With an episode title of 'The Worst Three-Legged Race,' what could be bad about this episode?
What They Say:
Team 7 is after a group of thieves who have stolen the precious Golden Statue from the Feudal Lord's sister.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Right from the start of this episode you know you're going to be in for something not altogether good. The episode title alone is a huge clue that you'll want to pass on this week, but what got me was just how off model and unappealing the character designs for Naruto and Sakura looked just in the first minute they're on screen. While we've seen Naruto really looking strong in the last main arc, more mature to be sure, here he looks like he was back in the first series except just wearing a different modified outfit. If it wasn't for that, you could easily place this as being back in that season without skipping a beat.
Naruto goes back to one of the earlier Team 7 missions as Kakaishi leads them after a group of thieves stole a precious Golden Statue and they've got to get it back. You can tell just how early it is because Sakura's all doe eyed and goofy over spending any amount of time with Sasuke while Sasuke and Naruto just bicker regularly. It's actually an appreciated moment because it allows Kakashi to shock all three of them with electricity to get them to focus. There are times when this small part of the cast could do with some dog training electric shock colors on all the time so that they can be broken of some truly bad habits. But that, unfortunately, is what drew a lot of people to the show early on so they could watch the goofy adventures of the orange clad ninja and his friends.
With the focus on closeness, having the episode devolve to a point where Sasuke and Naruto find themselves bonded together through the sticky chakra of their opponent seems appropriate. And sad. Because it leads to really awkward moments where Naruto has to take a leak and it puts Sasuke in a really bad position. That it goes for the gutter humor isn't a surprise, but it still reminds me why I dislike these stories for the most part. With Sakura captured by the villain du jour, it's up to the boys to actually get their act together and work together in order to do what they need to do, which is especially hard as they can't do jutsus because of how their hands are bonded. Not that it stops Naruto from trying everything under the sun and dragging Sasuke along for the ride.
I'm convinced that Naruto fillers are designed to let some of the voice actors that have smaller roles in this season get a paycheck. With Sasuke having been largely excised from the show at times, what better way to keep him involved than to spend weeks doing the same role he did years earlier. This episodes has some awkward production values and an episode title that really says it all with what it's about. Telling the tale of these two working together isn't new as it's been done before, and has been the basis of a large part of the first series that ended in a really bad way, so going back to the story now just doesn't do anything. It's stupid side story goofy material that doesn't add anything but instead just makes their relationship even harder to believe after all the time they spend together. This is an easy pass episode, unless you think it might make all your shipping dreams come true for these two characters.
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.