Let's blow up some water balloons.
Hello there! Once again, it's the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! Noelle Ogawa here, and this week I'll be your host as we make our way through the many arcs of the shonen giant Naruto. Last week, we covered episodes 78-84, and this time we're going to sweep episodes 85-91.
This time, we have new introductions and new threats, starting off with the mysterious Akatsuki retreating and ending with Tsunade contemplating a tough choice. We get a little glimpse of the last of the three Sannin, and how that bond has fragmented over the years. Most importantly, Tsunade is confronted with two life-changing decisions, neither which are easy to make. This arc is a pretty heavy one. Let's see what the team has to say about this batch!
The Akatsuki have retreated for now, leaving us with an uncomfortable feeling of something greater out there. What are your impressions of the group, especially Itachi and Kisame?
Paul: I want to know what the political goals of Akatsuki are. Both Itachi and Kisame wear their Village headbands with the symbols defaced, so I'm wondering if – despite being obviously cruel and evil villains – they're also the heroes of their own story, because the current entente system that turns children into weapons in order for rival nations to publicly flex their military muscle is pretty messed up, yo.
Kevin: Early on, Itachi seems like there’s some kind of frailty to him, that he’s incredibly strong but can’t fight for long. Kisame also seems like a competent fighter (albeit with a strange weapon), but otherwise is Itachi’s henchman. Having seen how their characters develop, this is an interesting starting place.
Carolyn: Yeah, it seems to me that they believe in what they are doing. That seems to be a common trope with this show so far, though. Lots of characters who may or may not be bad guys but they have a tragic backstory and a firm belief in what they think is right.
David: I understand why it happens for dramatic reasons, but I do kind of wish there were just slightly more straightforward foreshadowing about the motivations for our villains, and this the introduction of the Akatsuki makes the best case for this. On the positive side, Itachi serves as a solid example of what Sasuke should probably not become, complete with a skillset they both can theoretically share. “Look out, Sasuke!” Or so I would tell him, if he wasn’t put completely out of commission in multiple ways so that the plot could move on without his obsessions getting in the way.
Joseph: I’m a big fan of introducing villains and painting them as irredeemably evil only to turn that notion on its head later, so I’m excited to watch them develop. Kisame looks more like he belongs in Arlong’s crew from One Piece, but I dig how they only partially revealed the power of his weird shark sword.
Danni: A shadowy group of super powerful villains after the main character sounds pretty cool, so I don’t really know why I’m not all that interested in the Akatsuki yet. I think I’d like to learn more about their motivations first. For now, though, I’m pretty satisfied with the continued conflict with Orochimaru.
Jared: There’s certainly still a number of unanswered questions surrounding the group. Who else is in it and why are these two out and about by themselves? What’s with the headbands being defaced? Those will get answered at some point I’m sure, but from what we’ve seen thus far, Itachi seems like a pretty big deal with how he quickly he dispatches Sasuke and comes up with a way to escape Jiraiya’s trap. Kisame seems more like his muscle, but has that pretty wild sword.
Kara: This was yet another case of seeing the cosplayer before the character, so now I have at least some context for those coats. Also, Itachi’s presence has been in the background of the story for… 80-something episodes now? This has been a slow burn finally getting to him. I wasn’t disappointed; there’s a lot here I’m looking forward to exploring.
Here we encounter another training arc, where Naruto is trying to master the Rasengan. How do you think this compares to previous training, and do you think it’s being handled well?
Paul: Although the completed Rasengan technique is visually impressive, I'm already sick of seeing Naruto playing with balloons. I wish there were some other aspect to the three stages of the training.
Kevin: During the tree climbing, it seemed like Naruto and Sasuke mastered the technique very quickly due to competing against each other; and during the water walking, Naruto caught on in less than a day, then mastered it when Jiraiya undid Orochimaru’s seal. Mastering the Summoning Jutsu was better, since Naruto had to keep practicing, but it realistically became training for drawing out the Nine-Tailed Fox’s chakra, which boiled down to “run out of energy, then put your life in danger.” For me, the Rasengan training is the first time the show has successfully conveyed how difficult and time consuming ninjutsu training is supposed to be and just how hard Naruto pushes himself to grow faster than anyone else.
Carolyn: As always, I was impressed with Naruto’s dedication to learning and advancing his craft. He is very dedicated despite all of his obstacles and it warms my heart.
