It was only two chapters ago that I said Naruto will probably make an immediate impact on the battlefield and it looks like the stage has just been set for that. The difference is, I was thinking it would be the Kages who Gaara and Oonoki have been stalling and not Itachi and Pain. I did mention how Pain could probably be considered Kage level+ though, so it’s funny how he face-to-face with Naruto again. It’ll be interesting to see what they have to say to one another (if anything), but it’s actually Itachi whom I’m most curious about.
It’s been quite a while since Sasuke killed his older brother, and even longer since Itachi supposedly left Naruto with “something”, so I gather he’ll have some things to say to Naruto about Sasuke. Even if it’s something along the lines of, “Please stop Sasuke”, it would be a pretty significant “milestone” toward Naruto and Sasuke’s inevitable showdown. Seeing as Itachi was intent on taking his sacrifice for Konoha to his grave and never intended to kill his younger brother, there’s always the possibility that he’ll ask Naruto to save Sasuke from being used by Madara. It does seem unlikely because of Itachi’s sense of duty, so I get the feeling that he’s going to ask Naruto to rid the world of the Uchihas altogether (i.e. Sasuke and Madara).
As for Gaara and his father, if someone had told me that Gaara was going to break down in tears this week, I would’ve told them that they’re crazy. As I expressed last week, I was hoping that Gaara’s father would redeem himself in death, but I figured it was going to involve a lengthy and emotionally difficult battle. In that sense, the sudden sealing came off a bit anticlimactic, even though I do feel it was a much more meaningful way of going about it. Gaara learns the truth about how he was loved and his father repents for his mistakes. The only thing I found a bit odd was the other Kages break free of Gaara’s sand, leaving the former Kazekage as the only one who was sealed (or so it seemed).
I presume Kishimoto wanted to illustrate an epic battle for those readers eagerly awaiting one, but so far it doesn’t look like anything more than a lot of cannon fodder being plowed through. With Oonoki dealing with Muu, there doesn’t really seem to be anyone to fight the former Raikage and Mizukage either. I like Temari as much as the next person, but I can’t picture her contending with two Kages — even if they give away their weaknesses. Maybe the cannon fodder won’t just be cannon fodder after all. Strength in numbers?