The series has a chance to really stand strong but instead takes the weak way out.
What They Say
Nagato, having decided to believe in Naruto's word, performs his last forbidden jutsu: Gedo Art Rinne Rebirth.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With so much build up over the last, what, twenty weeks or so, Naruto really hit its stride in the Shippuden series by giving us an event that, like those talked about in the past, is a game changer. The destruction of Hidden Leaf by Pain and his followers was a beautiful series of moments when it came to the action and tension but also the emotion as they fought back as best they could. The tragedy that unfolded was singlehandedly the best section of the franchise I've seen. And trying to cap it off with Naruto and Nagato actually talking it out, with the context of the past brought into it and the similarities between them in what they really want to achieve, it was the moment when Naruto was ready to grow up and face hard things but also deal with it realistically. Well, as realistically as it could considering what the series is.
The conclusion to the events between Naruto and Nagato itself is good as Nagato brings it all to an end in a way that puts the onus on Naruto to make the path for the future. It's appropriately solemn and brings a bit of closure to things when it comes to Jiraiya as well. The whole arc has been difficult on Naruto and seeing it all finally take its toll is a welcome scene, with the right people greeting him along the way to bring him back to the village. It's a time like this that realizing how much he has changed since the beginning has its impact, especially when they get back to the remains of the village and everyone is cheering for him. Though some of it should go towards Nagato as well who corrected what he did, which is where the cheapness of the episode comes in for me as stated earlier, but the overall impact for Naruto cannot be understated. After years of problems with everyone and slowly winning over a few key friends here and there, he's now completely accepted there. It only took him saving everyone and bringing the dead back to life.
While I generally dislike flashbacks, this is one area where it's completely appropriate as we see various periods over Naruto's life and a running commentary during each piece with people who knew him and how they viewed him there. His early days definitely featured everyone against him to varying degrees because of what's in him, and their continual surprise over his accomplishments reinforce their view of him easily. But it also shows how he wins them over with each new incident that catches a lot of attention and he's gained many supporters over that time which has led to the point they're at now. There are obviously many key moments to his life and they cover a bunch of them here to good effect as it all wraps up to the present again, though with some fairly obvious commentary that would have been better left on the cutting room floor. Sometimes silence, or just the music, conveys so much more.
Naruto hits a crossroads episode as the end of a significant arc has arrived and it ended up canceling out much of the impact that had been created. There is a lot to like here, from Naruto's finally dialogue with Nagato and the closure afterwards to the flashbacks and the way he's greeted upon his return to the village. But the opening piece lost me completely as it devalued a lot of what made so many episodes in this arc as fantastic as they were. I can't say I'm too awful surprised by it though, this is a Shonen Jump show and mainstream kids entertainment, but I had hoped for more. So many show in the past have made the hard choices and stuck to them, but Naruto opted for the easy way out here at the end, much to my chagrin. Still, fans of the show will devour this with a lot of love and affection and it was an incredible ride for the last twenty weeks or so, it just left me underwhelmed and disappointed with the final moments.
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.