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[x] Viewing entries with tag: naruto shippuden
The Boy Who Died With Itachi Uchiha


He really is one of the best characters in the show. But is he worth losing your life to? I mean, with all due respects to the boy: on top of being physically strong, he was just as strong mentally. Because he carried  a huge secret with him all the way down to his grave, and was at peace with being regarded as a villain when he was actually a hero. His secret was also the reason behind his death, which he knew would eventually happen. I think this kid should have thought about that.  

This summer, I read blog posts by Yume and Yamaguchi, where they discussed how emotionally involved some fans become with anime. Yume stated how she deals with the story creators’ decisions with the plot and characters, and Yamaguchi mentioned his nonchalance toward those who express their attachment to characters. It really got me thinking about my own feelings toward the Naruto series, because I love it so much and I learn a lot. But even though I have been detached from the outcomes in the anime, there was one time where my heartstrings were tugged at strongly, and that was the death of Neji.

When Neji’s death in the manga flooded the internet—which was a spoiler for me at the time—I was so shocked and became a bit angry (more about the spoiler than the death, actually). I wasn't the only one: everything I read, and all the fan-made visuals I saw were fans expressing their deep sorrow and anger. It was such a huge uproar that people began stating that Ino or Sakura should have been the ones to die instead, considering that they’re “useless”. The reason behind our anger was that we didn't understand why Kishimoto would choose to kill a character that’s so loved and who had made it so far in his young life as a ninja. It’s not the first time he does this, but this time was very unexpected.

Now that I’ve settled down, I’ve accepted Kishi’s decision. So, I guess for me, I’m able to draw the line and not get wrapped up in Kishi’s made-up reality, but some of us do take it too far: some of us bash the mangaka, make fun of those who like the characters we don’t, and I guess others are so engulfed in the series to the point where it becomes their life. I’m talking about the boy who had committed suicide because of Itachi’s death: last year, around fall, a 14 year-old Russian boy decided to jump off his apartment block after having witnessed the death of Itachi at the hands of his own brother Sasuke. His father had stated that his son was always watching TV, to the point where he couldn’t distinguish reality from fiction anymore. Poor boy wasn’t reading the manga, for if he had, he would have known that Itachi comes back to life through Edo Tensei in his greatest glory.

Itachi comes back to life.

With all due respect to this boy, I think it’s very sad that he took his love for Itachi to this degree. When I think of him, what immediately comes to my mind are the type of fans who like to instigate arguments about which characters are best & better than others, because they’re done out of complete vain. This boy’s suicide was done out of that exact kind of vainness. However, maybe there was more going on with him. TV must have been an escape from reality for him. He probably never spoke to anybody about the problems he was having, and Itachi must have been the only one whom he felt could understand him, so he identified with him. This must be the same mentality others who are very attached to their favorite characters have. Even myself and perhaps even you, but the differences in our love lies in the degree. I think the level at which you choose to involve yourself emotionally within any show, anime or western fiction, has to do with your life experiences, but also how long the series runs as well.

Regardless of how much we love an anime, it shouldn't lead us to the point where we bash the anime, and those behind its production. Not even to the point where we stop watching it, or commit suicide. I mean, I think it’s important to take a step back if our feelings are so strong, and ask ourselves if we’re getting out of line.


Spoiler warning [sorry!]
There's no escaping!
Who says fan service is but 2D girls with freakishly large breasts, that bounce more than they realistically should? Or that it’s the presence of that moe-moe chick that’s meant to have you grow a soft spot in your heart? Is it also but the allusion of yaoi, and that irresistible shota? No, fan service is also the careful execution of an episode. An episode that lacks the clumsiness of low quality animation, because the animators have decided to throw their budget and hard work into top notch battle scenes, with some extra dashes of sugar & spice that make them memorable moments!

Such is the case for episode 322 of Naruto Shippuden:Madara Uchiha !!! Okay, I’m exaggerating just a tad, but for a Shippuden episode this might as well be considered top notch. So, why am I, as well as others, treating this episode as a chef d’oeuvre ? Because the first thing we see, fifteen seconds in, is the dauntless face of the legendary die-hard shinobi—that we've been dying to be introduced to— in his Edo Tensei state; a face that immediately greets us with: I mean business. Suddenly, we back away in astonishment as the next set of shots takes us back within the crowd of the Allied Shinobi Forces, where we should be hiding. Silence deems ambiguity as he brings himself face-to-face with us... Now we’re quaking in fear: is he about to attack? How should we stand our ground?

