With the village in ruins, it's little surprise that politics and personal ambition rises to the top quickly for some.
What They Say
An emergency council is held before the Feudal Lord of the Land of Fire. The topic is to discuss plans to rebuild the Leaf Village, and Danzo strongly urges the council to select a new Hokage to replace Tsunade.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Naruto kicks off this episode well with quite the tease that makes you want a whole lot more of it. With the Leaf village in ruins and Tsunade in a coma, the decision has to be made who will lead things at this time because someone has to make the important decisions. The small roundtable discussion is a lot of fun as it shows Danzo again trying to gain power so he can run the Village as he sees fit, which is pretty much with an iron fist to impose order. While it certainly has its merits, it goes against much of what the Leaf village has become over the years. Others aren't so keen on this, knowing what his ambitions are, but having Danzo become the Sixth Hokage seems like an inevitable event at this point.
Unfortunately, this is not what the episode is really about. The opening chunk runs for a good bit of time, but it shifts itself to another flashback tale as we see Kakashi when he's early on in managing his new team that includes Naruto on it. We've seen a number of tales about Naruto when he was young and getting hooked up with Kakashi, but I don't know that we've really seen it from this perspective. There are some interesting little nods to be had here as we see the teams come together and even Danzo sees it as an appropriate plan since it puts the Nine-Tails up with the Uchiha family in a way and he sees that as an opportunity for himself to advance his own goals, especially with the Fourth Hokage getting older.
Similar to the past few episodes, the focus on the younger Naruto and the other characters at this age isn't all that appealing. It does give Sasuke a chance to be on screen and we go back to some of the character interactions that felt so forced at that age as well. The only reason it's enjoyable at times is to see the way Kakashi observes and understands them. But even then that's not enough to carry it. Thankfully, we do get some material showing us Kakashi at that age with his own team when he was in the academy and how they were trained. Young Kakashi is actually kind of cute in his own way and seeing how he gets what Naruto and the others are going through on some level helps humanize him a bit. Though you suspect he'd rather be reading his romance novels instead.
Naruto: Shippuden is still essentially taking a long break between things even though the manga is quite a ways ahead of things here, offering them plenty of material to work with. What we're getting is a chance to relax a bit, deal with stories that aren't important but work to remind us who these characters once were and how much they really have grown. I certainly don't want to go back to the Li'l Naruto phase again and these episodes are a bit trying, but they are touching lightly on events in the present at times and giving it enough of a connection to make sure there is some reason for it on a very basic level. While it may not be what we want after the heights that the previous arc brought us to, it's probably what we need to ease expectations for a bit and set us up right for the next phase of the series.
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.