Naruto: Shippuden Box Set 03 (also w/LE) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, October 29, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, August 03, 2010
The Kazekage Rescue arc comes to a satisfying conclusion…
What They Say:
After fierce battles with the Akatsuki, Sakura, Granny Chiyo, Kakashi, and Naruto have finally retrieved Gaara from Deidara's clutches. But is it all too late? Back in the Leaf Village, Kakashi's on bed rest for overusing his Mangekyo Sharingan, and Naruto's preparing to recruit some of his friends for Team Kakashi. But the village elders have beat him to it, and their choice of the unfeeling Sai has Naruto spitting mad!
Contains episodes 27-39.
Naruto Shippuden is presented bilingually with two stereo tracks encoded at 256kbps. A solid stereo sound stage, this TV series makes good use of the sub woofer along with a smattering of sound directionality. This is typical of most television releases, so don’t expect to blown away by all kinds of sound engineering and wow effects. The stronger use of the sound stage comes about during the opening and closing sequences. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout with no dropouts or distortions during regular playback of the English track.
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this collection is presented in the original full frame aspect ratio as was shown on TV. The production value is on par with what one would expect for a highly regarded anime series. There were virtually no motion artifacts nor were there any breakups in the anime sequences that involve a lot of movement. This series has lots of action and it presents very well. You will find some very minor aliasing during some panning sequences as well as some noise in darker scenes, which is usually par for the course. You really can’t get much better than this unless you go high definition, which is a whole new ballgame. Overall, everything looks pretty much on par. This is a solid video release and it should meet the expectations of the fans as it matches right with the format presented in the previous Naruto collections.
Following the previous collection’s design, the design for this collection is all about Gara. The color of the case matches Gara’s hair and outfit and really sets the tone for what this collection truly entails, and that is Gara. The cover features also features the kanji that is tattooed on Gara’s face, which is a nice touch. The logo for the series is featured on the lower right-hand corner. The text and graphics for the collection resemble that of the previous collections. Overall, this is a very eye catching design.
The back side of the slip cover contains a short description of the collection. The technical information is found near the bottom and on the bottom panel. Included with this collection are three thin DVD cases, each housing one disc only.
The front cover for disc 1 features Team Guy, minus Guy Sensei. Disc 2 features Naruto and Gara. The final disc depicts Sai and Naruto. Each of the front covers feature a white background with black stenciled text. The backsides, like in the previous collection, feature a black background with list of episodes in white. Also included is a stenciled phrase in grey that summarizes the collection of episodes on the disc. The extras are not listed, which would be nice as there is plenty of space to place them on there.
The menu for this release is very eye catching and animated. This is definitely one of the better DVD menus out there. The main menu features a black cloud-like border with a static image of the main character(s) as featured on the disc covers. Featured in the center of the screen is a series of animation clips that are displayed in the shape of shuriken and kunai weapons. Creatively, this is very nice setup and is fun to watch. I wish more DVD menus were as creative as this. One of the Naruto musical scores plays in the background and loops very appropriately in sync with the video clips. Menu navigation for this collection appears along the bottom of the screen. The menus are quick and very easy to navigate.
The extras worth noting in this collection are found on the third disc. These extras include an interview with the new the voice actors. Nothing real memorable here, but it is a nice to associate a name and face with the characters from the series.
Also included on the third disc is a collection of production art images along with a multimedia chart for understanding the Sand Siblings and their relationships. This is a nice touch for the extras, but I would like to have seen some more detailed information as all it really reveals each siblings characteristics and age. Rounding out the extras list is the English Credits for the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
In the last collection, we were left with quite the cliffhanger where it wasn’t absolutely certain that Sasori was defeated. Things looked pretty grim for Sakura as she had all but succumbed to Sasori’s poison. In a selfless act, Chiyo uses her antidote on Sakura. Chiyo also manages to lure Sasori into the path of the parent puppets where they embrace him, piercing his core with their swords. Sasori’s demise feels bitter sweet as we finally learn how he came to be so evil in one last flashback. Instead of cursing his grandmother for his demise, Sasori offers that in ten days he is to meet a spy of his in Orochimaru's service.
