The focus turns to Shikmaru as we see a story from the past that shows just how overly confident and self assured a guy he can be. Enough so that you want to smack him.
What They Say:
Team 7 and Team 10 are assigned to help a village that is troubled by bandits.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Naruto extends its filler run with another episode that deals with a Team 7 story from the past wherein they have a very simple thing to work on. Watching these filler the couple of months has been an interesting experience compared to the filler run on the original. With that series, I saw all over it in batch of 12-13 episodes on DVD and watched each of those sets over the course of a day. So the inanity of the fillers really overwhelmed. Here, watching it for a 20 minute block of time every week, it doesn't feel as bad. It's not good, mind you, but the material doesn't exactly beat you over the head repeatedly for hours at a time with how inane it is. Small doses, friends, small doses. But as one commenter said, I really am just waiting for a bake sale episode to show up.
The story for this episode gives us a good range of characters from their younger years under Kakashi's tutelage as they're sent to some village that's suffering like other villages do seemingly every week in that they're being accosted by bandits and it's becoming really troublesome. So much so that they've requested help from the Hidden Leaf village. The team heads there to help and learns of the troubles facing them from the village elder, who has as a friend an ex-bandit that has provided invaluable information on how bandits operate. You can sense trouble from the guy right from the start though and even the elders that are in the group seem to take him at less than face value. As we get a feel for the bandits, you have to laugh at just how overly elaborate their secret hidden underground base is as it's the kind that could house the entire village comfortably and give them quite the life.
With Shikamaru as the main focus of this episode, initially talking up his master strategy ability for someone young of age, it's no surprise that there's a few twists and turns in how the showdown goes with the bandits. They have the foreknowledge of his being involved to plans are set to deal with him first and then with the rest of the team. It's kind of an all around awkward setup and execution as we see Shikimaru taking things on alone while getting everyone else to step back for a bit so his plan can execute. I typically like Shikimaru as a character but this very self centered approach to things for his plan, which of course does work because he's a genius, comes across as a bit off-putting overall. The whole story feels oddly structure and paced in a way that doesn't flow well. It's a fairly big event that's happening but it lacks the charisma to pull it off.
On the plus side, Naruto is hardly in this so we don't get a lot of whiny and easily excited Naruto moments. That alone makes it worthwhile since L'il Naruto continues to be one of the many banes of my existence. The focus on Shikimaru has potential as I do like the group he's tied to, but it's mostly all about Shikimaru himself. The whole story is so large in scope with the bandits and the base that they have that the actual events of just raiding a small village unfolds in a way that leaves you shaking your head. Nothing here comes together terribly well and even Shikimaru comes off as a smug little overconfident jerk a lot of the time where everyone simply needs to let him do his thing because he's just that good. Thankfully, he's less like that in the present timeline but watching this version of him can be painful.
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.