After the major high that was the Akatsuki Suppression Arc (as well as the neglected Three Tails filler arc), we now have the Itachi Pursuit Arc, which is pretty short, all things considered. We do include the Kakashi Gaiden in this section, as it’s in the middle of the arc. It goes into Kakashi’s back-story, and is very important in the long run.
The Itachi Pursuit Arc spans from episodes 113 to 118, and then picks up again from episode 121 to 126, so this is still a very short arc, but the next arcs are so much more important.
This arc pretty much sets up everything to happen before the inevitable battle between Sasuke and Itachi. With which, Sasuke does the good work, kills off Orochimaru and then goes off to find three companions to help do his bidding. *Although if I’m honest, he could have asked Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi to help and they would have done it in a heartbeat*. This trio has a unique subset of skills and personality traits. Suigetsu is annoying but relatable at times, Karin is just a pre-Shippuden Sakura with natural talent and angst, and Juugo has…well, he has issues. Yeah I’m not a fan of this team, full stop. I kinda remain indifferent throughout the rest of the series, if I remember correctly.
Throughout their journey together, the chemistry between the four doesn’t seem to let up somewhat, and I’m sure can only get better from here? Maybe? No? Okay. There’s also an episode where Suigetsu retrieves Zabuza’s sword, and this guy shouts out that Sasuke was the one to kill Zabuza, even though it’s quickly disproven (if you remember, Zabuza was killed by a collective of Gato’s henchmen in the first arc).
There’s not much to discuss about the time spent with the Eight Man Squad (Team 7 and Team 10 combined) because not a lot of focus is spent on them – it is pretty much all about Sasuke and a deeper look into Akatsuki.
I always forget about the fight between Sasuke and Deidara though. The only thing I can usually remember from this fight is that apparently Earth is weak to Lightning. Well that completely flip-flops my Ground being immune to Electric in Pokemon train of thought, I suppose.
Well Deidara blows himsef up, but Sasuke takes credit for the kill. I mean, this continues to be a running theme later, but what is it about Sasuke taking credit for other people killing each other and/or themselves?
But hey, the Akatsuki get even deeper, with Tobi, having usually been a goofball and pretty crazy, introduces himself formally as Madara Uchiha, someone who has been alluded to earlier in the Shippuden series. Alongside the introductions of Pain and the currently unknown female, we now know all of the Akatsuki members that are currently surviving, along with Itachi, Kisame, Tobi and Zetsu.
Wow, there’s only six Akatsuki members left? Damn. It can only go downhill from here, I suppose…
A two-part special ran midway through this arc, detailing a mission that Kakashi undertook with his original team in the Third Great Ninja War. This is very important, as it details how he got his Sharingan. And holy crap, this is one of the more tear-inducing moments of the series (even now, as I’ve watched the entire series).
Like I said, it’s hugely important, as it also formally introduces two more pivotal characters – Minato Namikaze and Rin. I mean, seriously. This is a must!
Overall, I really like the arc, and how everything starts to get pieced together. And in the next arcs, we’ll see Jiraiya infiltrating the Rain Village to pursue information on the Akatsuki’s leader, and we’ll also see Sasuke taking on Itachi in that inevitable battle.