Home > Episode by Episode > AniFriday Issue #13 (April 18th, 2014)

AniFriday Issue #13 (April 18th, 2014)


It’s a slow start, but AniFridays are back up – sans anime and smothered in manga butter.  Give me a break, it feels like I’m putting this blog back on track while pushing a boulder up a hill and juggling.  For now, I’m just gonna focus on the first half of the manga that I’ve been reading since February, with a continuation coming soon.

Here are the manga I’ll be covering this week in order:

  • Naruto ch665-671
  • Bleach ch569-573
  • Hajime no Ippo ch1043-1046

Naruto

Chapter 665

Sure, it’s quite clear that Madara has been using Obito all this time.
Though I find it a little strangely late in the game to be changing
your mind. This is a shounen battle manga, and Naruto’s words are
gonna have a strong appeal to them.

What I really find intriguing though, is not Madara and Obito’s
changing relationship, but the lore that Madara speaks of. It’s
facinating how the chakra was used as a tool of universal
understanding, though even with that power seemingly evenly
distributed, people still managed to leverage it into personal power.
Perhaps it’s only human nature, and perhaps that’s the whole problem.
Humans were never meant to wield the power of chakra, they can’t
handle it on a basic scale, and it widely corrupts. Though for a
series like Naruto, that does sound like a very pessimistic view and
lesson.

Humanity was never meant to have this power. Humanity is incapable of
the responsibility, therefore it must be wiped from their hands and
history. I imagine that if this narrative were to be handled by
Naruto himself, and not the pair of pessimistic piss-pots that are
Madara and Obito, then he’d say that the problem isn’t that humanity
can’t handle chakra, nor can they use it to communicate with each
other. The solution should be that they shouldn’t rely on chakra to
handle the problem of human communication and understanding. That
task should be handled by the human heart; something they’ve had all
along. I know it sounds really sappy and cheesy, but that also makes
it a fitting solution for the series.

We’ll see soon enough where this goes, though it’s looking more and
more like there isn’t anyone on the battlefield to physically take up
the cause against Madara, and an open debate isn’t gonna be enough.
Maybe, that will change once Obito rips that kyuubi out of his former
mentor.

Chapter 666

We sure are getting a lot of dream moments in this arc. Seeing
Kakashi and Obito together for one last brief teamup in front of the
old sensei. And it really does look like Obito’s sacrifice will be
the key to saving Naruto’s life and giving him a foot up on Madara.
And that means that for the first time, Naruto will be using the full
force of the entire kyuubi. And that’s pretty damn exciting.

What else is exciting is that we’ll see Guy drop the training gloves
for the first time in a while. I have a feeling he’s going right at
Madara, I just hope he doesn’t kill himself doing it. I’d like to see
an old fool like Guy still training Rock Lee years from now.

Chapter 667

ust more proof that Itachi is awesome, he even finally converts the
maverick Kabuto towards the good side. It’s also impressive that
Kabuto was able to overcome Itachi’s technique. I guess he really is
a sage! For now, it seems no one knows Orochimaru’s true intentions
even now. But everyone can feel better knowing that Sasuke will live.

I’m starting to believe this arc is really about the revenge of the
weak. The overarching theme from the main villains of this arc seems
to be the same. They’ve been beaten down and upset by life. They’ve
been the weak at some point early on in their ninja lives, and now
that they are powerful, they’re gonna correct the world through
violence, revenge and subjugation. But through the power of
understanding, the agency applied by characters like Naruto, Jiraiya
and Itachi, the world and its hatred is changing. But with Guy
seeming to be the last line of defense left until Sasuke recovers and
Naruto can get the kyuubi back before he expires, it looks like
someone paddling a boat as hard as they can at the very edge of a drop
down a waterfall. It’s gonna take a lot to pull all this through.

Go Red Ninja! Go! If Guy is gonna flame out, I want it to be a
spectacular and beautiful flame out – of youth!

Chapter 668

So Guy’s dad was a “cool guy”, too.

How unlucky for Guy’s squad to run into the entirety of the infamous
Seven Swordsmen of the Mist on their patrol.

Chapter 669

More great quotes, and more amazing teamwork. I don’t have much to
say. That was just an amazing plan by Minato, and a perfectly
executed team attack. This is another amazing moment that I can’t
wait to see animated.

Overall,  this was a fun set of chapter.  A friend of mine and I like to have these conversations from time to time about Naruto and where it’s going.  And while we’re both sad that Guy is pretty much done for, we’re impressed by what he’s been able to do and are just wondering if he has a enough steam and power left in him to cause any lasting damage to Madara.  I’m also impressed by Minato’s ability to continually remain relevant and helpful despite being almost a stump at this point thanks to the ungodly amount of permanent damage that Madara can put out.  The reason that shinobi like Minato, Tobirama and Itachi are my favorite kind of characters in this series isn’t because they’re powerful, it’s because they’re what I feel shinobi at their core should be.  They’re not just quick and talented, but smart, savvy and resourceful.

