It’s so gross seeing those Sharingans squirming about Danzou’s arm so I didn’t even want to use that as the picture for this chapter. Just to clear up any confusion from last time, they do appear to be fully developed Sharingans (3 dots), but not of the Mangekyou variety. Much like many people have suggested, I’m under the impression that Danzou went farming for eyes from all the corpses left behind during Itachi’s massacre of his clan. As Kakashi has shown us, it’s possible to continue developing Sharingans after they’ve been transplanted to their new host, which explains how Danzou has so many high level eyes. Sealing his arm evidently hides the fact that the eyes are there, since Ao’s Byakugan didn’t pick them up specifically during the Kages’ summit meeting.
As for Sasuke, it looks like he’s using his Mangekyou more now, along with the ability to summon Susanoo. I gather he activated his eyes when he killed Itachi, since the requirement is to kill the person closest to you. After the big revelation of how Itachi gave up everything for the sake of Konoha and how he was always looking out for his little brother, I presume this means he was the closest person to him. Sasuke didn’t go as far as obtaining an eternal Mangekyou like Madara suggested though, meaning he too will lose his vision down the stretch. However, I’m still a bit puzzled about how all this works. I mean, Itachi’s eyes were on the verge of degrading to complete blindness so I could see why he needed a fresh pair of Sharingans as his new light to make his Mangekyou eternal. The same with Madara and his brother. Now is it expected to work the same the other way around if Sasuke were to take Itachi’s degraded pair of eyes? i.e. Does the eternal requirement basically come down to activating your own Mangekyou and then taking another’s regardless of its state? (Funny how that seems to be the case.)
Anyway, the heavy reliance on genjutsu from Sharingan users still seems like a cheap way to develop suspense from their fights. The way I see it, it’s equivalent to the ultimate “it was all a dream” cop-out ending. Except here, it’s the “it was all a genjutsu” way out. I don’t recall exactly, but during Sasuke’s fight versus Itachi, that must have happened at least two or three times with each of them “turning the tide” by breaking free of the other’s illusion. As such, I’m reluctant to take anything as reality when it comes to Sasuke’s fight with Danzou just like we saw at the end of this chapter. Unless there’s some verification following a supposed killing blow, I’m not taking anything they show me (especially cliffhangers) at face value.
Aside from that, I found it funny how even Kakashi thought Sakura’s digging her own grave by going after Sasuke. Sure, we don’t know how much she’s developed since her fight with Sasori (for which she had HUGE help from Chiyo of Sunagakure), but it’s hard to imagine anyone measuring up to Sasuke’s growth now short of Naruto. That’s likely the way they want to play up their eventual encounter, so I’m almost willing to bet that no one’s going to be able to stop Sasuke until then. That includes Danzou right now. As for Naruto himself, I feel sorry for him. It’s almost like his motivation in life for the past three years has come to a crashing halt. With all his friends abandoning any attempt of saving Sasuke and Naruto well aware of their reasons for doing so, the thought on what he should do literally eats him up inside to the point where he collapses. He’s a simple-minded protagonist who wears his heart on his sleeve, but even I didn’t expect that to happen.
* Updated with links.