Naruto Official’s Kazekage Rescue Mission arc ranks among the best opening arcs in all of anime. Here’s a deep dive into why it succeeds.
Any anime’s opening arc is one of the most crucial parts of the entire series. It’s usually the audience’s first true impression of the story, and it often determines whether or not they want to keep watching. Because of their importance, they’re difficult to nail because they provide the groundwork for stories that might span hundreds of episodes. Naruto Official’s Kazekage Rescue Mission arc is an excellent example of a fantastic first arc.
Official, serving as the sequel to the original Naruto series, had a more difficult task than the usual opening arc. Team 7’s rematch against Kakashi was only the tip of the iceberg of greatness that is the Kazekage Rescue Mission arc. As the story’s events unfolded, several of Official‘s most important plot points were brought up and discussed to some extent. Here are a few overarching themes its debut arc introduced.
The state of the ninja world was described as one of anarchy in the original Naruto. Though they were at peace with each other, each nation was quite wary of the next. They carefully monitored the balance of power and would seize any opportunity that arose to increase their military might or destabilize the other nations.
Granny Chiyo never expected the Hidden Leaf to send genuine assistance during the Sand Village’s time of need. Tsunade surprised her by sending two skilled teams that saved Gaara and Kankuro’s lives. That act of goodwill, especially in light of the Sand Village’s role in the death of the third Hokage, strengthened the two nations’ bonds and sowed the seeds of what would eventually become the Allied Shinobi forces.
Kazekage Gaara’s testimony about the alliance of the Sand Village and the Hidden Leaf was instrumental in forming the Alliance, without which the Fourth Great Ninja War would’ve been lost.
Though it was common knowledge at this point that both Gaara and Naruto had Tailed Beasts within them, the term Jinchuriki had never been used before in reference to the duo. On their rescue mission in Official, Kakashi and Granny Chiyo explained why the Akatsuki was targeting Gaara and revealed the existence of seven other Tailed Beasts that hadn’t previously been mentioned.
While it’s never stated how powerful or diverse these beasts were, later Official arcs did an excellent job of fleshing them out. Their significance to the plot cannot be overstated. The Fourth Great Shinobi War was fought to decide the fate of the last two Jinchuriki, Naruto and Killer Bee. The reanimated Jinchuriki also served as formidable antagonists near the end of the story, introducing even more diverse jutsu into the Naruto universe.
Naruto never had a stable connection with the Nine-Tailed Fox within him, but he’d always had it under control for the most part. Official‘s Kazekage Rescue Mission arc illustrated how volatile their relationship had become and teased fans with a glimpse of Kurama’s incredible power.
Upon realizing Gaara’s “death,” Naruto flew into a rage allowing the Fox to momentarily take control over his body. Luckily Kakashi was there to stop him before the Fox got out of control, but that instance showed how Naruto’s emotions would be the key to controlling Kurama. Fans also learned that Kurama was capable of taking over Naruto’s body completely when the Jinchuriki felt extreme anger, like he did at Tenchi Bridge in the fight against Orochimaru and after Pain stabbed Hinata.
Naruto’s infamous gang of rogue ninjas were mentioned several times in the original series, but they made their formal debut in Official. Deidara and Sasori were the main antagonists of the Kazekage Rescue Mission arc, in addition to Itachi and Kisame.
The duo could not have been a better introduction to the level of ninja Naruto and Team 7 would face time and again throughout Official. Along with having great banter, Deidara and Sasori’s abilities expanded the scope of what Naruto fans thought chakra could do. If it wasn’t clear from the start that this group was not to be trifled with, Deidara defeated Gaara in his first fight.
The rest of the Akatsuki weren’t properly introduced during the Kazekage arc, but that only served to drive up viewers’ interest in the mysterious group. Entire arcs were dedicated to defeating some members of the Akatsuki, and each proved they were far from pushovers. The casualties they left in their pursuit of the Jinchuriki spurred the development of several side characters and their influence stretched all the way to the end of Naruto Official.
The advanced form of the Uchiha Kekkei Genkai was first mentioned near the end of Naruto‘s Sasuke Retrieval Arc. At that time, all that was known is that it was a more powerful Sharingan. It was only after Kakashi unveiled his own that its true potential was made apparent.
Along with greater perceptive abilities than a regular Sharingan, the Mangekyo Sharingan gave its user access to entirely unique and individual powers. Itachi’s Tsukuyomi made his genjutsu the stuff of legend and Kakashi’s Kamui saved the entire Konoha squad from Deidara’s final explosion.
The dangers of the Mangekyo Sharingan were also touched on during Kakashi’s battle against Itachi. As a taunt, the Copy Ninja asked Itachi how much his eyesight had deteriorated, referencing the side effect of the new Sharingan’s overuse. Kakashi was also rendered bedridden by the end of the mission since he overextended his power when chasing Deidara.
Madara Uchiha ended up being the primary antagonist for much of Official in one way or another, so it’s appropriate that he was first teased so early. Madara himself didn’t show up until the final arc, but one could argue it was his legacy that set all the events of the series into motion. The mere mention of his name by an imposter provided the extra push for the Shinobi villages to work together, and his appearance showed why their cooperation was absolutely necessary. In decimating the Allied Shinobi Forces, Madara proved exactly why his name struck fear in the hearts of everyone.
The introduction of these plot points so early in Naruto Official helped viewers get acquainted with them and made their reappearances later on seem like natural additions to the story. It built anticipation moving forward and prevented Official from having to info-dump so much when they started to get more of the spotlight. The final cherry on top? The Kazekage Rescue Mission arc even works great as a standalone story.
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