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naruto-retro1Post Author: Bob

Heya folks,

Some might have noticed my spotty coverage of Naruto manga posts over the last months, heck I think I missed 2 or 3 chapters in a roll now. Unfortunately work and family commitments have caught up to me to the point where even sparing an hour or two a week to write up a thoughtful analysis on my favorite manga is not happening. My original plan was to push on until at least the current arc has concluded, but it doesn’t look like I will be able to accomplish that goal. It’s been a looong run though, and I’m proud of what I have accomplished with this blog as well as the original Naruto Hurricane site. My first Naruto chapter write up was in 2006, and I started officially blogging in early 2008 — that’s over six years of writing about Naruto, and I’m damn proud of it all. At the peak of the Shannaro!!! blog’s running history, we had over 15 active authors and it was a scramble every week to schedule in post submissions while our backlog of posts kept building up. To those people who have stuck around since those early days, whether as a reader, commenter, or author, I want to thank you all for making this place so special to our fellow Naruto fans.

I will stay on as caretaker to the blog and do all the maintenance duties I have always done. I would imagine further Naruto chapter discussions will continue on in the weekly “It’s Out” posts like they have always been (I still moderate comments closely, so don’t think just because the cat’s away….).

I’m also open to anyone who wishes to carry on the torch and continue with the weekly Naruto manga blog posts. If you have good writing skills and an eye for detail, send me an email at b0buchiha@yahoo.com and we can talk.

Anyways, thanks for the fun trip guys, it’s been one fun journey.

Naruto Chapter 582 – The Boy With Nothing

naruto-retro1Post Author: Bob

This chapter wasn’t quite what I had expected, and it’s probably the same for other readers. Wwe we’re all on the edge of our seats waiting to see what Izanami is, only to have an anti-climax instead this chapter with a story about how Kabuto got his glasses…. It is kind of Kishi’s style to do this as he often skips around to different stories within a single chapter but I’d rather have had Kabuto have his flashback just prior to his death, having it here just slows things down.

I think most of us long-time Naruto readers should recognize what a flashback typically signifies in this manga. Not that Kabuto’s death was not inevitable, but the lengthy flashback pretty much hammers the nails in his coffin. Kabuto was also extremely cocky and arrogant throughout this whole encounter, and generally those types are doomed to be defeated since this manga is all about the triumph of the underdogs over the elitists. Kabuto definitely has demonstrated his arrogance isn’t just unfounded bravado, he has the techniques and tactics to pull off all his boasts. If it had only been Sasuke or Itachi alone that came to fight him, this battle could have gone in Kabuto’s favor (especially against Sasuke, who is behaving like a noob this fight ). But when he saw that both Itachi and Sasuke had arrived, I think Kabuto should have re-evaluated the situation to either withdrawal or feint a retreat to separate the brothers somehow. Many times in this fight so far, Kabuto had the opportunity to incapacitate one of the brothers, but could not maintain that hold due to the interference of the other. And now Kabuto is resorting to using offensive jutsus to take both brothers down together and laughing off Izanami like it won’t affect him, and that will be his downfall.

Kabuto’s flashback was somewhat interesting, but overall I felt it was out of place in the middle of the fight. Now we know that Kabuto’s name derived from the helmet he was given as an orphan and where his glasses came from… all interesting information but they have very little relevance to what is happening currently. It seemed like an excessively long flashback just to relay to the readers that Kabuto had nothing as a youth and that is why he is striving to become a megalomaniac. The detail which Kishi is putting into this flashback makes me think he’s planning on expanding on Kabuto’s backstory in the next chapter as well. Maybe we’ll learn a bit about how Kabuto was recruited to be a spy for the Leaf or how he became Orochimaru’s lackey. In the end, it will all just be filler unless Kishi somehow links it to the current events somehow.

So next chapter will either be more Kabuto flashback or (hopefully) the reveal of Itachi’s Izanami technique. I feel that Izanami is going to play a major role in the entire war. Itachi will most likely have to sacrifice himself or his eyes to pull it off to defeat Kabuto, which will probably inspire Sasuke to reconsider the path he has taken and maybe use the Izanami technique to help out the good side in this war. Also, because Izanami is a reality altering technique and vaguely mentioned to have the ability to decide one’s fate, perhaps Itachi will use it to alter Sasuke’s fate so that he won’t continue his one-man suicide march to kill all of Konoha.

