Naruto Shippuden Episode 296: Naruto Enters The Battle
“I don’t have to worry about holding back!”
After being informed about the properties displayed by White Zetsu as well as Tobi’s goals, Naruto enters the battlefield, with his first goal being to identify and defeat the transformed White Zetsu, managing to do so easily with his newfound power. Meanwhile, Gaara’s Fourth Company has engaged with the four former resurrected Kages, with Oonoki and Gaara heading out to intercept them first.
After the murky depths of a disjointed filler arc, we’ve returned to canon material! As it’s the start of the Winter season, hopefully we’ll stick with the main storyline for a while yet, though with future events in the war I’m not sure how they’ll be facilitating that exactly. The post-filler recap was pretty helpful, with the last thing that happened being the infiltration of the White Zetsu into the Allied Shinobi camp – taking the form of any ninja they’d previously made contact with, using a Henge that is so powerful it even copies the chakra signature of its target. As clones of the First Hokage, they’ve been cultivated using samples from his cells and plant extracts to create clones that can move, all powered up by Yamato, who was created in a similar manner by Orochimaru. I don’t know exactly how much of White Zetsu’s invasion was planned by Tobi specifically to lure Naruto out – it would have been an effective method of night-time warfare even if Naruto hadn’t been involved at all, in which case the White Zetsu might have led Tobi and the Akatsuki to an overwhelming victory.
Of course, Naruto’s alignment with nature allows him to sense disturbing, “fuzzy” chakra signatures, which Shikaku eventually identified as the White Zetsu. It’s great to see him finally go all out after so much training – the battle against the Kyuubi was cool, but not orthodox, while here we see Naruto using the Kyuubi power to its maximum, proving his new overwhelming strength after a training arc, as is standard of shounen series. The Rasenkyuugan as well as a mini Rasenshuriken proves how much those extra arms are actually helping him – before he needed a Kage Bunshin to create just a normal Rasengan, while now he can easily throw out all kinds of variations. I’m actually wondering if his chakra levels are a bit over the top this episode – after playing around with so many Rasengan variations as well as a toad summon, he still has enough to create mass numbers of Kage Bunshin to send to all battlefields? The Kyuubi should be wiping away his chakra reserves at a massive rate, eating away at Naruto’s chakra while he shelves it in order to use the Kyuubi’s.
As hinted at from the OP, one of the battlefields Naruto’s heading to is the front that’s fighting against the four reanimated former Kage – one of them being Gaara’s dad, the Fourth Kazekage that tried to kill him multiple times when he was little. He ended up getting killed and replaced by Orochimaru, but if not for that kind of trickery he’s clearly more of a force to be reckoned with, identifying the Shukaku’s sand power and having the ability to reduce its effectiveness using gold dust – gold being heavier than sand, and being able to weigh it down. He has no idea what’s happened to Gaara after he died though, and so both father and son might end up experiencing a few surprises when they clash.