Naruto Shippuden Episode 342
For the majority of the war, Tobi’s been letting other people do the fighting for him – Kabuto, the resurrected minions and the army of Zetsu took on the bulk of the work. Even when he clashed with Naruto and Killer Bee, it was mainly the six past Jinchuuriki who engaged them, while Tobi busied himself with controlling their movements and the activity of the Bijuu inside them. The point is, we’ve never really been able to see him in proper, serious combat until now – for someone who turned out not to be Madara after all, he’s still pretty damn good. Of course, credit’s gotta be given to the abilities of his Sharingan and Rinnegan, but it still takes a lot of skill to control his jutsu, especially when the timing of when he “slips away” has to be incredibly precise. And he’s going up against Naruto, Kakashi and Gai at the same time! Also, I’m surprised his war fan was actually useful – I initially thought it was more for decoration than anything else (in homage to the real Madara) but Tobi did manage to make some use of it.
All along, everyone’s been thinking that Tobi uses two different space-time ninjutsu – one to make himself transparent and “slip” through things, and a second to “suck” objects inside himself. The assumption was that he unfortunately just couldn’t use both at the same time, meaning that he has to be solid when sucking things in. Sadly, it’s just one jutsu. It was a false assumption – to be honest, the concept of removing things to another dimension has already long been introduced through Kakashi’s Kamui, and it’s just that none of the characters associated it with Tobi’s own jutsu. It’s in line with the whole “ghost of the past” motif that Tobi tried to create when introducing himself as Madara, but if you’re genuinely alive, being intangible is a little too absurd, even for the standards this show sets. It makes it so much easier once you realize that Tobi’s just sending his own body parts to his other dimension, and thus they can’t be damaged as they no longer exist in their original location – unless other people send objects to hurt those body parts. People like Kakashi.
If Kakashi can access the same dimensional space used by Tobi, it essentially means that they have the same jutsu – in this case, it’s Kamui, the Mangekyo Sharingan ability unique to only Kakashi… and the original owner of the eye. It was already hinted at when Kakashi tried to kill the Juubi – I don’t think it’s normally possible to stop Kamui unless Kakashi himself loses concentration. For someone to reverse the jutsu itself would mean they have full access to the dimension to which the Juubi was being sent. The kunai and the Rasengan only made that link ever more apparent. Of course, there’s the issue of Kakashi’s Kamui being far inferior to Tobi’s version – Kakashi can only transport things away, it takes ages and he nearly dies after using it too many times. However, he’s a non-Uchiha, and it’s not his Sharingan – Tobi’s increased power with Kamui would only be explained if, say… it was his eye to begin with.
To be honest guys, it’s fairly obvious where this is going. Tobi’s identity has been speculated for a long, long time, and this episode alone was stuffed full of blatant signs, as was the preview. I won’t spell anything out until next week (to maintain the integrity of our no-spoiler policy) but you should be able to figure out who Tobi is. If you’re a manga reader like I am, you’ll already know – and if you’re not, someone else has probably already spoiled it for you.