Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Naruto Shippuden (Seasons Fourteen & Fifteen)

Folks, I don't think I've been this hyped about about a season of Naruto Shippuden since season eight. Season fifteen is the bomb. Season fourteen... eh, not so much. Season fourteen is largely dedicated to filler so I really don't have much to say on that front. However, episodes 296-301 are canon so I will say that you shouldn't skip all of season fourteen. Just skip episodes 302-320 and that will take you back to canon material and to season fifteen. 

Season fourteen kicks off with Naruto and Killer Bee finally making their way to the battlefield. In order to cover more ground Naruto makes multiple shadow clones and sends them to all of the major battle sites. The major focus of the canon episodes in season fourteen is the fight Gaara and his Company wages against the Fourth Kazekage (Gaara's reanimated father), the Second Mizukage, and the Third Raikage. Naruto's shadow clone helps out by making it there just in time, but elsewhere another fight starts that will make a lot of Naruto fans really, really happy. 

I'm talking about Naruto and Killer Bee Vs. Uchiha Itachi and Nagato (formerly known as Pain). 

It isn't until this fight that I realized two things. The first is that Naruto didn't have a prayer of beating Nagato a second time. An undead Nagato with all of his former powers resurrected is almost unstoppable. Almost. 

If not for Itachi then all hope probably would have been lost right there. Itachi, genius that he is, actually manages to free himself from Kabuto's brainwashing and helps Killer Bee and Naruto take Nagato down. 

That's not to say I wasn't sad to see Nagato go. Nagato may have killed Jiraiya and he have been one of my most hated characters at one point, but as a reanimated slave to Kabuto you've got to feel for him. Not only was he used by Tobi for much of his life he was also used by Kabuto in death. The guy just can't get a fair deal. It really is no wonder he turned out the way he did. Naruto did make him see the error of his ways before his "first" death, though. So when we see him and Itachi again it's like seeing two long lost friends. Until they meet up with Naruto and Killer Bee they are just chatting, wondering why they've been brought back and hoping that someone will stop them. You know, just like normal everyday people. 

It was during those moments that the two of them actually became two of my favorite characters in the series. 

I mean, Itachi was already creeping up my list of favorite characters, but Nagato gained some serious ground with his second appearance. I was sad to see him be sealed away by Itachi, but glad that he could be put to rest again. Sometimes dead is better, right?

Now I know you must be asking yourself this, "How the hell did Itachi free himself from Kabuto's grip?" Well, this is where Itachi turns out to be a genius. Remember when Itachi left Naruto some of his power just before he died? Although initially meant for Sasuke, the power Itachi left was a form of genjutsu that would make the victim of the genjutsu wish to protect the Hidden Leaf Village. Itachi certainly hadn't planned on using the genjutsu on himself, but doing so overrode Kabuto's control over Itachi's body and mind. 

Free from Kabuto's grip, Itachi decides to set off after Kabuto himself to stop the reanimation jutsu while he tells Killer Bee and Naruto to go after Tobi. Of course, he has to swear Naruto to secrecy that he won't go blabbing to everyone about what really happened on the night Itachi slaughtered the Uchiha clan and that Itachi is actually a badass hero. 

After episode 301, I highly recommend you skip to 321 and commence season fifteen. All you will miss is Naruto trying to make it to every battlefield in time. It makes Goku trying to travel all of snake way in eight episodes in Dragonball Z look tolerable. 

Now let's get to the good stuff. 

For starters... the resurrection of Uchiha Madara and the REAL identity of Tobi, the man in the mask who has been claiming to be Madara for the past few seasons. 

I'm about to drop some serious spoilers on your ass so get out of here right now if you don't want to  be permanently damaged. 

When Madara appears on the battlefield against Gaara, Ohnoki, and Naruto's shadow clone you know shit has just gotten real. Because Madara, the real one, is the ultimate badass. Reanimated or not, Madara is one of the strongest characters out there. Period. When the rest of the Kage make an appearance to aid Ohnoki and Gaara then you have to know how serious this situation is. If that doesn't send the point home then maybe the moment when Madara uses a jutsu to summon two fucking METEORITES will. 

With the five Kage set to take the stage against the real Madara, Naruto's exhausted shadow clone disappears and Naruto has no choice but to trust the Kage with that fight. 

