Naruto Box Set 03 (also w/special edition) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, May 29, 2007
What They Say
The squad mates face their deadliest challenge yet as the Chunin Exam continues. Deep in the Forest of Death, Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura must battle their rival genin to collect the scrolls of Heaven and Earth. It's no easy task, but is there an even darker force at work? Something evil is afoot, and it's after Sasuke!
The shackles are off the gates and now the twenty-one remaining teams must face the forest of death to head to round three of Chunin Exam leading to new revelations and questions about the abilities of their new friends and rivals.
For this viewing session I began with the Japanese track. Unfortunately this series does not posses a 5.1 for either language track, for it would have benefited greatly with all the fighting scenes. The balance though is a small problem since there are points when the battle music comes on and drowns out the dialogue. There are no drop outs in either of the three discs. I also did a spot check on the English track on episode 34 Akamaru trembles: Gaara's cruel strength.
This group of episodes aired in March of 2003 through June of 2003 and the transfer is pretty clean. The background of the forest show up exceptionally well bring the feeling of being there. The flashbacks come out with an old television feeling with the constant "snowy" black, white and gray dots. The only problem that is visible is during the scene where Naruto is ingested the salvia has horrible bleeding around the edges and tiles in places.
This 13 episode box comes in a flimsy, metallic sky maroon casing which holds a fold out for the three discs. On the front it has in white Shonen Jump's logo over the Naruto title and Uncut box set in dark burgandy paint with volume 3 inside a marron chakra mark on Naruto's palm. The fold out box has a single picture of Sasuke disc 1, Gaara disc 2, and disc 3 is Naruto with a sickle with the box containing the original R2 cover art from volumes 10, 11, 12 & 9. The box is also large enough to hold the storyboard book of episode 28 without crushing either the book or the DVD foldout. The LE box also comes with a Sound Village cosplay headband and necklace.
Each of the three discs have their own menu and particular piece of background music. Disc 1 is blue with three rotating pictures of Sasuke, while disc 2 is dark ree with three rotating pictures of Gaara and finally disc 3 is lime green with three images of Naruto. The menu responds extremely quickly with the curser being a throwing star.
There is a five minute trailer for box 4 will focus on the preliminary battles to reach the third exam and also more on Orochimaru as his evil plans start to unfold.. Also Shonen Jump Home video trailers for Hikaru no Go, Bleach and One Piece Alabasta arc DVDs. A flip through page of Shonen Jump manga images from both regular Jump and advance series lines as well as the complete monthly Jump too. There are also English credits on an orange background with no music. There are also ten pages of production art: two of Naruto, seven of Konoha members and one of Gaara and Orochimaru. The highlight of the special features is the eight sketches to screen clips from episode 33, where you can see the story boards on the screen and then activate the clip itself to see it in motion.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Volume three opens up with the two part episode the brough season one and two together, but starts the viewer with a recap episode with too much Konohamaru. After the weird beginning we move into Anko beginning the second exam a five day trial of team vs. team to not only survive but to also capture the scroll of their opponent to move on; two scrolls Heaven and Earth unopened are needed to advance to round three.
We finally get to dig into the schematics of the three teams of Konoha as well as a look at the terrifying team from the Village of Sand. This volume really allows the characters to grow, especially Sasuke, who may be allowing his inner demons to become his sole purpose in life. In the beginning of the series we know that Sasuke is intent on avenging his village, but the killer is his brother Itachi who he knows he's too weak to defeat. But now he may have the tools to do so with the fact that one of the three legendary ninjas, Orochimaru, has set his sights on Sasuke to join him.
Disguised as a participant in the competition Orochimaru infiltrates the chunin exam to come face to face with the only other remaining Uchiha and test his ability to find out if it is worth making a claim on him after all. Even with the exceptional ability of Sasuke he is handled controlled by Orochimaru's genjutsu (mind attack) and is almost killed except for his quick thinking to stab himself in the leg to use pain to drive the fear out of his mind, but the terror is still there even though he can move. Orochimaru finds him quickly and mostly toys with him until he summons his snake to finish off the prey that is not fulfilling his expectations, but at the last second Naruto using some Kyubi energy takes down the giant snake and begins to fight Orochimaru even as Sasuke shutters like a scared mouse. Orochimaru is far ahead of Naruto as well and even seals off the Kyubi energy by placing a five fingered curse upon his stomach and tosses the powerless boy aside. This is the normal relationship between Naruto and Sasuke that Naruto's stupid bravery can kick start Sasuke and he does respond but the only thing he manages is a curse of his own, and this one may even kill him.
