Writer/Artist: MAsashi Kishimoto
Translation: Mari Morimoto
Adaptation: Deric A. Hughes and Benjamin Raab
What They Say
Naruto finally finds Sasuke! But Sasuke won't return to Konoha without a fight. This time it might take all of Team Kakashi to bring him down--and bring him back.
First, I’d like to start off with a few important terms that will be essential (not really) to reading this volume of Naruto. Term number one: the Haku complex; a character who was/is alone in life who now feels that he or she only exists for one very self-destructive reason, i.e., to be someone’s weapon. Term number two: Uzumakianity; a common cure for the Haku complex, an event that happens when a certain loud mouth ninja talks to the suffering character and gets him or her to see that they are worth something. Term number three: Sasuke; the only force to resist Uzumakianity and is now the central focus of the founder of Uzumakianity. And finally, term number four: bonds; that thing that connects two people together.
And now, onward to the Sasuke and Naruto reunion! Readers have either been waiting for this moment since the time-jump happened… or have already read it a year or so ago. Regardless, here it is!
This volume starts with Sakura, Naruto, and Yamato looking through Sai’s picture book and trying to figure out what the pictures mean. Each picture shows Sai fighting a different opponent, but as the pictures go on they realize that Sai is always holding the previous opponent’s weapon. The centerfold, however, is a blank-faced Sai standing next to a blank page. Sakura remembers Sai talking about his brother and she comes to the conclusion that the picture is supposed to be of the both of them, but Sai’s brother is dead. Meanwhile--back with team evil snake, man-servant, and Sai--the three head back to Orochimaru’s hideout where a rather grumpy and somewhat bratty “mysterious shadow” awaits their return. Spoiler alert: it‘s Sasuke. Sai is quite honored to meet him but Sasuke isn’t in the mood to talk, especially when Sai mentions the N-word: Naruto. Sasuke brushes the mention of Naruto off (but we know you care, you really do!) and tells Sai the same holy decree that we’ve been hearing ever since the series started, “I only have one brother, and I will kill him.” Yeah… so nice to have Sasuke back.
Outside the entrance to the Cave of Wonders our heroes have arrived, anxious to infiltrate the headquarters and bring Sasuke back. Naruto is especially energetic, refer back to the terms in the beginning of the review because Naruto says number three a LOT. The first person they find is Sai and they find out his true mission: to act as a spy for Danzo by reporting what Orochimaru is up to, at the same time, helping entice Orochimaru with a plan to destroy Konoha. Everyone is horrified by this news and it’s here that we discover that Sai is yet another character to suffer from the Haku-complex because he feels that he’s simply an extension of Danzo’s will. Sakura doesn’t believe him and hands him back his picture book, trying to show him that since he still thinks of his brother and that he has a mind of his own. It works… a little bit, but what really turns Sai around is a good healthy dose of Uzumakianity. Naruto tells Sai about the bond he and Sasuke share and how he will protect it, even if it means facing Orochimaru. It’s here that I should point out that the time jump has made Naruto a bit of a masochist, because he proudly proclaims that he doesn’t care if his arms or legs are torn off or if his eyes are poked out, he’ll still find a way to steal Sasuke away from Orochimaru. Yeah… good luck with that, Naruto.
During this time Kabuto appears to stop our heroes, but Sai turns around and attacks him, proving that Uzumakianity can still heal all! The four of them split up into teams to find Sasuke and during the chase Sai remembers what he was going to draw in the centerfold of his book. He quickly finishes the picture, showing a smiling Sai holding his brother’s hand. It’s here that Sai gives a true smile, one from his heart (as Naruto puts it). The touching moment is ruined when Orochimaru appears, wondering whose side Sai is really on.
