Naruto Shippuden 18×409 Review: Their Backs


The focus on Sakura Haruno continued in this week’s episode of Naruto Shippuden. She was able to protect Ino and Choji from the Hidden Sand Village team, and our team of heroes proceeded towards the final stage of the Chunin Exams.

Sakura has always been protected by those around her. Even though she’s a part of Team 7 most of the story in the manga focused on Naruto and Sasuke being the ones who took down opponents while she stayed in the backgroud. Back in Part I of Naruto the only time Sakura stepped up to actively protect her comrades was during the previous Chunin Exams. After Lee was defeated Sakura took it upon herself to fight the Sound Village ninja team. Though she took a beating it was nevertheless a character defining moment for her. That’s also one of the things I admire about Sakura. She isn’t afraid of taking a beating if it means she can protect her friends.

Her motivation to save her comrades was showcased again this week when Ino and Choji neared chakra exhaustion. The Sand Village Team from last week’s episode didn’t give up and their leader Lady Saya wanted revenge. Though the opponents weren’t memorable the animators did a good job designing a very creepy doll.

Sakura finally filled up her chakra reserve and took out a three-man ninja team in a single punch. She then went on to extract the opponent’s poison from Ino and Choji. During their fight Sakura was able to convey her feelings to Ino and Choji through Ino’s technique. It was revealed that Sakura decided to join Ino and Choji’s team to take the Chunin Exams because she wanted to see how far she could make herself go.

While last week’s episode showed what Sasuke was up to, ‘Their Backs’ showed Naruto training with Jiraya in order to control the Nine-tails. It wasn’t as exciting as Sasuke’s little adventure with Karin and Suigetsu but at least seeing Jiraya again made up for it. Karin is also playing a controversial role in Naruto Gaiden.

Sakura’s character arc has always been about protecting those who have protected her, and this week’s episode was no different. Seeing Sakura grow stronger and develop as a character is one of the main reasons I stuck with this franchise. I wanted to see how Kishimoto handled writing a female character that came from a normal background and had to compete with two extraordinary ninjas in her team. It took her years of training but she finally caught up to Naruto and Sasuke in the finale which is no easy feat considering the two main male characters were unique the moment they were born.

What did you think of this week’s episode of Naruto Shippuden ‘Their Backs’? Did you enjoy the little side-story involving Naruto and Jiraya? Let us know!

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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