Naruto Shippuden Episode 297: A Father’s Hope, A Mother’s Love
“Your mother loved you.”
Gaara and Oonoki engage the reanimated Kages, and the Fourth Kazekage is astounded to see Gaara alive and well, despite the presence of sand which should belong to the Shukaku. When Gaara reveals his status as the Kazekage, his father decides to test his worth once more before revealing the truth behind what happened in their pasts.
From the perspective of the old Kage reanimated by the Edo Tensei, it’s funny to see how much has changed from their opinions of how the shinobi world operated to their individual relationships – that is, if Kabuto decides to keep their minds intact. Lord Mu, the former Tsuchikage now sees Oonoki, his apprentice as an old man past his prime, and is wary of the possibility of what will happen once the war is won, and whether there will be a scramble for spoils amongst the alliance of shinobi. What this episode focused on was the Fourth Kazekage, and his estranged son, Gaara – who tells him that he is now the Kazekage, has friends and most importantly, is no longer a Jinchuuriki.
“Father, you tried to kill me six times. And each time, my fear and hatred of you grew.”
It really takes me back to those pre-Shippuden days, where characters like Neji or Lee weren’t the side characters they are now – the original series focused much on personal relationships and conflicts in comparison to the current arc, featuring the Akatsuki vying for world domination. Of course, the Gaara which we saw in the flashback had a personality much like when he was first introduced – he was lonely, emotionally unstable and just a slight bit insane. I’m also remembering that he kept referring to the Shukaku as his “mother”, and that’s quite clever of Kishimoto to play on that once more (if that was intended at all) and return to the emotional wound Gaara has been suffering all this time over his mother – who he thinks actually hates him, and cursed his existence as it led to her death. Without a mother, and the realization that his father has tried to kill him multiple times along with implanting the Shukaku into him, that was pretty much it for Gaara, who was still young at the time, and went through many of the hardships an unloved Jinchuuriki goes through – much like what Naruto himself had to endure.
“It seems I didn’t possess the ability to see the true value of things…”
I felt that his father might have been able to come up with some sort of a better solution, but obviously he didn’t act from a father’s viewpoint, and instead acted as the Kazekage, with the interests of the village over the interests of his own happiness. It was thus apt that, after thinking that he was worthless, his father decided to test his worth once more, and saw first-hand that Gaara’s absolute defence wasn’t something that was born out of hatred, but instead manifested itself in the form of Karura’s will – living proof that he was loved and protected, even from beyond the grave. It was a really emotional scene to see Gaara just breaking down like that after years of putting on a stoic face, and reconciling with his father, who gave him “medicine” for the first time – maybe the Edo Tensei does have some benefits after all. This probably let the Kazekage’s soul rest in peace, and given the collapse of his gold sand it’s safe to say that he’s been successfully sealed – though I don’t think the other Kages will go down that easily despite being caught in Gaara’s sand, which isn’t exactly sure-fire way to win. Their willingness to divulge their powers and weaknesses will make it easier for the Allied forces though.
Next week brings the start of a battle I’ve been wanting to see animated for ages – Naruto and Killer Bee vs. Itachi and Nagato! The latter two have been walking around for a while, and what a coincidence it must be for Naruto’s first proper enemy to be Itachi…