Kabuto’s revival was a surprise, but I’m glad to see his character arc come to a conclusion.  I still can’t even fathom what role he and Orochimaru will play in regards to Sasuke’s revival and role in the fight.

Something I did almost forget; Kakashi did mention that he’s practically blind in his Sharingan eye.  My friend did mention something interesting.  Guy isn’t the only one at the end of his rope.  Obito likely doesn’t have much time left either, and the guess here is that he’ll give his Sharingan to Kakashi when he dies, giving Kakashi a perfect Mangekyo Sharingan of his own.  Something I’d very much like to see.

Chapter 670

Well if this ain’t an info dump.  Reading this chapter, it reminds me how much more I enjoy this kind of thing when Oda does it.  When we get this large amount of exposition from Oda, it usually feels more emotional and intense.  However, when I read Kishimoto’s exposition intensive chapters, I get a lot of information.  And that’s not a bad thing, I still think this chapter was cool.  I’m just noting a difference in style.

Moving on to the actual chapter material, I’m still very excited about what I’ve learned.  The most enduring thing in my mind from this chapter is that reality is actually flipped from what we believed it to be.  The actual SAGE OF SIX PATHS sits before Naruto (somehow) and tells him differently!  We learn that the first generation of descendants to the Uchiha and the Senju clans are not what they seemed.  The great clan of Hashirama, Tobirama and Tsunade is actually the clan of the “losers”.  Their ancestor, Ashura was the lesser of two brothers, and did not immediately have the effortless mastery of chakra that his older brother, Indra possessed.  Instead, he had a stellar work ethic and the ability to make friends and allies quickly.  Does this sound familiar?  It’s literally Naruto.  The Sage of Six Paths loser son was Naruto, or Naruto is his reincarnation as the sage puts it.  And while I’m not keen on this idea any more than I am of the zombie idea, it is cool to see even more potential coming out of Naruto.  Until this point, I thought only Hashirama even came close to becoming a successful example of what Naruto could accomplish.  But even then Hashirama was more of an eccentric genius than a bumbling, talent-less fool.  Ashura is truly a successful example of what Naruto is trying to be.  He is the positive template for all shinobi, while Indra shows that angry, dark, loner side that most all Uchiha develop and starts the first shinobi war ever, likely creating the rift between clans that has continued until this day.

I believe I’m rambling at this point, but what I’m trying to say is that the central theme I get from this chapter is that from the very beginning, the lesser gifted like Naruto and Rock Lee have been accomplishing great things from the beginning.  The story of Hashirama and Madara is just another chapter, just like the story of Naruto and Sasuke.

I’m in no way trying to gloss over the other amazing things in this chapter though.  Hagoromo is an incredible suprise in this chapter.  I never expected the actual Sage of Six Paths to make an appearance, despite all the shenanigans, and here he is just hanging out in some netherworld on the edge of oblivion.  Watching.  Just watching all of ninja history unfold.  It has to be terribly vexing to just watch as his noble ambitions are just twisted more and more for power and war.  And then in comes Naruto, the bubbly little idiot.  It appears that he’s happy with Naruto’s appearance, since it reminds him of his long dead son… or because Naruto actually is his long dead son.  I’m not touching that revelation right now.  It took me long enough to get over realizing that Naruto was the son of a Hokage, now the show is saying he’s also the son of the god of shinobi himself.  It kinda gives me flashbacks to Bleach and all of Ichigo’s f*cked up origins.

Chapter 671

This is looking a lot like the final upgrade.  And the lore behind this chapter and this series continues to be quite interesting.

Is Naruto really just a vehicle for communist dogma? Are the Sage of Six Path’s naive desires just a primordial soup for a Red Naruto world?

Nah! He’s just hurt that his attempt to get people to hold hands instead got them to be super creative with killing each other.

 

Bleach

Chapter 569

If all Rukia really wanted (aside from the safety of her friends and
justice) was the acknowledgement of her brother-in-law, then I believe
she has quite fairly earned it. It’s time she ended the existence of
gory haunted house reject. It’s quite clear that the fear being
spoken of in this chapter is the unavoidable oblivion awaiting the
Quincy.

Chapter 570

Moving on, I’m amazed at how the Quincy have shown themselves to be
consistently more creepy than the hollow. I seriously thought these
guys would be consistently more regal. But that’s far from the case,
they’re just as much a bunch of gross weirdos and freaks as their
hollow counterparts, if not more.

Chapter 571 & 572

Seriously Kubo! WTF is happening here? You have an enemy that just
uses IMAGINATION?! Isn’t that your job?! This is gonna be really
awesome or annoying, there can be no in-between.

Chapter 573

Will this kid – this virtual god really be the test Zaraki has been
waiting for all his life?