Naruto Chapter 580 & 581 – Brotherly Time

naruto-retro1Post Author: Bob

Hey narutards, another week another chapter. Sorry about missing last week’s chapter, work has been slowly but steadily encroaching on my blogging time. But at the same time, I found last week’s chapter 380 hard to write about because it was a fast sequence of action that left nothing really to talk about other than how uber Kabuto is against two Uchihas. This week’s chapter is the exact opposite and has some meat to it in the form of Kabuto trying once again to form a wedge between the two brothers by playing on their insecurities.

It occurred to me that Kabuto must have thoroughly planned which abilities to train up when he went to the snake sage. How else could he find a combination of techniques and abilities that seem to be designed specifically to counter the Sharingan. No doubt after he witnessed Sasuke kill Orochimaru, Kabuto began to obsess over the Uchiha as much as Orochimaru did. Surprisingly enough, he would have gotten the upperhand on Sasuke too if not for Itachi’s interference.

Even if Kabuto had planned countermeasures against fighting Sharingan users, facing off against two of the most powerful ones in existence (well, there’s not many left anyways) is probably something he didn’t plan for. That is why he’s talking his mouth off this whole fight in order to use guile and manipulation to create distrust between the recently reunited brothers. Rather than his jutsus or innate abilities, it is definitely Kabuto’s intelligence and ability to read other people like a book which makes him so dangerous. It was a bonus this chapter to hear a bit about how Kabuto was raised when he was taken in by Konoha as an orphan. Because he was always used as a spy, Kabuto was always putting up a façade, and never really knew who he really was. This explains why he is so obsessed in taking techniques and abilities from others to incorporate into himself. In some ways, Kabuto is very similar to Tobi – his only way of showing the world who he really is is through the demonstration of power.

It was nice to see Itachi taking at least a bit of responsibility when he admits to Sasuke that it is his fault he became what he has become. But at the same time, Itachi plays it like a pro and tells Sasuke it’s not his position to judge him either. Itachi knows that Sasuke is still very much obsessed with getting his approval, so he doesn’t want to stir things up by either criticizing Sasuke or praising Sasuke for his past deeds. And just to make sure he’s got Sasuke on the hook for good, he dangles a carrot by telling Sasuke he has something to say to him, but only after they take down Kabuto. I bet Kabuto is kicking himself for resurrecting Itachi using Edo Tensei.

Itachi’s unveiling of the Izanami technique is very intriguing. And to reveal such an important ability so late in the war, it must play a part later on, especially if Sasuke is able to learn it. Izanami, the ability to decide one’s destiny; it’s a pretty vague description but Itachi did say it forms a pair with Izanagi. Perhaps we will see Itachi sacrifice his eyes to defeat Kabuto?

P.S.Thank you MangaZone for stepping up and taking on Naruto translations, I couldn’t stand the other group’s translations anymore.

Naruto Chapter 579 – I’m a Dragon, Dr. Snakes

naruto-retro1Post Author: Bob

Hmm, this week’s chapter was nice in that we have Itachi and Sasuke fighting side-by-side, but some of the things presented seem out of place. The translation I think had a large part to do with it, as some of the word choices used are just very un-Kishi like and other times just make me cringe at how bad the sentence structure is. Maybe I’m being too nitpicky – it is a free scanlation – but it just ruins the mood of the chapter when a supposedly genius like Kabuto messes up his own words and Itachi starts cracking jokes (Dr. Snake? Really?). That aside, this chapter was a good set-up for the battle to come between Kabuto and the Uchiha brothers, but I think the more interesting part then seeing Kabuto’s transformation was learning more about the backgrounds of Karin, Suigetsu and Jugo.

