Before getting to the chapter itself, I just gotta mention that the portrait of Naruto in the cover this week was quite possibly the best one I've seen of him in a long while - a portrait befitting of the son of the Fourth Hokage! But it's kinda funny at the same time that Kishimoto almost seemed to be making an apology to Naruto fans with the side-text message, saying that their favorite character's time will come eventually.
It's just, well, Sasuke's year right now.
And Dynamic Dragon, one of the most recognized Naruto colorists on the internet, finished coloring the cover too, already. Check his latest masterpiece out. (Comment on it here if you like it.) I swear, the guy can't be human. >.>
So we finally get to see the legendary Amaterasu in action - the all-devouring dark fire that frightened even Jiraiya himself.
A mysterious jutsu that came with so much fanfare, even Zetsu greeted its arrival with much interest. Unfortunately, I think we were all left feeling empty and thinking, well, Amaterasu was just another flashy jutsu that missed the mark. Just something extra for the video game developers to include in their new Naruto games (which seem to be mostly what shonen mangaka are concerned with right now, including Bleach's Tite Kubo and One Piece's Eiichiro Oda.)
At least we get to see just exactly why Itachi didn't hesitate before using it on his younger sibling without even worrying about whether it would completely destroy Sasuke's body or not. Why would he care about that, you ask? Because if Sasuke was engulfed by Amaterasu to the point where his whole body were nothing but ashes, Itachi would ultimately leave himself with NOTHING to be able to replace his deteriorating eyes with. In that case, would somebody mind explaining to me again what was the whole point of fighting this battle for Itachi, anyway?
But in order to stop Amaterasu from doing just that, we actually find this week that all Itachi had to do was, well, blink - and voilà, it was extinguished! Even if it hadn't finished the work yet. That explains that, I guess.
So how exactly did Sasuke avoid a jutsu that seemed about as fast as he could move? Well, I'd say that Kakashi's got nothing on Sasuke as far as being the No. 1 Copy Ninja, it would seem! (And that pains me to say too, since I'm a Kakashi fan.)
But, I mean, heck, already, in two battles with the Akatsuki (Deidara and now Itachi), we've seen that Sasuke's basically learned everything he could from his former treacherous master, Orochimaru. In fact, he's almost becoming a mini-Orochimaru himself (be afraid, Sasuke fans... be very afraid.)
Of course, we've already saw Sasuke perform bunshins comprised of snakes and even summon and control the late Manda himself (mostly with his Sharingan, though). Now we see him even replicating Orochimaru's regurgitation jutsu in order to escape from Itachi's black fire. That was something I didn't expect, but I'm certainly not surprised that Kishimoto smartly avoided depicting the whole disgusting process that we saw with Orochimaru back on the bridge, probably to avoid making Sasuke seem just as a freaky!
So, I guess now Sasuke's got the means to counteract Naruto's own ridiculous regenerative abilities now, too. Figures. "Anything you can do, I can do better..."
We also get to see Sasuke do a different variety of the Katon in his own style - apparently he likes dragons. While I'm not too disappointed with the designs at all, far from the contrary... I am somewhat distressed at just how many new jutsus Sasuke are able to do now, as opposed to Naruto.
It's really making our former troublemaker ninja look bad. Might just be that Jiraiya's own jutsus weren't so easily copied, though, well, and Naruto never seemed to have the same familiarity with the Toads that Jiraiya did - which might be a bad oversight on Kishimoto's part. Either that, or maybe with Jiraiya's passing, Naruto will 'inherit' his Toad jutsus as well later on on another adventure. Maybe that will come when the toad carrying Jiraiya's dying message will reach Naruto eventually - as well as whenever he might discover the toad scroll that Jiraiya left behind as well. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.
So, back to the chapter... we see that both Sasuke and Itachi are out of chakra, and gasping for breath, almost seemingly unable to move of their own accord. Itachi's looking MUCH worse for wear than Sasuke, though, what with his right arm which has been severely burnt by one of Sasuke's 'Grand Fireballs,' and one of his eyes now seemingly blind thanks to double usage of the Amaterasu (following a Tsukuyomi to boot). Despite all that, he's still hanging around. We find out he believes Sasuke's simply bluffing and that he actually doesn't have the chakra to pull off another jutsu and his Sharingan, what's left of it, apparently sees that much.
What do I think? I don't think Sasuke's preparing another jutsu on an empty gauge, because of all that, but he might already have a scroll prepared or something to be able to catch Itachi off-guard and seal his doom.
Whatever the case, I'm not sure how I feel about about Itachi's end seeming coming soon, though. I'm hoping now that this isn't the finale, because honestly I feel like Itachi deserves more than being completely dominated the whole battle with his little brother. Though he might be a closet psycho, he's still captured many Naruto fans' imagination with his cool demeanor and mysterious personality for years, and it'd be a shame to see the much-anticipated battle end like this. Utter humiliation. Though, I'm sure, that's just the way Sasuke wants it... oh well.
Only thing I can say is right now it's not over until the fat kunoichi sings!
Tune in next week and we'll see what happens.