Note: The translation version on MangaHere literally changed as I was typing this, so if you see discrepancies between what is linked, what I say in the review, and/or the pictures I’ve posted, that’s why. Normally I try to be consistent with selecting from one version, but I just wasn’t going to go back and “fix” all the references to the other version.
The chapter begins with Sasuke asking Hashirama two questions:
- What is the village that his brother died to protect?
- What motivated the shinobi who created this society?
He says he wants to hear the answers to these questions before he decides if he will take revenge on Konoha for his brother’s fate. While asking this, he recalls his recent conversation in which he asked Orochimaru about why he once wanted to destroy Konoha, too.
Sasuke wants more information before he decides how to respond to Konoha’s treachery.
When Tobirama hears that he wants revenge on Konoha, he accuses Sasuke of being possessed by the Uchiha evil, and gears up to fight him, but is stopped by his brother—whose powerful display of chakra puts everyone on edge. After calming Tobirama down, Hashirama laughs and apologizes loudly for his brother, revealing again his somewhat undignified personality.
The god of shinobi laughs.
Hashirama says he is willing to answer Sasuke’s questions, but warns that it will be a long story. Orochimaru urges him to make it quick, explaining that there is a war going on. The dead Hokage each react to this in their own way:
Hashirama: Says sadly, “The world is always at war.”
Tobirama: Notices a powerful chakra nearby, and senses that Madara is out there.
Minato: Realizes that Naruto and the Kyuubi are working together, as he had hoped.
Hiruzen: Urges that they should join the battle.
The four dead Hokage react to the news of war and battle nearby.
Orochimaru then points out that they can only act within the limits he gives them. But he hints that he is willing to let them join the battle after Sasuke gets the answers he wants—and also threatens that he will use them against Konoha if Sasuke is not satisfied with what he hears.
Tobirama counters that this jutsu was his to begin with, and insists that he will break it and join the battle if he wants to. But it turns out he is unable to follow through—Orochimaru’s mastery of the technique is too great, thanks to his use of Hashirama’s cells to perfect it. Orochimaru quietly realizes, however, that Hashirama has already broken his control.
Nevertheless, Hashirama does not need to be restrained. He willingly agrees to answer Sasuke’s questions, in the hope of “free[ing him] from the ill feelings restraining him”. He explains to his impetuous brother that if he doesn’t give Sasuke an answer, the boy is likely to become like Madara, making any victory against Madara pointless.
And so he begins his tale, which starts with the Uchiha and the Senju—and a battle between Hashirama and Madara, involving the Kyuubi and the Mokuton Dragon.
The Kyuubi, under Madara’s control, vs. Hashirama’s Mokuton Dragon.
Thoughts on the chapter
I know a lot of fans are disappointed we didn’t yet get to the “meat” of what Hashirama has to say, but I think this chapter was important nonetheless, and I enjoyed seeing the different character dynamics developed here. We also get a few interesting, cryptic hints about things that may be on the horizon.
- Revenge, or…
- Orochimaru’s intentions
- Uchiha Madara—genocide?
- What about Minato?
- The flashback
Sasuke makes it clear here that it’s possible he will be dissuaded from continuing to seek revenge on Konoha, but he does not say what the alternative is. What do you think he intends to do if what he hears persuades him not to take revenge? Is there anything that could possibly rekindle his loyalty to Konoha? Or will Sasuke take a different path entirely?
I used to think that instead of returning to Konoha, if Sasuke ever found a way to end his quest for revenge (whether by completing it or giving it up), he would more likely start his own village than go back to Konoha. Orochimaru’s Sound village was really just a network of displaced shinobi—many of them orphans or outcasts of some kind. I had an idea that Sasuke might take over the village of outcasts, but unlike Orochimaru, would lead them in a way that was not so exploitative. I had discarded that theory a while ago, but seeing Orochimaru again somehow makes me want to revive it. Which brings me to…
What is his plan in this? He certainly seems more mellow and even somewhat benevolent since his revival. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his own potentially dangerous agenda. Also, Kishimoto brings our attention once again to Orochimaru’s motives for attacking Konoha in the past. What is going on here?
There is also that interesting moment where he hints that he may let the Hokage do as they please and join the battlefield—or he may force them to fight against Konoha. I wonder where this is going.
This chapter highlights Hashirama’s impressive power—his intense chakra that strikes fear into everyone around him and his ability to break free of the Edo Tensei. Yet, the contradiction to this is that he has an almost childlike personality, from laughing boisterously, to acting apologetic and humble. And at the same time, he doesn’t flaunt the fact that he broke free of Orochimaru’s control, but willingly agrees to do what Sasuke asks of him. From the last chapter we also saw that he was much more sympathetic and even-handed in his attitude toward the Uchiha clan than his brother. In this chapter, he is clearly sympathetic to Sasuke. Of course, he expresses the hope of persuading him not to take revenge—but he seems to still respect Sasuke’s agency (“I don’t know what this Uchiha boy will choose after hearing my words…”). It’s quite the contrast to the other characters who have tried to persuade Sasuke to change course before…
The dichotomy between Hashirama’s power and his apparently gentle nature is interesting. He’s a bit like a more mature version of Naruto in some ways. He also makes me think of the quote from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, where one of the children asks if Aslan is “safe”, to which the reply is, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” Yes. Not that I would make too close of a comparison between Hashirama and Aslan (that would be taking the “god of shinobi” thing a bit too far…), but I think that quote is fitting. He’s not safe. But he’s good. Anyway, I like Hashirama so far and I very much want to hear what he has to say and how Sasuke will respond to it.
The way that Hashirama and Tobirama interact in these last two chapters, and the way Hashirama compliments Itachi, (“Sasuke, your brother was truly amazing. Puts a shinobi like me to shame, really…”) makes me think about brothers in the manga. It’s interesting that Tobirama and Hashirama have been given such different personalities—Kishimoto seems to be using them as foils in a way. But there is also a strong relationship of respect, and maybe affection.
Sasuke and Itachi are the most important pair of brothers in the manga (unless you count non-familial brotherhood-like bonds). In terms of superficial personality traits they are similar, but their paths in life have been very different. I wonder what Hashirama means by complimenting Itachi. What is he complimenting, exactly? His loyalty? His desire for peace? His ability as a shinobi? His willingness to sacrifice?
Why does Orochimaru say Madara has begun “his genocide of all Shinobi”? Does Orochimaru know something of Madara’s motives that we don’t? Or is this just a strange way of describing the results of the Moon’s Eye Plan?
In the conversation so far we’ve heard mostly from the first three Hokage, and it looks like the first will get the microphone for quite a while. I wonder if at some point Minato will get a say as well. Will Sasuke have questions for him, too? What is his role in this?
Once Hashirama finally begins his story, we only get a few pages of flashback. What do you think is going on in this battle? Is this “the big one” at the Valley of the End? (If so, where is Mito?) I’m especially confused by the last panel, where it looks more like a big conglomeration of monsters—a hydra-like Mokuton beast with a couple of different heads/faces, the Kyuubi, and something that looks kind of—but not exactly—like Susanoo. What in the world is going on here?
The titans clash.