Hey, I feel like talking about this week's Naruto chapter!
So, Danzou's crew pulls one over on the Byakugan-mist guy following them and I hope that's not the end of him, because I liked the guy for fucking up Danzou's plans. The Raikage's appointed leader of the shinobi alliance, because he appears to have cooled his head a bit, and the only one still recalcitrant is the Tsuchikage, who apparently fought Madara. Want some backstory on that. So now we have a solid 4-village alliance, the only outlier being, funnily enough, the leaf village. Given that it's highly unlikely Danzou will be able to influence Gaara or Kakashi, and that Konoha has an able stable (heh) of Byakugan users, I suspect that the leaf, under the leadership of a new Hokage, will be part of the alliance. Danzou and Root will most likely go rogue. Maybe that's where Madara will get some of his cannon fodder? Root?
On to quote "important" stuff /endquote. Sakura confesses to Naruto. She lies through her teeth about not liking Sasuke anymore, and that she's got a bunch of reasons to like Naruto now...while she rolls decently on bluff, Naruto, who has most likely put points into Wisdom as he's leveled up, rolls well on Sense motive and calls her B.S. End chapter.
So, I liked the political end here- we've got a solid alliance that could prove to be real grounds for an overarcing peace come the end of the problem with Madara...without Naruto having to do a thing! Though, much like the real world, it'd probably degenerate once peace broke out. So it goes. I was pulling for Gaara, but I'm a hopeless Gaara fanboy.
On the shipping front, I am very glad that Naruto called Sakura out. The impression I got with regards to what Sai told her and her subsequent reaction is that she felt really, really guilty for what she saw as leading Naruto on this whole time and taking advantage of his good nature. She still does love Sasuke (why, I couldn't tell you. He's a tool, but you knew that already.) but she's trying to be nice and say all the right things to Naruto to help him and prevent him from going off to stop everyone trying to kill Sasuke. You could really tell- and I must give some credit to Kishimoto here, the art expresses this very well-that her heart isn't in this, and Naruto realized that. Major points to him for realizing that this was all fake and not putting up with it.
Now, here's the real question. What does Naruto feel about Sakura, particularly in light of Hinata's confession to him? Before Hinata's move, it was fairly well-established that Naruto still harbored a crush on Sakura. When he still had a wisdom penalty, he was constantly bugging her and asking her out on dates. Has he really done that since the timeskip? Has he recognized that this girl was absolutely dedicated to Sasuke (once again, inexplicably...maybe not seeing as how Naruto himself is so dedicated), and given up? It'd help that Hinata let him realize that there are other girls out there, including cute kunoichi with long black hair and white eyes who've pined for him for ages...sorry. Shipping preferences showing. Anyways, I'm curious as to how this'll be resolved.
In other news, Rick Castle just uttered "Bam Said the lady" in the episode of Castle I'm watching. I believe that Nathan Fillion just threw in a shoutout to his ODST role as Sgt. Buck. Now more than ever am I convinced that Mr. Fillion is a God among men.
Edit: Upon further viewing of TV Tropes and subsequent searching of Nathan Fillion's facebook page, Bam Said the lady is in fact Nathan Fillion's own catchphrase. Which is just as awesome.
Edit the second: And upon further use of my internet-fu skills, apparently Mr. Fillion got Bam Said the lady from ODST. So I was right the first time. Yay.