Naruto Shippuden Vol. #06 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, March 19, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Sakura’s been on a long slow climb to prominence but it’s here that she firmly establishes herself.
What They Say
While Naruto and Kakashi chase after Deidara, Sakura and Granny Chiyo together take on Sasori of the Red Sand. Sasori's masterful puppetry allows him to use the jutsu of the person he's transformed into a puppet, forcing Sakura and Chiyo to face the power of the Third Kazekage. But with Chiyo's guidance, Sakura learns to read Sasori's moves, and the training she received from Tsunade turns out to be invaluable as the attacks grow ever more fierce!
Contains episodes 22-26:
- Chiyo's Secret Skills
- Father and Mother
- The Third Kazekage
- Three Minutes Between Life and Death
- Puppet Fight: 10 VS.100!
The bilingual presentation for Naruto continues to be a solid affair as the two stereo tracks are encoded at 256kbps. The series is fairly standard television fare but it handles itself well and there’s a bit of an extra oomph to it at times with the generally full sounding mix. There are moments of good directionality but by and large it’s nothing all that exceptional. The best moments continue to really be the opening and closing sequences with the music but that’s also somewhat normal. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of the Japanese track or from spot checking the English track.
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for these TV episodes is presented in their original full frame aspect ratio. The production values for the series continue to be quite good and the authoring side of the release brings a lot of that to light. Naruto has a lot of movement at times and it maintains a very strong look with no motion artifacts or break-up in general. Throughout the five episodes that are on this disc, there aren’t any real issues to be found at all. There are a few moments of some mild aliasing during a panning sequence and a bit of noise in some of the darker scenes here and there, but by and large this is a very solid looking release that covers a good range of settings without any discernable issues. Colors are nicely solid, bitrates are healthy with a number of good peaks and everything just feels very appealing. Fans of the show are likely to love how this looks.
Similar to previous installments, the cover artwork features a black and white piece of character art featuring Sasori pulling his chakra strings which stand out in their blue form. The black and white nature of it really does change the appearance of it all in comparison to the previous kind of singles which were mostly shots from the show with vibrant colors. There’s a lot of color here, with a red original logo on the right side and the US logo along the top brings in reds, oranges, blues and even some pink. It’s an eye-catching and busy cover that stands out because of the disparity. The back cover is kept to white with some gray background circles to give it a bit more accent. A few shots from the show are included that are decent and the summary covers a fair amount of ground with what’s going on here. The episodes are listed clearly by name and number while the rest is given over to production credits. As is usual, Viz wants nothing to do with a technical grid that would make it easy to break down what’s here, so you have to find the basic stats within the various areas of text. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reverse side cover.
The menu for this release is pretty decent and stands out more than most other companies at this point in time. There’s a black cloud like border around the screen with a static image of a couple of the Sakura and Chiyo while the background has animation from the film playing through it as various weapons fly by. It’s really nicely creative to fit in with the show overall and it does highlight some care and creativity. The music is spot on for something uplifting and energetic. Menu navigation is straightforward with a strip along the bottom and episode navigation isn’t bad as you can access the parts of each episode from one submenu. Everything loads quickly but the disc doesn’t read our players’ language presets as it defaults to English with no subtitles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the first twenty-six episodes of the series draws to a close at this point, in what would largely be a full season of any other show, Naruto spends its five episodes focusing almost entirely on one battle. And that’s honestly a good thing right now because of the characters it focuses on. There’s a lot going on in the show at this point but with these episodes it puts Guy’s team fighting their mirror selves and Naruto and Kakashi chasing one of the Akatsuki mostly out of the picture. They get a few token minutes here and there but it’s largely to save face as about ninety-five percent of the story here deals with Sakura and Chiyo.
The little bits dealing with the rest of the cast can be safely ignored as they really don’t amount to much. On the flip side, the events between Chiyo and Sakura going against Sasori don’t add up to a whole lot either in terms of actual meat. These episodes are all about the action with some back story thrown into it as well. While the rest of the guys are off fighting elsewhere, Sakura has staked her place in things on capturing Sasori with Chiyo at her side. Chiyo’s been really fun to watch since she came into the show as she’s had to slowly reassess everything she’s believed in regarding the Leaf clan and what happened in the past. It hasn’t changed what happened, but it is changing how she has to deal with them in the present because these aren’t the same people. She can’t hold a grudge against someone who hasn’t done anything while realizing how much they’re helping her in the current situation with the missing Kazekage.
The history between Chiyo and Sasori is one of the big things here as when the two of them square off they both know a lot of what the other can do. That leads to some one-upmanship that’s kind of awkward since it’s an area where whatever Chiyo can do (and may be famous for), Sasori can now do it ten times better. It leads to the situation where it becomes predictable that Sasori will have an out for whatever she comes up with and that kills some of the tension as you don’t think that maybe this will be the move that does it. And you also have the sense that even as things get tense, there’s still a chance that she’s really holding back against him because of their history together and their familial relationship.
There is some nice exploration of that, which is expected, as we see what happened to him in his youth and how he ended up living with Chiyo. A good bit of time is spent on it but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s aligned himself with the Akatsuki and their plans. It does help to flesh him out a bit more but it did not leave me more sympathetic towards him though they at least didn’t paint him as a completely abused and used young boy who wants revenge on the world.
Where these episodes shined for me is when it dealt with Sakura. She’s long been the third wheel in the show for a number of reasons, mostly because almost from the get go she was saddled with the doe-eyed girl in love with bad boy Sasuke. The filler material in the previous series didn’t do her any justice but they did finally end her on the right note there by shifting her to the medical side and putting her under Tsunade’s guidance. Through some solid flashbacks here, we see a bit more of the training she went through for this and understand the way she has to view her position as a medical ninja. Watching her throughout this fight, as she takes it right to Sasori on a very regular basis, she shows more determination and strength (inner and outer!) than she has before. While they all play up the never say die aspect, she’s so spot on here with the way she goes up against Sasori that you can imagine her giving Kakashi and others of his rank some uncertainty as to whether they could handle her for any length of time.
After twenty-six episodes, well, Naruto: Shippuden is about what you’d expect. It hasn’t exactly gotten far but it has laid some of the groundwork. We know something about the Akatsuki, we’ve seen a few fights and we’ve seen a potentially strengthened relationship between two of the Villages. Naruto’s return after two years of training has shown he hasn’t grown too awful much, but at least he has some. This set of episodes is very good simply because it showcases a Sakura that has grown, has become more confident and is likely to be surpass Tsunade someday. And that’s a very terrifying concept when you get right down to it. But that’s also what makes her so fascinating in that she has that potential and is actively moving towards it as evidenced in these episodes. Though her arc is likely to come to a close soon with this particular story, these are some of the best Sakura episodes in some time.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2