|Shikamaru Shinden: A Cloud Dancing in Forlorn Falling Petals|
|(NARUTO -ナルト- シカマル新伝 舞い散る華を憂う雲, Naruto: Shikamaru Shinden: Maichiru Hana o Ureu Kumo)|
|Previous||Sasuke Shinden: The Teacher's Star Pupil|
|Japanese||July 4, 2018 (ISBN 978-4-08-703456-1)|
Shikamaru Shinden: A Cloud Dancing in Forlorn Falling Petals (NARUTO -ナルト- シカマル新伝 舞い散る華を憂う雲, Naruto: Shikamaru Shinden: Maichiru Hana o Ureu Kumo) is an original story written by Takashi Yano and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. It is the fourth instalment of the Naruto Shinden series. It takes place both before and after the Mujina Bandits Arc.
- Secret Manoeuvres (暗躍, An'yaku)
A short while after the recent Chūnin Exams where Momoshiki and other Ōtsutsuki clan members attacked, Shikamaru Nara wakes up in his bedroom still wearing the clothing from the day before and smelling of tobacco. He had fallen asleep the moment he came back from work late last night—he missed his bath, forgot to eat the dinner his wife, Temari, cooked for him, and has a massive headache from his excessive drinking. As he leaves his room, he bumps into his son, Shikadai Nara, who mentions that Temari is in a bad mood. Shikamaru knows it's because of his bad habits, and after lightly teasing his son, he delicately greets his silent wife and heads off to take his bath. When Shikamaru sits down to eat breakfast, he and Temari have a strained conversation; eventually, Temari asks whether he remembers what day it was yesterday. Shikamaru instantly realises that he had forgotten their wedding anniversary because he was busy preparing for the upcoming Five Kage Summit as a result of the recent attack during the Chūnin Exams. He apologises profusely, and Temari remarks that she hopes those feelings are true, because that day will never come back again. Realising that he's going to be late for work, Shikamaru apologises one last time before leaving.
When Shikamaru reaches the location of the Five Kage Summit, it is evident that the talks are uncharacteristically tense. All the Kage and their respective assistants (specifically Akatsuchi, Omoi, Misuno and Kankurō) are present. Shikamaru observes and analyses the situation as Kurotsuchi, the current Tsuchikage, begins to express her displeasure for the fact that Konohagakure has access to powerful Scientific Ninja Tools the other villages knew nothing about.
Naruto, the Hokage, defends Konoha by explaining that the tool was made without their permission. Kurotsuchi counters this defence by saying that Naruto shouldn't have expected a calm reaction to such a power-imbalance. Shikamaru interjects, voicing his belief that ninja tools could be used for good, and that Konoha had to hide the tool's existence, so the youth would remain motivated to train. Nonetheless, Kurotsuchi maintains that these tools are too dangerous, and notes that the triggers of the Fourth Shinobi World War were all from Konoha, citing Sasuke Uchiha and other missing-nin. Naruto loses his temper slightly at the mention of Sasuke. Shikamaru explains that Sasuke is now a double-agent, thus benefits the entire Shinobi Union, which is a fact the Union had agreed upon together. He also states that the alliance, as well as the knowledge that Konoha is outnumbered, should be enough proof to ensure that Konoha would not attack other villages with their Scientific Ninja Tools.
Although Gaara, the Kazekage, and Darui, the Raikage seem to be supporting Naruto in this debate, Chōjūrō, the Mizukage, agrees with Kurotsuchi. Shikamaru realises that Chōjūrō's agreement with Kurotsuchi is due to the trade of natural resources between their two village. The trading began after the war; Kirigakure, which has always had a mineral shortage, is receiving minerals from the Iwagakure. Likewise, Iwa receives clean water from Kiri.
At the end of the meeting, Kurotsuchi threatens to leave the Shinobi Union if Naruto does not meet the demand of promising to disclose all of Konoha's secret for the sake of peace by the next Summit.
A short while later, Shikamaru meets up with two trusted ANBU operatives—Hinoko and Rō—with whom he had once completed a mission to the Land of Silence. After light-hearted conversation, Shikamaru describes what happened at the Five Kage Summit. He places emphasis on the worrying fact that Kurotsuchi is demanding Konoha's secrets, noting that this is unlike her and that she has an ulterior motive.
Due to the sensitivity of the case, he gives Hinoko and Rō the tasks of infiltrating Iwagakure and investigating why Kurotsuchi would attempt to disturb the peace, picking them specifically because they have abilities which are ideal for reconnaissance. Shikamaru then explains that he will also be entering Iwa legally to visit the Third Tsuchikage Ōnoki under the guise of playing shōgi with him. The trio then part amicably.
