Recap of Chapters 700 + 6-8:
[Spoilers] So when I last wrote about Naruto Gaiden the largely unknown Uchiha characters were about to launch their offensive on the Konoha gang. Since then we have witnessed the first full-on battle between Hokage Naruto with Sasuke and the Akatsuki revival. Shin reveals himself with his group of clones which is an interesting theme in reference to Naruto’s shadow clones. The introduction of “scientific” cloning here in Naruto Gaiden is also an interesting reference of how modernized this new era is and how science and technology has progressed alongside ninjutsu. Disappointingly, Naruto is stabbed by Shin’s technique showing how much weaker and less-prepared Naruto is for battle in these times if peace. Even Sasuke took a few hits to protect Sarada! Which showed some progression of Sasuke’s character in contrast to what we have seen in the previous chapters. Even more disappointingly for the old guys, Sakura has to seemingly save the day by stepping in and pounding shin. While the Sasuke household is distracted with their family issues, Shin escapes taking Sakura with her.
Sakura is teleported to Shin’s hideout where they proceed to have a weird conversation about his existence. Shin reveals that he was one of Orochimaru’s experiments. This explains the link to Danzo alluded to earlier. He continues to reveal that the younger Shins are clones that are slaves to his end goal. To him they are merely spare parts and pawns for battle. Back with the Konoha gang, Naruto meets up with Captain Yamato who is keeping an eye on Orochimaru. Firstly, why is this snake-face guy still allowed to be alive and operate with freedom?! He was a criminal that should have been executed, if not imprisoned, after the war. Anyway, they meet up with Orochimaru who seems to have stolen another body. Orochimaru reveals that Shin was uniquely able to accept Sharingan transplants and was integral for Danzo’s arm. On their way to find out more information, Sarada takes Suigetsu aside and inquires about Karin. They somehow do an on-the-spot DNA test and find out that Karin is Sarada’s biological mother. Firstly, mind = blown. Secondly, not really because everyone suspected it. Thirdly, I have done DNA work before and it was never that fast! Naruto overhears the drama and tries to defuse the situation but Sarada is too emotional to listen.
Naruto continues to try calming Sarada down, citing that everyone in the village is part of his family. Sarada is adamant on finding her real mother and the truth. Sarada seemingly disowns Sakura as her mother, saying that they are not blood related, along with Naruto. Naruto flashbacks to his origin story and conveys to Sarada that blood does not really matter, but only feelings and love. Sarada recalls Sakura’s care for her and is finally convinced that she may be over reacting and needs to focus on getting her mother back. What was interesting about Sarada’s flashback is that Sakura may have never kissed Sasuke. What’s up with that? How are they married? This whole situation is so weird. They return to the rest of the gang and it seems that Sasuke’s eye powers have returned and they have located Sakura. Who is about to engage in battle with Shin
Chapter 700 + 9 – I Will Protect You
So we start this chapter with the weird-ass science discussion between Sakura and Shin coming to anend. Shin is revived using clone body parts and launches an attack on Sakura. This situation baffles me. Why would you engage in a long conversation with an enemy to stall time when you have an army of clones to keep her busy while you recover? From a tactical point, this would have at least either slowed down Sakura or inflicted some damage. Their fight is interrupted by the Konoha gang who managed to turn Sasuke’s Susano into an airbus travelling to Sakura’s location. Most of Shin’s attacks were quite weak and basic and he was caught completely off-guard by Susano. By Shin’s performance in this chapter it makes it quite hard to believe that he managed to inflict damage on both Naruto and Sasuke in the previous chapters. It seems like his powers were nerfed to allow for the next occurrence. A somewhat surprising betrayal by the clone Shins that he was about to sacrifice. Shin’s misguided teachings about power and evolution clearly allowed for him to be cast aside by his “children” when he was weakened. The chapter then goes into full attack of the clones mode. Clones of all shapes and sizes began attacking the Konoha Shinobi. To me, even though their numbers are high I doubt they have any unique abilities to actually put up a fight. Naruto could easily even the numbers with a Tajuu Kagebunshin no Jutsu. But the power differences should still be too great either way. Amidst the chaos, the original Shin tries to escape with some clones and the daddy-issue girls using the jyuubi-sharingan doll. But Sarada is not having any of it and we finally see what Sarada can do when she is not bogged down by her family issues. Sarada is quick to jump to action and decimates and entire squadron of Shin clones with a chakra-fueled punch.
Kishimoto continues with his fast-paced manga spin-off of Naruto. It is easy to see that he wants to cram quite a bit of plot into this single-volume series. Perhaps to give us some development and set-up before Boruto: Naruto the movie hits. This story could have easily filled twice the number of chapters with some added dialogue and action. But I am not complaining! This form of manga is quite refreshing compared to the drawn-out story-lines of other manga, the likes of One Piece and Bleach. From Sakura and Shins conversation, the past couple of chapters further builds on the theme that this age in the history of the Shinobi world is one of peace and progression. This is further reinforced by how rusty Naruto is for battle. Even Susano became a mode of transportation (#cheese). I did not enjoy how under-powered Shin became to service the betrayal of the clone Shin’s. To me this point really reduced the threat that this group posed to the Konoha Shinobi. In a sense the only threat that Naruto and Sasuke actually faced is their own rustiness in battle. Once they became serious, Shin was easily overpowered. I also seriously doubt the Shin clones pose any real threat unless they use come kind of massive combination or sacrificial jutsu. Despite being conflicted in earlier chapters, Sarada is beginning to accept her situation. She was about to go down a similar path that Sasuke was in seeking the truth above all else. But having a guiding hand like Naruto’s allowed her to rediscover another way of thinking. By the end of this chapter Sarada’s character sub-plot has completely developed and she is now able to take full-action without any hesitations. As such, she could begin mowing down groups of Shin clones with just a punch. I am quite keen to see how Sarada’s chakra control will be blended into her Sharingan powers. The added ability of brute-force and healing to ocular powers may be something quite formidable in the future and I can’t wait to see what Kishimoto does with this. All-in-all a great chapter, great art and execution with only minor story issues. As always, I can’t wait for more dattebayo!
Image credits: Shueisha, VIZ media, Weekly Shōnen Jump
Excellent chapter dattebayo!