Thursday, April 24, 2014

Examining Naruto Chapter 674 - Is Madara Too Powerful?

Well it's been a week since I wrote my article in regards to chapter 673 of Naruto and what the future holds for us. A few of these questions have been answered, especially in regards to my speculation about Naruto and Sasuke's abilities using their new found power of the Sage of Six Paths. Other questions such as Madara still hiding a few tricks up his sleeves in terms of his power as well. With that said, there were even more questions raised this week and now it's time to discuss what has happened this week and what it means for the future of Naruto.

For me, this chapter got off to an amazing start. Last week, we left off with the battle between Madara and Naruto and Sasuke was about to kick off and we sure jumped right into things here. The chapter was titled Sasuke's Rinnegan and for good reason. A lot of the early going in this battle gave Sasuke the chance to shine and show off the true power gap between someone who has awakened the Rinnegan naturally as opposed to having them implanted such as Obito and Nagato. His visual prowess was increased exponentially as well as his speed. Sasuke was not only able to keep up with Madara, but at points was even able to exceed Madara's speed. There was a huge sense of nostalgia here for me in watching Sasuke and Naruto battle as a team. I'm not even referring to the fact that they've walked two completely different paths and are finally on the same page again. No, here I am referencing the fact that their first true main fight in the series was together when they battled Haku. In that fight, Sasuke was the one coming up with the strategies and the same thing could be said here. This fight is a true reflection of where we started, and where we are going to end. In that battle with Haku, Sasuke was able to (truly) awaken his Sharingan and Naruto was able to unleash the Kyuubi's chakra for the first time as well. In the fight with Madara, both have maxed their potentials as Sasuke not only has his Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan but the Rinnegan as well and Naruto has maxed out the full capabilities of senjutsu as well as having the capability to use the chakra of all nine tailed beasts. We really are at the end and it's so uncanny how similar the first main fight for our protagonists and our last main fight (as far as we know) for them parallel each other so much. As stated, we got to finally see the capabilities of the duo. While Sasuke truly shined this chapter, Naruto still had his moments of greatness but not as much as the previous two. I believe this was done intentionally by Kishimoto due to the lack of Sasuke the past two chapters, but it still felt a little disheartening to see Naruto differing to Sasuke. I understand why with Madara's limbo ability (which I will discuss here in a minute). Naruto could sense it, but he couldn't actually see Madara's movements with it so he needed Sasuke's visual prowess to know what to do. However, Naruto should still be giving input in how they should be approaching Madara instead of completely deferring to Sasuke, but it is still early on so I'm sure there will be more collaborating as the fight continues onward. I really have no complaints about the beginning of the fight. For about 11-13 chapters, I was hooked, completely on the edge of my seat for every single thing to ensue in this battle. After that point though, the chapter plunged downwards.

For the first time since his revival, it felt like Madara was finally in real danger. In all respect to Gai, he did his best and did some major damage as he was almost able to kill Madara, but that was the point. Madara wanted the thrill of being able to fight a true master of the eight gates ability. While obviously it was not Madara's goal to die, he was enjoying being taken to the brink by Gai. Here, there were no fun and games for Madara. You could tell from the very get go, he was in some serious danger and he was not too thrilled with the threat that was posed to him. For the first time since his battle at the valley of the end with Hashirama, Madara was in serious danger of being defeated. I have to comment here on the limbo ability which Madara has been utilizing. Using the abilities of the Rinnegan, Madara is able to cast an undetectable shadow of himself into the other dimension known as limbo. This was a very unique ability as it gives quite the spin on the shadow clone as well as the dimensional attacks which were utilized by Obito and Kakashi's Kamui. It was quite the intriguing ability and it was cool to see how Sasuke could see through it as to this point, we only knew small hints of what the ability was from Naruto's ability to sense it.