What’s more is the rapidity of Madara, and the way we witness the agility of his Sharingan in a sort-of-slow-mo’ close-up, and the fluidity of his attacks, like free flowing water. We see him handle multiple shinobi one-by-one, sometimes even killing two birds with one stone. It’s the way his Susano’o mindlessly sways and twists his body as he swings his swords, while his majesty calmly observes. It must also be the sudden feeling of helplessness of the Allied Shinobi Forces; Lord Kazekage is so taken aback, he ponders if it’s the power of a god they're dealing with. The gore seems different here: subtle, yet bitter; just have a look at Tsuchikage’s bleeding nails! By far my favorite shot. Let’s not forget the grand actions he and Kazekage take to save their soldiers, which show their true potential and status. Nevertheless, we’re shown the fury of the one character we’ve only, until now, have heard of and seen in flashbacks in the anime, and whose ill will we could only imagine in the manga. Clearly, his alarming reputation wasn’t simply hype. Uchiha, Madara indeed. Besides, after patiently waiting through all those fillers, well darn tootin’ we deserve this much, don't you think?

As mentioned, it isn’t a flawless episode: there were instances where the animation lacked luster (nothing unusual here), but for the most part it was very good. To be quite honest, this one episode pumped more adrenaline in me than the Pein arc. For such a significant arc, the quality shouldn't have been so poor.

I say this episode is a form of fan service only because it was worth the wait, and not only does it have us wanting more, but also reminds us why we fell in love with Shippuden in the first place: because it's simply a great series. This episode was truly a labor of love!

I’d like to mention something I noticed: there was one error at 7:36 mins. Madara has the rinnegan, and he isn't supposed to until a few more minutes into the episode. It is a mistake.


Hatred can taunt us. It's like a voice in your head that conversates with you; your own.
Introspection is truly a beautiful thing: it is a self-analysis that you choose to make in order to improve your being: find out who & what you want to be, determine your goals, set new standards and habits. It can be done through regular meditation, creative expression, even writing things down. 

From my experience, continuous introspection has proven extremely beneficial and, in fact, essential to personal growth. It can be applied to all areas in your life: business, yourself as a professional, all your relationships, etc. You can also be more specific and  introspect about different things, such as Forgiveness. In episode 245, Naruto does just that.

After having gained Bee's trust, he starts the first step into his training to master the Nine Tails' chakra. The first step is to meditate at the Waterfall of Truth, in order to reveal his so-called true self. He finds his anger personified as a darker him. So when Naruto confronts his inner truth for the first time— in a previous episode— they battle it out, but he fails to suppress him. This time, he realizes that it's a different type of confrontation method that needs to be used.

By now, he's learned that the root of his hatred is the mistreatment he suffered by his village, and that he needs to forgive those who hurt him in order to let go of that anger. Indeed, those experiences have made him who he is, and have been the fuel behind his ambitions, but at this point in Naruto's life as a shinobi, they're no longer useful because it won't help him keep sight of his goals.
"Because you existed, I became strong. Thanks to you, I've made it this far."-Naruto

That's the thing about introspection: we attempt to look deep within ourselves to find answers, and when we open ourselves to receiving that knowledge it comes to us. We may find things we've never realized about ourselves, and for Naruto it was heavy resentment. A lot of the time, it's the case for us too, and although, as previously mentioned, it could nourish our aspirations, hate is not a good thing to harbor, and it could only take you so far until you start to crash; become consumed by  it and thus lose sight of who you are.

If we make a connection with Dark Naruto & Nine Tails, we can see that the kyuubi (up until now in the anime) is this evil, angry beast that always tries to manipulate Naruto into using him (in hopes of taking over Naruto's mind) by taunting his resentments forward. It seems in order to have the ability to control the power of a tailed beast, one must get rid of harbored hate, so it can't manipulate you anymore.
"The nine tails' will is a mass of hatred ... No matter how hard you try to shield yourself, it will find some hatred that you have buried deep inside, and try to take you over."-Gerotora
So, Naruto finds it in himself to forgive, and release all animosity that ever was stored in his heart. This is represented by the attack Dark Naruto attempts to assault Naruto with, that Naruto receives with a hug. After his meditation he moves on to the next stage of his training.

With all of that being said, please remember to spend time with yourself; do something for yourself that is beneficial to your growth, if you don't already. It could be meditating, working out, reading, something creative,whatever. Try continuously to be at peace with who you are, and if there's something you don't like about yourself that you can change (e.g. low self-esteem), then change it.
Shikamaru's Grief

This is my favorite episode.

Episode 82 made me shed a tear. It is specifically dedicated to Shikamaru's grieving for the death of his sensei & close friend Asuma. I would consider this to be a slice-of-life episode in a series that’s not considered to be slice-of-life. Such an episode encourages the viewer to develop a better understanding of the character, with a possibility to relate to them as well.

