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The Naruto Filler Episode That Was Actually Pretty Important

"Naruto" is most likely the series that the majority of anime fans will credit as the one that got them into the genre. Created by Masashi Kishimoto, it follows Naruto Uzumaki who, despite having the fearsome Nine-tailed Fox sealed within him, strives to become Hokage, the strongest ninja in the land, and gain the respect of everyone in the village. With a 72-volume manga, two animes, several movies and video games, and a sequel following Naruto's son, Boruto, it is no surprise that "Naruto" is considered one of the best anime series of all time

As is the case with any long-running manga, there are filler episodes added to keep the anime going while the author continued to work. While some episodes are fun one-shots — the one where Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke try to take off Kakashi's mask is probably among the greatest — some just seem to go and add nothing to the plot. As a result, many fans choose to skip filler, opting to watch only what corresponds with the source material. However, there is one filler episode that is actually pretty important for Naruto's character growth. 

Naruto Saves Iruka

The Season 4 episode "A Clash of Fate: You Can't Bring Me Down!" takes place between Sasuke's departure and Naruto's extended training with Jiraiya. It reintroduces the character of Mizuki, the villain who manipulates Naruto into stealing the Scroll of Seals in the first episode and who Iruka protects his student from. 

Wounded by his earlier defeat, Mizuki is determined to make Naruto and Iruka suffer. Mizuki uses a potion and gains tiger-like strength and speed, which gives him an upper hand. Naruto, however, is not ready to go down without a fight — using his Rasengan, he manages to defeat Mizuki and save his and Iruka's lives. 

Though a filler, this episode brings the series full circle. Just like how Iruka protected Naruto, Naruto returns the favor and saves his former teacher. This is a lovely parallel to Naruto's beginnings and shows just how far the ninja has come. No longer a child who feels out of place, he is strong, confident, and ready to save those he knows love and care about him.