Well, here you have it. Things all come full circle as Naruto and Sasuke return to the Valley of the End—fittingly in time for the series’ end—and generally it’s a straight forward affair as the battle starts off with a bit of a warm-up discussion. It’s all fine and dandy from a normal perspective, until you realize that Sasuke’s whole reasoning rings quite hollow, and I honestly can’t find much sympathy for his point of view at all. That’s not to say I don’t get how he arrived at the explanation and goal that he did, but more so the question of why he needs to do it given the situation.
The way things stand, all the ninja villages are pretty much allies as is, and relationships between the nations have never been better. The fact is that the Kages at the head now are required to ensure that those relationships stay the way they are, and it’s a concept that boils down to them having survived the war and knowing what it felt like to fight in it. I get “becoming the darkness” being a viable method for unification and what not in a normal scenario, but it hardly feels like there’s much of a point for it here—it might actually make things worse—and the sad part is that Sasuke’s just continuing to sit there misinterpreting what Itachi tried to do for him and the village. Itachi wanted to preserve the village for what it was, and he’s probably rolling in his grave as we speak, but I guess he can live with the fact that he was called the “True Hokage”—a phrase that I wouldn’t mind giving to him considering his contributions.
That said, I did find the whole bit where Sasuke claims Naruto was his closest friend actually quite nice to read—despite my disbelief at actually seeing it said. It was quite a surprise, but a pleasant one. It doesn’t necessarily jibe with the events that led up to this point per se as one could argue they weren’t exactly on the friendliest terms, but I could see where the relationship between them could be the closest thing to a good friend Sasuke really ever had (their relationship has mellowed out quite a bit recently too), though his Taka/Hebi groupie might’ve fit that fill to a degree as well.
Looking forward, well… let the final fight begin, and let’s start taking bets on how many chapters Naruto has left.