Story/Art: Masashi Kishimoto
Translation/Adaptation: Mari Morimoto
What They Say
Naruto’s friends are tested as an attempt to overthrow Tsunade begins and they must all fight – or fall. New secrets about Pain are revealed, but they only add to the mystery of his identity. As Pain commences with the final destruction of Konoha, Naruto and the Toads prepare to take him on in battle. Can Naruto save his beloved village?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The multiple Pains have descended on the Village Hidden in the Leaf and the strongest shinobi are finding that their attacks are being nullified by the strange powers this mysterious group possesses. It quickly becomes apparent the only chance that the village has for survival is if the ninja can somehow quickly break the mysterious secret to the powers that their attackers posses but that the cost to do so may be incredibly high as they must somehow both look for clues to the attackers skills while trying to survive powerful and deadly attacks long enough to relay that information back to the rest of the village’s members.
To make mattersnot all of the strongest fighters can be present on the front lines including Tsunade who is using her summoned familiar to channel heeling energy into as many of the fighters as she can while a number of members of the secret intelligence operations are desperately trying to figure out the source of power behind the Pain persona they captured which leaves a hole in both fighting ability and leadership- a hole which a traitorous cabal from Konoha looks to exploit to gain control over what is left of the village when the fighting stops.
The Pains’ goal is to track down Naruto so the Akatsuki can gain access to Nine Tails which was sealed in him and they are willing to go to any length to find him. To Pains’ consternation though they discover that Naruto is no longer considered a hated and dispensable member of the village and that the members have embraced him to the point where they would rather give up their own lives than sell him out. When all seems lost for Konoha with the casualties already high, Pain unleashes his ultimate attack which has the ability to wrack enormous damage. Will Konoha finally be crushed or will the faith of its members be rewarded by a last minute arrival of a determined youth who just may have surpassed both the previous Hokage as well as his fallen mentor?
One of the things that Masashi Kishimoto is really good at is creating a massive payoff for events that he has built up over the course of a few volumes (even if some of that building up comes off as a touch repetitive at times) and this current volume is a shining example of just how many layers he can pack into any given battle. As the village finds that Pain has brought war to them the individual battles will push some of the characters that the reader has come to be at least familiar if not fond of to their very extremes as they come up against what looks to be an invincible foe whose abilities dwarf anything they can comprehend.
The best part though of this volume is not found in the tense intrigue or even superbly illustrated battle but in the fact that Kishimoto never forgets to include the heart that he has embedded into these characters as they go about their seemingly impossible task. While it could have been easy to let the action carry events it is the individual characters stepping up for themselves and their fellow villagers that really cements this volume as special as it is the emotions on display more than any blistering action that compels the reader to feel for the current plight and gain an understanding of why they would go so far and risk so much when it would be far easier to just surrender and give up the information that the aggressor wishes.
It’s in the moments where the village fights with one goal that the title has some of its most touching moments while exemplify the underpinnings that serve as a foundation for the payoff once Naruto makes his return. Kishimoto uses this to masterfully create a perilous situation for his protagonist to enter to attempt to hold back the wave of destruction that is being unleashed and which serves as an outstanding climax to give a vent for the pent up pressures that he had subtly created in the early part of the volume. This volume is one that mixes shonen staples with heart and produces a finished product that feels so much greater than the sum of its parts.
When Pain invades Konoha it is going to take every ounce of the combined shinobi’s skills to hope to crack the puzzle behind his abilities before he wipes out the entire village. As Pain stalks through the village leaving carnage and destruction in his wake, it showcases the dedication and devotion that the members have to their fellow villagers as the casualty list rises when each person decides that they will fight to try to protect each other rather than attempt to scurry away and hope to survive. In the midst of all though a hidden threat rises its head and it may take more than the re-appearance of one of the village’s most powerful members complete with new power to assist the village in surviving the day.
Content Grade: A
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: Digital Review
Text/Translation Grade: B