Why Naruto’s Five Kage Summit Is an Embarrassingly Underrated Arc

Anime fans love to debate one another on which story arc had the best fight scene or the best writing in a given series. Fans of Naruto are no different in this regard. The most popular story arcs tend to be the Chūnin Exams, Sasuke Recovery Mission or Pain's Assault. These arcs have bombastic fight scenes or introduce iconic villains that leave lasting impressions on the minds of fans. However, while such storylines are fantastic, one of Naruto's most important arcs always manages to slip under the radar.

The Five Kage Summit Arc is arguably the most vital and emotional storyline in the entire series. The arc is highly underappreciated for what it does, not only for the world of Naruto but also for its characters. The Five Kage Summit brought elements to the series that Naruto was lacking, and story moments that hadn't been visited in years were now contextualized and given bigger prominence.

World Building

land of iron naruto

The world of Naruto is both massive and diverse, and there are numerous villages with different cultures and customs. Despite all the potential that exists within the world, the majority of Naruto takes place with The Land of Fire and Konoha. The audience is told about the other villages and a little of their history, but these places are never really explored. Sunagakure and Amegakure are the only other villages that are given any real detail -- until the Five Kage Summit.

During the Five Kage Summit, the identities of the leaders of the other villages are finally revealed. The Kages not only lead their villages but are also some of the strongest ninjas in the world. The summit therefore allowed fans to see the people who shaped the shinobi world and gain glimpses of their abilities. The Raikage, Tsuchikage and Mizukage all lived up to and exceeded the expectations set for them by the series.

The Kage Summit also introduced the audience to the snowy Land of Iron, providing a drastically different setting than the usual forests and grasslands that fill the Land of Fire. The Land of Iron also uses a completely different military than the other hidden villages. Instead of shinobi, the country uses samurai that have their own unique appearance and fighting style.

Political Tension

This arc not only introduces the Kages but also reveals more of the history of their villages. Before the summit, each village had gone through three world wars and numerous other conflicts. This long bloody history gave each leader plenty of reason not to trust one another. Large-scale politics took place during the meeting -- something that had never really happened in Naruto. Before the meeting, most conflicts in the story were highly individual and personal.

The Tsuchikage, Onoki, who had been alive for all the previous wars, was hesitant to join forces with former enemies. The Raikage, Ay, was particularly hostile toward the other villages because of their history of employing the Akatsuki and having ninja from their villages join the organization. Sunagakure's previous attack on Konoha placed Gaara and his village under suspicion. Rumors that Kirigakure's former Mizukage was being controlled by the Akatsuki made the current Mizukage, Mei, difficult to trust as well.

Navigating the bloody history between each village created very interesting dynamics. Although the summit had been called to figure out a way to deal with the Akatsuki, there were multiple points during the meeting where the Kages almost went to war against each other. The added political tension created a new layer of depth for the series and made the world feel more realistic.

The Limit of Naruto's Promise

Team 7 reunites with Sasuke to bring him back

Before the Kage Summit was announced, Naruto's promise to bring Sasuke back to the village was entirely personal. His promise didn't really affect anyone other than himself and Sasuke; whether or not Naruto failed to bring Sasuke back didn't have any major effect on Konoha or the rest of the ninja world. That all changed when Sasuke attacked Killer B and Danzo became acting Hokage.

Suddenly, Sasuke became an international criminal who had joined an organization that planned on killing Naruto. Both Danzo and the Raikage ordered Sasuke to be killed. The situation only become worse when Sasuke attacked the summit and all five Kages attempted to kill him. Naruto's dedication to Sasuke no longer just affected him and Team 7, but the entire ninja world.

Naruto's promise was almost pushed to breaking point when people he trusted and cared about told him to give up on Sasuke. Sakura, Gaara, Sai, Shikamaru and Kakashi all tried to convince Naruto that it would be best for everyone if he stopped chasing Sasuke and let them deal with him. As long as Sasuke was still alive, he threatened to start a war between the villages. The whole world had turned against Sasuke, leaving Naruto to decide whether he would join them or if his promise was worth the danger.

Sasuke's Darkest Moments

After the truth about the Uchiha Massacre was revealed to him, Sasuke began walking a much darker path. He joined the Akatsuki, an organization dedicated to killing his former friend, and attacked another village's jinchuriki. Sasuke even swore to destroy Konoha for causing the Uchiha Massacre. He had fully committed to being the bad guy.

The Five Kage Summit was arguably the angriest and most evil that Sasuke had ever been in the series. He realized that he had been manipulated by both his brother and Konoha for most of his life. Killing Itachi didn't free Sasuke of his hate like he thought it would; it only made things worse. Sasuke was simply looking for a target to direct his rage at and was lashing out at almost everyone. He abandoned Suigetsu and Jugo at the summit and nearly killed Karin in order to get to Danzo.

Before the Kage Summit, the question had always been when Sasuke would redeem himself, but by the end of the arc, that question had changed. Both fans and Naruto began to wonder if it was possible for Sasuke to be redeemed -- or even if he deserved the opportunity.

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