This fourteenth volume of the 'Naruto Shippuden' anime includes another thirteen episodes (167 to 179) of the entertaining series. The episodes in this volume see the conclusion of the Invasion of Pain arc, as well as a number of filler flashback episodes.
The first three episodes in this volume (167 to 169) conclude the brilliant battle between Naruto and Pain. Overall the entirety of this battle, which began in the previous volume, is easily one of, if not the, best fights in the series and the conclusion is suitably spectacular with both participants unleash abilities that reshape the landscape. The episodes also have a surprisingly emotional moment when Naruto gets an unexpected visitor to his mental world.
The next two episodes (170 and 171) are an unfortunately timed filler story that takes things back to the time Naruto spent training for the Chunin Exam as he tries to discover what the Fourth Hokage's Legacy is. While the positioning of this storyline is unfortunate, as the lighter tone does jar slightly, it does still have some humorous moments and it is nice to see the characters how they used to be once again.
Episodes 172 to 175 see the story return to the proper story and see the ultimate conclusion of the Invasion of Pain arc as Naruto confronts the true Pain, Jiraiya's former student Nagato, revealing his past and his reasons for becoming Pain. These are some nice episodes with some emotional scenes as well as some nice character development for Naruto himself. On the downside the Gedô: Rinne Tensei no Jutsu, a technique that I have seen many fans criticize in the past.
The following three episodes (176 to 178) give us another short flashback filler arc about Iruka-sensei's first few weeks as Naruto's teacher. This is a much better story than the previous flashback filler and it is quite interesting to see Iruka's troubles in coming to terms with being Naruto's teacher.
The final episode of the volume sees some of the political manoeuvring within the leaf after the invasion before moving to another flashback filler story about Kakashi's first day as Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura's teacher. Again it is reasonably entertaining to see scenes from the beginning of the anime again as I have always enjoy seeing how much characters have developed but this flashback is probably less entertaining than Iruka's as it includes far fewer new scenes.
The animation for the series remains good (although the animation style for the fight scenes may not be to everyone's tastes) and the English dub is also as good as it always is (the original Japanese is included as well of course). The plot of the series (filler aside) remains very good and this part is probably one of the best parts of the entire Naruto series as, although it does have some moments, the next arc isn't anywhere near as good in my opinion.
I am unsure what exactly what rating to give this volume as while the proper story is great, easily worth a full five stars, the flashback filler are mostly only reasonable to good. Overall I think I will give this volume a ranking of four and three quarters as the conclusion of the Invasion of Pain arc probably just outdoes the downsides.