As much as I can get into enka at times, starting an episode with some of it isn't the best of ideas.
What They Say:
The Kage respond to Madara's declaration of war by forming the Allied Shinobi Forces, with the Raikage as their leader.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Though you know he'll play a larger role in things, Raikage's brother continues to be an odd spot in the show that's playing largely serious. It is useful for some mild comic relief to be brought into each episode since you don't want things to get overly serious and for the show to lose some of the lightness that defined it at the start, but this character just rubs me the wrong with his personality. On the plus side, the series gets a new opening sequence with this episode that's pretty good with the style and sound of it. It is the usual character display piece with some mild bits of action, but it has a blue hue to a lot of it that paints it with a touch of sadness.
The Five Kage meeting has gone through a lot of changes in the short time that it's met, but with the fallout from before and with Danzo having bolted, a new course has been charted as those there have agreed that Raikage should be the one to lead the allied shinobi forces. It's certainly a strong argument considering how he handled the attack by Sasuke and the others and it even balanced against the way he acts with his emotions. The formation of this force and a real sense of unity behind it at this stage is very important since things would have fractured with some amount of distrust under Danzo. The attacks that were made have really solidified their position to follow through on all of this.
One of the big moments of the series involves Sakura though with this episode, as she follows up with what she started in the previous episode by confessing her feelings for Naruto. It's certainly a surprise to some extent, you don't really believe she'll go through with it, and it's an incredibly touching sequence. But like Naruto, you can sense that there's something else behind it that she's not saying. While there may be the honesty of emotions, the reasons behind her admittance by being an effort to get Naruto to stop going after Sasuke, is a confusing piece for Naruto. Sadly, the more she talks, the more she digs herself into a hole that will keep him at a distance. She has made the key realizations that Naruto is always there, always by her side, while Sasuke was truthful about everything when he left and in every encounter since then. But Naruto doesn't want to win her over this way in the slightest.
The series covers a lot of ground with this episode as it focuses on several characters and different situations while moving plot points forward. The main storyline involving the plans of the five kage comes together very well here as things have now formed in a more unified fashion. Sakura's time explaining to Naruto her feelings has the right feel about it on all parts and it leaves you feeling very heart broken about it because you want it to go right but you know it's not the right way or time. And the action side of show has a couple of very good moments, particularly at the end, so it's not all emotions and dialogue. The new ending sequence is pretty fun as well as they do a quasi-graffiti style type that looks really good, though I'd have liked it with a bit more color.
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.