After a noticeably long absence, Naruto returns to his titular manga. It’s only a brief appearance, but it’s nice to be reminded that the main character is still kicking around. This week, we open upon Bee and Naruto as Naruto continues to train. Bee thinks that Naruto is close to figuring out the tailed beast bomb, but Naruto is having trouble concentrating because he can sense a disturbance in the force. What’s interesting here is that Naruto and Kinkaku both possess kyuubi chakra acquired at different times in the history of the kyuubi, but Naruto is able to sense that someone else is tapping into the same energy. Whether or not he figures out the source of the disturbance and learns about the war remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Darui is looking a little haggard from using the Seven Star Sword and Crimson Gourd and jokingly tries to apologize to Kyuubinkaku (as he shall be referred to in the rest of this review). Kyuubinkaku will not be appeased and begins to rage against First Division. His particular demon fox cloak forms five miniature tails and one huge tail that can be used to physically attack opponents. First Division makes Kyuubinkaku a priority as various shinobi including Choza step up to bat. Choza grapples the beast barehanded, though, and we know that kyuubi chakra is toxic upon physical contact. At this point, an elderly cloud shinobi gives his allies some information he probably should have divulged earlier. Back before Madara tamed the demon fox, the Hidden Cloud made a play for possession of the bijuu and as a result, the Kin-Gin brothers were swallowed whole by the fox. So it seems that the story we were presented about how the brothers acquired their power contained more truth than myth. This anecdote also reveals that the Hidden Cloud has been an ambitious village from the beginning, and although they would later turn traitor, Kinkaku and Ginkaku once took up extremely dangerous missions on behalf of the village. Could this be a case of power corrupting the brothers? Or perhaps in devouring such evil and unfiltered chakra, they were fundamentally changed. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
As the First Division front line starts to panic, intel is passed onto Shinobi HQ. News of the new developments surprises Tsunade, even though she is the leader of the village most intricately connected to the Kyuubi. It’s here that the Raikage reveals that Kinkaku and Ginkaku survived those two weeks in the fox’s stomach by feasting upon its meat, eventually forcing it to throw them back up. This legendary feat inspired others to repeat their actions, but no other person has gained bijuu chakra this way, since bijuu chakra is deadly when consumed. The Raikage posits that the reason Kinkaku and Ginkaku accomplished such a feat is that they’re probably distantly related to the Sage of the Six Paths himself. At this point, the Raikage believes the best option to contain Kyuubinkaku is to seal him with the fifth shinobi treasure. And it’s a good thing they possess a tool capable of sealing this beast, because Kyuubinkaku’s cloak has masked the rope needed to make Darui’s weapon’s work.
Instantly proving wrong my theory from last week, the fifth shinobi treasure is the Amber Purifying Pot that is used by the Hidden Cloud to host the eight-tails. Some readers predicted this, and if you saw it coming, congratulations! The pot works similar to the other treasures, but with fewer requirements. All that’s required for sealing is to call out to your target and if he responds, then he becomes sealed within the pot. As a weapon, it is quite a trump card, but that it wasn’t brought out until now implies there is a limit to how many individuals can be sealed within it. If it only has a capacity of one entity, then it makes sense to save the pot for a particularly troublesome revived ninja. Otherwise, it would make quick work of Edo Tensei. Furthermore, the Raikage reveals that Kinkaku and Ginkaku stole the treasures when they defected from the village and the pot was the only one the Hidden Cloud was able to recover.
Shikaku points out that First Division needs relief now and can’t wait for the item to be delivered. Luckily, the Raikage’s secretary is skilled in using transfer techniques so that’s not a problem. The problem is that Kinkaku once possessed the five treasures, therefore he should know how to counter them, which is where Shikaku steps in. His plan is to revive the Ino Shika Cho formation and to do so he communicates with Ino, Shikamaru, and Choji through Inoichi’s technique.
While Shikaku is prepping his strategy, First Division is having a hard time handling Kyuubinkaku. The battlefield is being demolished and it reminds me of the damage Naruto did to the landscape when he fought Sasuke in Kyuubi form. First Division is being outclassed by a lone shinobi, and Kyuubinkaku knows that Darui is trying to seal him in the pot. He makes the smart decision and tries to take Darui out when he realizes the allied plan. And he would have succeeded but not for Darui’s fellow general, Kitsuchi, and his earth technique taijutsu. And with Kitsuchi arrives Second Division, ready to support the dwindling First Division. Team Asuma is going to be the lynchpin of Shikaku’s plan, but each of the members is nervous going up against the legends that defeated even the Nidaime Hokage. Shikaku let’s the kids in on a secret. Legends are often exaggerated after the fact and it’s never truly long before someone outdoes the original and a new legend is born, tying in once again to the theme of new generations supplanting older generations.
