi’s plans on using the beasts as his goon squad in the future.
This is an important turning point in the battle because of the new element of the unknown that Naruto has brought to the battlefield. Tobi’s confidence comes from the fact that he’s been around for so long that he knows almost everything about everyone and every village – down to the sage of the six paths and history of all the tailed beasts. However, the transformation that Naruto has taken in just one chapter is something he has no knowledge of – because there hasn’t been an instance before where the Kyuubi willing fused his own chakra with his human host. For a man that empowers himself through the process of controlling everyone else (by mind control if necessary), Naruto’s unpredictability leaves him without a clue on how to deal with it. Tobi’s only option is to lurk back into his zone of safety by reassuring himself that everything that has happened with Naruto is irrelevant and that he still maintains the upperhand over everything. But as we’ve seen again and again in this manga, underestimating the underdog is the pitfall every villain makes that leads to their ultimate demise.
With the current course of events, Tobi will be defeated. However, this is a man with countless tricks under his belt that, and if backed into a corner Tobi will get desperate and do anything to get the upperhand again. He’s a man of no mercy and has little value for life, I don’t doubt that if he can’t gain control the world he’d be willing to destroy it. But let’s not forget the other players still remaining on the field: Kabuto, the real Madara and Sasuke. Kabuto and true Madara seem to have forged a team of their own, but I bet having Tobi defeated here will not benefit them in the long run. They might come to Tobi’s aid if only to take his powers for themselves, but first they have to elude the five kages out for blood. Sasuke may be Tobi’s only real back-up if things start going sour, but the current Sasuke feels like he’d kill somebody for just staring at him. He may be too emo at the moment to deliberately help Tobi, but may indirectly help his war effort if all he wants to do is to spill Konoha blood.
This chapter spent a lot of time on featuring the individuals of the Konoha 11 and others while they charge to reinforce the war effort, which was quite a nice touch by Kishi to remind us that this isn’t a one-man war despite the amount of attention Naruto’s battles have been getting. Notice how they are all coming in as one, their collective footsteps leaving behind prints in the mud as they rush to help their friends in battle. Now contrast this to the last two pages on this chapter… a sole Sasuke walking through the rain… destination unknown… future unknown. We all can’t control the circumstances of our lives when we’re born and we can’t change the past, but we can affect our own futures. Sasuke was left an orphan as an early age, with no family or clan to belong to. But he gained a new family with Team 7 with Sakura, Naruto and Kakashi. Yet, he abandoned all that to pursue the path of vengeance, to murder his own brother. To that end he formed a new team to aid him towards that goal, yet even abandoned them to be captured through his rash actions. And now, after learning the truth about his brother, Sasuke has nothing left but to pursue vengeance for the sake of vengeance – all the while being manipulated by the man who is probably the real cause for the slaughter of his family and clan. Unlike Tobi, Sasuke has no desire to control the world, but like Tobi he has no qualms about destroying the world if it stands in his way.
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