Naruto Shippuuden - Season 4 - Episode 176 - Review: "Iruka the Novice Teacher"

The culmination of a large part of Naruto's story in the previous episode with him being fully loved and adored by the majority of the village is a huge point in the series and one that was treated well. While it contained a lot of flashbacks, it was the time for it to happen as it helped cement those feelings when you consider there are something like four hundred episodes or so since the start of it. Reinforcing how it used to be, since a lot of it happened quite a few years ago, works well. Following up an episode like that with something is almost damn near impossible in a way because it's not going to please a lot of people. If you give him a lot of downtime to unwind and think, people get bored. But you can't just shift into the next story that quickly either.

Enter the supporting cast who help to move things along. Two stories get told in this as we have a main one in the present and a flashback one that gives us a young Naruto. The one in the present is more of a lead-in as we see a group of ninja's heading to the Leaf Village that are four or five days out from it, hinting that something will be coming down the pike soon to get the ball rolling. The main story here however deals with Iruka as he and others spread out in the village to take stock of things and help out where needed. This has him landing near a tree that has special meaning to him from his past, which takes us back several years to see a young Naruto, complete with goggles no less, who gets into nothing but trouble. It's a reminder in a less than subtle way of just how far he has come over all these years.

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