While some people may not be happy with the slow pacing of the fourth ninja war, and would much rather see Naruto and Sasuke going all out spamming their strongest attacks on one another, I for one like how the series has taken a step away from them altogether and focused on the bigger problems at hand. Naturally, the two of them are key players in this war (and the entire series), so it’s only a matter of time before they do make their appearances. In the meantime, the shift to the leaders of the ninja world is welcomed change-up, as they’re more concerned about the fate of the world than settling personal vendettas.
For a manga that’s running as long as Naruto, it’s almost quintessential that the story be both engaging and thought-provoking to keep me interested, and the little things like the detailed explanation on the deployment of troops by Shikamaru’s father, Shikaku, help greatly in that regard. It shows that the author put some thought into the work requiring me to think, and I like having to think when I watch or read something. At the moment, the plot isn’t open to many twists and surprises aside from the ones in battle, making the discussions in the “war room” a great supplement to an otherwise straightforward progression. I realize there’s still Kabuto’s manipulation of his resurrected ninjas and whatever else he has up his sleeve, but I can’t see that being addressed until the later stages of the war.
Continuing on the thought about slow progression, there appears to be some reader dissatisfaction towards the overuse of overpowered resurrected ninjas over and over again as well. I agree it’s an easy way to drive the story and allows “new” characters to pop up left and right unexpectedly, who may be forgotten as quickly as they are introduced. However, it also comes with the added benefit of showing the origins of the Naruto universe and making me more appreciative of the fictional world Kishimoto has created. The revival of the Kages and hearing them bicker about who killed who was part of it, but so were the character reactions to the other famous ninjas. If the alternative is simply clashing head-on against an army of Zetsu clones, I have to say that I much prefer what we have now.
Amidst all the talk about the unique abilities these ninjas possess, such as the Second Tsuchikage’s dust element, I’m actually looking forward to seeing how Gaara take on his father the most. I can’t imagine he’ll feel remorseful about doing so in any way, given that his father ordered him to be killed in the past, so my anticipation mainly stems from hoping to see Gaara show his father how powerful he’s become even without the tailed beast, and maybe (just maybe) make him proud of his son as the new leader of Sunagakure. A bit sappy I know, but Naruto tends to delve into that aspect as well from time to time (…in a good way). Along the same lines, there’s Shikamaru and Asuma, plus Neji and his father Hizashi, except the emotions should be much more prominent in their fights.