With more material filing in the past, it becomes a wonder that any of these characters actually have time to sleep and eat.
What They Say:
Naruto visits Sakura, who is caring for Tsunade. Sakura recalls an incident that took place three years before, in which she collapsed from symptoms that resembled a disease caused by a mysterious virus.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tiny, tiny, tiny progress is made in the present as there is a brief focus on Sakura's care of Tsunade, but that's just a very minor set piece made in order to go back to the past once again. This time it's an incident three year prior when Tsunade was the Hokage and Sakura was doing her initial training under Tsunade to become like her and excel at the healing arts. It was a change for Sakura that at the time I really liked and it made her re-introduction into the Shippuden world really nicely done since she gained some skills and confidence in herself, making her more her own character that one tied puppy-dog like to Saskuke. So going back to when she was just getting into all of it isn't a bad thing since it doesn't take us back to when she was much younger and more shrill.
Unfortunately, the story for this is just a bad parody of sorts of innumerable live action movies and TV series out there. The show focuses on a viral outbreak in the leaf village that could disable so many of its citizens which in turn would make the entire village susceptible to a crushing blow of an attack from its various enemies. Naruto gets attacked by a group of people wearing hazmat suits and Sakura finds herself falling to the virus itself which has Tsunade working desperately to try and figure it all out. Things get so bad so fast that the whole village itself seems like it's emptied overnight, which leaves Naruto wandering around looking for Sakura.
Where the episode lost me completely, and I mean to the point where I was ready to close the window, was when a laser sighting tagged Naruto on the forehead. I know the show plays a bit loose with technology at times, but this just pushes the whole thing outside of what I want to see out of it. With this taking on the basic overall ideas of the Outbreak movie and all sorts of other things from that genre, it's not looking like a Naruto episode but a cross between one and things that don't belong. The ninja elements are pretty standard and you know that this has no long term effect, but the mixture of it with the virus and the hazmats, laser sightings and more really just pushed me away from it, even for a filler. Some of the past ones haven't been bad, but this one made me cringe.
This round of fillers has been a mixed bag. While I still feel that some downtime and side stories are important to have after such a big arc, these have been detrimental to Naruto's progress as it reminds us of just how childish he was for so very long. The episode is worse as it plays up things that I just don't find fitting well within the context of the series. It's a moment where it goes beyond what its borders and limits were and while it's touched on similar aspects before, it still doesn't feel right. It's the kind of episode where you wish it had more impact back in the day than it did. But with it being essentially self contained and with no impact on anything, it's simply unenjoyable overall. It's too reminiscent of the really long bad run of fillers we had in the first series.
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.