Would it be wrong to do a dance of joy that the Naruto Shippuden fillers seem to be ending?
What They Say:
Sasuke's jealousy of Naruto's tremendous growth in strength causes friction between the two. Tsunade decides to give them some time apart by assigning them separate missions.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One of the staples of the Naruto world is that of the rivalry between Naruto and Sasuke. It's there from the start as the two are so alike that they rub each other wrong and it goes further because of the way that Naruto does idolize him in a way and spends much of his youth trying to catch up to Sasuke. Sasuke for his part has his own goals in life, which we obviously know more of now, but back at that point the two grated against each other constantly and really put a strain on others around them. Enough so that we have a story here that uses that kind of lead in where the two are split apart for a mission so they can cool down some.
The focus is on having Naruto and Sakura escort Lady Naho, an obnoxious little girl, to a village for an inspection. Unfortunately, she's completely upset that she's being assigned Naruto and Sakura as she wants Sasuke since she's got the little girl kind of crush on him. Naturally, that's something that just eats at Naruto since even though he continues to try and catch up to him, he doesn't like admitting there are ways he's better or has actual fans. Sakura's solution is an amusing one as it has Naruto doing an illusion jutsu to make himself look like Sasuke so they can actually carry out the mission.
Running parallel to this story is one where Kakashi and the real Sasuke investigate an apparent abduction plot and discover that it involves the village Shizume that Naruto is going to and that the young Lady Naho is the object of it. It's easy to see how everything will eventually tie together, so it's the characters that have to make or break the episode. It is amusing at times as Naruto overplays his Sasuke side in throwing named punches and the like and using the various jutsu's that he normally uses rather than what Sasuke does. The episode does spend enough time on the serious side to balance things out and it actually works pretty well as a standalone episode, though the same problems are still here with the terrible action/tension music and having the young Naruto personality.
Considering how bad the filler episodes can be, this one is definitely one of the much better ones in how it tells a self contained story with enough detail and tension to it to actually work. Though the bad guys are pretty much bland and not worth getting to know, the action has a smooth flow to it and the blend of comedy and seriousness works rather well. It's a good chance for Sasuke to look cool and work while also showing some of the tensions that he and Naruto had back at this time. The real reason to thoroughly enjoy this episode however is the fact that it's the last of the filler run for now as it shifts back into the main present time storyline once again. Though it's just a tiny moment at the end, the next episode preview says what we need to know and rekindles hope for seeing Shippuden and not Naruto.
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.