THE GREAT CRUNCHYROLL NARUTO REWATCH Arrives at the Big Moment: Naruto vs. Sasuke in Episodes 127-133!
The battle we've all been waiting for is here: Naruto vs. Sasuke!
Welcome back to the GREAT CRUNCHYROLL NARUTO REWATCH! I'm Nicole Mejias, and I'll be your host this week as we make our way through all 220 episodes of the original Naruto. Last week, we covered Episodes 120-126, where Gaara and the sand ninjas redeemed themselves and started kicking some major butt! Also, drunk Rock Lee!
This week, we’re passing the 100 episodes left mark by hitting episodes 127-133, and that means it is time for the showdown we’ve all been waiting for: Naruto vs. Sasuke! But first, Gaara has a few minor things to finish dealing with, but it seems like everyone’s favorite sandy boy will be fine. Sadly, this week’s batch ends right before the grand finale of Naruto vs. Sasuke, but we get through a lot of the emotional labor first before the big pay-off by seeing more of Sasuke and Itachi’s mysterious pasts.
Let’s not delay the big showdown any longer and find out what the Features Team thought!
Boy, that sure was an anti-climactic finish to the Gaara vs. Kimimaro fight. How did you feel about the way that resolved?
Paul: I didn't feel that Gaara vs. Kimimaro was anti-climatic, partly because the whole bone thing really creeped me out and I was ready for that to be over, but also because they spent time climbing inside Kimimaro's head-space, and he was ultimately such a tragic character. I'm a sucker for how Orochimaru keeps hoovering up all of the sad, queer ninja kids who don't belong in their original clans and Villages and creating a weird, evil Brady Bunch ninja family.
Kevin: The end of that fight is one of the few things in the entire franchise that disappointed me so much that it came back around to being memorable.
Danni: Honestly, having a character just up and die from an illness feels both so convenient and so subversive that I have to respect it.
Jared: It always kind of felt like that was going to be the inevitable end anyways, so I’m not too bothered by it. Although, I feel like with his ability, ripping out your spinal column and using it should be an ability that would ultimately end you, yet it’s just his illness.
David: The ending was so abrupt that I was surprised it was over well after the fact. Kimimaro has an interesting story but he got shortchanged by being the midboss before the most important fight in the whole first “part” of the show, I guess.
Joseph: I totally loved how it ended! I’m a sucker for subverting expectations like that. Considering all Kimimaro has gone through, it was more than appropriate to die like that on the spot during such a huge fight.
Noelle: I’m still surprised by it, to be completely honest. I could’ve gone for more of course, but there’s something about it that’s so abrupt that made it stick with me. Perfect timing for our heroes, but at the same time, fitting. I felt it worked.
Carolyn: I actually loved that ending. We don’t always need to have a big flashy violent showdown. He fought hard, his body couldn't take it. It’s different and refreshing. I’m a fan.
Kara: After Kimimaro literally pulled out his own spine I was kind of too dazed to register anything else.
Personally, I always found it interesting how other characters were far more interesting than Naruto and Sasuke at times, and I think the growth of Gaara is a great example of that. How do you feel about Gaara now vs. when he first showed up?
Paul: Before, Gaara was a psychopathic but adorable baby murder cinnamon roll, and I loved him. Now he's a sympathetic but adorable baby murder cinnamon roll, and I still love him, only in a slightly different way. I'm really looking forward to seeing how he continues to develop as a character.
Kevin: Well, they were supposed to be designed after Goku and Vegeta, so Naruto being the most boring one might just be an extra faithful homage. As for Gaara, I don’t dislike that he’s mellowed out and is willing to cooperate with people, but I wish that we saw more of a gradual change instead of him just suddenly not being murderous because Naruto’s greatest jutsu is friendship.
Danni: I really liked seeing Gaara act more sympathetic to those around him. I don’t think he’s more interesting than Naruto yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing more of him.
