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Geek It! Spotlight: Naruto The Final Battle (Ep 476-477) Impressions

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It has been one week since the glorious unveil of the long-awaited episode of the Naruto series. Yes, we’re talking about episode 476 and 477. In other words, the FINAL BATTLE. After weeks of hype and publicity in Japan and beyond, fans were treated to a one-hour special (29th September) in which sees Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke battling it out to end the feud for once and all.

For those don’t know, the Final Battle episode was directed by Hiroyuki Yamashita. One of the best animators of the Naruto franchise, it is known fact that some of Naruto‘s best animated scenes have been done and overseen by him. Some of Yamashita’s popular scenes include Sasuke vs. Deidara, Killer Bee vs. Team Taka, Konan vs. Tobi, Madara vs. the Shinobi Alliance, and Obito vs. the Mist Ninja. Battle after battle, it is evident that Yamashita has a meticulous eye for battle choreography and the creative talent for all Uchiha-related battles. 

In addition to this, Yamashita has been involved in various Naruto theme songs including Naruto Shippuden openings #4, #6, #10, #11, and Endings #12 and #15. He was also responsible for the key animation work in many Shippuden films such as Bonds, Blood Prison, Lost Tower, Will of Fire, Road to Ninja and The Last. And last but not least, Yamashita was the director, unit director, and key animator for the recent movie, Naruto: Boruto the Movie.

Personally, we believe Yamashita’s work as an animator has been rather underrated. Fans have always had a strong liking for many of the mentioned battles above, but it was only until Boruto the Movie that many fans began to take note of Yamashita’s work as an animator and director. So when fans first heard about Yamashita directing the Final Battle, fans had high expectations for him to bring the series home in an epic fashion.

Did Yamashita exceed our expectations? In this post, we shall offer our commentary on manga vs anime of the Final Battle; first Valley of the End battle vs second Valley of the End battle; and some of our favourite highlights of the episode. Let’s find it out!

Cue setting! As expected, the setting for the destined battle between Naruto and Sasuke is none other than The Valley of the End. Bringing back epic memories of their previous major fight, we see them once again standing on Madara and Hashirama’s statues looking at each other with intense glares.

Note the overall difference in the colour and details of the setting between the past and the current state of the Valley of the End. Not only has time passed, but the overall quality of this setting has improved as well. One quick glance at this scene and the audience can already see that there is more depth and details to the mountainous background. With silence between the two frenemies and an ominous storm on its way, the audience knows that a showdown is about to take place. Let the battle begin! 

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What we found surprisingly interesting was the difference in the storytelling of the Final Battle. Unlike the manga which can sometimes be choppy in terms of the timing of events, the anime had a smoother build-up in the lead up to the climactic battle. In the past, the anime has had the habit of prolonging the battles with plentiful amounts of flashbacks. To our great surprise, this battle utilised succinct flashbacks to accompany the dialogue. They have used them so well that the audience wasn’t even overwhelmed by the flashbacks — this is a first in Naruto anime history!
 
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 In addition to this, the anime cleverly uses flashbacks as a way to depict Naruto and Sasuke’s growth and ongoing rivalry. While we do see this transitional sequence in the manga (see above), this scene was animated quite flawlessly showing the history between Naruto and Sasuke. From young Naruto and Sasuke to their current selves, this directorial approach was simple yet effective as the audience prepares for the very first punch of the Final Battle.
 
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And the battle begins! If you view the above scans and screenshots, the anime adds more contextual detail to the setting of the scene e.g. rocky landscapes and water splashing. This enables the scene to not only look more lively and immersive for the audience, but it also demonstrates the amount of force and impact that their battle has on the environment.
 
In the manga, the story jumped straight into the action in which sees both Naruto and Sasuke pulling off their special moves. What we liked about the anime was how it added more choreography to the battle to make it longer and realistic. Unlike the previous Valley of the End battle, this Final Battle sees both Naruto and Sasuke in weakened states with very limited chakra. After all, this Final Battle occurs just hours after their battle with Kaguya. In other words, they can’t really afford to casually throw punches like the way they did in their previous showdown.
In terms of battle choreography, we were over the moon to see Naruto’s versatility. Utilising his Kurama and Sage modes, Naruto pulled a lot of cool moves from up his sleeve — some of which were incredibly instinctive at times. And Sasuke, being Sasuke of course, was naturally badass in his own way. 
One of our favourite highlights of the battle was when Naruto and Sasuke took their battle to the sky. If we make comparisons between the manga and anime, the manga depicts the battle not so far away from the ground.  The anime, however, appears to show them further into the sky with rolling clouds beneath them.
 

