While I've been slow about actually watching Naruto over the past year, I've been even slower about discussing the episodes I've watched. Meaning it's been a long time since I watched this set of episodes, and I don't think that rewatching them before I write this is going to happen.
That's definitely not a good thing since a lot happens in this set of episodes, and the exact details are foggy to me after so long. The largest thing I remember is being mostly bored with these episodes, and I think that has a lot to do with how much time passed between me watching each episodes.
At this point, they're deep into the war, and many of the fight scenes in these episodes are not my favorites in Naruto. While I know I'm supposed to view Madara as a large, important villain, I don't care for him much as a character, and even though he's portrayed as powerful and therefore threatening, I don't feel much emotional reaction to seeing the characters confront him. I think it's because the characters themselves don't have much emotional stake in the fight aside from what's expected when fighting against anyone for your life and the world as a whole.
Other villains had far more compelling backstory than anything we've been presented about Madara so far. I volunteer as a tag wrangler over on the Archive of Our Own, and one of the fandoms I wrangle is Naruto, so I'm well aware of the amount of Madara fanfiction out there, especially fic that ships him with Hashirama. While I get the fandom appeal of that from what I've seen so far, I have to say that I don't quite get it. Maybe that will change in later episodes.
Episodes 394 and 395 are the start of a flashback to the chunin exams held while Naruto was out of the village, which I think provides a nice break from the war where I wasn't really enjoying the episodes anyway. While this is technically filler, it's filler that I welcome because of a lot of what I mentioned above. I appreciate getting to spend time with characters I feel emotionally connected to instead of the episodes that came before it.
But I'll talk more about that filler arc in my next Naruto post.