Jared: As someone who was definitely a detractor of him before his turn, I’m enjoying seeing how he’s taken to heart some of the stuff Naruto told him and even throwing it back in the face of Kimimaro. I’m curious to see if he continues to be ever brooding throughout or if that part of him changes or not.
David: He’s definitely more interesting now than he was previously. I particularly enjoyed the scene between him and Lee as they just sort of chilled together under a tree’s shade after the fight with Kimimaro was over.
Joseph: I like Gaara but I don’t necessarily think he’s any more interesting than Naruto is. It’s too early to tell how his character will evolve from here, but I like what they’re doing with him.
Noelle: Gaara is one of my top faves, so I’m not going to pretend I don’t have a bias here. I think Naruto’s still pretty great and I wouldn’t say Gaara is more engaging than he is, but Gaara’s really made some strides. He’s taken the lessons he’s been given and learned from them, and he is becoming more of a complete person as a result. Also, that doesn’t stop his potential in a fight at all. You go, Gaara.
Carolyn: I still feel like there was no character growth here. He just showed up. He wanted to kill Rock Lee not that long ago and there was zero resolution to that. They just join forces out of nowhere.
Kara: I’m not sure how I feel re: character growth. I mean obviously there was some, because he’s not rocking back and forth in a ball of sand whispering to his mother. So, you know, good for him, clearly got some stuff sorted out for himself. I’d be interested to see what happened while we were looking the other way, though. Naruto doesn’t exactly fear flashbacks, so I have a feeling we’ll find out at some point.
Speaking of character growth, Rock Lee has certainly had an interesting arc in these past few episodes. It feels good to see him back, if a bit fast, but since we probably won’t see him for a while, how do you feel about Lee’s send off here?
Paul: Way back in the write-up for episodes 50–56, I proposed that Rock Lee is the Mick Foley of the Naruto universe, in that he's kind of a dork, everybody loves him, and he gets the ever-living tar beat out of him every time he shows up. I have to add an additional way that Rock's trajectory resembles Mick's pro-wrestling career: he loses–dramatically–in all of his most important matches. I'd honestly like to see him win something for a change.
Kevin: To be perfectly honestly, my first thought after seeing the question was “wait, did Lee get a send off?”, so that’s probably not a good sign.
Danni: That was a send off???
Jared: If there’s not a filler arc that’s just Rock Lee getting up to shenanigans, I’m going to be very disappointed.
David: Such is the fate of tertiary Naruto characters.
Joseph: Poor Rock Lee. I love him but this was his least memorable set of episodes in my opinion. I second the “that was a send off?” question.
Noelle: In terms of canonical material (filler not included) I know this is going to be the last we see of Lee for a while. And that’s such a shame–Lee’s a good kid, and I could always take more Rock Lee.
Carolyn: Yeah, I wasn’t aware that was a send off either. I would have just seen that as any other side character episode. They are there sometimes and sometimes they are not.
Kara: Wait, where’s he going? No one told me he was going anywhere. Shoot. Now I’m going to go back and watch his drunken fighting and appreciate it harder.
So, here we are. Naruto vs. Sasuke. The big culmination of the recovery arc is about to occur… and… flashbacks. So, how do we feel about the secrets of the Uchiha clan, the Mangekyo Sharingan, and Itachi after these revelations?
Paul: If I'm reading this correctly, in order to master the ultimate Sharingan technique of the Uchiha clan, you have to murder someone (or multiple someones) that you love dearly. I get that, very ninja-esque. I still don't understand what motivates Itachi to pursue that level of power. That bit about him “testing his vessel” was just gibberish to me. I did like how they changed up some details in Sasuke's flashbacks, implying that Itachi's techniques have the ability to alter people's memories.
Kevin: I am continuing to try to not spoil too much about future events, so for now I’ll stick with this: I like that that a lot of things are getting explored. The Uchiha’s role in the village, what the Mangekyo Sharingan is, some kind of motivation for Itachi killing the clan. It’s all neat and whether you like the answers or not, at least there’s an answer instead of everything completely unexplained for the entire show. That being said… don’t get too attached to most of it.
