Naruto Shippuden is a series that never really hit the same high notes for me as the original did. I mean don't get me wrong, there were plenty of great scences that rank as some of my greatest Naruto moments of all time (Chiyo vs. Sasori, 4 tailed Naruto, Rasen Shuriken) but these were simply moments of bliss with the rest of the series being plagued by a dragonball Z like motif of drawing out a fight to a length well beyond its sweet spot. However, over the last few episodes I began to see hope in the series as the fight between Pain & Jiraiya and the fight between Sasuke & Itachi were some of my favorite and most emotional fights of the whole series (It's also ironic that Jiraiya and Itachi were my two favorite characters in the whole series and they both ended up dying). Now it looks like the stage is being set for one of the most epic battles of the Shippuden series, and if all goes well, the Naruto franchise as a whole. In this episode Konoha is trying to discover the mystery behind Pain and Naruto is still of training in Sage Mode. All seems well until Pain arrives at Konoha and begins to terrorize the city in search of Naruto. Tsunade sounds the emergency alarm and prepares to fight back.
This show solidified my opinion that Pain is probably the coolest Akatsuki member next to Itachi. I'm sure that those who have read the manga know his secret but for those who haven't, there still remains a great deal of mystery. I have my own theories and I will leave it up to the viewers to formulate their own ideas. We also see a few more abilities of Pain including one who shoots lasers out of his head and another who looked like he just sucked the soul out of another person. Both *Pains* were great to see and I'm looking forward to seeing more of his powers. Also there was one scene where Fukasaku was explaining to Naruto the limitations on Sage Mode. It was interesting and funny to watch.
I only had one tiny problem with this episode. The beginning of the episode showed the village very much at ease and going about their daily lives which was punctuated by cheerful music and random scenes of people all happy. Although I can understand why they chose to do that it seemed very out of place when viewed in retrospect. The impact of having Pain attack the village would have been just as effective without having to portray the village as happy and cheerful.
Overall this was a very good episode and hopefully they can maintain this pace for the rest of this arc.