As per my suspicion last chapter, things remained pretty civil between the remaining Jinchuuriki and their respective Kages, and Naruto seemed to have Tsunade on his side even though she couldn’t let him join the front lines. The latter was a given in my mind since Tsunade has a tendency to spoil Naruto with special treatment, so what was surprising was how heated the exchange became (much more so than I was anticipating anyway), and the sudden revelation that A (i.e. Raikage) is the fastest ninja in the world after Minato passed away. I don’t recall the speed part being explicitly stated in the past, but judging from Tsunade’s surprise on how Naruto was able to keep up with A in his Kyuubi-chakra form, I gather it was intended to be a big first-time revelation of sorts this chapter. While there was mention of how fast A is during the Kage Summit arc, I definitely would’ve second-guessed Sasuke’s chances against him had I known he’s the “fastest”, even if Sasuke had Susanoo and Amaterasu at his disposal.
Looking back, this additional tidbit changes my perspective of Sasuke’s abilities almost eighty chapters ago, and makes me wonder how truly overpowered he is now that he’s inherited Itachi’s eyes. Naturally gifted ninja or not, I guess this goes to show just how powerful the Uchiha bloodline truly is. (Not that we didn’t know that already of course.) In relation to Naruto, a subtle implication is that Sasuke will be able to hold his own against our emotionally driven hero even after he’s harnessed the power of his Tailed Beast. It wasn’t too long ago that it looked like their next fated encounter would be tilted in Naruto’s favor, having both the power of a Tailed Beast and the speed of his father. Power is one thing, but speed is a beast of its own (pun intended), if Toriyama Akira has taught us anything in Dragon Ball — a series that Kishimoto credits for influencing his creation of Naruto (the series). In light of this new info, the playing field has been leveled so to speak, seeing as A possesses the very same traits au naturel and Sasuke held his own against him. I jest, but it looks like an all-out fight between Naruto and Sasuke would also lead to the destruction of the world, meaning that killing Naruto may be the best preventative measure after all.
Oddly enough, I rather enjoyed seeing Naruto’s usual unshakable resolve this time around, now that it’s been further reinforced by his mother Kushina. His self-doubt is practically non-existent, making it easy to get caught up in his headstrong, act-first-think-later pace. This in turn left the flashback between A and Bee as the most unexpected development. What was intended to emphasize their unparalleled, almost twin-like sixth sense left me dwelling on the fact that they’re not really brothers but “bros” (i.e. they’re not blood-related). I honestly don’t remember if this was brought up before, but assuming it wasn’t, I feel somewhat cheated by their uncanny resemblance. In any case, the question I’m left with is what Bee showed A through his fist bump. If I was reading the chapter correctly, the flashback was used to stress how they can understand one another without words and not the thoughts Bee was actually conveying, so what A learned will be revealed next time. I suspect Bee passed on exactly why he has so much faith in Naruto, in which case, A would come to understand Naruto’s earnest feelings to protect his friends and eventually let him participate in the war. Either way, I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
* On a separate note, I doubt the Naruto manga will end after this arc like some people are suspecting, given how profitable the series is. Sure it’s only sold about half as many volumes as One Piece all-time, but given creator Oda Eiichirou’s estimated earnings, I can’t see why Kishimoto’s publisher, Shueisha, would let that happen. It would be like taking bags of money and burning them.