Chapter 545: An Immortal Army!!
The chapter opens with Madara contemplating the state of the battlefield. He is aware that Naruto probably has the ability to sense hatred, as Mito had the same ability when she was the Kyuubi's vessel. He thinks this will lure Naruto out to combat white Zetsu, all according to his plan. He anticipates the extinction of Senju's Will of Fire.
At HQ, Shikaku and Mabui have finally allowed Katsuyu to speak and update them on the fact that the Raikage and Hokage have allowed Naruto and Bee to go to the battlefield. Mabui is shocked, but Shikaku is conveniently there to explain to her about Naruto's “Talk no jutsu”. Mabui fears that this is a trap to lure Naruto out, and Shikaku agrees this could be the case—but they have no better option.
Back at the medical tents, the shinobi are on guard for more attacks from impostors. Sakura and Shizune review the results of a DNA test on the white Zetsu clone that Sakura killed and discover that it is derived from the First Hokage's DNA and can use a weakened form of Wood Release. Sakura further guesses that they are using Yamato to power up the Zetsus.
Sakura examines the body of the dead Zetsu clone.
Tsunade and the Raikage return to HQ to be greeted by this news. Tsunade is amazed that Orochimaru's and Madara's attachment to her grandfather has gone this far. She further guesses that Madara has used the First's DNA on his body and that this is the source of his long life. Raikage wonders if this information will help them discover the key to his defeat, but Tsunade replies that it's the opposite: this new information indicates he may be truly immortal.
Meanwhile, Madara and the powered-up Jinchuuriki zombies head for battle.
Shikaku laments that there's not one normal person among their enemies. Tsunade commands that the intelligence they have on the Zetsus be conveyed to Naruto and Bee. Shikaku uses the same telepathy technique used in Ino-Shika-Cho's battle to explain everything to Naruto and Bee, just as they approach a large regiment of shinobi. Shikaku further warns that since it is Madara's objective to capture them to complete his Moon's Eye Plan, they must be especially careful. He and Naruto discuss the nature of Madara and how he is different from Nagato, and Naruto is reminded of his brief meeting with Madara in Iron Country. Also, unlike Shikaku, Naurto is cheered by the news that the enemy is made up of immortals, living plants, and zombies, as that means he doesn't have to hold back when he fights them.
Naruto and Bee come face to face with the shinobi regiment and Naruto recognizes the first man to speak to them as an impostor and defeats him. He then informs Bee that the whole regiment is made up of impostors, and the two of them go to town. Naruto uses some new variations on the Rasengan to take out large numbers of clones at once. Bee notices that the defeated Zetsus are reverting to trees in the wake of Naruto's energy, just like what happened to Yamato's wood statues on the turtle island back in chapter 505.
I have to admit I don't understand what happens next. Zetsu taunts Naruto, and forms some mass of Zetsus with the creepy venus flytrap things mixed in to the mass...what is he attempting to do? Does anyone know? Either way, Naruto seems to thwart him by sending in a miniature Rasen-Shuriken (made by forming tiny arms with his chakra!), then summoning a large toad.
I love this image of Naruto's chakra forming tiny arms to make a tiny Rasen-Shuriken.
The Zetsus defeated, Bee sings a victory rap while Naruto prepares to move on, leaving behind the toad and a clone to keep watch here. He then forms enough clones to head out to all the major battle areas.
Thoughts on the chapter
- We learn in this chapter that Madara's immortality is probably derived from using DNA from the first Hokage. We also get a review of his stated intentions from chapter 463. I'm not sure what to make of this, but here are a few things that stand out. First, Naruto says that Madara understands hatred, and that he uses the hatred in people (specifically, Nagato and Sasuke) to manipulate them. But Shikaku adds that he is not fueled by hatred himself. I don't really understand why Shikaku says this, and I'm not sure that it's true. We don't know for sure what is motivating Madara—if it is indeed Madara (I lean toward thinking it is, but I feel it's reasonable for fans to still have some doubt)—but I see no reason to rule out hatred. In fact, the new information that he is using the First Hokage's power to prolong his life highlights again the rivalry between them, and I think it is likely that this rivalry is a large part of what motivates him, especially if you go back and look at his dialogue in 462-463. How much of that rivalry is based on “hatred” and how much is based on akogare—like the rivalries between Sasuke and Naruto or even Danzou and the Third Hokage? Either way, I hope that by the end Kishimoto will give us a satisfactory answer to who the man called Madara really is and what his reasons are for waging war on the ninja world.
- Naruto shows off some new powers in this chapter—basically, new uses for the Rasengan. I liked the Mini Rasen-Shurken, but other than that, it's not too interesting, IMO.
- Yamato gets a bit of a shout-out in this chapter when Sakura realizes he is probably being used to fuel the Zetsus. I wonder if this story thread of fighting the Zetsu imposters will involve rescuing him somehow.
- One of the most interesting parts of this chapter for me is that Shikaku so clearly vocalizes what some fans have been saying for a while—as a criticism of the whole shinobi war arc—that all of the enemies are inhuman: plant-like clones and zombies commanded by death-cheating immortals (I think the hybrid Kabuto-Orochimaru can fairly be classified this way alongside Madara). Naruto further adds (again, as if echoing fandom) that this means he won't have to “hold back”. In other words, there will be no questionable morality in destroying enemies that aren't really human to begin with. I'm not sure what to make of this—I just find it interesting that Kishimoto seems to be almost acknowledging fans' objections, although I'm sure it has nothing to do with any actual awareness of what fans are saying. Another thought that comes to mind is that among Madara's allies (although it's perhaps a little questionable to count him as an ally), the only truly natural and mortal human (although a very powerful one!) is Sasuke.
All right. I think I've abused dashes and parentheses enough for one evening.