Just when you think the village can't be taken out much more, the whole place is practically obliterated.
What They Say
Sensing danger at hand, Naruto, along with Fukasaku, rushes back to the Leaf Village from Mount Myoboku. But what they see is the remains of the Leaf Village, leveled beyond recognition.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The tease in the previous episode with the return of Naruto in a somewhat intriguing sense of style and form kicks off this episode, though not without reminding us just how much damage has been caused by the Akatsuki that are attacking the Village of the Hidden Leaf. There's very little seemingly left of the area we can see and the realization about what's happened there is definitely very surprising to the sages that have returned with Naruto. Surprisingly, Naruto himself is pretty calm about it at first but as it starts to sink in, his anger is what's about to take over since something so precious to him has been obliterated.
Watching everyone pull themselves from the rubble while trying to figure out whose survived is pretty brutal to watch. Of course, things are couched well enough that those that you think may be dead have a slim chance of survival, but amidst all the destruction that's visible here it's still a pretty significant moment. With the last attack, it's hard to imagine a large number of people surviving, but a good sized evacuation occurred quickly and early on so the overall level of damage is mostly structural, something that will definitely help in the village's future survival. The psychological effect of such an attack and the wave of destruction is another matter though, and you can see elements of that sinking into various survivors who are still within the remains of the village trying to fight against the Akatsuki.
There are times when it's hard to reconcile the character of Naruto with his present form and how he started. The character has most assuredly grown while retaining strong elements of what he was like at the beginning, but you often just see those beginning parts even after all this time. So when you have an episode like this, where he is manly, cool and strong, that can be off-putting in some way because you just remember that early screwball orange suited character bouncing around and getting upset at everything. When he takes on Tendo on his own, stepping in front of Tsunade and informing her that she doesn't have to bother herself with such trivial opponents, he's the character that I want to see pretty much all the time. And that's what we get in this episode as he deals directly with Tendo on what appears to be an even footing.
While the frogs continue to be something of a weak link for me in the show, there's so much to like about this episode it's almost silly. The return of Naruto to the remains of the village, the overall level of destruction and the moments of being cool made by Naruto sets things up beautifully. A lot has gone on since the Akatsuki arrived at the village and they've been brutal there, but now they have what they want right in front of them and that's their entire focus. Naruto continues to exceed expectations, his true gift really, and he manages to set up quite the cliffhanger at the end of the episode that makes the wait of a week very, very difficult. This episode ranks high just for its style factor alone and how it's made such a radical change to the village and those within it.
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.