Man!  The fight taking place between Shirahashi and the fake Sternritter looked like it was going to suck so f*cking hard!  I was actually starting to have flashbacks of some of those terrible battles from the Arrancar arcs.  I’m glad it was all just a big fake out for what looks to be an amazing fight between Zaraki and this ridiculously overpowered Quincy.  There will be plenty of time to bask in that match up later though.  What I’m really hyped about is Rukia and seeing her come of age finally.  She looked beautiful in her new full release, and her ice powers have really become something impressive.  Jusat as good, Byakuya doesn’t look like such an a-hole and is giving her genuine praise and let her win a fight without much interference.  This really was her victory, and her finest moment.

Again, she looks amazing.

 

Hajime no Ippo

Chapter 1043

New Ippo chapters?  Finally!

It appears that the conflicts here will be Gonzalez’s training versus
his nature, and the same will likely apply to Ippo. Perhaps this is
where Ippo really, truly embraces his ancient, hard-nosed fighting
style. Perhaps, Ippo shows Gonzalez the missed opportunity he had by
trying to patent his style after his mentor. This is such an
interesting narrative.

 Chapter 1044 & 1045

The narrative I expected seems to be holding true. Gonzalez is a natural infighter and tough guy who has mastered another more refined
style. And as his coach suspects, he’s slowly “devolving” into his old form while joyously contending with Ippo. Gonzalez thinks he’s
drawing Ippo into false hope and a trap, and he may very well be right. But slowly, we’re seeing Gonzalez get dragged into Ippo’s world. As Miyata has pointed out, it happens to EVERYONE who fights Ippo.  EVERYONE.  No matter the plan, the skill or the environment, Ippo’s style turns him into a colossus in the ring, a slow moving, unavoidable, near unstoppable force of nature that crushes all he faces with time and persistence.

The trick used to be to find a crack in Ippos’s game and exploit it for big damage and eventually a win. Wearing Ippo down before he wears you down and figures you out. But as Miyata has pointed out, Ippo has been molded so solidly by Coach Kamogawa, that that option hasn’t been viable, nor has it worked in a very long time.  Ippo’s solid defense was actually weakened by his best offensive weapon, the Dempsey Roll.  And this was true until he honed it against outstanding counterpunchers and intense training. The only real gaping weakness Ippo has now is his lack of worldly experience. It’s what gave him his first loss, it’s what has always put him on the ropes since he challenged the world. The traditional stuff, like working his way in on out-boxers, or avoiding major damage against those infighters is old hat and mastered. It’s the world above the clouds that he now lives in that he must adjust towards. And this is the perfect fight to do it.

Chapter 1046

It’s seriously starting to look like Gonzalez may actually be sandbagging himself.  If attention was paid in the second round exchange, Gonzalez was actually winning the exchange, though he was receiving some of Ippo’s toxic body blows as well.  It’s a deadly predicament, that once again Miyata is very quick to notice and assess.  If Gonzalez outboxes Ippo, he’s putting Ippo in a familiar and comfortable spot.  Most of his career has been spent chasing quicker, lighter fighters with only a very select few being able to stand toe to toe with Ippo in actual combat.  Gonzalez’s attempts to whittle down his opponent may only be putting Ippo into a comfortable rhythm that allows  the young infighter to eventually explode on him, while the attempt to infight  may allow Ippo to kill him even more painfully with his unstoppable and soul-sapping body blows.  Everyone’s wondering how Gonzalez will choose to die, but I think (as I may have said before) that Gonzalez is a born and bred infighter, and Ippo is in for the fight of his life once he rips off his opponent’s outboxer disguise.

In Summation…

When it comes to the three manga I’ve been reading for this post, I see growth in Naruto and Hajime no Ippo.  And I just see Bleach finally paying a debt its owed its readers for far too long.  In Naruto, we see the usual miraculous powerups that we’ve been getting for awhile.  Essentially, Naruto and Sasuke are going to get blessed by a god.  And while it’s not the same stuff that I’ve enjoyed the most, which was seeing a training arc that focused on how a character mastered a certain skill and then see it beautifully unfold in combat.  There’s no time for naturally gained skills, powers or insight.  It’s clear Kishimoto’s pulled out everything in his pocket for this arc.  And with Ippo, it’s a matter of seeing Ippo do the opposite, almost.  There hasn’t been this long, focused training arc for Ippo before this huge fight.  Instead, we’re seeing pull all his skills together in a (hopefully) penultimate test of skills and experience.  It’s literally come down to assessing who is the better boxer at this point.  If Ippo can’t figure this out on his own, there’s no magic bullet to carry him through a rematch.

With Bleach, this burgeoning fight between Zaraki (the new true Kenpachi) and Gremmy should be a legendary one, but Kubo still has a tendency to drop a dud every now and then with all these ridiculous powers and short amount of time spent introducing and fleshing out opponents.  If this fight can’t impress, it will be a real downer for the arc until Ichigo gets to flex his muscles.  This fight is so important, I can’t even waste time thinking about outliers (Aizen), absent factions (the Vizards and Fullbring) or the fact that all these Quincy are just a source of powering up their master.  For now, the only fight is Zaraki versus Gremmy, the only Soul King is the Kenpachi himself.  For better or worse, I’ll be staring this fight down intently.

Further Reading:

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