Danni: I continue to eagerly anticipate how they try to flip it so that Itachi was actually the good guy all along.
Jared: No wonder Sasuke has become the way he is, Itachi and his dad surely didn’t help things. Itachi’s drive to being out of his mind with the vessel talk seemed odd, but having that kind of constant pressure on you to be the best, especially at a young age can cause you to break in bad ways.
David: I actually thought the flashbacks did a lot to make Itachi look like one of the most intelligent and reasonable characters in the whole show, a real role model for Sasuke. Of course, Itachi doesn’t end up finding the results he wants fast enough by working within the system, so he ends up choosing to burn the system itself to the ground instead. His stated reasoning isn’t just odd, it’s also at odds with everything he said leading up to it. How can he justify all this carnage for the sake of power, when one of the core tenets of his ideology beforehand was how badly power and the pursuit of it messes people up? As of now anyway, he doesn’t, and that leads Sasuke to taking all the wrong lessons from his big brother. But maybe there’s more to the story than we’ve gotten so far.
Joseph: I found the past of the Uchiha clan interesting, but wasn’t a huge fan of the way they structured it. I’d rather have a couple solid episodes exploring the backstory than peppering it so much throughout the buildup to the fight that it impacts the pacing. There’s still a ton of mystery to Itachi to dig into, though.
Noelle: My other fave is Itachi, and I very clearly remember how these episodes went down and just how revelatory they were to me. The Itachi we see in the flashbacks, where you can tell Sasuke genuinely loves and admires, compared to the fallout we see now, what a difference. Growing up in the Uchiha clan is really not the best place to be, huh.
Carolyn: This week is very, very flashback heavy. Generally, we get some flashbacks intermingled with fighting. This feels like it leans on the flashbacks a lot. I do feel like they are trying to set it up to appear that Itachi was secretly a good guy and we got him all wrong like this show likes to do.
Kara: I was thinking to myself all through this how there are basically no ninja clans that don’t have drama. Then I remembered, well, this is a society devoted to training (and occasionally modifying your body in horrifying ways) toward a single purpose, of course it’s gonna be a mess every day. I actually didn’t mind the flashbacks being peppered throughout. That’s a thing I know the show does, and it’s an interesting way to slow-release info at just the right time for things to land meaning-wise. It explains a lot, I’ll say that.
So, something that always bothered me: I kind of feel like Sasuke is being a brat. How do you all feel about this development in Sasuke’s character? I never really found myself sympathetic to his personality change.
Paul: I agree that Sasuke is being a brat, but to me that seems less like a drastic change in character and more like a natural evolution given his motivations and back-story. The desire for revenge has been eating him alive from the very beginning, and no matter how many people reach out to him, Sasuke can't see past his own pain and his own rage. I pity him and I want him to find a better path, and that's good character writing.
Kevin: He didn’t really have any kind of personality change. It’s more that he’s always been power hungry in order to kill Itachi, and now he’s seen that he’s nowhere near strong enough and so is desperate to grow even more quickly no matter the risks. It honestly makes a lot of sense, especially now that we know his backstory better. It’s just a shame that he perpetually sounds like he’s ignoring everyone and throwing a tantrum instead of telling people why he’s leaving and/or asking other people for help, since strength in numbers is still strength.
Danni: I don’t quite see him as a brat. If anything I fail to understand why he’s chosen Orochimaru’s path towards strength. Surpassing his brother means nothing if he does so with borrowed power. Itachi got where he is all on his own. Shouldn’t Sasuke do the same?
Jared: I don’t think he ever really changed out of his revenge obsession, but just got to a point where he figured Orochimaru’s plan would be his easiest path to getting the power to take on Itachi. Although it was interesting during the fight with Naruto where he basically had to keep pumping himself up and telling himself that there’s no turning back from this, as if he has to constantly say that or everything just breaks for him.