Elsewhere Kakashi devises a plan to stop Deidara, but it is going to require that Naruto get over his rage and reckless abandon for revenge for the moment. Naruto finally gets it when Kakashi reveals a new Sharingan and his plan. Team Guy still has their hands full trying to stop their doppelgangers. In a stroke of tactical brilliance, Lee determines that to defeat their foes, each team member must be stronger than they were when they removed first removed the seals that created the doppelgangers!
The fight that ensues between Kakashi, Naruto, and Deidara is quite epic as Kakashi focuses his Mangekyou, which collapses space. This new power is made up of all kinds of awesome as it completely severs Deidara's other arm. Being armless couldn’t happen to a more deserving punk! Kakashi’s intent was to completely collapse space around Deidara, but the Mangekyou takes up nearly all of his chakra and energy. Kakashi’s plan is successful as Naruto strikes Deidara's bird with the Rasengan. With Gaara in hand, Naruto turns his rage onto Deidara. Naruto’s immaturity gets the best of him as he pummels Deidara, or better yet, Deidara’s clone. This sends Naruto over the edge as his rage consumes him to the point where he sprouts two tails.
Acting quickly, Kakashi recalls Jiraiya giving him a seal to stop the nine Tails transformation by placing a seal on Naruto's forehead. Needless to say, Deidara is able to fool everyone as he sacrifices himself in a huge clay ball explosion in attempt to take out Team Guy and anyone nearby. A punk like Deidara is not going to be finished off that easily, just like Orochimaru’s lackey Kabuto.
Things take a whole new perspective as everyone who set out to find Garra is now together again. Naruto’s emotions are still very much raw as he succumbs to the emotional weight he has been carrying the whole time. Lady Chiyo quietly slips by and begins to perform the revival jutsu that she originally was going to use to save Sakura. This jutsu will demand her life in exchange for Gara’s. Realizing what she is trying to do, Naruto offers up his chakra to help her finish the jutsu, not realizing it will cost Chiyo her life. Still the bonehead, I think Naruto is starting to get things, but it’s not only until after the fact and when Gara is reanimated. The following sequence will tug on your heartstrings. As Gara comes to sorts with what has transpired as a huge entourage of Sand ninja led by Temari and Kankurou come to welcome the great Kazikage. All in all, this story arc comes to a happy conclusion, but still leaves a lot of questions about the Akatsuki. In fact we get a few more teasers as episode 32 has some Akatsuki action. It ends up leaving you with more questions than any real answers.
The next story arc holds some promise as Tsunade wants Team Kakashi to find the spy that Sasori spoke of before he died. Speaking of Team Kakashi, it looks like the team is going to be made of just two original members, Sakura and Naruto. Kakashi is pretty much out of it from the fight with Deidara and is rehabbing. So, Tsunade has handpicked a replacement from the ANBU, his code name is Yamato. Her choice was strongly influenced by Danzou, the leader of the ANBU root. Danzou seems like he has a lot of power, but what effect he has on Tsunade is unknown.
Sasuke’s replacement is Sai, who is another ANBU member. His joining the team is strongly opposed by Naruto and Sakura. Sai appears rather effeminate, emotionless, and just flat out odd. He definitely rubs Naruo and Sakura the wrong way. How this team will come together as a cohesive unit is anyone’s guess. Yamato appears to be very similar in personality with Kakashi, but a bit more rigid. It’s going to take everything he’s got to get this team working effectively.
The third Naruto collection ties up the first story arc in a very satisfying conclusion as Gara retakes his position as Kazikage in the Sand Village. The transition to the next story arc teases us with a quick glimpse of Naruto’s friends in the Hidden Leaf and what they are up to as well as giving us little more insight into what the Akatsuki is planning. No rest for the weary as Team Kakashi has been completely overhauled with a new captain and squad mate. Naruto, Sakura, Sai, and Yamato are going to have to pull things together quickly as the Akatsuki spy they are to meet is more than just a spy, but a lackey for a sworn enemy of the Hidden Leaf!
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Voice Actor Featurette: New Faces of Naruto Shippuden, Interactive Character Relations Chart: Sand Siblings, Production Art
Samsung UN46B6000VF 120Hz LED HDTV, Samsung HT-WS1R/XAA 2.1 Channel Soundbar Speaker System with Wireless Subwoofer, and Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2