Going back to last week, I had mentioned in the comments about how I fully expect most of the older generation of ninja to be killed off in some way… but I definitely never expected this. In one fell swoop, Kishimoto not only demonstrates that he won’t hesitate to kill off some of the more popular characters in the series by killing off Neji, but also simultaneously provides Naruto and Co. more fuel from which to retaliate in full force. The emotional dynamics of the situation have always been a key part of how things develop, and it’s safe to say that things are setting up for quite the show.
Of course, one must also consider however that this is a shounen manga, and that characters that have been “killed off” may yet “live to see another day.” Corny puns I know, but as SeishunOtoko mentioned over in IRC, there’s always the possibility of an Obito Rinne Tensei swooping in there. It’d fit in nicely with my prediction about most of the older generation dying (because Shikaku pretty much can’t be revived even with the technique since his body’s been vaporized), but alas, I just can’t see this happening with a high probability.
Regardless, the bottom line seems to be the same as last week, as the combined might of Obito, Madara, and the Ten-Tails seem to be pretty overwhelming. There’s still Shikaku’s plan brewing in the background however, as one of the many potential X factors in the fight—along with the potential return of either the Kages or Sasuke. Notably though, the conversation between Madara and Obito this week also seem to hint at one more additional X factor in Obito himself, as the latter clearly puts himself in a position where everyone (including Madara) is regarded as a potential enemy. Makes you wonder if he has some plans of his own regarding the Ten-Tails.
Either way, we’ll see how it goes. If there’s one thing that’s for sure though, it’s that we should pretty much start expecting deaths every chapter from now on. No time for tears however, as there’s a war to fight!