This was an odd chapter. With so many little things happening at the same time, it’s as if nothing was happening on at all. The biggest thing I took away was how Ino, Shikamaru, and Chouji will get the sentimental match-up against Asuma, which for all intents and purposes, would feel wrong not to have after Asuma was revealed to be one of the Edo Tensei summons way back. What was weird was how the chapter played up that confrontation, only for it to switchover and give some limelight to Dan as some great Konoha ninja that we never knew, plus the Izumo/Kotetsu duo with their jump on Kazuku. Once we got back to the trio and they had affirmed their resolve to fight their ex-teacher, we saw more of Kankurou in a pinch with a Mifune/Hanzou samurai/ninja showdown as the cliffhanger. So um, Ino Shika Chou… where?
While I appreciate the emphasis on concurrency to show that there’s a war being fought on several fronts, I’m leaning towards the idea that more focused chapters would make for a much more interesting read. If there is some skipping around that needs to be done, it would probably be better to minimize it and avoid having it right in the middle of something else. If I were to make a guess, the reason for doing so is to get the Asuma, Dan, and Hanzou subplots wrapped up in one fell swoop, which may happen the very next chapter. It’s understandable since they probably aren’t important enough to warrant multiple chapters each, but it also comes off as a quick way of writing them off after they were used to build up reader anticipation. Having them there added impact and now they need to be “dealt with” story-wise.
It’ll be interesting to see if that’s the direction things take in the upcoming chapters, given that Hizashi, Chiyo, Kimimaro, and co. to address. I’m starting to think Kishimoto overdid it with the number of characters he brought back, even though it sure gave him a lot of options on how to play out this war. They’re all pawns for his storytelling after all.