Soon, Shikamaru takes his first vacation in three months to travel to the Land of Earth's border. He is quickly detected and several ninja appear; at Shikamaru's request, the ninja unsurely lead him to Ōnoki's small home, where he's been staying since his retirement.
Shikamaru plays shōgi with Ōnoki and the duo have a friendly game. But, eventually, Shikamaru begins to question Ōnoki about Iwagakure's intentions regarding the demand for total transparency on Konoha's part, and well as how Kirigakure fits into the equation. Ōnoki tiredly explains that: "No matter how peaceful it is, shinobi will always be shinobi."
Kurotsuchi suddenly enters the house, and the situation becomes tenser. She accuses Shikamaru of investigating Iwa, an allegation he aloofly denies. She proceeds to ask whether Konoha has an answer to her previous offer, but Shikamaru says that they're still working on it. Kurotsuchi then teases him about forgetting his wedding anniversary with Temari, and they exchange harsh words, before Shikamaru takes his leave. Kurotsuchi tells him to have a safe journey with sincerity in her voice.
Once Shikamaru returns to Konoha, he immediately begins to do the immense amounts of paperwork which has gathered up. Moegi Kazamatsuri, the leader of Team 10, approaches him, mentioning that she has to talk to him about his son.
Apparently, due to his great performance at the Chūnin Exams, Shikadai caught the eye of many higher-ups; specifically, a daimyō of another country requested for his team to act as guards for an S-rank mission. However, Shikamaru learns that Shikadai had rejected the mission, and even his teammates couldn't convince him.
When Shikamaru confronts his son, they have a heated argument in which he questions why Shikadai would turn down such an opportunity. Temari suddenly interjects calmly, explaining that their son had a mission the following day, and that Shikamaru should let him sleep. Shikadai does not respond when Shikamaru wishes him a good night.
Later, as Shikamaru is reflecting on how much he values being Naruto's assistant, Temari approaches him about the topic of why Shikadai rejected the S-class mission. The reason is because the daimyō from a smaller country only requested the mission to get close to Shikamaru, the Hokage's assistant, for an unknown reason. Thus, Shikadai rejected the mission, and Shikamaru feels guilty for his job as the Hokage's advisor interfering with his son's career.
The conversation ends abruptly when he sees Hinoko in the distance. Apparently, she has returned from Iwa, and he leaves to talk with her. Hinoko and Shikamaru sit in the park, initially discussing family and bantering playfully.
Then, Hinoko reveals she and Rō have discovered that the reason Kurotsuchi is attempting to break the Shinobi Union is because Iwa planned to attack the Land of Flowers. The Land of Flowers is a small country near the Land of Earth whose main export are flowers. Since ancient times, the Land of Flowers has been allied with the Land of Lightning—when Flowers had their worst harvest ever, the Land of Earth betrayed them and broke their treaty. The Land of Lightning helped Flowers survive during that dark period.
Shikamaru realizes that Kurotsuchi is only acting this way because the Earth Daimyō wants the crops the Land of Flowers has to offer, and Kurotsuchi is obligated to obey. This also means that Darui, the Kage of Kumogakure, will side with the Land of Flowers if Iwagakure takes over the country, whereas Kurotsuchi and Chōjūrō would side with one another due to the trade between Iwa and Kiri. Shikamaru knows this will cause a war, and decides he can't let that happens. He parts affectionately with Hinoko to go to work.
When he goes back to work, Shikamaru explains the political situation—particularly Kurotsuchi's motives for attempting to break the Shinobi Union—to Naruto. He proceeds to state that it's much harder to maintain peace amongst ninjas when they no longer have a common enemy beyond the imagination of humans to bond over, since each country has their own sets of values and ideals. Shikamaru, despite noting that Naruto is a noble man, feels that it's necessary to say those things due to the gravity of the situation.
Naruto wonders sadly why Kurotsuchi did not tell them the truth about how the Earth Daimyō is pressuring her; he believes that the Shinobi Union would have definitely aided her when it came to food scarcity and other issues. Shikamaru feels the same way, but has no doubt that one contributing factor was Kurotsuchi's pride.
Shikamaru recalls Ōnoki's words during his visit to Iwagakure: shinobi will be shinobi, no matter how peaceful times are. He recognizes that the worst possible conclusion of this dispute with Iwagakure would be the Fifth Shinobi World War, and unlike the previous war, there wouldn't be an alien force rallying ninja together, thus making the peace they fought for meaningless. He notes that shinobi are but shields for their daimyō, who is the leader that decides when their shinobi fight.
