Naruto awakens in a realm between life and death. Although, he's not alone. Hagoromo Ohtsutsuki, the Sage of Six Paths, enlightens our hero to the origins of the world and his part in the cycle of destiny.
If you were looking for some of that intense action continuing over from last week, you're getting none of it. This is entirely focused on Naruto being educated by the Sage of Six Paths on the creation of this world and his cliche, chosen-one destiny. It does have a handful of cool visuals, but that's where a lot of the appeal ends for me.
I give manga creators a lot of credit, but I wonder if Kishimoto really planned this idea of reincarnation from the start or just making this up. That's the vibe I'm getting as he chooses now to pretty much confirm what readers have been talking about for near on a decade. The world is cursed to repeat the same fate for all eternity due to some sin from the ancient past. The plot is the same and only the names ever change. Naturally, it will be up to Naruto to finally end this cycle.
I can tell you exactly what was running through my head as the Sage of Six Paths continued to drone on in his antiquated dialect. This dude reminds me of Yoda. Just imaging if Luke had shouted at Yoda to talk like a normal person was good for a laugh. Imagine my shock as more and more STAR WARS comparisons began filling my mind the deeper I read on in this issue.
It all starts to fit together as you think about it. Chakra/ninjutsu is the Force, we have the concept of false chosen-ones, who were meant to bring balance; the protagonist starts off as an orphan, he's trained by a master, who is betrayed and ultimately killed by the previous disciple gone bad; the villain for much of the series fell to the "dark side" after losing a girl he loved but makes an eleventh hour conversion against his manipulative boss, and the antagonists almost always come in pairs, a master and apprentice. One will often betray the other.
This is basically a chapter that does little else but to add to the world building and nothing to the plot of the endlessly extending arc at hand. Just as this world is stuck in an endless loop, Kishimoto's story telling style has fallen into the same trap. It's one part action, and two to three parts of people standing around talking. He's seemingly lost a complete grip on pacing. Maybe this will read better when collected as a volume, but week to week this has become absolutely unbearable.
Follow along with the latest NARUTO chapters yourself, tune in for the SJ Podcast, and check out the free starter pack sampler at ShonenJump.com here. You can download the free app for both iOS and Android devices.