The Village of the Hidden Leaf faces its biggest challenges yet with Pain bringing it on in full force at long last.
What They Say
Tsunade comes face to face with Tendo Pain on the rooftop of the Hokage mansion. When Pain demands the Nine Tails be handed over, Tsunade refuses. However, Pain uses the Ningendo's power to learn of Naruto's current location in Mount Myoboku. Tsunade clenches at the sight of the growing number of casualties within the Leaf. But Pain, who condemns the Leaf's arrogance as a major nation, makes the choice to deliver catastrophic damage against the Leaf Village to teach them what true pain is.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The fight in the village is starting bleed out into the rest of the world as the destruction there is causing cues to appear. Though brief, we get an illuminating scene as lots and lots of birds have fled the village and it's showing up outside of there with Guy noticing it on his return to the Leaf with the others from a mission they're on. Within the village, everything is still pretty chaotic as various groups deal with the Akatsuki that are attacking all around, such as Kiba and Ma going after one of them and other small groups dealing with other members of the six that are here.
Unsurprisingly, the Leaf ninjas continue to have difficulty against these Akatsuki as they push their limits a bit with their diversity and creativity. What proves to be a good spot is that there's a strong segment of dialogue between the Akatsuki and Tsunade early on here where Tend Pain, who Tsunade has actually known before, makes it clear one of the reasons why he wants the Tailed Beasts out of the picture. With them once being something that helped equalize the various villages so they all had one form of really extreme power in them, things have shifted and changed since then and now people like Tendo Pain view them as something that doesn't' belong, hence their quest to gain and drain them all. Tsunade's obviously not going to give up Naruto, especially with as close as she's become to him, but also because she knows just how strong Naruto has become and that he's not someone that she can just hand over anyway.
Deductive reasoning is a big part of this episode as well as the folks from the Cipher section have started to deduce what the deal is with the six Pain members that have shown up and what Jiraiya's coded message may be about. It's an interesting idea in what their abilities may truly be and how they're operating this mission, but it also gives the Leaf ninjas an obvious angle to pursue that could help level the playing field some. Of course, a lot of it could also just open them up to even more powerful attacks if the truth of it is accurate, but that's standard operating procedure for a show about more outlandish and powerful attacks being acquired as time goes on. Pain's deadpan nature is another positive to the character as it adds a bit more to what he does and he certainly takes things to an interesting level in a strangely theatric way.
Ever since the original series, Tsunade has been my favorite character and I'm glad that she again gets some great cinematic moments as she verbally spars with Pain for a bit. Admittedly, some of the things going on here are a bit past me at the moment having only picked up on the show a few episodes ago and still being behind by about 130 episodes, but Shippuden has a good serious atmosphere going on here that helps the show to feel like it's matured some while still retaining key characteristics that makes it fun. The only downside for me is that Pain and these Akatsuki aren't familiar to me, but they're definitely intriguing and quite powerful, engaging in things that seemingly radically change the Village of Leaf for a good deal of time going forward. Changes that have needed to have happened considering the length of the series and the static nature of much of it. These last few episodes have offered some real potential heartbreak, though I'm not convinced they'll follow through honestly on it yet.
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.