Episode 500 - "The Message"
This isn't a 10 Second Anime review, but for Naruto's last episode, I'll make a bit of an exception.
I wasn't a fan of how wishy-washy Iruka was throughout the whole wedding arc, but it was enough for Naruto to finally show up to help him get some perspective. Iruka's whole problem was that he felt much closer than a teacher or a mentor, but he wasn't sure he should feel that way since Naruto became such a famous hero to the whole ninja world. He had felt like Naruto was a little brother at times because of how he had to deal with his mischief when he was younger.
Naruto boiled all those feelings down into a simple gesture: asking Iruka to stand in his father's place for the wedding. There. Iruka was a father-figure to Naruto, just as the Third Hokage was his grandfather-figure.
So, what does a father tell his son on his wedding? He asks the bride to support him because he can be dumb and reckless. And he warns Naruto that he better make Hinata happy! So much agonizing over a simple heartfelt message.
I loved how prominent Ichiraku Ramen was to the whole story. It was the location most tied to Iruka and Naruto's relationship outside of the teacher-student relationship. It was Naruto's favorite food. Hell, he was named after the fishcake topping you put on it.
I liked how this wedding story also served up a couple of running gags. Kakashi kept telling people to stop calling him -sama, especially to the people like Shizuna who grew up with him. The other running gag was Yamato tailing Orochimaru as he walked around the village.
Konohamaru's wedding present of congratulatory messages finally got made. My favorite one was Team Guy and the ghost of Neji.
I don't know how explicit it was, but last week, Hinata was running an errand around the village and carrying a package. That package was the picture frame for Neji to attend the wedding in spirit.
I identified the most with Hanabi up above, squeeing in delight as she held Neji's picture. It was a long time coming for Hinata's feelings for the shunned son of the previous Hokage.
Poor Tenten. Does Guy really need that wheelchair?
Killer B got the perfect wedding gift. Oh, not for Hinata and Naruto, but the one most fitting what his personality would give any bride and groom. The Raikage only has so much patience.
The best part of this last story arc, which was the only saving grace of the dreadful Shikamaru side story, was the establishment of two of the couples whose children feature in the new Boruto story. We knew Shikamaru and Temari got together somehow because of all the chuunin exam stuff, but there had to be more to it. And how exactly did Sai and Ino get together? Now we know.
Ino never got Sasuke, but she did get his Team 7 replacement. Interesting how Sai's fake smile never looked so real now that he's looking at Ino. Aw.
They saved the best couple for last though. It had been a long time since they showed Hinata blushing and speechless from trying to talk to Naruto, but she could be forgiven one last moment before they got married. Her heart will probably always flutter if he catches her off guard. Way to go Hinata. You did your best!
And that's the end of Naruto the anime. His son Bolt (or Boruto, even though they but a bolt for the O in his name, it has to be based on lightning bolt) takes up the headband starting in the Spring season. Sadly, I won't be watching. I had a hard enough time trying to read the manga and skimming just to get to the parts with Naruto and Sasuke. Otherwise, it's a kid's story aimed at kids again. Good luck, Boruto. You've got a big headband to fill.