The past and the present is covered well as Naruto spars verbally with Pain while Hinata reflects on her past with Naruto.
What They Say
Fukasaku and Shima fall in battle, leaving Naruto open to be captured by Tendo Pain. Just when all is thought to be lost, Hinata, who was following the battle with her Byakugan, steps in to face Pain.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Relationships in the Naruto-verse aren't exactly things that are treated all that well. More often than not it's all very grade school in a way with basic emotions and a lot of hitting in order to express things. The most we get in general is the long standing childhood love that Sakura has for Sasuke and her kind of quasi-feelings for Naruto that, at least from where I am back earlier in this series, is relatively undefined. There are a few other crushes along the way and we've seen some of the other characters involved to different levels, but generally speaking it's the adults who have real relationships (which are kept to a minimum on screen) while the kids just engaging in life, adventures and missions.
The exception to it has been with Hinata, and that's made all the more apparent in this episode. While Naruto and Pain go on about things, Hinata is watching and coping from a distance while remembering the past. Her days growing up, trying to be strong and kind like her parents, were conflicted by the way they wanted her to stay away from Naruto with no real explanation. She could see the prejudice against him by many but couldn't understand it, or the nine-tails derogatory term used for him. And the further away she was kept, the more interested in him she became and the more she worked to get into the Academy so she could be closer to him. With her having grown up over time like Naruto has, her now older self is speaking clearly and plainly in a way that makes her one of the most engaging characters in this arc as she puts it all out there.
This particular episode does feel like it's being dragged out a bit, mostly because Nagato spends so much of his time just watching Hinata going through things and trying her best to break him free. It's not a bad kind of drag, it's just the kind where you wish they'd tighten it up just a bit more to give it that much more tension instead. The fighting is rather short but intense which helps a lot and since it's so filled with emotion it takes it up several notches. That events start to push Naruto down the path of being unable to control his inner beast is no surprise and in fact you have to expect that he would hit this no matter what in this arc. The only surprise is that it didn't come sooner considering the massive amount of destruction laid down upon the village.
The young Naruto days are pretty good, even as they're mostly serious, in that you almost want a Tiny Titans kind of version of Naruto made so we can have their chibi-adventures of some sort. It's a nice bit of balance to an otherwise adult serious episode of the series as the fight between Nagato and Naruto goes rather intensely. Pain has been brought down on Naruto in a very serious way and Hinata's strength of character is what takes this part of the arc to a whole other level. There's a certain curiosity held by Nagato as he watches this play out, and it's like he can't help but to make it worse for Naruto after all that Hinata says and does, and that adds a whole new level to what Naruto is experiencing while being staked to the ground.
As an aside, it was definitely annoying to have that extra subtitle along the top during the big emotional scenes thanking us for watching the show on Crunchyroll. With the show being seen on a couple of different sites and having these streams ripped and re-produced elsewhere, I can certainly understand wanting to get the brand out there a bit more. But that's what the visual graphic bugs that pop in out and throughout are for. Having this subtitle along the top, constant once it hit, is a huge eyesore and drastically reduced the power of the episode.
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.