Naruto is sad as he remembers the casualties of the previous war, dead-set on the objective that his son's generation, who grew up in a time of peace, should not have to experience war; he doesn't want thier children to think that they'd be used as fodder. At this, Shikamaru recalls the memory of his deceased father, Shikaku Nara, and teacher, Asuma Sarutobi—the scars of their deaths still haven't healed after all these years.
When he sees Naruto's resolve to stop Kurotsuchi's plan, he recalls Naruto's determination as the reason Shikamaru was adamant about making him Hokage. He thinks that Naruto has the potential to decide upon any path, thus Shikamaru would always draw the maps for his paths.
Shikamaru proposes that Naruto should meet with Kurotsuchi. Even though the invasion of the Land of Flowers is the Earth Daimyō's decision, persuading Kurotsuchi would cause the daimyō to reconsider it; after all, if the ninja wont fight, the daimyo can't invade. Then, Naruto chastises Shikamaru for smoking in his office, and the duo part playfully.
- Strategy (笑謀, Emi hakarigoto)
At the next Five Kage Summit outside of Konoha, Kurotsuchi looks fierce, Darui acts antsy, and Chōjūrō seems nervous. Gaara—who had been warned of the circumstance beforehand—is having a difficult time remaining neutral. Naruto, however, is fearless as he ignores Kurotsuchi's question regarding her previous demands, and instead confronts her about Iwa's plan to invade the Land of Flowers.
Immediately, Darui is angered by this revelation due to the Land of Lightening's alliance with the Land of Flowers. He state that Kumogakure's ninja will protect the Land of Flowers in the case of an invasion, and Kurotsuchi recognises that this will naturally lead to conflict. Afterwards, Naruto states the Konoha will not be releasing its confidential information.
Darui threatens to battle Kurotsuchi on the spot, but she responds by saying that her death will be meaningless because it will change nothing. She then looks at Naruto, referencing the previously-mentioned power-imbalance thanks to Konoha's large military strength, remarking that Naruto and Sasuke are powerful enough to take over the entire continent. Naruto's promises of peace do nothing to console her worries.
Chōjūrō holds a pained expression, and suddenly notes that if shinobi end their competition with one another, they will cease to exist, and naturally, the Shinobi Union will also cease to exist due to peace. This causes everybody to become quiet and wonder if his statement holds truth.
In this moment, Shikamaru suddenly makes a hand seal, and Naruto objects with panic because he immediately recognises his advisor's intentions. However, it is too late; using his Shadow Imitation Technique, Shikamaru binds the Kage and their assistants, effectively preventing them from moving.
With growing anger, Shikamaru questions whether everybody has forgotten "the most important thing". Then he states that Naruto and Sasuke having the power to destroy the entire continent is a true fact; however, he also guarantees that Konoha's ninja are extremely skilled by themselves, and thus the difference between Konoha's strength and that of the other villages is currently immense.
He then threatens to snap Kurotsuchi's neck if she intends to start a war, ignoring her protests, as well as the protests of Chōjūrō, Naruto and Gaara. Shikamaru's reasoning is that if Konoha shinobi will kill the war-supporters—meaning Kurotsuchi and Chōjūrō—they will prove that Konoha is indeed dedicated to protecting the peace.
Naruto, by using his Tailed Beast, quickly breaks the shadows securing himself and the other Kage. Gaara uses his sand to send Shikamaru flying, and then Naruto holds Shikamaru in the air; Naruto screams at Shikamaru, harshly rebuking him as the other Kage watch.
After letting his advisor fall to the ground, Naruto bows with extreme formality by bringing his head to the floor, apologising profusely to the other Kage and promising that he will never disrupt the peace. He begs for Kurotsuchi to talk to the Earth Daimyō, and vows that in return Konoha shall reconsider giving up all their confidential information.
Kurotsuchi states that even if she trusts Naruto, there is no guarantee that she can trust the next Hokage; Darui remarks that if Iwa invades the Land of Flowers, Kumo will fight back; Gaara insinuates that there is still time to prevent a war. Then, the four Kage leave with their assistants.
On their way back to Konoha, Naruto and Shikamaru travel silently. Eventually, Naruto angrily confronts Shikamaru about his actions. Shikamaru responds bitterly, stating that Naruto needs to think rationally about this situation and do whatever it takes to prevent a war, quoting Gaara's earlier words. He then walks home to his family.
