Christmas is here and so is another new chapter of Naruto. This week though, it’s not so much about Madara—okay, it still is—or Naruto as it is about Gaara, who takes the show this week with Shukaku. There’s something great about seeing him actually stand-up and get some time in the limelight here as a former Jinchuriki, because it not only highlights his growth, but how much Naruto has influenced both of them over the course of the series. Plugging in that flashback to one of Shukaku’s previous masters was a great choice that really added to this, as did the fact that the kanji (“love”) on Gaara’s face could also be split to reveal the kanji for “receive heart”. It’s a symbolic gesture to say the least, and one that highlights the fact that Kishimoto’s meant to use this at some point—something that he deserves some props for.
That said, the most significant part for me wasn’t any of the above, but rather the emphasis Kishimoto put on Shukaku’s first reaction to Gaara. Because ultimately, there’s a kind of irony to them both hating each other while theoretically sharing the same hatred for other humans. Combine that with the 180 they’ve since both pulled and the fact that Gaara’s been given a chance to be Shukaku’s equal now that he actually isn’t a Jinchuriki makes this all the more significant, and makes this a pretty nice chapter in my books.
Furthermore, the dialogue about how we tend to sometimes say things we don’t really mean was something that really struck home for me—not only because it’s quite true for some people, but because it emphasizes the logical vs. illogical nature of humanity and the fact that you can’t just always assume you know what someone else is thinking. It’s a wall that can only be overcome by communication, and it can be said that’s always been an underlying theme within this series—complementing the whole “power of friendship bit.” Of course, this doesn’t mean the series is suddenly some kind of super complex thing—it was never intended to be—but there are some messages this series is trying to send, and this chapter did it a lot better than many of the previous ones in my opinion.
Here’s to the next chapter. And here’s hoping you’re enjoying your Christmas!