Naruto takes another turn into the afterschool special realm with the Eternal Genin.
What They Say:
Naruto is assigned to a team led by jonin Hayama to patrol the north border of the Leaf Village. One of his teammates is Kosuke, an old man who has been a genin for over fifty years, earning him the title 'Eternal Genin.'
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Naruto's filler run has had its moments here and there, which isn't saying a lot overall, but the quality has certainly ranged from the worst filler ever to barely passable inventory story material. With the latest episode, it's got afterschool special material written all over it as Naruto finds himself assigned to a C-rank mission under captain Hayama where they basically get to do some patrol duty, but it's not something to overlook. An important part of the village is making sure that things are safe and that definitely means securing the borders. What makes it so predictable from the start is that the group has a genin assigned to the group named Kosuke who has been at this rank for the majority of his life and is well over fifty years old at this point.
Suffice to say, he's going to clash with Naruto. Naruto's loud and out there style is going to be the polar opposite of the very patient and calm Kosuke so it's little surprise that the two end up working together a lot on this mission. Whether it's patrolling or catching food for the campfire dinner, they're very lightly grating against each other, though it's more that Naruto can't stand it since Kosuke has seen it all before and knows exactly what kind of person Naruto is. Even more so since he's been around for so long and knows some of the truths about the past since he lived through it. Kosuke's not a bad character, but his arc is pretty plain from the start since he's been in this position for so long and has his issues, but also has a bit of acceptance about the whole thing.
Naturally, there's an incursion to be had at that specific point of the border and the episode goes into action mode. Surprisingly, the opening credits don't hit until about five minutes in so they do all the setup and roll the opening and then shift into the action pretty much right after that. That gives over the bulk of the episode to the action itself and that works rather well since it's less filled with character stupidity and other actions. There's a good bit given over to the past for Kosuke with what he's had to deal with in achieving the next level, the things that held him back, so he has to face that and in the end gain inspiration from Naruto with his very forward manner. Kosuke's story may be obvious as is his arc, but with it focusing mostly on action and less on Naruto, it works rather well.
As filler episodes go, even for an afterschool special kind of approach, it could have been a lot worse. In fact, the episode probably would have been more enjoyable if Naruto himself wasn't in it and they just focused on the eternal genin himself and his challenges. They do tie things to Naruto's heritage a bit with his father to give it some relevance but it's almost a throwaway piece in the end. There's not much in the way of depth or intensity here, but the fight sequences are nicely choreographed and the episode knows to focus on the action and just roll with it. In that regards, Naruto works well here but it is overall an unmemorable episode by the next week or two if that. Unlike that damned ostrich episode which is burned into my mind forever.
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.