David: I take contention with both the idea that Sasuke’s personality has changed as well as the idea that this isn’t Sasuke’s last resort. In regards to the former, Sasuke was literally introduced with the idea of revenge as not just his main but his only motivator; every instance we see of him even confiding in his teammates like with the tree-climbing exercise was ultimately another step toward that goal and not much else. Evolving from that, it is only natural that Sasuke would be enticed by something like Orochimaru’s proposed “easy button” of sorts for power. He has been trying to do what Itachi could for essentially his whole life, even before he hated Itachi, as this week’s flashbacks show. However, he has never had the innate talent Itachi did; Itachi tried to teach him that this might not even be a thing he should care so much about, but that lesson got thrown out the window when Itachi made Sasuke hate him and forget all about it. I think what I’m getting at here is that Sasuke hasn’t changed almost at all so far, but if we step back and look at everything we’ve learned about him, he is simply more complicated than we used to think.
Joseph: It’s all really tragic, especially when we get hints of the potential for change within Sasuke. He’s clearly wrestling with the fact that he’s found friends yet he’s a freight train with a single destination. Anything in the way gets plowed through completely, and it’s just kind of sad. I will say I never saw Naruto and Sasuke’s relationship with the sometimes rose-tinted glasses the flashbacks give it, but such is life.
Noelle: Sasuke is 100% a brat, but at the same time, his mental gymnastic routine isn’t one that’s unfathomable for his character. He’s always stated that his driving force is vengeance, something that comes from a truly negative place as opposed to a positive one, so is it really that strange that he’d end up going to extremes? I don’t think so. The seed was always there, and now it’s exploded into the worst venue possible. It makes sense.
Carolyn: The more I rewatch the more I wonder why I liked Sasuke in the first place. He’s such a punk.
Kara: When Sasuke said that line about “I’m special, too,” I was like… that’s it, that’s the character arc. Naruto spent all this time grumbling about how much people like Sasuke, but then he turned that into a reason to get better. I can understand Sasuke’s background and damage based on his family, but this whole being mad because people are more interested in Naruto’s tummy-fox than in Sasuke is childish.
So, we don’t see what happens in the battle yet this week, but how do you all think it's going to go? Who do you have as the winner? And does it even matter who wins, since it may be the end of this friendship?
Paul: Judging by the episode for next week entitled “The Promise That Could Not Be Kept” which features a thumbnail of Naruto covered in bandages, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Naruto gets his butt kicked. I wouldn't worry about the friendship ending. If Shonen Jump series have taught me anything, it's that yesterday's mortal enemies are tomorrow's super best friends.
Kevin: This is Naruto, the world will end before a friendship does. That being said, this is a battle where no matter the outcome, there is no winner. If Naruto takes Sasuke back to the village, it’ll only be by literally dragging him back. If Sasuke wins, Naruto fails everyone waiting for him to bring Sasuke back. If Kakashi intervenes, then the fight had basically no meaning since there is no actual conclusion. But if there is any conclusion, then one of them may well die (of course, we have a bit of clairvoyance on our side knowing that there are 90 more episodes and two sequel series with the name Naruto in the title, so the stakes are lowered a little).
Danni: My gut is telling me that Sasuke will get away in the end, but my brain is telling me that we have months of filler ahead of us and there’s no way Sasuke can just be gone for all of it. Do you really expect any of us to believe this friendship is over, though? Really???
Jared: I’m not really expecting a de facto winner to emerge here, but something to happen and Sasuke is able to continue on his path and Naruto goes the other way. Whether that’s by Kakashi interrupting the fight or they somehow double KO each other. It’s just weird to think as well because this is it before we go into fillerville and I don’t know how exactly you continue on from this type of encounter and leave out someone like Sasuke who’s going to have this brand new story and character arc.
Joseph: Whoever wins… WE win, because episode 133 was an all-timer and one of the most impressively animated fights of the series thus far. It’s a testament to Kishimoto’s character crafting just how emotional it all is, too. It really feels desperate and crucial.
