While Naruto is holding his own for the most part, things are getting more and more intense as the fight wears on.
What They Say
Gamabunta and the other toads are defeated while Naruto is captured by Pain. Naruto attempts to fight back with Sage Jutsu, but Gakido sucks out his chakra, forcing him to go out of Sage Mode.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Finding the balance for an important fight scene is difficult when trying to make sure you have enough action and an epic feel while also making sure you don't draw it out for too long. As one of the sage toads says at the start of the episode, it's not in their interest to drag it out too long. The fight against Pain is an important one and a big moment in the series where we've seen an impressive lead-up to it with the near total destruction of the Village of the Hidden Leaf. With the intensity of it all and the arrival of Naruto, it was raised to another level but now it seems to have lost its energy, at least briefly, as Pain has seemingly captured the orange clad ninja.
Even as Naruto takes down the various puppets that Pain is using against him, we're made aware of some of the pointless nature of the fight as this isn't the real Pain that's controlling everything. He's still hidden somewhere, using these puppets, causing all this destruction. The fight Naruto is in takes some distinct turns as he gets closer to taking down the puppets, but not without sacrifice on his part as well. While this plays out, we do see others who have survived trying to figure out where the real Pain is so they can support Naruto in his efforts and help find some sense of justice to ease their own pain with so many of their own friends and associates dying in the overall battle.
Pain does play an interesting card as the episode plays on where he attempts to portray both he and Naruto as the same in what they want to achieve. In several senses, it is true, and Pain does even use Jiraiya in explaining it in a way that connects with Naruto. A lot of what he says does make sense, and you can see Naruto accepting parts of it, but you also know that he can't go along with the general view of it because of what Pain has done. Can you truly end the cycle of violence with more violence? End destruction with more destruction? They throw some weighty philosophical ideas into the mix here in a very simplistic way but there are several truths to all of it as well. Naruto at least shows a little growth in that he doesn't outright deny that such things that Pain talks about happened in the past and is influencing events now and you can almost feel him being swayed by what Pain says, as there is a core truth to all of it.
With the real Pain finally stepping into view, at least from my perspective since I don't know if he's been seen this way earlier, Naruto: Shippuden delves into the larger world by talking about the ways to truly bring peace about. Granted, it's kept to the very simple concepts without taking a whole host of issues into consideration, but it deals with the problem of whether things are truly cyclical or not and whether people can move beyond ages old grudges. The things that Pain and his Village have suffered through has led him to this point and it's easy to see that the same could happen to Naruto and the others, now that their own Village lies in ruins. It's still hard to believe that all the death and destruction that Pain has caused will do anything but foster either fear from those that survived or a strong desire for vengeance, thereby continuing the cycle. He does seem to have a particular weapon up his sleeve though to help enforce the peace for several decades until old hatreds die. If you believe that could happen, I have a few bridges for sale too.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.