If you know some Japanese, then you’ve undoubtedly noticed that the names of the Kumogakure ninjas are rather goofy. They’re either letters in the alphabet like A (Raikage), B (Killer Bee), C, and J, or an adjective describing their temperament, Omoi (Serious), Karui (Carefree), Darui (Dull), Samui (Cold), Atsui (Hot). I’ve never really given it any more thought than that, outside of how the English dub should probably use the translated version of their names (if they aren’t already) just so it sounds as silly as it does in Japanese, but this chapter brings the names front and center in a very simple yet almost idiotic way. It also marked the first time I recall the series switching back to its lighthearted side since the fourth ninja war started, and it felt a bit out of place for that very reason. The series has been in “serious mode” for some time now and I had completely lost sight of that aspect, so Naruto’s return is looking like it’ll be refreshing in more ways than one.
Despite all the action, there didn’t seem like much to take away from all the gourd soul-sucking triggered by speaking one’s favorite word/phrase, which were unsurprisingly the characters’ own names. Samui of course was the unusual case, since she still got pulled in without saying a word — something that’s begging for an explanation next time.
As such, the part I found the most intriguing was the depiction of the KinGin brothers as the Gold and Silver Horned Demons from the Chinese epic novel, Journey to the West. The uncanny resemblance goes right down to the four magical relics in their possession — the Crimson Gourd, Seven Star Sword, Golden Curtain Rope, and Palm Leaf Fan (missing the Jade Flask). This isn’t the first time that Kishimoto has borrowed ideas from Chinese literature, as the Third Hokage’s summon Enma is based on the main character of the same novel, the Chinese Monkey King Son Wukong, a.k.a. Son Goku in Japanese. I always see these type of characters as homages of sorts, much like I do with Might Guy and Rock Lee in connection to Bruce Lee, so it was kind of cool in that sense. It’s just kind of odd how that was the highlight of the chapter for me, and not the predicament that Darui’s in now. Maybe he’s not even allowed to think “dull” or “sluggish”?