On a sort of random tangent, is it sick that part of me has missed Orochimaru? He’s such a good, creepy villain, its kinda nice to see him doing evil deeds again. Anyhow…
Naruto tells Sai to go and find Sasuke and Sai leaves and Naruto faces off against Orochimaru… for about two seconds, because Yamato and Sai arrive just in time and Orochimaru leaves. But all is not well because Yamato finds the bingo book in Sai’s backpack and the book reveals that Sasuke is on the list. So our heroes once again have to question what Sai’s true motives are. Perhaps the Uzumakianity didn’t work after all? We’ll get back to that because during all of this Sai has found Mr. Grumpy-pants… er… Sasuke. Sai reveals that he was there to kill him, but after getting that dose of Uzumakianty he wants to protect the Sasuke and Naruto bond. Praise Uzumaki, Sai is true believer now! Sasuke isn’t pleased because Sai had the nerve to wake him up from his nap. Lesson of the day: do NOT wake Sasuke from his naps, he will blow things up. Sakura is the first to spot Sai outside and she rushes after him, choking him and demanding the truth from him. Sasuke interrupts and Sakura is stunned, but no you still can’t see Sasuke yet, not until Naruto gets outside. So Naruto rushes outside, rather ungracefully since he trips and falls flat on his face (but this is why we love Naruto so much), and then-
Be surprised, it actually doesn’t end there. I was actually quite surprised, I thought they’d be jerks and cut it off right before the epic reunion. But no, we get to see Sasuke now, with his very open shirt and bored looking eyes. Sai lets everyone know that he no longer wishes to kill Sasuke, he will now think for himself and he wants to know more about these important bonds that people share. Sasuke agrees that he use to have a bond, but he completely cut them off and only wishes to kill Itachi. Naruto calls him on it, because if that were true why didn’t Sasuke kill him during their battle oh so long ago. Sasuke tells him that it was all on a whim, and he moves in for the kill with his fancy new sword. Naruto doesn’t back down and I have to say, he looks pretty cool standing there and NOT getting all emotional over Sasuke. But I digress, Sasuke goes in for the kill but Sai jumps in to protect Naruto. Sasuke shows off a new move where the chidori goes around his entire body, shoving Naruto and Sai away. After they fall, its Sakura who goes in after Sasuke, and I have to give a big “thank you” to Kishimoto for not having her be a big mass of tears because she runs in to actually attack him! Yamato jumps in the way to protect her because Sasuke now has the sharigan and could do some serious damage.
And now we take a break for a heart to heart talk with the Kyubi.
Kyubi is taunting Naruto, as usual, and telling him to use his power so he can defeat Sasuke. Naruto decides not to use the Kyubi at all, but before he can push him away Sasuke appears inside of Naruto’s head! Kyubi seems to recognize Sasuke because of the sharingan and mentions the name “Madara Uchiha.” Huh. It seems that the Kyubi has some history with the Uchihas. But there’s no time to dwell on it because Sasuke manages to suppress Kyubi‘s power, showing off how strong he’s become in the past couple of years. Kyubi makes a rather odd request to Sasuke by asking him to not kill Naruto, saying that he‘ll regret it, then the volume ends a few pages later with Sasuke leaving with Orochimaru and Kabuto, much to the dismay of Naruto and the others.
The reunion is… really short, but to be honest I didn’t expect for Naruto and the others to succeed so easily. Well… technically, to be honest, I didn’t expect them to succeed at all. At this point it would feel like a cop out if Sasuke magically decides to return to the village with Naruto just because Naruto screams at him to come back. I don’t expect Sasuke to come back, ever, not even after he gets is revenge… if he ever does. Sasuke is stubborn as all hell and he went to Orochimaru willingly, though I know Naruto will never ever stop chasing him. It’s a little heartbreaking, because Naruto will never get the hint, and I feel that something uber-dramatic is going to happen between the two of them and… yeah, going to stop theorizing about Naruto now.
This was a good volume. You can feel the tension from the dialogue and the art, the way Sakura and Naruto look at Sasuke, the way Sai is trying to understand everything, and how cold Sasuke looks the entire time. I’m especially proud of Sakura, considering that her last encounter with Sasuke way back when had her crying and begging to come with him. I’m glad the volume didn’t just focus on the reunion, we actually learned quite a bit about Sai, about Danzo’s plans, and even a bit of Uchiha history with Kyubi… maybe? It’s not terribly surprising that Kyubi knows who the Uchiha are, but how does he (it?) know them? Is it just heresy or was there an actual encounter at some point? And why does Kyubi want Naruto to keep living? One can assume its because Kyubi doesn’t want to lose his host, but… there seems to be more to it than that.
There’s a lot of directions the manga can take right now--Danzo’s plans, for example, or even Orochimaru’s plans since it has to be close to that three year body transfer mark. The only thing I’m worried about is that we’re going to go back to the same formula of “train to get stronger, chase Sasuke, get rejected, lather rinse repeat,” and then every other plot, and character, will be ignored. It’s happened before: Akatsuki taking Gaara, um… don’t they still have Shukaku, shouldn’t we be concerned? I love Naruto’s determination, but I really don’t want to read more volumes with him pledging to get Sasuke back, then going off to train or going off on random mission X to go and find him. I guess all we can do is sit back and wait for the next volume.