Naruto Box Set 06 (also w/special edition) (Mania.com)

By:Justin Rich
Review Date: Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2008



What They Say
Sasuke returns at last to face Gaara in the final round of the Chunin Exam with his powerful new jutsu, Chidori. But the match is interrupted when Orochimaru's scheme to bring down the Hidden Leaf Village is put into motion. While the Third Hokage faces his former protege Orochimaru and his dreadful forbidden jutsu, Sasuke takes off after Gaara and the Sand Ninja, and Naruto, Sakura, and Shikamaru take off after Sasuke! Will the Ninja of the Hidden Leaf survive the evil that has befallen them?

The Review!
Orochimaru and his Sand allies are trying to destroy Konoha, but can the ninjas of the hidden leaf save the village but what casualties will come from this unforeseen invasion?

Audio:
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 78 Naruto's Ninja Handbook.

Video:
This group of episodes aired in January of 2004 into the beginning of April of 2004 and the transfer is pretty clean. The background of the open field during the Gaara/Naruto fight shows up beautifully rich and makes some of the best appearance on screen in the first 78 episodes. The flashbacks come out with an old television feeling with the constant "snowy" black, white and gray dots. There are some really bad animation sequences early in the Naruto/Gaara fight were the animation drop if highly noticeable, especially during the beginning of the fight before the full transformation.

Packaging:
This 13 episode box comes in a flimsy, metallic 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 backing on light red paint just like in Volume 1 with volume 6 inside a orange chakra mark from Naruto's palm. The box is red with Gaara stairing straight ahead on the cover.. The fold out box has a single picture of Sasuke on disc 1, Orochimaru on disc 2, and Shikamaru on disc 3 within the box containing the original R2 cover art from second stage volumes 9-12. The box is also large enough to hold the storyboard book of episode 66 without crushing either the book or the DVD foldout. The LE box also comes with the first of six "summoning figurines" with this volume containing the Pakkun.

Menu:
Each of the three discs have their own menu and particular piece of background music. Disc 1 is blue with with a picture of Sasuke with Kunai out, while disc 2 is purple with a picture of Orochimaru with his sword brandished and snakes coming out of his mouth, and finally disc 3 is green with Shikamaru with weapons out ready for action. Viz for the second straight box went with the moving screen shots within a rolled out scroll much like the menu system that Viz used during the Inu Yasha release. The menu responds extremely quickly with the curser being a throwing star.

Extras:
There is a five minute trailer for box 7 will focus on the three legendary Senin. Also Shonen Jump Home video trailers for Hikaru no Go, Bleach, Prince of Tennis box sets and Death Note. 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: starting with Naruto, a pair of Jiraiya pics, Gamabunta,Neji, Temari, Sand General, Kabito in ANBU outfit, Shikamaru and finally Rock leaning on his crutch . The highlight of the special features is the eight sketches to screen clips from episode 78, 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)
The series picks up after the clear filler of time to stretch the build up of the Sasuke/Gaara match a little longer. We can clearly see the increase in Sasuke's ninjutsu abilities as well as speed and that he is on par with the already known power of Gaara as the match quickly progresses into them going to their bigger guns. Gaara withdraws into a giant sand orb to perform a ninjutsu that leaves his own siblings terrified and ready to flee, while Sasuke takes the opportunity to charge up his arm for a powerful blast of Chidori which astonishes the entire Konaha village.

As Sasuke penetrates the unbreakable defense and pierces Gaara's left shoulder he causes a psychological break as Gaara sees his own blood, which allows the audience to see how fragile the psyche of the character really is brought on by the horrible insomnia he is forced to endure. But as the fight is about to get even more heated the Sand and Sound ninjas attack Konaha breaking through the walls with summoned snakes while Kabuto forces most of the crowd to sleep with genjutsu.

This allows us to see Sakura for her one flash of usefulness, which happens very rarely throughout the series, as she breaks the genjutsu and aids Kakashi and Guy wake up the others like Naruto who fell victim to it. While all the fight ensues, Gaara and Sasuke take off, which forces Kakashi to summon his dogs to lead the small team of Shikimaru, Naruto and Sakura to track down Sasuke.

The pursuit of Gaara by Sasuke does show us how much the character had progressed during his time with Kakashi by the means in which he handles Temari as she tries to slow him down to allow Gaara to escape. But, there is a wonderful gap between the characters as well by the break out of the fight between Orochimaru and the Third Hokage. Even as far as Sasuke grew this fight, which is still going on into box seven, is on a whole other level.

We get to look at both the pasts of Gaara in his sad, tortured flashback episode before he begins to fight with Naruto and we get to see the very twisted past of Orochimaru. Both the rivals have amazing talent for battle but they drive their goals from different purposes. Gaara comes from background of being used as tool imbedded with the one tail demon to be used by the village of the sand, while Orochimaru followed his own path so that he could learn all the ninjutsus he could so that he gain unquestionable power.

The fight between Orochimaru and the Third who get to battle within a force field generated by four of Orochimaru's sand ninjas, and the battle is one of the best in the entire series with Orochimaru and the Third battle step for step and blow for blow. Orochimaru even goes far enough to summon the first and second hakoge from their graves to do battle for him, while the Third uses high level summoning ninjutsus and a forbidden technique only known by the fourth to bind his arms.

While the fight is going on back in Konoha, Sasuke catches up to Gaara only to get beat down rather quickly and show that he has not reached the level he has wanted. Gaara goes for a final blow when Naruto lands a kick to his head just in time to save Sasuke, who argues but is overcome by exhaustion. During this encounter Naruto shows how far he has come and in one of the few occasions gets to be the hero he wants to be but using a massive kage bunshin he pummels Gaara. Gaara's siblings look on in shock as the "loser" is beating up the unbeatable defense, but Gaara turns up his ablities by releasing the Shiki, his one tail making himself huge was drastically more power and is about to crush Naruto with his sand coffin ninjutsu when Naruto bursts through the sand standing upon the head of Gammabunta. Sasuke looks on with a face of complete defeat not that Gaara had been so tough for him but that at this point in their training Naruto was clearly ahead of the genius Sasuke.

The two battles carry over to box seven which should really change the face of konoha. Who will live and who will not survive the life and death struggles they are currently tied in. Can Naruto with the help of his summoned Boss Frog take down the One-Tailed demon, and can the Third successfully protect konoha from the onslaught of Orochimaru?

In Summary:
So far this has been the best of the six boxsets with nonstop action from the first to the end of the last episode. When there isn't massive battles between the characters there is fantastic flashbacks episodes with a ton of legitimate emotion as we look at the horrible childhood of Gaara that causes him to be the killing machine that he is today. We get to see Naruto finally start to step into the roll of hero for a change and we get to see Sasuke fall shy of his goals. This box has a lot to offer for any anime fan and ends on a note that leaves you ready for box seven.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Storyboard Booklet for Episode 66, Production Art, Storyboard Comparison for Episode 78

Review Equipment
Sony SAVA D9000 Dual Stack DTS w/ 5 Disc Changer in stack 1 and subwoofer in stack 2 via Monster optical cable. Tv is Sony 55" SXRD Grand Wega 1080p widescreen rear-projection HDTV, Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player via HDMI cable.



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
MSRP: 49.98/69.98
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Naruto