What a chapter. While the action may have died down (sorry shounen-fanatics), the story actually took a turn for the better. First off, Sai tells Naruto that all his friends have decided to kill Sasuke as well. It’s for the sake of the world and all, but still a huge shock to Naruto when he hears that Sakura plans to kill him herself. Whether or not she can actually defeat a Kage/Jinchuuriki-level ninja is another story of course. It’s too bad she wasn’t born an Uchiha with a resolve like that though — she’d be well on her way towards obtaining a Mangekyou.
After all the heated discussion before, I’m relieved to finally have it confirmed that Sakura’s confession was merely her way of lifting a lifelong burden off Naruto. Yes she cares about him and thought this would make things easier on him, but I wouldn’t be the least bit happy if I were in Naruto’s shoes. Love may have been there, but evidently not the right kind, so it’s still a pity/self-sacrificial confession in my eyes. It doesn’t sit well with me that she tried to make him believe in a false love just to distract him from the matter at hand. So for that, kudos to Naruto for not buying it right from the onset.
Three cheers for Kakashi as the new acting Hokage? I’d so go for that over Danzou any day of the week, even though I find Kakashi’s stamina and personal interest somewhat lacking for the position. His skills and character are definitely suited for the job though. As for the arrival of Gaara, I was happy to see him give Naruto some resolve on what to do about Sasuke, but his whole bit on becoming Kazekage long before Naruto’s Hokage dream came off as a subtle shot. Obviously Gaara’s way too serious to make jokes, especially seeing as he swore to protect Naruto with his life, but I laughed at the thought of him saying, “What’s the holdup Naruto? I’ve been a Kage for so long already.”
As usual, we have another great cliffhanger like this manga’s well-known (hated?) for. While I’d be totally for another round of Sasuke vs Gaara after they’ve powered-up so much, Madara vs Danzou should be pretty good too. Out comes Danzou’s right arm… another Uchiha body part he supposedly stole. Speaking of which, is anyone else a bit turned off by how stealing eyeballs and limbs is the “cool” way of powering up in this series? Whatever happened to promoting inner strength and doing things with your own abilities to young kids?