David: I was honestly just going to say what Kevin said, so I guess I’ll elaborate a little bit instead. The first time we see Rasengan performed is against a random yakuza guy, which works well for introducing the technique while also not giving away just how important it is. Jiraiya’s explanation to Naruto about how the technique fits him well because it doesn’t require hand signs demonstrates both Jiraiya’s understanding of Naruto’s strengths while also serving as a valid cover-up for how powerful he realizes Naruto can be. Seeing in small, increasing stages what exactly the Rasengan does, while grounding that all in the mechanics of the show we’ve been taught so far, makes the whole process feel much more satisfying than a general “power-up”.
And, most important, the scenes where Naruto is just walking around practicing on his balloons are endearing as heck. I’ve been there too, little buddy.
Joseph: I appreciated the mundanity of his practice sessions. It may not make for the most compelling television, but, like Kevin said, it got the point across well enough. Now we can sit back and be duly impressed when he unleashes his full Rasengan potential.
Danni: It’s a little mundane, but I appreciate it. The mundanity of it is helping Naruto mature a bit since he’s beginning to realize that he maybe shouldn’t have been goofing off so much in school. I also like how the balloons provide a good tangible example of what the Rasengan is and how to control it.
Jared: There sure is a lot of Naruto just hanging out in the woods struggling with this portion of training, but it fits considering how big of a deal Jiraiya makes the technique out to be. Plus, using balloons and rubber balls seems like a strange choice, but really works with what Jiraiya wants to teach Naruto so he can understand the technique.
Kara: I really enjoy the fact that Naruto learned the Rasengan in a way that made sense to him — the whole thing with the cat, for example — to the point where even Tsunade looks at it and, while recognizing what it is, also recognizes that it’s different. That’s something I’m liking about Naruto’s progress in this set of episodes: he may not be by-the-book, but he’s working it out for himself in a way that makes sense to him, which is a valuable thing no matter what you’re learning.
We have a fair chunk of time devoted to Jiraiya and Naruto’s mentor-mentee relationship. What do you think of this particular dynamic?
Paul: I don't have much of an opinion about it yet, because Jiraiya has a very “hands off” approach to instruction, and he's not exactly a very supportive or nurturing type. He may be extremely skilled as a ninja, but as a teacher, he kinda sucks. I don’t feel like he’d stick his neck out for his charges in the same way that Kakashi and Iruka would.
Kevin: I am liking Jiraiya more and more as he spends time as Naruto’s teacher. He’s more hands off than Naruto would necessarily prefer, but he knows that Naruto learns best by figuring things out himself, and still keeps on eye on his student to check up on progress and probably make sure Naruto doesn’t do anything too reckless. He’s still not great as the father figure Naruto seems to be looking for, but they’re both still warming up to each other.
Carolyn: Man, hands-off style could be cool. And Jiraiya doesn’t necessarily have to be a father figure to Naruto (though it makes me sad he’s not). But overall I just find him to be a giant jerk. I got very upset about Jiraiya blowing all of Naruto’s money. (He wanted to be responsible and save it!) Good for Naruto for letting that Pervy Sage have it.
David: It’s a trade-off that serves a few purposes. Jiraiya is completely correct to recognize Naruto as being mostly self-motivated; it’s hard to imagine a Naruto who improves because he is constantly coddled, right? At the same time, Naruto clearly desires that kind of relationship, because it’s something he’s been denied almost his whole life (thank goodness for Iruka).
And for Jiraiya’s side, it plays into something I think I see developing among the Sannin as a whole - a theme of strong latent abilities not being realized to their fullest potentials. Orochimaru is obsessed with progress, but only to the extent that is helps him, which is why he tries to sabotage the village instead of support it. Tsunade is more capable than anyone else to help others, but also too scared of failure to help anyone but herself, which is why she is hesitant to become Hokage and willing to consider Orochimaru’s current proposal. Finally, Jiraiya is ridiculously charismatic, but so empathetic that he can only see the disadvantages to his presence, which is why he refuses the proposition to become Hokage and can’t commit fully to Naruto’s growth.
Joseph: Despite the fact that he blew Naruto’s money, I feel like there’s a hidden lesson in everything Jiraiya does. Remember when he first started trying to summon and kept bugging Jiraiya to “watch his training?” Even then getting him to do so was like pulling teeth, but the way he leaves Naruto to his work now shows how he’s attempting to foster his independence and prevent him from leaning too heavily on the desire for praise and exterior encouragement. He still has a ways to go, but Jiraiya is improving as a character each installment.
Danni: I appreciate Jiraiya in this batch as more of a goofy grandpa and less of a wild horndog. He seems like a good fit to be mentoring someone like Naruto. Their shared goofiness plays well, and Jiraiya’s apparent callousness is just a front help Naruto become more independent. In the end, he always rewards Naruto for his accomplishments.