Comforted by Shikaku’s wise words and with their former teacher watching, Team Asuma begins to forge a legend for the new age. Darui starts things off by ordering all available shinobi to barrage Kyuubinkaku with kunai, yet Kyuubinkaku isn’t impressed by these third rate or ‘copper plated’ ninja. After all, he is a Kage level individual who once stood toe to toe with giants. Choji uses the momentary distraction of the barrage to charge at the enemy, though Kyuubinkaku tosses him away easily enough. But this too is reavealed to be a faint, as Shikamaru successfully uses his Shadow Mimic technique. It doesn’t hold for long against the force of the kyuubi’s chakra, but it holds long enough for Ino to cast Mind-Body Switch. After that, Ino simply responds to Darui, Darui seals Kyuubinkaku, and Ino bails from the body before it is sealed.
And so the battle with Kinkaku and Ginkaku comes to a close. Both brothers were talented shinobi with first rate abilities and chakra, but as Darui points out, copper can be more valuable than a gold coin if you collect enough of it. And Team Asuma demonstrated excellent timing and teamwork in a desperate situation on the battlefield. Surely their legend is growing. Three kids were able to defeat two Akatsuki members with intelligence (and a little help) and a jinchuriki with teamwork. And as promised, Darui has stripped away that gold plating of pride the brothers were so proud of.
This chapter was great. There was a lot of plot momentum, a peek at the main character, and good bits of action and strategy. I’ll admit the battle with Kin-Gin was shorter than I was expecting it to be, but for such a lean fight, there was little to no filler. Kishimoto did a great job of conveying how quickly First Division became desperate against a jinchuriki. It’ll be interesting to see how the allied shinobi handle the remaining former jinchuriki given that there are quite a few left. I also think it’s fitting that the battle was won not through brute strength, but with intelligence, which is the key to true victory on the battlefield. In addition, the characterizations continued to be excellent. and Shikaku gave us a nice thematic cap to the last few chapters.
That said, this chapter was fool of information concerning the larger mythology of the series and I’d like to take a moment to talk about how this chapter shapes the history of the ninja world. What we know know is that:
The preceding information actually clarifies a few inquiries from past chapters. From this we know how Kinkaku and Ginkaku came to be summoned with four of the five treasures. If they were hidden by the brothers before they died, then Kabuto would have no trouble learning their whereabouts with Edo Tensei. It also explains why the brothers are so reviled in the Hidden Cloud. It isn’t just that the brothers attempted a coup. It’s that they did so at the cost of prolonging a war that had devastated the five nations. Also, both brothers could use the demon fox cloak, and Kinkaku was known to have used in battle before, presumably after Ginkaku’s defeat (according to Kakazu). In that case, then it becomes clearer why Tobirama Senju might have developed Edo Tensei. His deceased, elder brother Hashirama was one of two individuals able to tame the bijuu at the time, and the Hidden Cloud had two shinobi possessing Kyuubi chakra. If he ever needed to stop either in battle, then his best bet would be to revive his brother and have Hashirama deal with the Kyuubi’s chakra. In this context, while the techniques still seems dubious, it also seems like a necessity.
And let’s consider Kinkaku and Ginkaku. Naruto hosts the Kyuubi, but only the beast’s Yin chakra (or was it Yang). When they devoured the Kyuubi’s meat, the brothers are likely to have absorbed completely unfiltered chakra. They survived a situation where death was all but certain and raged for two whole weeks. Two weeks of nothing but thrashing and eating Kyuubi meat. It is easy to see how they would be considered the two bright lights of the Hidden Cloud after this. But afterwords, Konoha took possession of the Kyuubi, trumping their own feat. Furthermore, their own village was prepared to enter into a peace treaty with the very same nation. What had that sacrifice been for? They had thrown themselves into capturing the Kyuubi and almost lost their lives in the process. By all rights, they should have died after eating the meat of the fox. Now, their enemies possessed the Kyuubi, and their own village was ready to simply accept this. From this perspective, it’s easy to understand how warriors as vain as Kinkaku and Ginakau might betray their village and Kage. And there is no telling how hosting such unfiltered evil chakra changes a person. Despicable they may be, but they are not beyond the ability to be empathized with. They had their positive qualities. After all, as brothers they cared deeply for each other.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Last week I predicted that Kyuubinkaku would rage and that the shinobi army would have to pull out all the stops to contain him, although my prediction for how he would be stopped was wrong. We also didn’t see the former jinchuriki, and my theory about the remaining shinobi treasure was incorrect.
What might we see next week? I think that now would be the perfect time to bring Asuma into focus since his team has demonstrated their growth since his death. Though, I doubt his soul would be released as a result of the encounter. From there it could go many directions. Third Division is still fighting the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist and shinobi with kekkai genkai. Notable revived shinobi are still fighting First Division. The revived bijuu have yet to be seen. The former Kage should be converging upon Gaara. And there’s Black Zetsu. What I want to see is Dan and maybe have his significance explained. I think what we will see is the beginning of a conflict with the former Kage and/or Black Zetsu.