The string of intriguing chapters continues this week as we get yet more revelations that could radically change how Naruto ends.
First and foremost of them, is the reveal that the entire purpose of Sasuke’s inquisition is a prelude to his final decision — which is to either continue with his plan to destroy Konoha or not. He doesn’t quite explicitly state that his alternative would actually be to help Konoha, but as Orochimaru states, he’d allow the revived Hokage to join Naruto and Co. in their fight once Sasuke’s question is answered — effectively meaning that Sasuke would be directly assisting in helping Konoha instead. Of course, the whole end game scenario of Sasuke potentially assisting at the end was already anticipated a while back and wasn’t quite unexpected, but it is quite surprising the indirect method he may get involved, as well as how closely Orochimaru and Sasuke are working together on this. I never thought I’d see the day this exchange could’ve happened between the people involved or the day it would happen without anyone blowing their top. Granted, the Second Hokage almost did, but for the most part it’s an amazingly professional conversation…
…though I suppose the way the First Hokage acts… never mind. In any case, despite the fact that the question isn’t exactly answered in this chapter, it’s just ridiculously enjoyable seeing the continued contrast between each generation’s Hokage, as well as their continued shattering of pretty much all expectations we had initially on how their personalities were. I mean wow, I never figured Senju — the so called God of Shinobi— would just so freely say that Itachi was clearly a better ninja than he was… or the fact that the second Hokage would differ so much personality wise from his brother… etc. Phew. It’s just nice to watch, and something I wouldn’t mind seeing for a bit longer.
In any case, another interesting reveal came with respect to Orochimaru’s ability to properly control the Hokage and seal their movements. After seeing the Edo Tensei being broken or countered in a fair amount of ways the past few arcs and the fact that all the Hokage know the technique, many people were probably undoubtedly wondering as to the possibility of the Hokage breaking Orochimaru’s control over them. As we find out, Orochimaru’s body and his large content of Senju DNA lets him control most of them, but it’s not enough to counter the person from whom the DNA comes from itself — as Senju himself is revealed to have been free from Orochimaru’s control for quite some time now. Despite his outward cheerful and slightly nutty demeanor, he’s really hiding a lot under that, and it makes it even more interesting considering how he decides to take the time to actually answer Sasuke’s question properly, rather than just leaving immediately or maybe crushing Sasuke and Co. personally… though I suppose the latter would not be a guarantee if it was just him at the moment.
Looking forward, it seems like Senju himself is quite confidant that his response will likely be a good enough one to persuade Sasuke to abandon his plans to destroy Konoha, and one can only drool at the prospect of all the revived Hokage in their immortal Edo Tensei bodies fighting Madara in his… as well as the Fourth Hokage fighting along side Naruto. Gosh darn, no matter how some of the developments might not be universally liked, one really has to say that Kishimoto’s potentially setting up a pretty darn spectacular ending — one that results in the defeat of Madara and Obito, lets everyone get closure, and also sets up the potential for a fight between Naruto and Sasuke to settle things once and for all — a fight that may yet turn out not to be fatal at all, but rather a wager where if Naruto wins, Sasuke will have to return to Konoha.