It’s been a long time coming. Well, a longer time coming than what we all would’ve hoped for, but at last the final fight has been fought. The last fists have been thrown, the last hurrahs have been shouted, and the last struggles have been overcome. Naruto and Sasuke have their bout for the control of the direction for the Shinobi world, and Naruto comes out victorious. But it’s still a hard fight, and there’s no shortage of broken bones and feelings felt. As they lay as tired men, Sasuke concedes and everything is finally finished. And what did I think of the whole fight? I thought it was f***ing incredible.
In order to give you guys the full extent of what this fight meant, I’ll probably have to do some explaining. After the (rather anti-climactic) battle with Kaguya, both Naruto and Sasuke only have the job of releasing everyone from the world-wide genjustu, the Infinite Tsukiyomi. Only Sasuke wants to assassinate the 5 ninja leaders, the 5 Kage, before releasing them. After Naruto and Sasuke travel to the Valley of the End, the arena of their first falling out, it becomes clear what Sasuke is talking about. Not only did the 5 Kage create this situation because of their lackluster handling of the world itself, but the Shinobi Alliance was only formed because they now had a common enemy, which was Madara Uchiha, and by extension Kaguya. Now that the enemy was gone, what’s there to say that the world won’t fall into war again? Sasuke’s plan was to make the whole world his enemy, in an attempt to get them to work together to stop him. He wishes to have a much larger scale version of what his brother Itachi accomplished, which is to say cause a smaller area of death and extinguish the flames of war before they even start. He wants to shoulder the entire world’s hate and live in the shadows, becoming a hidden force for justice. The last thing to do before that is kill Naruto and severe his last connection to the world.
Of course, Naruto doesn’t quite like that. Once again, a lengthy discussion precedes the fight, and after they realize they can’t simply convince the other, they finally throw down. And is it ever a spectacle. It was odd that they would have a 3-week delay between episodes 475 and 476, especially after a rather lengthy filler arc (which adorably ended in a call-back to the greatest Naruto filler, Kakashi’s Mask), but I’m now of the opinion that the episodes weren’t even done yet. The black-and-white preview for 476 was really odd, and that might be what it meant. But after watching the fight, it was almost worth the endless filler arcs that would interrupt the Kaguya fight nonstop, as this fight is hands down, one of the best Naruto fights period. It starts with what the Naruto series does best, a good throw-down with hand-to-hand combat, followed up by their super-ninjutsu forms, and wrapped up with a good ol’ gut-wrenching and blood-spilling fist fight. The fact that 476 and 477 were broadcast at the same time as a double-episode feature was a smart move, as I would’ve hated waiting in between this incredible fight. But that’s not all, as this fight is also very well-animated, and not in the sense that other notable Naruto fights are, such as the original Naruto vs. Sasuke or Naruto vs. Pain.
The entire fight is gorgeously animated and in a way that doesn’t produce some of the strangest looking animation frames. We all know the *ahem* beauty of the famous Pain-punching-the-ground motion, but it’s safe to say that the Final Battle looks good at every frame. These aren’t just colored blobs just floating towards each other at high velocities and flying across the world. Every frame is drawn with just as much detail as a normal Naruto episode, but animated beautifully to really get the blood pumping. You can detect the sheer force of them hitting each other, and the final fist fight with them too tired to even land a good enough hit is especially eye-catching and emotionally driven. The quality of these two episodes stand above all that came before as probably the best-looking fight in the whole series. But the praise doesn’t end there, as a good fight needs a good conclusion, and 478 is there to pick up the pieces.
In a rather surprising turn of events, the episode is extremely philosophical and evocative, and half of it consists of anime-only material. In this sense, the anime actually surpasses the manga’s way of ending the fight. Naruto and Sasuke believe that they are dead, and are travelling through what they believe to be the other side. They travel through their memories, swapping between their adult selves and their younger selves with clever cinematography. They talk about how the world hated them, but how different they came out to be because of it. This is followed up by Naruto being irritated by his arm for some reason, and in a flash he vanishes from the world, leaving Sasuke on his own. He begins to walk through with his brother, only to be left behind and reminded of the tragedy that set him off to begin with. His memories consist of only focusing his strength and hatred in order to either kill his brother or kill Naruto. In contrast, Naruto’s recollections consist of moving forward and proving everyone wrong about him (along with original episode footage and not re-constructions, which as a long time viewer I appreciated and nostalgia-gasmed over). In here is where we get the core problem of what separated Naruto and Sasuke.
Sasuke used the hatred that garnered from his contemporaries and accepted it. He wished only to use his strengths for the sake of vengeance and a dark path of living. Naruto denied the hatred from his contemporaries and wanted to fight it. Despite being labeled a failure, he desired to be accepted and loved like everyone else. In this sense, Naruto was able to attain a more wholesome strength, and as he gained allies, he found more and more people to fight for and save. And this irritated Sasuke. Sasuke was stuck in a place where he could no longer seek strength, while Naruto, the failure who had the same situation as him, was marching forward at a steady pace. Naruto’s path was lavished in light and purpose, but Sasuke’s was engorged in darkness and deterioration. No longer was the failure an object of his periphery, but a rival that had to be overcome. But this rival kept coming back in order to drag him from the path he had begun to walk. At the end of their paths, Naruto is met with many allies and loved ones, while Sasuke can only greet the loneliness that he himself had created. And at the very end, he kept persevering to the point where both of them lost an arm. The only reason that Naruto ever gave him was that he was a friend.
Of course, this has been said at least 532 times, so I won’t go full into their philosophical bout. But essentially, this episode really manages to wrap up the fight in a very deep way. The Naruto series had always had a leg up on its other Shonen Jump stories in the philosophical department, and it uses it to its full potential in this last exchange. It’s even more surprising because most of the spirit-world aspects of the episode were completely made up for the anime and not from the original manga. In this way, the manga’s original lackluster ending for the fight was made into a much longer and more organic ending to not only their physical fight but emotional one as well.
Although we’re going to be subjected to more filler after the month of October is over, I find myself much more eager to watch. I had been anticipating this fight being adapted ever since the manga ended, and although it took a lot longer than I expected (a LOT longer), I was not disappointed. Not only was the fight one of the most gorgeous, well-animated and well-choreographed in the series, but the conclusion is thought-provoking and a good conclusion to what made Naruto and Sasuke their characters and what the core of their falling out was. This is undoubtedly one of the best finales in the Shonen Jump library (which granted isn’t saying a lot, but just roll with me) and I’m fully okay with being subjected to filler that takes place after the fight, as the Final Battle between Naruto and Sasuke is one to be appreciated and loved.