Kabuto’s new snake-sage mode was a surprise, but now that I think back it makes sense for Orochimaru that have tried to gain this technique. Each of the Sannins had an animal-aspect: Jiraiya had his toad, Orochimaru had his snakes, and Tsuande had her slugs. Since Jiraiya managed to master his toad sage mode by studying under the head toad guru, why couldn’t Orochimaru and now Kabuto have done the same. On the same line of thought, we could very well see Tsunade pull a slug sage mode on Madara in their current battle, though the thought of changing into half-slug can’t be too pretty :p
The only downside for Kabuto though is I doubt his sage mode will be nearly as powerful as the others, not because it is inferior but because I don’t think Kabuto truly mastered it. Despite proclaimed to be a genius of sorts, we now know that all of Kabuto’s powers have pretty much been stolen from others. The guy practically has no special powers to call his own, everything he has today was taken from somebody else. Kabuto doesn’t seem like the type to want to work hard at mastering something on his own, he would much rather attain power through taking short-cuts and stealing what others hve already obtained through hard work. That’s why I believe his sage-mode is going to be mostly show with not much bite, not worth the time of two Susanoo-users in my opinion. Jiraya and Naruto both committed blood and sweat to master the frog sage mode technique, it makes me doubt that Kabuto would have the same commitment when he received his current powers so easily by stealing from others. Kabuto will put on a fight to give Itachi and Sasuke to show-off their teamwork, but I think he’s still fated to lose – his only saving grace is that the brothers will have to go easy on him because he holds the key to stopping the Edo Tensei technique.

The more interesting part of this chapter was learning more about the history behind Karin and Jugo. People have joked in the past that Karin was an Uzumachi because she had red hair, but who knew Kishi would actually reveal it to be factual. So all direct descendants of the Uzumachi clan have red hair (Naruto is only half-Uzumachi) and have a strong life force, allowing some of them to possess high regenerative powers it seems). This helps explain some of Naruto’s unnatural resilience in battle as well, as we’ve seen recover inhumanly fast before. It was attributed to Kyuubi’s chakra powers before, but maybe it was Naruto’s Uzumaki blood at work the whole time.

The explanation of Jugo’s powers and those of his clan also sheds a lot of light on why they are so powerful, yet seemingly can’t control their own power. It seems that Jugo’s clan possessed bodies that can absorb nature chakra easily. This is the same chakra that Naruto uses to empower his speed and strength while in sage mode. But we’ve also seen that the inability to balance this chakra can spell disaster to the user. When jugo is in control of the nature’s chakra, he’s calm and able to communicate with the animals, but when it builds up he turns into a monster. Perhaps the reason why Sasuke was able to quell Jugo during his berserker tantrums was because his genjutsu was able to help Jugo balance the nature chakra within himself.

That’s my thoughts for this week. Let’s hope Kabuto puts up a good fight next chapter, but I don’t expect this to last more than two chapters at the most.

Naruto Chapter 577 – It’s Just a Flesh Wound

naruto-retro1Post Author: Bob

This week’s chapter’s was pretty nice I have to say. The battles on both Itachi’s and the kage’s fronts are moving along without pause and with the intensity of the battles to come, I get the feeling someone might have to bite the dust soon. Madara has demonstrated he is nearly invincible; he retains the most powerful jutsus of his generation from both the Uchiha and the Senju — on top of that Edo Tensei makes him indestructible. The five kages, as powerful as they are in their own respect, will have to pull out all the tricks to even have a chance to bring Madara down. They have never faced an opponent of Madara’s caliber for over half a century, so none of them except maybe Tsunade know how to properly counter Madara’s abilities. And so far, Madara’s only been using ninjutsu attacks on the kages, I’m sure he has a pretty hefty arsenal of genjutsu abilities up his sleeves as well.

Tsunade is giving her all in this battle, tapping into a miotic regeneration power that probably increases her physical strength and chakra levels while boosting her regenerative abilities by a ton. That’s why I’m not too worried that Madara appeared to have mortally wounded her with her Susanno’s blade in this chapter. I’m sure it hurts like hell, but once Tsunade manages to pull herself clear, I’m sure she’ll heal herself within the blink of an eye. However, her rash behaviour to try to take down Madara without coordinating with the other kages as all is very un-kage like. I don’t know what brought on this outburst but I suspect she was infuriated to learn that Madara has absorbed part of her beloved grandfather inside himself and is now using Mokuton jutsu against the very people the First Hokage sacrificed himself to protect. But with so much at stake here and against such a powerful entity, I hope she can calm herself a bit and work together with the others to come up with something other than a rash frontal attack. She is the only medical ninja in the group and her knowledge of the Mokuton jutsu may be their only advantage against Madara right now, let’s hope Tsunade can pull her aggression back a bit after she gets herself out of this pickle.

