After the strong start that was the Kazekage Rescue arc, we now move onto the Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission arc, which spans from episode 33 to 53.
Let’s get on with this!
I’ll say it before anyone else does – Orochimaru is a downright creep in the opening titles, isn’t he? I’m considering legit headcannon to be that Orochimaru plays with his targets before taking over their bodies. After all, it worked for Michael Jackson, it’ll work for Orochimaru. I say bring on Blue Bird!
That said, I definitely started skipping the opening titles, while the song is good in itself, it feels like it’s there to force the ideals of friendship, which is something I have concerns over with the bond between Naruto and Sasuke, but we’ll get to that in a hot minute.
In other news, I’m surprised that nobody considered adding an extra person to Team Kakashi before the Kazekage arc, but no matter. We’re literally given what appears to be a Sasuke wannabe named Sai. And honestly I forgot how much of a dick he was to begin with. However that can be alloted to his back-story in the ANBU Root faction, as being micromanaged under Danzo is honestly quite horrible. Danzo is a dick that must be destroyed. Worst thing is that his legacy even goes as far as the Boruto series, but more on that when the time comes.
Sai is overall a great character to introduce to the mold with his uniqueness, albeit his lack of charisma. The thing is I know he’s going to be a likeable character after this arc, but it doesn’t stop him from being unlikeable right now.
This arc focuses a lot more on Naruto’s status as a Jinchuriki, as it’s something that’s been building up since the battle with Sasuke. However, it’s concerning that, like with Gaara, he starts using the Kyubi mode when even slightly triggered by the events around him.
Here’s something that concerns me greatly, and I have to make the break here. Naruto isn’t hugely great friends with neither Gaara nor Sasuke. With Sasuke, it was a rivalry and Sasuke only wanted to be friends with him to inevitably kill him for the Mangekyo Sharingan. You never see a hugely brotherly bond like we’re made to believe, yet Naruto cries that Sasuke is like a brother to him. Sakura I can understand acting that way, as she was (and really still is) in love with him, despite all the bullshit he’s pulled.
As for Gaara, Gaara looks up to him as a fellow Jinchuriki. It makes sense that they bond over that. However, fillers aside, the only time they ever interact is during the Konoha Crush. You don’t see them interacting at all until Naruto returns to the village. There is no way for them to bond in between the Crush and Naruto’s training. The end of the Sasuke Retrieval arc could have had them bonding more, but either that never happened or we never saw that. I can understand Naruto’s frustration and angst throughout the Kazekage Rescue arc, but I see that as a Jinchuriki angsting over another Jinchuriki, rather than friend angsting over friend.
Overall, this has taken me so far out of the immersion of the series.
We also have a bit of discontinuity, when Jiraiya mentions that Naruto can control himself up until the fourth tail appears, and he doesn’t discern friend from foe. However, you can see in the Kazekage Rescue arc that Naruto attacked Kakashi when only in his two-tailed form.
As well as Sai, we’re also introduced to Yamato, one of the ANBU, and conveniently the only one that can help Naruto with his beast control problems. However, I’m certain that we see him acting too late because we then get to see Naruto in the four-tails form, and the damage that it does first-hand. I mean, it’s pretty impressive, but deadly. Not to mention the amnesia that Naruto has upon reverting to normal, and the implications of that powerful form.
The other thing that really irks me is the scene where Team Yamato is fighting Kabuto outside the hideout. Sakura breaks a wall where a wasp nest is hiding, and I hate wasps at the best of times. Even worse is where you see a lizard eating a wasp for literally no reason, and it doesn’t fit the overall tone of that scene when Kabuto talks about them dying. I kept having to look away, I almost felt sick.
We got a lot of flashbacks for the encounter with Sasuke, and they were the same ones that we had when we got a brief glimpse in the first episode. It’s not going to be the last time we’ll get rehashes of flashbacks, but it’s better than what it’ll become.
I found it very cringeworthy when Sasuke was basically lecturing Sai and Yamato on their attempts to block Sasuke’s attack. I found it cringeworthy the first time, and I found it cringeworthy again watching back. That wasn’t really necessary. A more fluid sequence of attacks would have been better, in my opinion.
And then Sasuke takes off. Until next time, I suppose.
That was a wild ride of an arc, I have to say. While a lot of it was impressive, there was a lot of issues with continuity and my own personal issues with the arc.
The next part will be the Twelve Guardian Ninja arc, which is a short filler arc. It’s still good, though!