We’re getting deep into Shippuden now, and we’ve come to the first of many filler arcs in the series – the Twelve Guardian Ninja arc. I apologise for not having this up, but I always have difficulty getting through filler arcs – School Days was easier to get through than this arc. This resulted in me skipping over to the Akatsuki Suppression Mission arc.
The arc covers episodes 72-88, however there is more context in episode 89, leading into the Three-Tails filler arc.
I have to preface by stating that Closer by Inoue Joe is an absolute bop of an opening, and it gives me chills.
Before this arc, and before the previous filler, we finally get the opportunity to see Naruto learning a new technique and getting stronger, and lo and behold he has the wind-nature. Honestly, in terms of Naruto learning wind-nature training, I do have to rant. Hold on.
What was the point in Jiraiya’s training when all we saw Naruto do in flashbacks is learn how to dispel Genjutsu (which should have been taught a lot earlier, considering) and getting triggered to the point of unleashing the four-tailed form. He wasn’t taught the extra benefits of the Shadow Clones, and even just at least finding out his nature should have been part of basic training. We saw in the Tsunade arc that Jiraiya focused on ‘research’ than he did on the training that Naruto needed – Naruto mastered the Rasengan almost alone at that point. I do like that it gave an explanation to Asuma’s Chakra Blades, but it would have been interesting for Naruto to have the Rasenshuriken technique already as an ace, and then in this arc be taught or develop a new technique that wasn’t based on the Rasengan.
I wondered what the point of Jiraiya’s training was, and I even Googled it, and I saw the word ‘nothing’ came up. That says it all.
A painful filler arc later, and we actually come to some more decent content! This has to be one of my favourite arcs of the entire series so far, where we’re introduced to two more Akatsuki members. Hidan and Kakuzu carry on the trend of Akatsuki members being more inhuman, which only serves to alienate the organisation more for us. It’s a subject I do want to touch upon though, once all of the Akatsuki members are revealed. And honestly, having watched back, Hidan has to be one of my favourite Akatsuki members by far. Even with his Jashin-worshipping nonsense and batshit insanity.
We got a brief introduction of the Jinchuriki of the Two-Tails, but then she died before we got to know her better. This is where I’d like to see mini-series based on each of the Jinchuriki that we don’t get to know as well as Gaara or Naruto, as well as the brief back-stories we later get of Yagura, Utakata and Fu (the last two were filler only though). I would have rather seen that than the fillers that we do get later on, because it personalises them more and makes them more human as characters.
It was sad that Asuma did indeed die, but at the time I couldn’t shed a tear because I really needed to pee in that moment. However, it gave us amazing character development in Shikamaru, and it’s pretty much the moment that I just go ‘yes, he’s one of my favourites!’. It was upsetting to see a character go through depression, but that scene when he starts strategising after his emotional outburst resonated with me, because I do that kind of thing all the time.
I also love the development that Naruto goes through in attempting to developing a new technique. While he’s his usual reckless self during training, it’s shown that he’s matured and learned how to utilise his Shadow Clones by sending them out and observing from their experience, as shown while battling Kakuzu. Plus Shikamaru became a huge badass dealing with Hidan as form of revenge, using his genius to do so, rather than fancy tricks.
In this arc, I really enjoyed the development of the characters going forward, especially after Asuma’s death. It may not be the combat itself that lends it my personal favour, but it’s the growth of the characters all around. We also learn of the Akatsuki’s *current* plan to become a mercenary group and use the Tailed Beasts that they’ve extracted in order to monopolise war. I mean, that’s an interesting concept, I gotta give them that.
Plus, only Naruto could develop a technique and immediately be forbidden from using it due to it being a double-edged sword. But aside from that, there’s not a whole lot to write about in terms of this arc. It’s pretty straight-forward, I do admit.
The first official episode of the Three-Tails Arc actually blends in with the final loose ends of the Akatsuki Suppression Arc. However, I’ve opted not to cover any more filler arcs.
Next time, we’ll focus on the Itachi Pursuit Arc.