 For a second, we thought the direction of the battle was going to venture into space, similarly to the grand battle in Naruto: The Last. Nevertheless, the idea of having the battle high in the sky creates further epicness to the Final Battle. Complete with vivid colours, extraordinary angles, rapid animation and classic battle soundtrack — we could watch this particular scene on repeat all day.

As we approach the conclusion of the Final Battle, we’ve always wondered how the (following) scenes would be translated in the anime. Obviously with the manga, we can only read and gain so much from a particular scene. In this case, the manga displays many angles of the battle, and it’s evident just how brutal the battle is through Kishimoto’s use of aggressive line strokes. 

Now, how did this scene turn out in the anime?  This scene in the anime was just as good as the manga, if not better. The animation; audible sound effects against a silent background; vivd display of blood and gore; and the murderous intent behind each blow and kick … this scene was brilliant. 

And behold, Naruto and Sasuke’s idiocy and stubborn temperament continues. 
 
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 We wanted to make a few comments about this scene. At this point in time, Naruto and Sasuke are still trying to kill each other despite their limited chakra. It was dusk time and the colours are absolutely breathtaking. The way how the camera pans into Naruto and Sasuke’s fight accompanied by the melancholic soundtrack — we wouldn’t be surprised if this scene tugged at fans’ heartstrings! (Don’t get us started on the ‘yaoi’ moment.)
We must say, the following scene was one of our favourite Final Battle moments. When we’re reading the manga, you don’t really get to see just how quick these scenes are. The way how this scene was animated was incredibly thrilling. We especially liked the additional detail of Naruto seeing his reflection on the forehead protector, and then proceeding to confront Sasuke head on.

One thing we still haven’t mentioned in the above commentary is the voice-acting in this Final Battle. Noriaki Sugiyama and Junko Takeuchi have always done a fantastic job as Sasuke and Naruto (respectively) but this Final Battle will leave Sugiyama and Takeuchi fans speechless.

The angst, the emotions, the intensity between Naruto and Sasuke — the overall voice-acting in the Final Battle is the epitome of everything that they have done in Naruto. Hearing Sugiyama and Takeuchi’s voices via Naruto and Sasuke is one thing but imagine being in the same studio whilst they’re doing the Final Battle…now that would have definitely been intense!

Here it is — the very last scene of the Final Battle. All we could hear was silence except for the sound of Sasuke’s Chidori and the leaf breezing through the air. As the leaf touches the surface of the water, the energy of the battle changes once again. Vigorous operatic music playing in the background. Transitional ‘flashback’ scenes of Naruto and Sasuke charging at each other at full speed. This was the moment that we’ve all been waiting for.

Just when we think we know everything, the anime continues to surprise us even at the very end. Once again, the anime did its transitional animated sequence to show the history of Naruto and Sasuke battling each other. It doesn’t stop there! From Jiraiya to Naruto’s parents, we began seeing~hands contributing towards Naruto’s Rasengan. And in one split second, we also see Itachi’s hand contributing towards Sasuke’s Chidori.

With all of this flashing right in front of our eyes, we absolutely could not control our emotions and floodworks at this point in time. As huge Naruto fans, this scene was everything to us. And of course, the Final Battle concluded on a predictable (and somewhat anti-climatic) ending.

Overall: The Final Battle was everything we hoped for. In fact, it exceeded our expectations. Fantastic soundtrack, animation, battle choreography, flashbacks, voice-acting …. Director/animator Yamashita has once again created a masterpiece for the Naruto series.
Honestly, we cannot think of a better director for the Final Battle than Yamashita-san. The Final Battle is concrete proof just how awesome Naruto is as an animated Shonen series, especially when it is animated at perfection level. On behalf of Naruto fans, we applaud Yamashita-san and his team for their incredible work in producing this Final Battle to fans’ expectations and standards. Bravo!

Credits: MangaPanda for the manga scans

 

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