Noelle: Siding with Joseph here- we, the audience are the true victors. I’m so excited to have this fight on my plate again.
Carolyn: Naruto has to win, right? I don’t think this is the end of their friendship, but maybe a super, duper, major strain on it.
Kara: Kakashi’s gonna drag both those dumb buttheads back to the village.
As always, what were the high and low points of this week’s batch?
Paul: My high point is the entirety of episode 133, where Naruto and Sasuke really lay into one another and the production values get cranked up to eleven. I especially liked that key beats in the fight, such as when Sasuke nearly burns Naruto to a crisp with his fire-breathing Jutsu, were played like horror movie beats rather than action movie ones. My low point was all of the recycled footage leading up to that point, as the extensive use of flashbacks often took me out of the moment.
Kevin: High - Naruto and Sasuke actually fighting in earnest. Not a specific moment, but the back and forth of each revealing new powers and giving the fight everything, even a better animation budget. Low - So, does the Leaf just not have law enforcement anymore? The Uchiha were the police force, and I don’t remember anyone ever mentioning the force in present day, nor mentioning the force being rebuilt after the Uchiha were wiped out. Maybe the Anbu took over, but that seems excessive and we would probably see a lot more cloaked figures in masks if that were the case.
Danni: The high point this week is easily the entire real fight between Naruto and Sasuke, no contest. The animation was stellar and my god the creative choreography in that fight was to die for. I could watch it over and over again. I want to say the low point was the multiple episodes of recap, but if that’s what it takes to get the amazing-looking fight we did, just lay the flashbacks on me, Pierrot.
Jared: High point is easily Naruto vs. Sasuke when it actually got going. It was phenomenal. Low point would probably be the constant tease to the fight with a bunch of flashbacks and what not, but in the end, it was well worth the wait.
David: My high point actually is the flashbacks, because of how much more interesting they made both Sasuke and Itachi, which is vital to making the entire conflict actually interesting. Low point is the suddenly deflated balloon that is the end of the Kimimaro fight. Poor dude.
Joseph: High point: Naruto vs. Sasuke for real in episode 133.
Low point: I think they could have condensed the flashbacks or structured them differently. It took me out of the buildup even though it was part of the buildup.
Noelle: High point, Sasuke’s backstory and how that resulted in a massive character breakdown. Also, Naruto vs Sasuke, give me that high-tier animation any day of the week. Low point, the pacing of the flashbacks, but that’s more of an arbitrary point. I really liked the content we got this week.
Carolyn: High point: Honestly that super surprising ending to Gaara’s fight. So original! Low point: Probably Sasuke’s jerk attitude. Chill out, man.
Kara: High point is the Naruto vs. Sasuke fight, as expected. Low point is Sasuke’s level-up lipstick. It’s not working for him. I’d have gone warmer tone.
Ramen: 2 bowls
Clones: 15 + 1 uncountable scene
Total so far:
Bowls of Ramen: 44 bowls, 3 cups
“I'm Gonna be Hokage!”: 52
Shadow Clones Created: 367
And that's everything for this week! Remember that you're always welcome to join us for this rewatch, especially if you haven't watched the original Naruto! Watch Naruto today!
CATCH UP ON THE REWATCH!
Here's our upcoming schedule:
- May 31st, NOELLE OGAWA will start us off on a journey back into the land of filler.
- June 7th, DAVID LYNN keeps us going as we get even deeper into filler.
- June 14th, PAUL CHAPMAN will detail in the depth of this sea of fillers.
Thank you for joining us for the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! Have a great weekend, and we'll see you all next time!
Have anything to say about our thoughts on Episodes 127-133? Let us know in the comments! Don't forget, we're also accepting questions and comments for next week, so don't be shy and feel free to ask away!
Nicole is a features and a social video script writer for Crunchyroll. Known for punching dudes in Yakuza games on her Twitch channel while professing her love for Majima. She also has a blog, Figuratively Speaking. Follow her on Twitter: @ellyberries
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