After one of the most intense and emotional episodes of the entire franchise, where can the series go from there?
What They Say
Naruto loses himself after seeing Hinata taken out right before his eyes. His anger triggers the Nine Tails' chakra to go out of control.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Naruto: Shippuden hit a surprising high in the previous episode by taking a character that's generally liked and making her the most human of them all with the emotional connection that was formed. Throwing her into the midst of the battle against Pain and having it turn as it did wasn't exactly a surprise considering the characters that have fallen so far, but it was executed with such simplicity and intensity that it was unlike anything we had seen before. And even with all the losses that Naruto has suffered, especially in this arc, seeing what happened to Hinata set him off completely and the best within has now gone completely out of control in a way that surpasses what we've seen before.
The Nine Tails (or rather, six tails to be precise) action here against Pain is strikingly beautiful in its execution and design. The series has taken an interesting approach to the character designs for the Pain puppets that's reminding me a whole lot of Noein with its slightly angular and more fluid feeling. The way they look against the backgrounds adds a lot to that feeling since it's done in a somewhat rough and earthy color palette that's very striking when set against the way the Nine Tails looks with the vibrant reds and the new white aspect to it that adds a bit more mass. With the seals that are placed on him falling away, Naruto's losing control more and more because of what's happened and it's becoming self fulfilling as the mere existence of Pain is driving him further to destruction.
The form that Naruto takes in this is extremely intriguing, though reminiscent of aspects of Bleach in a way, and it plays out well against Pain using much of his arsenal of powers to deal with him. Introducing the planetary devastation move in order to defeat him isn't a surprise in that there's some ultra big move to try and take down the beast, but its execution with the music, animation and pacing is so engaging and riveting that you can't look away. Both Pain and Naruto are pushing their limits, albeit in different ways, With six of Naruto's tails now unleashed, there's an immense amount of power being used by him yet there's still much more left inside. It's a race for Pain to try and contain it so he can use it for himself and his goals of changing the world with a very interesting approach to subdue him.
In a way, Naruto: Shippuden couldn't top the episode that came before it simply because it wasn't going to try and work the same approach. What we get here is just as engaging though as Naruto's inner anger is unleashed and more and more of the Tails become visible, showing off juts how much power truly resides within him. Those who see it and understand it will surely have their opinions of him altered forever more, but this is Naruto's heart unleashed over the anguish he feels with Hinata and all that's happened around him. The show has hit such an amazing stride with this arc, especially since I'm still watching some one hundred episodes prior on the DVD releases, in terms of its music, visual design and emotional connection. I would never have though this series could move me like this. This may be the high point in the series, period.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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.