Soon thereafter, Shikamaru completes the heavy workload he missed while he was attending the Five Kage Summit. One evening, he walks to the Yamanaka Flowers and meets Ino Yamanaka, who he hasn't seen in a long time. Because Ino is close to Temari, she teases Shikamaru for forgetting their wedding anniversary, and at his request Ino reveals that her husband, Sai, has never forgotten to get her a present during important occasions. Even on busy days, Sai buys the present beforehand and gets a co-worker to give it to Ino. At this revelation, Shikamaru begins to feel devastation. He asks Ino to make a bouquet with yellow flowers native to Suna, because they remind him of Temari; he plans to gift them to his wife.
As Ino is searching for the flowers, Chōji Akimichi enters the shop with his daughter, Chōchō Akimichi following closely. After excitedly greeting his friends, Chōji reveals that he's taking his daughter to eat barbecue. This causes Shikamaru to recall happy memories of him visiting Yakiniku Q with his team and his teacher Asuma.
Shikamaru apologises to Chōchō because Shikadai rejected their S-class mission. Chōchō accepts the apology without making it a big deal, before she rushes to find her mother so her father can have some privacy. Shikamaru then also apologises to Ino and Chōji, since Shikadai rejecting the S-class mission also took away the amazing opportunity from their children.
Ino and Chōji start laughing and teasing Shikamaru for his apology, before Ino tells him to think about his family and sooth everything over with Shikadai. Shikamaru agrees, believing he that he can't possibly prevent a war if he can't even make his family happy, before he says goodbye to his teammates with affection. As he is walking home, Shikamaru realises regretfully that he had forgotten the flowers for Temari.
Some time later, Shikamaru is working and thinking deeply about the negotiations with the Land of Earth—he is particularly worried about about Hinoko and Rō's reports. In accordance to these reports, Iwa's troops have assembled and are ready to invade the Land of Flowers upon a single command.
Shikamaru reflects on the fact that a ninja's actions are influenced greatly by the greed of their daimyō, and therefore in his ideal world, there would be no war and shinobi would cease to exist. Therefore, chakra and other technologies could become useful for society. He also notes, however, that this can only occur in a state of permanent peace, which is what he has to continue fighting for.
His thoughts are interrupted by Mirai Sarutobi, who is Asuma's daughter and Shikamaru's student. While bantering playfully, Mirai informs him that the Fire Daimyō Ikkyū Madoka is meeting with Naruto, and Shikamaru recognises that this could be a good opportunity to influence the Earth Daimyō's invasion plan.
Then, Mirai stressfully informs him that the Ikkyū's son, Tentō, will also be in the village—this is problematic, because in accordance Konoha's intel, there is a large possibility of Shojoji, the leader of the Mujina Bandits, attempting to kidnap Tentō.
Shikamaru sees the kidnapping as a huge opportunity to prevent the Land of Flowers invasion. After inquiring about the safety of Team 7, who is in charge of securing the Mujina Bandits, Shikamaru instructs a shocked Mirai to allow Tentō to be kidnapped, before quickly rescuing him with other Konoha shinobi. This way, Ikkyū will owe Konoha a favour.
Mirai is troubled by the request, especially when Shikamaru tells her to keep this information secret from Naruto, because he would prevent the kidnapping; nonetheless, she obeys the commands, before leaving the room.
Three days later, Ikkyū and Tentō reach Konoha. Around the same time, Team 7 captures the three-man cell from the Mujina Bandits, and Boruto subsequently boasts about his accomplishment in the Hokage's office to his father. Afterwards, when Naruto tells Shikamaru and Mirai about his son's success, the duo act normal and oblivious to the circumstances. Shikamaru promises that he and Mirai will deal with the Mujina Bandits' leader, Shojoji, as soon as possible, before beckoning Naruto to their conference with Ikkyū. Shikamaru feels guilty for distracting Naruto.
When Tentō is kidnapped, things don't go as planned; instead, Boruto and his friends save Tentō, and Mirai's troops have no chance to interfere. Later, in his office Shikamaru wonders out loud what would have happened to Tentō if Boruto hadn't showed. Mirai apologises sincerely for the circumstances, but Shikamaru quickly ensures her that she doesn't have to worry, because ultimately the plan worked. Then, merely through a few words Mirai convinces Shikamaru to speak to Naruto, a task he's evidentially hasn't been excited about doing.
- Hard Fights (竃戦, Hettsui-sen)
- The Future (未来, Mirai)
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