Talking cats. Seriously?
What They Say:
Granny Cat requests that Sasuke and Team 7 collect the last cat paw print necessary to complete the 'Paw Encyclopedia.'
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The world of Naruto has a whole lot of variety to it and we've seen the summoned creatures that are fairly interesting over time, such as the frog style ones. Naruto gives us another flashback story to Naruto's younger days that deals with cats. Or more specifically, a nekomata reflecting on a long passed experience with Naruto when he was teamed up with Sasuke and Sakura who plainly still dislike him. The mission has the gang heading off to see 'Granny Cat' in order to start the mission that she's requested which has them collecting the last cat paw print for an encyclopedia that she's been putting together which originally belonged to Sasuke and his brother.
That almost sounds wrong considering most of what we've seen between the brothers relationship is filled with anger and violence. Going back to when they were younger and hunting up cats in order to gain paw prints from them shows them having fun together and filled with lots of smiles from them as they go about the basics of it. It's amusing that they went from alley cats to mountain lions and more over time to something even more difficult in the last remaining one, the Nekomata of the underworld, a cat ninja. And you know, I was fine with the episode until it got to that point. A cute tale of finishing out a mission of sorts from the brother's past could be a nice way of humanizing both a bit more and showing some of Sasuke's angst in the present of this time period. But the cat ninjas really kills it for me.
The episode spends a fair bit of time on the supernatural-ish action as the trio eventually starts their hunt of the Nekomata within the tower that he resides. This means some actually decent action pieces, particularly with Sasuke, as they do their best to get close. It's all thrown off a bit by the intentional comedy of having them all wear cat ears themselves. Aww, look, Sasuke in cat ears. It's a fanfic writers dream. And that unfortunately is the feeling that you get from a lot of this. It's a big fanfic piece that's better animated than it should be for the action sequences. While it can fit into the overall narrative of the series, it does nothing to actually help make it better.
Episodes like this sort of leave me speechless. There's an unwelcome concept here, though it's been used before it's one I don't care for, with the ninja cats and all that comes with it. Naruto has always had its goofy elements so I tend to overlook them because we do get some very strong stories at times that run for awhile. While this episode doesn't range anywhere near the ostrich episode we had recently, especially since this has some rather good fight sequences to it, it's the kind of episode that non-fans will cite as why Naruto sucks. Cat ninjas. Simple as that. And even fans of Naruto will cite it as a low point to be sure.
Japanese 20 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.