"Just let it all out. Let out all your sadness, fears, and anger and everything else. And it all starts from there."— Shikaku

Losing someone very close to you is hard, especially if they played a parental or mentoring role in your life, which was the case for Shikamaru. This episode really hit home because I had experienced the same grief back in middle school. To be honest, I wish I had had this as an influence back then because maybe things would have been different. Maybe I would’ve healed faster. But there was no such thing as Shippuden yet.

So, in a battle with Akatsuki, Asuma was killed by Hidan, a sort of dense shinobi living a masochist-type religion. Shikamaru –being a highly skilled tactical ninja who's polished enough to lead missions –felt responsible for the death of Asuma; he felt he had failed at protecting his sensei. The battle left him feeling like a coward. So he was grieving and  beating himself up at the same time.

But that’s what happens when you lose someone so close to you: you start blaming yourself for their death and other previous incidents between the both of you that weren’t necessarily good experiences (a small argument, or the way you treated them sometimes). It was hard for Shikamaru to come to terms with himself, but after having spoken with his dad over a game of Shogi, he was able to let everything out: he threw a tantrum, then he forgave himself and was able to think clearer to figure out a plan to defeat Hidan & Kakuzu. He avenged Asuma’s death, and was able to move on. I could relate to every emotion Shikamaru felt; I saw myself in him every time. Connecting with this minor character on this much of a personal level was highly unexpected. It made me appreciate Kishimoto’s art even more.

this is truly art.

When the animator/mangaka speaks through their art in volumes like this, their characters are almost brought to life. Honestly, it's almost scary connecting to fiction so deeply; it's not a real story, still, art is a creatively abstract reflection of the real world. It helps to know that you're not the only one who experiences this type of thing though.

So, what we can take from this is that some people, after having a traumatic experience, can choose to let themselves go. The final battle between Shikamaru & Hidan symbolizes a triumph in one of life's many challenges. It’s okay to get sad and upset about it. But whatever happens to you, pick yourself back up and become stronger than yesterday. And no matter how hard it may be to accept, sometimes losing those close to us, whether through death or otherwise, allows us to grow.

If you have a similar experience, you're welcome to share.


Words That Make You Think
The first time I saw this guy, I was so disgusted by his behavior that I had a nightmare of him that same night. But he's not so bad.
I have a collection of anime quotes that I gather up over time. Here is one:

"Humans are not the most intelligent of creatures." — Pain

Pain's words were a reflection of his experiences in the ninja world: how shinobi seem to act out of hatred before they think of the suffering of others, and the outcome that will result from their actions. If we take a look at our own world, what can we take from this? Are our actions really any less selfish than theirs, or are Kishimoto's characters mirror images of ourselves?

Considering the chaos we've created over time for the sake of modernism, I agree with Pain. I at least think that's the case for the majority of the world. The current health of our planet is not a good one due to human settlement over natural lands, with complete disregard to nature. What's more are human activities of waste disposal and toxic substances that kill nature, and hunting for the sake of pleasure which causes other species to go extinct before their time. We haven't been too good to our own bodies either: creating gadgets that potentially give us cancer, producing foods that are imitations of the real thing which may also cause cancerous cells. We have also created a culture with a bag of self-destructive notions of beauty on weight, skin color, hair, eyes, and body figure. We live within a society that encourages individualism as oppose to community, which has led to our disregard for others’ well-being (e.g. big corporations). In my opinion, this is all due to our disconnection to the natural environment.

Let’s take a look at other animal species: What all animals have in common, and something that domestic animals (keyword domestic) have lost over time, is the sense of danger; the threat of an upcoming natural disaster. It’s been recorded from various researches that animals seem to flee days before an earthquake, for example. Speaking of which, might I mention the unique magnetoception of vertebrates? That’s better than any basic senses we have, yet we dare call animals primitive. Are you kidding me? In terms of community, many animals have systems that are based on the survival of their clan, such as lions, where the female hunts for her pride, which could be of up to 30 other lionesses and lions (males being the minority), and the dominant lion guards them.

Now, let’s take a look at indigenous tribes all over the world: they all have many things in common, one being that they value nature, and live within it, not without, just like other animals. Another thing is their perspectives on society: everything belongs to the community, not them alone or their blood relatives, because others are seen as extended family.

I think co-existance with others & animals is important. We should harness nature and integrate it into our lifestyles.  I also need to mention that Earth goes through phases of destruction and rebirth naturally (e.g. ice age); however what we’ve done has caused the impact of this cycle to worsen. I do a lot of reading and research on culture & such, so I may have strong opinions that others may not agree with. But that’s the point.


What do you think about what Pain said?


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