After seeing Sasuke silhouette in the background when Itachi broke into Kabuto’s hideout, I can safety say that snake-boy is a goner. Kabuto tries to squirm his way out of this one by trying to convince Itachi that the Edo Tensei summons will remain even if he is killed, ie. they need to make him alive to unsummon them, but I don’t think Sasuke really cares either way. He would just as willingly kill Kabuto now as he did with Orochimaru, Kabuto’s life holds no value to him. Also, if he kills Kabuto, Itachi will remain summoned and Sasuke would have his brother back, kind of. Subduing Kabuto is not the problem here for Itachi, he has to first worry about what Sasuke is going to do. I still feel Kabuto’s days are numbered, it just seems like Kishi is leading it that way with so many dead characters being brought back to from the dead. If Kabuto dies, all the Edo Tensei summons remain but will have their wills back since their controller is dead. That means characters like Dan, Chiyo and maybe even Asuma will get a chance to say goodbye to their friends and family one more time. It also means the powerhouse that is Madara will have to be dealt with another way, but it wouldn’t be very exciting if it was easy to bring him down.

Other points:
– I laughed out loud at Dan’s expression when he learned that his girlfriend fulfilled the goal he was never able to attain by becoming Hokage. It felt like part of his undead manhood just fell apart right there, lol. Also, he should give Tsunade a bit more credit for facing down Madara, I mean he has no idea what kind of progress Tsunade has made as a kunoichi since his death – have a little faith , dude.

Naruto Chapter 476 – Chasing Itachi

naruto-retro1Post Author: Bob

This week’s chapter didn’t get me too excited I’m afraid to say. I thought I’d be more excited by a potential Sasuke versus Itachi Mangekyou Sharingan showdown, but I dunno, maybe Sasuke suddenly reverting back to his old angsty, Itachi-obsessed ways is throwing me off. This turn of events with Itachi and Sasuke’s reunion is a surprise to me to be honest, we’ll have to see how this plays out but how Itachi handles this will determine Sasuke’s course of actions in this war. The other highlight of this chapter is the return to the Madara versus the five kages battle. I had hoped to have seen more of Naruto’s fight against Tobi since the tide has shifted to the good guy’s side, but I guess we’ll have to wait. As well, by having the two battles occur simultaneously, Kishi has made it so that neither parties can come to the others’ aid; each group will have to win based on their own merits.

For the longest time, I had believed that Sasuke had gone far past the point of no-return and that any chance of redemption was nil. However, Itachi’s surprise chance encounter with Sasuke might just shine some hope here. This is because Itachi is the only person Sasuke would even consider listening to and be influenced by. Heck, Sasuke usually either shuns or attacks those that try to persuade him somehow, this time Sasuke is actually having to chase down the man he desperately wants some answers from. The fact is, Itachi made Sasuke who he is today. Of course, it wasn’t Itachi’s intention for Sasuke to become a hate-filled-Konoha-killer, but as we’ve seen, Itachi was very laissez-faire in how Sasuke matured. But this chance meeting is an excellent opportunity for Itachi to finally influence Sasuke down the right path. At the moment, Itachi is ignoring Sasuke, not just because he is busy tracking down Kabuto, but also because he is very disappointed in how low Sasuke has sunken that he feels there’s little use in trying to save his brother now. But I think Sasuke’s demonstration of his continual obsession with Itachi shows that his inner mentality is still that of the young boy looking up to his brother looking for guidance and approval. Itachi is the only link Sasuke has left to his childhood, and I do believe that Itachi can have a significant influence on Sasuke’s role in this war depending on his actions and words in the next few chapters.

