Everything is peaceful if tense until the Akatsuki launch their attack on the Village of Hidden Leaf.
What They Say
Shikamaru and the others wait for the information Jiraiya brought back to be analyzed. The Hidden Leaf ninja continue their data analysis, when disaster strikes the village.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Last year I tried something a little different with One Piece. I had been watching but not reviewing the DVD releases as they came out and made it up to around the first fifty or so episodes when I decided to start watching the new streaming episodes that were in the low four hundreds. I was curious as to whether I could jump into the show at that stage and enjoy it as well as whether it was accessible enough to new viewers. With Naruto: Shippuden, I've watched all of the original series and the first thirty-odd episodes of this one, so jumping to this episode wasn't as big of a stretch since I wasn't missing anywhere near as much material in between.
Jiraiya's sent back a lot of information in different forms to the Village of the Hidden Leaf, including a corpse, and now those in the village have to figure it all out and piece everything together. There's a lot of potentially useful information in all that's been sent back, but there are traps to be had in each of them, such as the numerous blocks placed on the one ninja that Inoichi is trying to learn about. Pain's corpse offers up a lot of potential as well if they can use their advance sciences to figure it out. Shikimaru and Sakura are doing their best to put together all the known information as well while realizing that there are some significant dangers here of another immortal Akatsuki that needs to be dealt with.
For Naruto, he's starting to learn the real risk associated with the Sage Mode that he's been training for. That the main way to help alleviate these risks is for the frog sage to essentially merge with him, which is at least jut the two of them being close together, makes it a lot more bearable. The visuals for it are amusing though, whether it's Naruto in a full frog form or having the guy on his shoulder. Even the scene of Jiraiya with the two on his shoulders is amusing to see. These final bits of preparation and information for Naruto are useful as the show is about to change direction to something more action oriented as the Akatsuki have arrived outside the village and are preparing their attack.
Thankfully, as interesting as these moments of dialogue and preparation are, the second half of the episode is all about the action. With a fair bit of basic planning to get them through the barriers, this group of Akatsuki make it in rather easily and begin causing a whole lot of destruction. Their search for Naruto takes them through a number of ninjas from the village who simply don't have the powers or skills to handle such enemies and that gives it all a very odd feeling as they essentially run roughshod over everything in a fairly calm and relaxed way. The music is ominous to be certain, but it's somber and plodding instead of intense and driven. The sequences are good but there feels like there's a disconnect in terms of urgency in the response of the Hidden Leaf ninjas.
It remains to be seen whether this is a good jumping on point or not, but series of this length need to have new viewers coming on throughout it to deal with those who fall out of it over time. There's an obvious familiarity with the basics of the series and the main characters running around but there's plenty of unknowns that I must discover as well. Hopefully Naruto: Shippuden will do a good job of filling that in for viewers as it plays out without alienating the long time viewers. This episode feels fairly laid back with its approach, both in dealing with critical information and an attack on the village, but there's a sense of destiny to all of it as well as there are many that seem like this was inevitable. I'm looking forward to seeing how this show handles itself on a weekly basis as opposed to the box sets I've watched before or the four or five episode discs.
Japanese 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.