Naruto: Shippuden Episode #173 (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, August 12, 2010
Release Date: Thursday, August 12, 2010

The back story for Nagato and his war orphan friends continue and we see some interesting little ties to the larger story brought in.

What They Say
To fulfill their dream, Nagato, Yahiko, and Konan walk through the war zone in search of Jiraiya, hoping to learn ninjutsu from him. After completing their training, the three form an organization with Yahiko as its leader.

The Review!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Stories from the past can be polarizing but the origin of Pain as a war orphan along with others has enough little nods and hooks to it to make it intriguing. Nagato's journey after the destruction of his village ended up landing him right into Jiraiya's presence again where he's with Orochimaru and we see him yet again as a Leaf Ninja, a very cruel one in fact. Orochimaru's past is a bit lost on me considering the way I've jumped around the show, but seeing him in this context is quite interesting and makes me want to know more. Jiraiya opts to take in the three orphans though and lives with them until he's forced to start training them because of the problems they're going to face growing up if they don't know how to defend themselves or have the right kind of confidence in themselves.

That confidence goes in an interesting way as the trio work on a path that leads them to trying to create peace without force, but backed by such potential. Nagato grew up wanting to be able to protect the two that meant the world to him and the three trained hard, though all off screen, and we leap several years to them as young adults where they've managed to build a powerful group that is believed to what's needed to help negotiate among the three warring nations a workable peace. It turns out to be a sham though as the group, led by Yahiko, is little more than a threat to those in power such as Hanzo and Danzo, which has them creating a trap through which they can crush Nagato and the others so they can continue on with their own plans.

That betrayal leads to the main sequence of action here, which is certainly big in its design and scale as Nagato unleashes his powers and Hanzo and his side does as well. Nagato's abilities continue to be the type that seems to defy reality at times in a way that others don't feel like they do, but it gives everything a really epic feeling here even as it's kept short and tense. The journey of Nagato from someone who wants to protect the two closest to him, to getting training to do so and a skewed understanding of how the world was once saved, leads him to unleashing all the pent up anger he's had for so long, letting all the pain inside him out as others sacrifice themselves for him when he feels he should be the one doing that. His rebirth as a young man after a tragic loss is a hugely defining moment for him.

In Summary:
The background storyline naturally glosses over a lot of material and in fact really does create enough of an overview of a story here that merits its own extended series. The sign of a good villain is one who is motivated and complicated, that doesn't exactly see himself as a villain but someone forced into decisions that he feels are right in the long run. Nagato is falling into that group rather easily the more we get to know of him now that it's exploring past the war orphan stage. His origin phase may be dull to some, but to me it's the kind of villain that I like to see explored. It makes you approach what he's done to the Leaf Village in a new way, with a hint of understanding (but not condoning) and it reinforces for Naruto what he must do in the end. Though not as powerful as some recent episodes, it's definitely a very solid back story episode that's key to make it connect with emotion and impact as the two young men square off soon.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: NA
Video Rating: NA
Packaging Rating: NA
Menus Rating: NA
Extras Rating: NA
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: Crunchyroll
Running time: 23
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Naruto