Word spreads quickly amongst the ANBU (special forces) that the S rank criminal Orochimaru is in Konoha, and Hokage decides that the exam should still go on. Also during the team from the village of the Sand arrives first and at the same time shattering the Chunin exam record time. Obviously the show wants to make sure that the viewers now that the Sand ninjas are extremely strong to set up later battles between Konoha's strong ninjas Sasuke and Naruto.
While Sasuke and Naruto are unconscious because of their extremely taxing battle with Orochimaru the Sound ninjas show up to finish the job for the master. Sakura is left by herself to defend the two, and for the entire series has shown hers to be practically worthless. When the nins attack it is Rock Lee not Sakura to stand up to them, and his unyielding devotion to Sakura gives him the courage to fight for the woman he loves. But, the unique sound ninja abilites soon prove too much for him in a three on one battle, and with his ear drum shattered and vertigo throwing of his balance he is soon defeated leading Sakuar to stand up for herself. This is the first time we get to see any character development in her and when she cuts her hair it is symbolic of her letting go to be like the ones who will fight to the death that she now must protect. This also invigorates her old friend Ino into pulling her team in battle with Skikamaru and Choji. They are not nearly as strong as Rock, Naruto or Sasuke but they do their part in simply slowing down the team long enough for reinforcements to arrive, which they lead the viewer to believe will be Ten Ten and Naji, but instead the curse seal opens on Sasuke's neck and the purple chakra swirls around him till he is covered in weird burn marks and crushing the sound ninjas with ease. Of course, this king of power is hard to control and Sakura worries that Orochimaru will be right that this kind of evil power will lure Sasuke right to him.
The sound ninjas hand Sasuke their scroll to save their lives, which replaces the one the Orochimaru burned just for fun, leaving the team with only one scroll and a few hours left to get a second and to the tower in the center of the forest. Naruto blatent stupidity almost gets them team kicked out of the exam by breaking the rule of never opening sealed documents, but before his trembling hands can finish the unsealing Kaburto quickly grabs it forcing the seal shut. The lone ninja of his team under the ruse of looking for companions to make it to the tower, Kabuto, helps the team devise a plan to capture their missing Heaven scroll. After reaching the tower the team falls into a genjutsu trap to wear themselves out, but Naruto's massive amount of chakra to produce a huge amount of Shadow Clones to combat the imaginary clones attacking them. Naruto did his job of lasting long enough for their opponents to show themselves and then Naruto pops all his clones and passes out leaving the rest to Sasuke, Kabuto and Sakura.
Upon arriving to the tower Kabuto bids farewell and goes off to meet his team and the man really pulling his strings: Orochimaru. It turns out that Kabuto is a double agent working through the tournament to get information which he places on a card about each individual. He is a ninja scout who learns the strengths and weaknesses of the pupils for Orochimaru's interests. On the other side of the wall Iruka meets with Naruto to explain the third phase of the tournament.
But since seven teams survived the second round it left twenty-one individuals left to move on which is about eleven too many. The Hokage asks if anyone would like to drop out at this point; which Kabuto accepts since his work is done but Sasuke ignores the pleas of Sakura to avoid using his power any longer instead he continues into the third round. The remaining twenty will be cut to ten by one-on-one tournament to get into the third round based on random selection from the giant board overhead. The first to go is one of Orochimaru's spies vs. Sasuke and his ability to steal chakra is making things extremely hard for Sasuke without resorting to his new found evil power the Curse Seal. Can Sasuke find a way to balance the curse and holding onto what is left of his soul or will he find the lure of power to kill his brother too overpowering to avoid learning unimaginable power from Orochimaru?
I was happy to see this volume go back to thirteen episodes but with the first episode being a recap set the box off on a slow pace. Yet, with the next twelve episodes being very fast paced the volume quickly found it's stride. The third box introduces the first true villain in Naruto, Orochimaru, who unlike Zabuza has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Orochimaru is intent on luring Sasuke to the side of evil even it means killing him, while Naruto tries hard to be his conscious. One of the most fascinating characters from the volume is Kabuto, a seemingly meek ninja, but an entirely unforeseen agenda. This leads to the question what information has the mysterious Kabuto found out for his master that may make the difference in the up coming struggles? We finally get to see a lot more characters in action allowing us to have a good preview of the abilities the combatants have for the tournament coming up, because what would a shonen series be with having a tournament?
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Production Art,From Sketch to Screen Art
Sony SAVA D9000 Dual Stack DTS w/ 5 Disc Changer in stack 1 and subwoofer in stack 2 Tv is Sony 57" widescreen rear-projection HDTV Model #KPD 57WS550
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B-
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A-
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Viz Media
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2