Juubi!Obito has just made what ought to be a deadly attack on the First and Second Hokages, cutting off huge pieces of their Edo Tensei bodies. Because of the nature of Edo Tensei, however, they are still able to function. As the creator of Edo Tensei, the Second understands its uses and limitations well; thus, he is still able to use a powerful attack that creates a recursive series of explosions.
However, it barely affects Juubi!Obito. (Hereafter I will just refer to him as “Obito”, though I think that his identity is questionable at this point, considering how he remains mute and seems to be acting mostly on instinct at this point.) He just gears up for another attack, using a technique that the Third compares to Oonoki’s dust release—a highly destructive and mutable attack. The Third speculates that it probably involves at least 4 nature transformation techniques, and is therefore greater than any known bloodline limit. As Obito launches this powerful ability at him, the Third notes that there seems to be a limit to how long he can maintain it in a certain shape.
This strange new ability is more adaptable and more dangerous than Oonoki’s dust release.
Meanwhile, some fodder ninja act as though they are about to jump into the fight, but Darui and the First discourage them from doing so. (The version of the First we see here is uninjured; apparently the one from the first scene in the chapter was a clone.) Naruto is also worked up about the latest battlefield developments, but Sasuke urges him to calm down and observe. He reasons that the Edo Tensei Hokage can’t really die, so they are good candidates to test Obito’s power and limitations, allowing the others to stand back in relative safety and learn from what they see.
Minato is impressed with Sasuke’s analysis. He decides to jump in and buy them some more time. The First also charges forward, but is intercepted by Madara, who says he is tired of waiting. (This seems to indicate that this version of the First is the original, not a clone.)
Madara won’t let Hashirama put off their confrontation any longer.
At the same time, Obito is going in for another attack, but seems to suddenly lose control of his body, becoming a shapeless blob. Minato speculates that he hasn’t yet become used to the Juubi, and decides to make the most of this opportunity to attack him while he’s defenseless. He summons his original version so that he can use a super special technique against Obito. (Yeah, that’s right—this Minato was yet another clone. No wonder this chapter is so &*%$^@ confusing.)
But Obito still has the upper hand after all. Somehow he was able to send part of his body underground to aim an attack toward Gamakichi and Naruto. Naruto is right in the line of fire, when Sasuke, in a move reminiscent of their long-ago fight against Haku, jumps in front of him and repels the attack with Susanoo. With the Mangekyo in his eyes, Sasuke declares that he, not Obito, will be the one to cut away the past.
Once again, Sasuke stands in the gap between Naruto and a dangerous opponent.
But whatever defense Sasuke thinks he may have against Obito, it doesn’t seem to work. Obito launches himself at the boys and grabs them. The chapter ends with Minato watching in horror, making a desperate attempt to get to the boys in time to help.
Thoughts on the chapter
Last chapter hinted that Obito’s consciousness may have been overtaken by the Juubi, and this chapter seems consistent with that. He doesn’t speak once, and his behavior in the fight doesn’t seem especially human. He charges forward instinctively, without seeming to analyze the situation. This begs the question: What has become of Obito’s consciousness? Is he in there somewhere, or has he been completely consumed? Will he regain control at some point? Does he even care if he does?
Naruto and Sasuke, then and now
Overall, I wasn’t thrilled with this chapter. I don’t really love chapters that are focused on drawn-out fighting, and I found this one especially confusing and (unnecessarily) convoluted. The one bright spot for me was Sasuke’s rescue of Naruto at the end. Whatever his motivations, it was heart-warming to see that homage to their old days together in Team 7, up against a too-powerful enemy in the Wave Country Arc.
"Cut away the past"?
Then there is Sasuke’s strange comment to Obito, that he will be the one to “cut away the past”. It’s followed by what appears to be an attempt by Sasuke to control the Juubi with the Mangekyo Sharingan—an attempt that seems to have failed, for now. Combined with his other cryptic comments, and the concerns expressed by Sai and Sakura in a previous chapter, this continues to build the mystery of Sasuke’s true motivations and plans. Some have speculated that he may intend to wipe out the Bijuu (including the Kyuubi), and his attempt to control the Juubi here is consistent with that. But what does he mean by “Cut away the past?” The flashbacks seem to hint that he is talking about his past with Team 7. That would be consistent with his long-ago decision to leave Konoha, and to break his “bonds” there. But if so, his actions—jumping in front of Naruto just like he did back in the Wave Country Arc—seem oddly contradictory to his words. What’s up with that?