The fight to save the village concludes, but will it end in victory or with everyone dead and corpses everywhere?
What They Say:
Naruto and Jiraiya attempt to save a village from Kandachi, a former right-hand man to Hanzo of the Hidden Rain.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Naruto's journey in the past with Jiraiya lead them to a village where some small ties were made to a different story earlier in time, which is made more plainly clear in the episode summary. Kandachi's position as a former right hand man to Hanzo from the Hidden Rain may be memorable to some, but it completely eludes me since it's been some time since I saw episodes from the first Naruto series and a lot of the smaller plots really didn't leave an impact at all. Whether you knew that bit of info or not about Kandachi, it still comes down to the idea that he's a big fish in a small pond and his domination of this village makes it plain to see.
Much of the previous episode was focused on the set up and exploring how the village fell to Kandachi's hands, which allows this one to focus more on the resolution side with attacks and combat that doesn't paint Naruto well. In fact, after the first bit of subterfuge which I do think worked well, it falls apart kind of quickly as Naruto is repeatedly beaten back by Kandachi. He keeps getting up after each attack from the conch Kandachi is in control of and never gives up, giving us the moral part of the story. It also serves to remind others watching, such as Tanishi, what it's like to stand up for yourself and to not be intimated. Considering what his father went through, it's a defining moment for Tanishi since it gets him to actually get involved, which leads to others.
While this episode stands head and shoulders above some recent episodes, it is an entirely all too easily telegraphed piece of work. But that's simply because it's telling a story that's been told for ages now and there are no real surprises. It is fun to watch Naruto and Jiraiya working together at this point with the knowledge we've gained since then and what their relationship is more about, not that Naruto knew, but it's not given too much serious mention here. What we get here is the action and the rise of the villagers and it's all executed in fairly straightforward fashion with no real issues. It just suffers from the problem of been here, seen that before.
Considering how awful, awful Naruto has been for some of its filler in the latest run of it, a straightforward story like this is a breath of fresh air. It does suffer from some of the problems talked about before, such as Naruto not exactly being all that interesting of a character here and the really poor video game music used in the action sequences (which essentially dominates this episode), but the fact that it tells a two part story that doesn't make you want to cry from the start is a huge change. This kind of two part story doesn't redeem the filler but if we had a lot more of this, you wouldn't see such (warranted) vitriol and anger over it. Especially when there's a lot of manga to adapt still.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.