Meanwhile, the real Naruto and Killer Bee confront Tobi and the resurrected Jinchuriki. Of course, Tobi made sure things would be as hard as possible by implanting each of the Jinchuriki with both Sharingan and Rinnegan eyes. Not to be outdone, Tobi has also implanted himself with a Rinnegan so he has both, too. 

On their way to help the dynamic duo are Kakashi and Guy, but will the addition of the two of them really be enough to take on seven Junchuriki accompanied by seven tailed beasts and one homicidal maniac wearing a mask?

Well, the answer is no. They don't stand a chance in Hell... without some blind luck and the help of Kurama.

Now wait just a second. Who is this Kurama person? That's surely what you are asking yourself right now, isn't it? No, I'm not talking about the character from Yu Yu Hakusho. Kurama is actually the name of the nine-tailed fox inside of Naruto. In fact, all of the other tailed-beasts have names, too. During some of the episodes there's even a neat little singalong that helps us remember all of their names as well as the names of the Jinchuriki, but that song does get annoying after a while. 

During this season Kurama and Naruto become tight and I'm talking BFF tight. They even bump fists in true bro fashion. That's pretty awesome.

Of course, even with Kurama willingly helping Naruto and the aid of Kakashi and Guy things still seem grim.

If not for Itachi I've got to wonder how things would have turned out. While the five Kage are fighting the real Madara and Naruto is fighting the other "masked" Madara, Itachi and Sasuke have actually teamed up against Kabuto to make the most unlikeliest of alliances.

It's during this time that Itachi not only handles business with Kabuto, but he also comes clean 100% about what had happened in the past to Sasuke.

And it is moments like these that make me realize once again just how awesome Itachi is and what a little shit Sasuke is. The lengths Itachi goes to sacrifice for the Leaf Village are astounding and Sasuke just doesn't get it.

When Itachi gives his farewell to Sasuke and finally tells him how much he loves him... Yeah, you'll get those feels. Itachi went out like a true boss a second time. It really is such a shame that he has such a stupid younger brother. I mean, right after Itachi sacrifices himself again, Sasuke decides to revive Orochimaru.

Are you fucking kidding me? Sasuke, can't you just stop being an annoying fucker and get with the program?

Still, I am curious as to why Sasuke revived Orochimaru. Very curious indeed.

Getting back to the fights, the real Madara is owning the five Kage until the reanimation jutsu is undone. For a moment there, things looked really grim for the five Kage. On the other battlefield the seven Jinchuriki disappear and the tailed beasts go back to laying dormant inside of the Gedo statue. Everywhere else all of the reanimated shinobi disappear, too.

Now all that has to be done is to stop Tobi from getting a hold of Naruto and Killer Bee, right?

You couldn't be more wrong.

The real Madara has actually found a way to break free of the reanimation jutsu in such a way that not even Itachi could. Madara actually manages to rescind the reanimation jutsu contract and retains control over his own body thanks to a series of well-timed hand signals.

Like I said, the real Madara is the ultimate badass. And the real Madara easily defeats the five Kage and joins Tobi on the battlefield against Naruto, Killer Bee, Guy, and Kakashi.

At this point we all know who Tobi really is by now and it is no wonder that it was Kakashi who knew who it was before anyone else did. Since they technically share eyes.

In episodes 119 and 120 of season six of Naruto Shippuden we saw a glimpse of Kakashi's younger days and how he became friends with a young Uchiha named Obito. These episodes showed us how Kakashi got his Sharingan eye from the dying Obito and how Kakashi's outlook on life changed after his father committed suicide, but they also served a much greater purpose.

They served as a glimpse at Tobi's childhood as well although I'm not sure just how many people might have guessed it at the time.

Because Tobi is actually Kakashi's childhood friend, Obito.

Oh, snap.

In turns out that Obito did not die from his wounds, but actually got nursed back to health in an underground cave by, of all people, an aging Madara.

A series of flashback episodes at the end of season fifteen help fill in the gaps between Obito's "demise" and the rise of the Akatsuki as a power of evil. Don't skip those. They are important.

Man, what a rush. Next up is another filler season, but that one is only twelve episodes. After that I'll be caught up with the simulcast and posts about Naruto Shippuden will become a lot more infrequent. I know some of you are probably grateful for that.

I can't wait to see how all of this turns out, though.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

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