Every time you think a filler episode can't get any weaker, a new one rolls out.
What They Say:
Tenten and Neji head for the Leaf Ninja Tool Research Lab to procure ninja tools necessary for rebuilding the Leaf Village.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Naruto: Shippuden continues to miss the boat of opportunity with the aftermath of the destruction of the village. Depending on how it's handled in the manga I haven't read, there's a lot of potential here to tell solid character stories and expand on the camaraderie and united stance the villagers take in their efforts to rebuild. We've seen it play out in small increments since the end of the big arc where Naruto and others are helping out and checking in with friends and survivors in the opening minutes of each episode, which then leads to reminiscing about past adventures that they try to plug into Naruto's youth and early days of being a ninja and beforehand. Some of it has worked well, but most of it, including this episode, falls flat.
This episode takes Naruto back to the days where he goes off on a mission with Tenten and Neji where the two are reminiscing in the present about it as they're getting things they need to rebuild the village. The story in the past is largely fluff revolving around the younger versions of them which are essentially the same characters, just whinier and quicker to anger. Though it's hard to say in the present as to whether Tenten would get just as easily angered and frustrated with Naruto as she did then. With so much of this episode focusing on the flashback, with what seems like barely a minute of material in the present, we're treated to these younger versions quite a lot and it's much like past episodes. A real chore to get through as they deal in the pointless mission that Guy assigns them.
Which is a shame. There is a very rich story to tell in the present that should not affect the overall core manga storyline at work. Even if new original characters are introduced to tell the story of the survivors of the Leaf Village, even replaying events from the destruction and attack from another view with fleeting images of the core cast fighting back against them, it would be so much more engaging. The choice by the creative staff to instead go back to a character several years younger to tell much simpler, goofier and pointless stories says a lot about the creative direction of the team. If presented with the choice, they'd likely go with the easy route and farm it all out to the B-team to let them just get something out there. Knowing all the while that the fans will keep coming back because they know how great the show can be. Which is why these kinds of filler simply feel so insulting.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
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