Jared: Jiraiya becoming less of just the prototypical perv character has been better and I like how Naruto and him are able to almost keep each other in line. Like they’re calling each other out on their own bs. He’s certainly different as a teacher as it’s more hey, you’ve got to figure this out on your own, I’m not going to hold your hand, which is certainly something that Naruto will need to learn in general. So I think overall it isn’t what Naruto would’ve wanted at first, but it works.
Kara: It was a lot easier to be a Jiraiya fan this week. Like I said before, we’re seeing a lot more of how Naruto learns, and that he and Jiraiya were a lot the same. It was a little thing, but I loved the exchange between them about being the the type that has trouble focusing in class. I think all of Naruto’s teachers so far have been good for him and connected with him in some way, but Jiraiya really seems to “get” him and what he needs to grow.
Your closest loved ones returning from the dead in exchange for dooming your home- Orochimaru delivers a harrowing proposal. Is this a good deal in your eyes? If you don’t think so, what’s something that would tempt you?
Paul: As the audience, we've already seen one example of Orochimaru's Resurrection Jutsu, and it was clear that the people brought back to life were just an image of the departed, dancing like puppets while Orochimaru pulled the strings. Tsunade didn't witness that, and her trauma isn't helping her to think clearly, because the likelihood of Orochimaru betraying her is 100 percent.
I honestly don't know what would tempt me. I'm a pretty simple person, and I'm generally happy as long as my basic needs (food, water, shelter, clothing, etc.) are met. Maybe if the villain threatened my loved ones, I'd be forced to comply, but I can't imagine voluntarily striking a deal in exchange for some good or service knowing that the end goal was the destruction of my entire community.
Kevin: I legitimately don’t know what I would do in that situation. Sure, the many should outweigh the few, but the few are people who I care about more than anyone else. I would definitely be tempted, and shows how good the character writing in Naruto can get. Put in Tsunade’s position, I could seriously see myself going either way.
Carolyn: I suppose it depends on the situation. It might sound terrible, but I’m sure I would take the deal for my kids in a heartbeat.
David: Hard to admit, but I also completely sympathize with Tsunade here, and it’s hard not to see her gambling addiction as a coping mechanism for how her powers that should have been ‘definitely’ useful ultimately failed her twice.
Joseph: It’s a solid proposal from Orochimaru, and I think it’s reasonable for anyone’s gut answer to be “it depends.” With that said, Tsunade knows Orochimaru. One would think despite her emotions she would know he’s a walking monkey’s paw in this situation.
Danni: Why on earth would anyone ever trust Orochimaru?
Jared: I dunno, I think it’d be hard to accept a deal like that when the person offering is saying he’s going to do some big ole terrorism afterwards. Although, if the offer was that my student loan debt was wiped away, I might think differently.
Kara: I actually sat with this for a few minutes, because there are people I’ve lost whom I’d give just about anything to have more time with. That said, not only do I know a Monkey’s Paw when I see one, I also don’t trust people of even a fraction of Orochimaru’s badness to hold up their end of a deal. It’d either not happen, or happen and be awful. I’d probably buckle faster to threats than promises, because I can see him delivering on those.
Jiraiya reveals that Tsunade doesn’t just need to return to heal Sasuke and Kakashi, but also to become the new Hokage. She has a lot of reservations about the position, considering she has a complicated past with the world of shinobi. If you were in her place, would you take the title? Why or why not?
Paul: Tsunade, just like Jiraiya, clearly doesn't want the job. I think both of them realize that to be Hokage means always being willing to sacrifice one's personal well-being for the good of the Village, and neither of them are ready to do that, because Jiraiya is too self-centered, and because Tsunade has already lost so much already. I wouldn’t want that kind of responsibility, either. I can barely look after a pet goldfish, let alone a whole community.
Kevin: In short, I would probably take the position, mostly out of a sense of being able to change things for the better so that history did not repeat itself. Tsunade’s idea for medical ninja in every team was eventually implemented and shown to be effective, and adding in that she clearly wants to keep as many shinobi alive as possible, she would probably try to keep the ninja villages as peaceful as possible, and if war broke out minimize the Leaf’s losses. So even though she has a lot of baggage concerning the position, in her position I would try to use that baggage as my motivation to change how the village operates.
Carolyn: I think I would take it, if only because of some sort of misplaced “I’ll show them” attitude and because it would kill me to think I couldn’t help prevent other people from going through the same thing. Which … is super hypocritical in light of my resurrection answer, but there you go.
