By that I mean Naruto as the second coming of Rikudou Sennin, the founder of ninjutsu and Jinchuuriki of the Ten-Tails. And here I thought Naruto and Sasuke would “only” be ending the feud between their Senju and Uchiha ancestors. Evidently, that’s too small of an achievement for Kishimoto as he intends to take Naruto’s character from the bottom of the barrel to the top of the world before all’s said and done. I’ll be quick to admit that my initial reaction to that thought was how absurd it is, since I just got accustomed to the idea of Naruto surpassing his father and proving that he has what it takes to become the next Hokage, but I’m slowly opening up to the drastic change in scope. Still, all the implications of Naruto catapulting well beyond his Hokage dream haven’t quite sunk in for me, as the scale of his next power-up pretty much implies that there’s no more room for improvement — and with it, no more room for story progression.
So what does this new outlook change? Well for me, it’s making me second guess myself on whether there will be a follow-up arc with Kabuto/Orochimaru as the ultimate antagonist. While I still think he’ll wind up being an enemy above Madara — judging from how he’s surprised Tobi on more than a few occasions — it’s starting to look like a showdown with him will be lumped together in the current arc. All the Tailed Beasts except for the One-Tail and Eight-Tails have transferred some of their power to Naruto before getting sucked away by Tobi’s Gedou Mazou (a.k.a. Demonic Statue of the Outer Path), so our lucky recipient who’s been entrusted with their souls is only a couple of beasts away from obtaining what Tobi’s been after all this time. I presume that Naruto will obtain some godly power once he does — a power that can defeat Madara once and for all — which kind of closes the door on any future conflicts. (The shounen trend seems to be having a character’s power level peak just before the final battle, as things would be rather uninteresting if they were the strongest fighter/ninja alive at the beginning of an arc.)
For the time being, there’s still nothing to suggest that will happen any time soon though, as Tobi, Kabuto, and Madara could always pull “new” countermeasures out of nowhere, but it is probably safe to assume that we’re close. Since the Bijuu Dama clash ended relatively quickly, the next chapter should give a better idea of how much more Naruto has to go when he squares off with Tobi himself. However, that’s assuming Tobi doesn’t decide to retreat without any Tailed Beasts to do his bidding.
* I bet Naruto’s not the only one having difficulty remembering all the new names, so just for the record we have: One-Tails Shukaku 「守鶴」, Two-Tails Matatabi 「又旅」, Three-Tails Isobu 「磯撫」, Four-Tails Son Goku 「孫悟空」, Five-Tails Kokuou 「コク王」, Six-Tails Saiken 「犀犬」, Seven-Tails Choumei 「重明」, Eight-Tails Gyuuki 「牛鬼」, and Nine-Tails Kurama 「クラマ」. There respective Jinchuuriki are: Gaara 「我愛羅」, Nii Yugito 「二位ユギト」, Yagura 「やぐら」, Roushi 「老紫」, Han 「ハン」, Utakata 「ウタカタ」, Fuu 「フウ」, B 「ビー」, and of course Naruto 「ナルト」. You’ll all be tested on this later. 😛