Time to pay attention again as the show is past the filler and back to the real storyline in the present.
What They Say
Naruto comes face to face with Nagato and Konan. Naruto, wanting to confront the problem of their hate-filled ninja world, asks to hear Nagato's side of the story before coming up with an answer.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Let us never speak of the previous two part special ever again.
The internalization we saw previously with Naruto meeting his father in his mind where the sealed Nine-Tails is was an intriguing piece as it answered some questions that have been out there for quite awhile, at least to me. With Naruto in the same space as Nagato is now, with Konan there trying to make sure Nagato is alright, the two face off in a way that's rather welcome for a series focused on ninjas and their outlandish abilities. They talk. Naruto's matured enough at times to want to make an informed decision about things, something Nagato has now offered him, as his plans for the world are ones that involve a lot of hate and violence and a belief that it's necessary to build a true peace. And Nagato wants to deal with Naruto enough to reveal his side of the story so Naruto can make a true and informed opinion.
Nagato's childhood is certainly mired in violence and pain as his family was wrongly killed in front of him, believing that they were a full on ninja family involved in the war that the Hidden Leaf village was dealing with. Seeing his parents knifed in the chest in front of him and then to have the honest and emotional apologies from the ninjsa afterward when they realized they killed civilians is a brutal moment, but it all takes a strange turn when he cries out in pain and everything goes blank. Until he wakes up to find the ninjas dead in front of him as the rage and sadness awakened his power and killed them, though he was unaware that it was he that did it. Nagato's journey begins because of this, as the village is now ruined and life there is essentially over. He becomes a young child who has to find his own way in the world after such a tragedy and it just builds in his own mind the pain he's suffered.
Nagato's life as a war orphan follows a traditional route, finding friends in people like Konan who also suffered and a boy named Yahiko who was always smiling and finding ways to survive, a strong contrast to Nagato's sour demeanor. Yahiko dreams big, wanting to find a way to never be like this again and to not suffer, but it all takes the obvious and predictable terrible turn. Having escaped one war zone, they end up in another with a young Jiraiya and his team dealing with Hanzo. It's the moment that turns Yahiko's outward optimism to something darker where he wants to change the nation, and the world, so that what they experience never happens again. The moment changes him, but it's also the moment that Nagato takes on Yahiko's dream and begins down the harder path that has landed him where he is in the present. It's all a fairly traditional story with no real surprises to it.
War orphans isn't a bad angle to run with for Nagato and Konan nor is the story that we get here in how it forces them to grow up in some ways being very hard. Every little bit kills more of who they are as they go on and as they discover the dream that has brought Nagato to the present. The interesting parts come in seeing what the Hidden Rain village looks like after the war and some of the ninja battles that play out across the landscape once the kids decide on their path and head deep into the war zone. Nagato's original turning point with his parents is done alright, but it lacks a certain element to really make it stand out for the viewer. It works as a character piece, taken in combination with the hardships that come, that eventually hardens all of them even more towards the Hidden Leaf. This first part of the story has all the right elements, but it lacks that extra bit to make it really connect strongly. Having had so many of those moments recently, that has this feeling like a bit of a disappointment, but it's still a decent new piece of the puzzle that's setting things up to move forward again.
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.