David: Pretending I was in Tsunade’s position right now, I would take it, but for entirely selfish reasons - I know that jerk Orochimaru is out there trying to tempt me and do even worse, so being the leader of essentially a nation of ninjas would be the ultimate revenge. Definitely not the best reasons to do anything, though.
Joseph: The practical me knows I don’t want that kind of position, but the part of me that wants to be the center of attention would probably win out.
Danni: As someone who doesn’t know any ninjutsu, I think I’d make a pretty bad Hokage overall.
Jared: It’s a bit of a mixed bag because the village is basically demanding she take the position regardless of her feelings. Considering how complicated her feelings are about the village and all of that in general, it makes sense why she’d be like nah. I think to really get into the headspace for that kind of position, you’d really need the type of drive that Naruto has.
Kara: In her exact position? Big nope. Her grandfather was Hokage and she had people around her who fully understood the real responsibilities involved. Between their demises and the way things went in general for the village, I’m not sure I could step into a role I’d held to a certain ideal in very dark, very different conditions. Adding insult to injury. That said, I like Tsunade so far, so I’m hoping she goes for it regardless.
Last up, what are the high and low points for this week?
Paul: My high point was the reveal that Tsunade is absolutely terrible at gambling, because I like it when heroic characters are really bad at some morally dubious activity. My low point was how thoroughly destroyed Sasuke was by his confrontation with Itachi. The poor kid gets physically and mentally traumatized and put into a coma, and Itachi didn't even break a sweat in the process. Sasuke doesn't deserve that kind of treatment.
Kevin: High - Jiraiya coming forward as Naruto makes progress in his training after hiding in the shadows to silently observe. He’s still kinda of a dick to Naruto a lot of the time, but we are seeing more of his caring side that eventually makes him everyone’s favorite ninja grandpa.
Low - I honestly really like the vast majority of this arc so… people not being much more vocal about how the town’s castle is suddenly gone? Sure, we get a few people running away, but that’s the kind of thing that should’ve made much more of a general panic, especially since a giant snake exploded out of it.
Carolyn: High point: Naruto giving Jiraiya the third degree for stealing his money. Tell him what’s what, Naruto.
Low point: The Sasuke meme, actually. It was harder to watch than I was expecting. He seemed very broken.
David: High: Jiraiya wakes up hungover and asks Naruto to fetch him some water, to which Naruto responds by blowing up a water balloon over his face.
Low: Honestly this was my favorite batch of episodes so far, and I don’t remember disliking anything, but Jiraiya’s character flaws are very frustrating to watch because Naruto is honestly a great kid who deserves a ton of respect and attention. So, that.
Joseph: High: The gradual development of Jiraiya and Naruto’s relationship is fun to watch.
Low: I find it hard to believe the ninja clans had never thought to have a freaking medic on the field until Tsunade suggested it.
Danni: The high point for me this batch was when we found out Tsunade is 50. The low point for me is when anyone acted like that was at all a bad thing and not an incredible bonus.
Jared: High point would be when Tsunade was constantly winning and instead of celebrating, immediately knew that something was about to go very badly. Low point, I kind of felt like parts of how Tsunade was written was very generic in a way that felt too tropey and just taking from a list of bad things that can happen to characters and slapping them on her. With how the series handled Sakura in the beginning and has kind of forgotten about her recently, I’m not that surprised it feels like it’s happening again.
Kara: High point is Tsunade going outside to scrap with a kid. I can respect that, I don’t care if Jiraiya thinks it’s immature. Low point is once again having action take place in an animal interior or reasonable facsimile thereof. I don’t cope with that mess well at all.
"I'm gonna be Hokage!" count: 6 (32 total)
Bowls of ramen consumed: 0 bowls (33 bowls, 3 cups total)
Shadow Clones created: 0 (297 total)
With that concludes this week! Please join us for this rewatch, anytime, especially if you haven't already watched the original Naruto!
Here's our upcoming schedule:
-Next week, on April 19th, NICOLE MEJIAS will show us the deadly and legendary faceoff in episodes 92-98.
-April 26th will have DAVID LYNN take us to the Land of Waves in episodes 99-105.
-May 3rd features PAUL CHAPMAN, who will walk us through the inevitable Naruto vs Sasuke in episodes 106-112.
CATCH UP ON THE REWATCH!
Thank you for joining us for the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! See you next time!
Have a question for next week's batch of Episodes 92~98? Drop it in the comments and you might find your answer in next week's installment!
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