After a silly episode with a shocking ending Episode 4 “Shisui’s Request” is a more subdued affair serving as a primer on the relationship between Shisui and Itachi. For fans of the series this is a profoundly important episode as quite possibly with the exception of Sasuke nobody was more influential in Itachi’s life then Shisui. For some the first half of this episode could be considered boring however its of immense importance within this arc in explaining how Itachi became who he is.
Following the awakening of Itachi’s Sharingan due to the pain of losing Team Two to Obito in the previous episode, Itachi remains in mourning. However his father Fugaku has more important things on his mind then mere friendship and feelings. Fuguaku feels that as Itachi released the Sharingan at such a young age it would put the eyes of the village on him and the clan, so Itachi as his son cannot dawdle and instead continue to improve.
Itachi silently is enraged by this realizing his father doesn’t really care about his feelings of loss. Instead caring more about the potential power and abilities he posses. Despite for the first time seemingly being angered by his father Itachi plays it cool and moves along, showing his ability to lie is as sharp as ever.
Following this Itachi is preparing on going to a training mission with Shisui. Sasuke who is quickly growing is perturbed by this turn over events as he wants to play with Itachi like normal brothers. Shisui instead shows up and apologizes to the young Sasuke as Itachi leaves he gives Sasuke his customary touch on the forehead.
Beginning their training mission in the Forest of Death which fans of the series knows from the second event of the Chūnin Exams. Itachi and Shisui are assigned to look for a fake fugitive for the mock mission. Along the way Shisui trains Itachi in many useful skills including tracking.
One thing though is while Itachi seems put off but how little he knows Shisui explains its a perfect learning opportunity for him. As an exceptional genius Itachi has never learned to think like a regular person and as such cannot put himself in their shoes. Shisui also an exceptional genius possibly even greater then Itachi understands this and tries to teach his younger friend the lesion over a warm campfire.
However while into the fake mission it isn’t too long until reality creeps in as Itachi and Shisui run into a wounded member of the ANBU Black Ops. The secret police of the Hidden Leaf and in a sense the direct rivals of the Uchiha in the village. The wounded man has a message that he feels the Hokage must see as it reveals information of a traitor only something the Hokage should decide upon.
However members of the Foundation Danzo’s elite unit within the ANBU arrive and demand the information. Their position is only they also nameless warriors of the shadow can really deal with the traitor. Itachi and Sasuke are in a bad position here though two fold. On one hand they don’t actually know if this is part of the test or not and on the other hand who is right.
At the end Shisui and Itachi side with the village against the ANBU strike team and decide to defend the wounded warrior. In a sense being an early indication how in the future both Shisui and Itachi will be presented with a similar choice between the village and another power. As shown even as a Genin Itachi puts the village first above all.
This results in a battle with Itachi fighting a lone Kunochi who is revealed to be an elite among elites in the foundation. With Shisui engaging two other ANBU Foundation members. However despite their ages Shisui and Itachi are shown to be more then a match for their much older foes.
Itachi after releasing the Sharingan makes quick work of the Kunochi’s weapons based plans. As his ability in Shurikenjutsu is unmatched. While Shisui unveils one of the biggest mysteries of Naruto - the Teleportation Technique. Shisui later in life known as Shisui the Teleporter unleashes his ultimate technique and quickly brings down his opponents. However us the viewers aren’t really treated to the specifics of the technique only knowing its a very powerful and dangerous technique.
In the end the fight turns out to be totally real and that Itachi and Shisui were quite literally fighting for their lives against Foundation Assassins. This teaches Itachi a profound lesson that not all situations are as they seem and that every side profoundly believes what they are fighting for and its up to you individually to discern what is right. As previously Itachi thought in a simplistic sense of everyone from the Leaf being good, however meeting bad members of the Leaf shakes this view.
Following the mission in the Forest of Death Itachi is worn out from use of his still immature Sharingan forcing Shisui to carry him home. As they’re walking in the night the Jounin announces he will always protect Itachi and Itachi can trust him. Setting Shisui up as the one pillar of strength left for Itachi as he quickly learns the Uchiha are not what they seem.
Flash forwarding a few years Itachi is now a teenager and likely a Jounin in his own right. Where he enters a meeting of ANBU members for his first day. Itachi has decided to keep the peace of the Village as a nameless warrior from the shadows.
While the episode is very bifurcated in two very distinct parts both are very interesting to watch. Itachi learning to think like the smaller people as it were seems to be something the Uchiha in general have issues with - just look at Sasuke. As their obsession with power often blinds them to outside suffering that it causes which is what the Second Hokage and founder of the ANBU refereed to as the Uchiha’s Curse.
On the other half the action was great after months of high powered Kage level fights between basically demigods it was fun to see some basic Ninja hand to hand. It also without being too heavy handed set up Itachi’s moral dilemma in life going forward while finally making Shisui more then just a name from history. Understanding Shisui is almost as important now to the story as understanding Itachi and I personally cannot wait for next week.