It's back to the past again with young Naruto getting into mischief and causing trouble for everyone.
What They Say
Team 7 stops in a town for some rest, where they encounter a man named Tsukado who is out to avenge the death of his relative.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Naruto spends another minute or so in the present continuity for this episode before it delves back into another flashback story to when the main gang was younger, more innocent and cute little darlings. At least that's the kind of image that's often presented in the present as even Sakura has softened her view of things and seemingly looks back at it all with a sense of fondness. Considering the drama and trauma she was often put through, it's not really a surprise that time has done this to those days and that she's looking for some kind of comforts or distractions in the present with what her life has been like. Even more so since the village was so thoroughly destroyed (yet appears to be being rebuilt at breakneck speed to something familiar).
The main focus of this episode is when the group enters a village on their current journey and discover that a man named Tsukado is there who has official permission to carry out a vendetta against someone who killed a relative of his. It's all very matter of fact and fits in well enough with things, but Tsukado is something of the wrong type to carry out this kind of job and has failed repeatedly at it. While everyone is basically ready to move on after hearing the story, Naruto decides to help him out after hearing all that's involved and intends to use his ninja skills to get him going in the right direction so he can become a "vendetta pro."
The story for this has a whole lot of artificial drama that doesn't click and Naruto's involvement feels like it's so forced that it's hard to imagine anyone giving him the time of day in a situation like this. When the big reveal is made about part of what's going on, it only adds to the pointlessness of it all. Even as a story showing us Naruto at a younger age and the things he gets involved in, it lacks any substance to tie it well enough to the present to make it worthwhile. It's just about as bad as a lot of the filler we got in the first series after the main arc finished but before Shippuden started up.
And therein lies the rub in that a lot of this filler doesn't even feel like it's up to the kind of "quality" we got with that large run of filler. As problematic as some of those stories may have been, they often at least ran a few episodes and spent some time telling an involved story with new characters and settings. These smaller standalone stories with some mild bookends at times to what's going on in the present doesn't reach even that level most of the time. All I keep coming back to is remembering this version of Naruto is why I had such a struggle watching the first series. The fact that this episode just brings out more of it and even includes an ostrich just makes me shake my head and wait patiently for things to get back on track as I know they will. I can see why people would enjoy this episode if they liked it when Naruto was starting out, but these episodes are like hitting my head against a wall for awhile.
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.