After these points, this is where the problem starts for me. Madara, for the first time feeling danger, almost wilts to the competition that is presented before him. For a power hungry, battle loving maniac, he didn't seemed to be too thrilled with the challenge. I've never been the biggest supporter of Madara, but I don't outright dislike him as a villain. I just think a lot of what he does is predictable, such as his actions in this chapter. Madara, sensing that he is in danger, swoops behind Kakashi and steals his Sharingan in order to leap over to the other dimension. His intentions in stealing Kakashi's eye were obvious, he is going to the other dimension to take back his Rinnegan from Obito before he has the chance to crush it. This is the point where my problems with the chapter really begin. We've been made to believe throughout this series that implanting eyes is a complex process, not just something you do on the fly in mid battle. Every instance where we have been shown eyes being implanted in this series, it was a process and not just something you did. Madara on the other hand, throws that idea out the window when he implants Kakashi's Sharingan mid battle. Although, I suppose he did kind of do this earlier on with the Rinnegan. Either way, it's been Madara bending the rules every time with no clear explanation given to why he is able to do so. Sasuke had the same chakra from Indra as Madara and had to take time to recover from having Itachi's eyes implanted. So that excuse is thrown out the window. I assume some would make the argument about him being the Junchuriki of the Juubi and having the power of the Sage of Six Paths, but he implanted his original Rinnegan before accomplishing that feat. I don't like the idea that these eyes can just be taken in and out with no repercussions. It'd be like getting a Bijuu extracted and being able to live because fuck it why not. At least we got explanations for why Naruto is still alive, Madara on the other hand can just pick and choose what eyes work and which don't like they're freaking Mr. Potatohead pieces. I feel as though people just brush aside all these inconsistencies with what Madara is doing just because it makes him even more badass. It also bothers me that Kakashi was so vulnerable and helpless at this point, considering all the things he has done throughout this war.

This brings me back to the title of the article. Is Madara too powerful? I know a lot of people will just be mesmerized with the stunning accomplishments Madara is achieving, but this creates a real problem for the story. There is nothing wrong with creating an insanely powerful villain, but what if it damages the plot? What if Kishimoto is writing himself into a hole here where the only foreseeable outcome is to resort to some form of deus ex machina? Would fans of the series still be so captivated by Madara if there becomes no way for him to be defeated in a fitting matter? Clearly, there is no chance in hell that Madara just wipes out the face of humanity and successfully utilizes the Infinite Tsukoyomi. So there has to be a way for the heroes to match him and overcome him. However, Kishimoto is setting himself up to create a situation where there is literally, no believable way for Madara to be defeated. Yes, Sasuke and Naruto have achieved the power of the Sage of Six Paths, but they were barely on par with Madara when he only had one of his Rinnegan, what happens if he gets both? I remember reading that Kishimoto stated that he couldn't figure out a way to write off Madara. Whether or not this was a joke is irrelevant, he keeps pushing towards that point. Even worse, if he was serious and doesn't know a believable way to write off Madara, making him stronger and stronger isn't going to remedy the situation.

Obviously, we don't know whether or not Madara will actually obtain the Rinnegan as there are a number of options that can come from the current predicament facing Obito and Sakura. Obito could potentially sacrifice himself and use his Kamui to teleport Sakura back. Then this would raise the question of whether or not he'd be able to do so with or without the Rinnegan. If they are able to send the Rinnegan over, what do they do with it? Do they give it to Kakashi in order to fill the void left by his Sharingan being stolen? I find this to be highly unlikely, but then again, crazier things have happened in this series. Obito and Sakura could also still crush the Rinnegan before Madara could get it, but would they even have the time to do so at this point? Madara would clearly have the speed advantage on them. Even if they do so, wouldn't it be a death sentence for the both of them? The only way Sakura survives that scenario is if Obito either, somehow, finds a way to use the Kamui and send her back over after the crush the Rinnegan before Madara kills them both, which is unlikely. The other scenario to arise there is that Obito uses the Kamui to send both Sakura and the Rinnegan over and she crushes it asap. Otherwise, if none of those scenarios come to fruition, it would appear as though both Sakura and Obito are on the verge of death. I don't believe Sakura is going to die, so I believe the most likely outcome would be for Obito to sacrifice himself in order to save Sakura with him losing his life and his Rinnegan to Madara in the process. At this point, there would be no telling how powerful Madara would be. I will go on record as to say that I believe Madara, at this point in time if he gains his other Rinnegan, has virtually become the definition of hax or overpowered or whatever you want to call it. There is no other way around it, while others may argue that this adds to his greatness, I am of the opinion it has made him virtually one dimensional. At the same time though, even if I don't find him to be the most intriguing villain, he definitely earns the title of being a formidable final villain and a good choice as the final obstacle for our heroes.

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