Naruto: Shippuden Box Set 02 (also w/LE) - Mania.com



DVD Review

Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • 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
  • MSRP: 49.95/69.9
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Naruto

Naruto: Shippuden Box Set 02 (also w/LE)

Naruto: Shippuden Box Set 02 DVD Review

By Bryce Coulter     June 04, 2010
Release Date: April 20, 2010


Naruto: Shippuden Box Set 02 (also w/LE)
© Viz Media

Sakura fans, your gonna love this one...

What They Say

Team Kakashi is joined by Team Guy in their pursuit of Gaara's kidnappers, Deidara and Sasori, but their way to the Akatsuki hideout is fraught with familiar enemies and deadly traps. Once inside, Sakura and Granny Chiyo must take on Chiyo's own grandson, the puppet master Sasori, whose complex tricks and genius puppetry demand every last ounce of Chiyo's and Sakura's strength and skill to counter. Meanwhile, Naruto and Kakashi take off after Deidara, who is once again on the run with Gaara in tow...
 
Contains episodes 14-26.

The Review!

Audio:
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.  
 
Video:
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.
 
Packaging
Following the previous collection’s design, the design for this has a very striking, edgy, and grown up feel.  The slip cover features a black background with white and grey text.  Deidara is featured on the front with his chakra/clay eating hand.  Deidara’s black kimono blends into the sinister looking black background. The dark color scheme fits this collection very well as the theme for this collection is every bit, but dark.   Overall, this is a very eye catching design that is welcome change for the new series.  The logo for the series is featured on the lower right-hand corner.  
 
The back side of the slip cover continues with the grey text and features a short description of the collection.  The technical are 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 Kakashi and his pack of eight ninja dogs.  Disc 2 features Sasori in his human form alongside his puppet armor, Hiruko.  The final disc depicts Sakura and Granny Chiyo.  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.
 
Menu
The menu for this release is very eye catching and is on par with what one would see with the Bleach collections.  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 character(s) featured on the disc’s front cover.  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.  
 
Extras:  
The extras worth noting in this collection are found on the third disc.  These extras include an interactive quiz show with the voice actors.  Nothing real memorable here, but it is a fun way to check your Naruto Shippuden knowledge.  Answering the questions correctly or incorrectly will give you some humorous interactions from the voice acting staff. 
 
Also included on the third disc is a collection of production art images along with a multimedia chart for understanding the Team Guy 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 what each team member thinks of each other.  Rounding out the extras list is the English Credits for the series.
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).  
When we last left our favorite ninjas from the Hidden Leaf Village, they were all but stopped by clones of Itachi and Kisame.  This stalls both teams long enough for the Akatsuki to extract the Jinchuuriki from within Gara.  We soon learn that this process kills the host and thus the fate of Gara is all but hopeless.
 
The premise for this story arc felt like it was on a pretty good pace in the last collection.  However, like many shonen series, this collection of episodes crawls along.  At the same time, there is plenty of fighting.  Within those fights, we learn more about Akatsuki’s plans, but we don’t learn much about each of the individual members.  The ceremony in which they use to extract the One Tail from Gara reveals the silhouette of each of the Akatsuki members.  There is even an empty spot on the platform, which is obviously a nod to Orochimaru who is no longer part of the organization. There is some hierarchy to the Akatsuki; there appears to be a leader who calls the shots.  Who this guy is and the true motives of the Akatsuki are as clear as their dark, fuzzy silhouettes.  The one thing that is evident is that they plan to use Jinchuuriki to wage war.  
 
By the time Team Guy and Team Kakashi make their way to the cave where Gara has been taken, it is too late.  The Akatsuki have cleared the area, leaving Sasori and Deidara to deal with the intruders.  Gaining entrance to the cave is not easy.  Team Guy sprung a trap when they released the scrolls that sealed the cave.  Now, each member of Team Guy must now fight a clone of themselves.  
 
Meanwhile, Deidara, quickly exits the premise with Gara’s body.  At this point Naruto is just about ready to sprout a tail. Naruto’s anger and rage is all but unchecked as Kakashi desperately tries to keep him under control.  His anger, at times, is almost beyond ridiculous and is borderline annoying. It is almost akin to the younger Naruto annoyances of wanting to be Hokage and thinking he can take on anyone.  Deidara exploits this by taking Gara’s body, leading Naruto on a chase.  Kakashi has to manage damage control as he attempts to assess the situation, keep Naruto from demon foxing, and stop Deidara.  You gotta love Kakashi.  He is one of the strongest characters of the series.  How he will pull this off while stopping Naruto and Deidara is anyone’s guess.
 
The major theme for this collection really centers on the fight that takes place between Sasori, Sakura, and Chiyo.  This confrontation was slowly revealed at the end of the last collection, and is further elaborated in this collection.  We learn that Sasori is the grandson of Chiyo.  If you thought Orochimaru was a twisted character, you haven’t met this interesting individual.  Sasori is definitely more than meets the eye, and this guy is rotten all the way to ‘whatever that core is’ in which his soul now resides.  
 
Like I mentioned earlier, Sakura fans are gonna loves this.  The once timid girl is now a full-fledged fighting machine along with proven medical skills.  Under Tsunade’s tutelage, Sakura can unleash a punishment like no other.  Chiyo is taken back by her skills and comes to the realization that Sakura is the product of her rival.  Sakura’s skills alone are not going to be enough to get past the puppet mastery of Sasori.  Chiyo, like her grandson, is a master of puppets.  Under Sakura’s recommendation, they use her skill and knowledge of Sasori by turning Sakura into a living puppet.  Chiyo uses her chakra to direct Sakura’s actions.  Sakura’s power and Chiy’so puppet mastery prove to be quite a challenge for Sasori as they are able to react and counterattack his best attacks.  
 
The episodes do a pretty good job of keeping you abreast of each of the teams.  The plot oscillates from Team Guy, to Naurto and Kakashi, and then to Chiyo and Sakura.  Sometimes, I found myself wishing that the fighting would just get over with.  They seemed to drag on a bit too much.  
 
As with any good collection of episodes, you need a cliffhanger that makes the viewer chomp at the bit for the next collection.  These episodes accomplish that in spades as the fight between Sasori, Sakura, and Chiyo comes to a head.  The fighting has come to the point where there will definitely be no return for several is not all those involved.  It’s that intense and is probably one the best Naurto fights up to this point.  All the ongoing battles have yet to be resolved, and who knows what the ending will be.  To be continued…!
 
Summary
Sakura fans rejoice, as Billboard Brow, can now unleash a can like her mentor, Lady Tsunade.  Fights aplenty, this collection oscillates from fight to fight as Team Guy and Team Kakashi attempt to stop the Akatsuki’s plans.  Like any shonen series, you are going to get lots of monologue between the fights.  This collection of episodes is no exception as the fights feel like they drag on in order to tell the backstory of Sasori.  A twisted character nonetheless, Sasori is more than meets the eye and is one nasty dude.  The annoying character traits of Naruto himself can be a bit trying at times even though he is not the primary focus of this collection.  The fight between Sasori, Chiyo, and Sakura is tipping on the edge as all three are skirting on the edges of death.  I am sure that there we be a few more twists before all of the puppet fall to pieces.   
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Voice Actor Featurette: Sand vs. Leaf - Shippuden Quiz Show, Interactive Character Relations Chart:  Team Guy, Production Art

Review Equipment

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

 

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