Welcome back and as always thanks for reading. This is the place where I comment weekly on the latest chapter of Makashi Kishimoto’s sequel manga Naruto Gaiden. As always for those who missed my past write ups you can find Chapter 7 here and Chapter 6 here. Anyways thanks again for reading and welcome back.

However before we begin I have a little bit of news regarding the manga. According to Shueisha (via ANN) Naruto Gaiden will be only a volume long so we’re quickly approaching the end of the mini-series. This is not a huge surprise considering the pace the manga has been moving forward at however it is still a little bitter sweet as I’ve really been enjoying the manga and writing these. Regardless with it clearly being a set up to Boruto:Naruto The Movie this is not totally surprising. Anyways while we still have new chapters back to Naruto Gaiden!

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Well continuing off from where we left last week Naruto implies how much Sarada looks like Sasuke due to her Sharingan eyes. Following a little emotional dialogue Sarada declares that she will be setting off on her own despite probably knowing full well how dumb an idea that is all around. This builds up to a very important conversation between Naruto and Sarada, where Naruto explains to Sarada (as he has done with Boruto) being Hokage means everyone in the village is his family much in the same way the Third Hokage treated his job. Sarada retorts for the first time she doesn’t actually believe she has a family. Strongly implying the thematic connection between Sarada and Naruto regarding their characters respective lonely heritage something I commented way back in the first one of these.

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Following that Kishimoto just to make sure we got the point moves to an extended flashback of iconic scenes from Naruto’s past. Which starts with the image of Naruto on the swing watching his peers from the distance graduating. While not groundbreaking this scene has come to symbolizes Naruto’s loneliness probably more then any in the series and certainly would have resonance with the reader. Further the flashback continues with scenes all the way back from the first chapter most notably involving Iruka-Sensei Naruto’s first and strongest surrogate father figure. It of course ends with images of Sasuke rounding out Naruto’s adoptive family as a brother.

The climax of the conversation comes where Naruto declares its feelings that make a family not blood. Nicely mirroring in some ways Sakura’s and Shin’s conversation from the previous chapter. Again it is clear what is important to the manga is not what the blood says but what your heart does. This leads into a flash back into Sarada’s past where several touching scenes play out between her and her mom, giving us a little better insight into Sarada’s childhood. Ending on a very strong emotional scene that any fan of Naruto is sure to get due to is strong connection to the Uchiha and more specifically Sasuke/Itachi.

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After all the flashbacks and tugging of the heart strings Sarada seems back to her old self (as she was...) with Naruto rejoining the group in search of Sakura. Orochimaru proving to still be less then tactful mentions Sakura may be dead implying this is pointless, ignoring him Sasuke using his fully realized Mangekyō Sharingan and his full powered 6-Tomoe Rinnegan to find Sakura. Who is apparently located in Kagura’s pocket dimension, which Shin most likely got access too through his own Mangekyō. After one final scene back at Shin’s lab where he reiterates his wish to clean the world of bad genes (Naruto eugenics...) Sakura looks ready to throw down and I got to say I don’t blame her.

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Well this was a simpler chapter then most I must admit. After two prolonged flashbacks (well for Naruto Gaiden anyways...) its a nice change of pace from the lightning fast pace of the past few chapters. However while it was simpler it’s certainly no less important. Focusing on the themes of the manga has made everything much clearer, almost painfully so at times. As I’ve been writing since the first chapter Sarada’s connection to Naruto is not a coincidence and is almost certainly setting up a mentor student relationship between the two (much like Jariya/Naruto previously) and I would argue has actually set both up as duel protagonists of this manga, certainly confounding my own expectations going in of Naruto and Sasuke being little more then background players. Beyond that their connection has come to symbolize the theme of family which since the first chapter has provided the narrative underpinning of the manga.

Finally although this is a relatively new addition to the manga from a story telling standpoint the second idea of “Love vs. Blood” as I’ll be referring to it has taken a place of prominence in the narrative arc recently. Of course it builds into the central mystery of Sarada’s origins however in many ways I’d argue it makes it a moot point. By now from a story perspective what does it matter if Sarada is Sakura’s biological daughter? It doesn’t, its clear to all those who are concerned Sakura and Sasuke are man and wife and Sarada is their daughter, by Kishimoto’s own insistence that’s all that matters. As love matters more then blood does, indeed the obsession with blood has driven Shin into trying to spark his mad eugenics war.

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In the end I feel this was a very entertaining and enlightening chapter of Naruto Gaiden that really clarifies many things regarding the story. Some may be turned off by the slow pace but knowing how short the manga is to be now I don’t think I can overstate how important it will be going forward. I hope you stay with me for the last few chapters however many there may be left and as always thanks for reading. If you disagree with my literary interpretation of the chapter please tell me in the comments I always welcome them.