I do believe a Sharingan showdown is inevitable because 1. the fans demand it and 2. Sasuke needs to fight his brother now that they have the same eyes in order to gain Itachi’s approval. I also personally believe Sasuke Needs to defeat his brother in order to bring some kind of closure within himself. Prior to learning the truth about his brother’s role in the downfall of the Uchiha clan, Sasuke only wanted to defeat Itachi for revenge, but now he needs to defeat Itachi in order the show the brother he has admired all his life how far he has come on his own. I’m hoping that by going through this battle, Itachi will convince Sasuke to reconsider the path he has chosen. At the very least, he should convince Sasuke to help him track down and kick Kabuto’s ass.

It looks like it’s time for Tsunade to now shine on the battlefront against Madara. Madara has pretty much formally declared a challenge to Tsunade to come get some. He has insulted her family’s name as well as making sexist comments about her being weak simple because she is a woman. Hot-tempered as she is, Tsunade won’t take those comments lightly. I hope she can put that anger to good use, because this Madara is a powerhouse the ninja world has not seen in decades. Hopefully, now that they know that Madara possesses Hishirama’s powers because he literally has his cells within his body, Tsunade can use the knowledge of her clan’s powers and her medical jutsu to come up with a way to defeat this monster.

Naruto Chapter 574 – My Brother’s Eyes

naruto-retro1Post Author: Bob

Interesting transition chapter this week, and we get a sneak peek at how the remnants of Sasuke’s Team Taka is doing. To be honest, I would have liked to see more of the Naruto vs Tobi battle as it seems it was just getting to the good part where the tide will be turned to favor the good guys. Sasuke is finally getting some more face time, all he seems to want to do is to kill Naruto and then all the Leaf ninja because he blames Konoha for everything that has gone wrong in his life – the translation this week from Mangazone made it hard to understand what exactly Sasuke was trying to convey in his inner monologue; if you haven’t heard yet, Mangastream was made to stop their scanlations from Viz Media last week.

I’m glad Kishi hasn’t completely forgotten about Team Taka. The remnants of Sasuke’s gang seem to be doing okay after being separated and captured. They’re as dysfunctional as ever without Sasuke leading them, but it looks like all are trying to reunite with Sasuke despite being abandoned by their leader when he opted to pursue his own interests. Suigetsu found an interesting scroll inside Orochimaru’s lair, he mentions that it could allow them to gain control over the war. I was originally thinking that the scrolls was going to allow the user to somehow gain control of the Edo Tensei summons, but given that most of them have been sealed already or otherwise incapacitated, gaining control of them at this point will not allow the user to do much. The important thing to get control of is The Demon Statue which holds seven of the nine tailed beasts at the moment. Seeing as only Rinnegan users appear to be able to control the Demon Statue, my guess is that the scroll pertains to information on how an Uchiha with the Eternal Mangekyou Sharigan could obtain the Rinnegan. I still think the current Sasuke won’t be much of a match against Naruto’s new form – yes he has better control over his EMS powers, but the powers themselves haven’t changed much – that could change if Sasuke manages to upgrade his eyes to Rinnegan much like the original Madara did. I chuckled at the Karin scene and wasn’t surprised she hid something to help her escape her prison – she’s a survivor. She’ll undoubtedly try to get back to Sasuke once she’s out, but even for someone who is obsessed with him, but hell has no fury like a woman scorned and Karin won’t soon forget Sasuke nearly killed her and threw her away like trash.

Speaking of Sasuke, his escape from the hole Tobi meant to hold him in until he was needed is another setback to Tobi’s plans. Furthermore, Sasuke is said to have killed the original Zetsu who was holding him, which I read as no more white Zetsu clones can be created anymore. Tobi still has Yamato powering the big Zetsu maker in his underground lair though, so I could be wrong. Sasuke was just wandering aimlessly it seems, but interrogating one of the Zetsu clones clued him in on where Naruto and a large part of the Ninja Alliance army is converging on. No doubt Sasuke will make his way there and try to cause as much death and mayhem as possible. But the cliffhanger at the end of this chapter suggests a meeting between Sasuke and his brother in the near future, maybe next week perhaps? Itachi originally planted the crow inside Naruto as a counter to bring Sasuke back to the good side, but unfortunately is was set to be triggered by his own eyes and Itachi didn’t calculate in that it would be used on himself when he was Edo Tensei summoned from the dead. I doubt Itachi has another trick like that saved up to be used on Sasuke, if he is forced to stop Sasuke then he will have to do it the old fashioned way.