Mania Grade: B
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: B+
- Menus Rating: B
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 13 and Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Viz Media
- MSRP: 24.92
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Naruto
Naruto Shippuden Vol. #08
Naruto: Shippuden Vol. #08 DVD Review
By Chris Beveridge
April 28, 2010
Release Date: April 06, 2010
It’s a period of rest and recovery for the gang as they figure out how to prepare for their next mission.
The bilingual presentation for Naruto continues to be a solid affair as the two stereo tracks are encoded at 256kbps. The series is fairly standard television fare but it handles itself well and there’s a bit of an extra oomph to it at times with the generally full sounding mix. There are moments of good directionality but by and large it’s nothing all that exceptional. The best moments continue to really be the opening and closing sequences with the music but that’s also somewhat normal. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of the Japanese track or from spot checking the English track.
Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for these TV episodes is presented in their original full frame aspect ratio. The production values for the series continue to be quite good and the authoring side of the release brings a lot of that to light. Naruto has a lot of movement at times and it maintains a very strong look with no motion artifacts or break-up in general. Throughout the four episodes that are on this disc, there aren’t any real issues to be found at all. There are a few moments of some mild aliasing during a panning sequence and a bit of noise in some of the darker scenes here and there, but by and large this is a very solid looking release that covers a good range of settings without any discernable issues. Colors are nicely solid, bitrates are healthy with a number of good peaks and everything just feels very appealing. Fans of the show are likely to love how this looks.
Similar to previous installments, the cover artwork features a black and white piece of character art featuring the newest Leaf Ninja to arrive in the series looking fairly serious here with his scroll flowing out in front of him. The black and white nature of it really does change the appearance of it all in comparison to the previous kind of singles which were mostly shots from the show with vibrant colors. There’s a lot of color here, with a red original logo on the right side and the US logo along the top brings in reds, oranges, blues and even some pink. It’s an eye-catching and busy cover that stands out because of the disparity. The back cover is kept to white with some gray background circles to give it a bit more accent. A few shots from the show are included that are decent and the summary covers a fair amount of ground with what’s going on here. The episodes are listed clearly by name and number while the rest is given over to production credits. As is usual, Viz wants nothing to do with a technical grid that would make it easy to break down what’s here, so you have to find the basic stats within the various areas of text. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reverse side cover.
The menu for this release is pretty decent and stands out more than most other companies at this point in time. There’s a black cloud like border around the screen with a static image of Gaara and Naruto sitting near each other while the background has animation from the film playing through it as various weapons fly by. It’s really nicely creative to fit in with the show overall and it does highlight some care and creativity. The music is spot on for something uplifting and energetic. Menu navigation is straightforward with a strip along the bottom and episode navigation isn’t bad as you can access the parts of each episode from one submenu. Everything loads quickly but the disc doesn’t read our players’ language presets as it defaults to English with no subtitles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first arc now over, thirty episodes in, the inescapable conclusion I come to is that the arc was a huge win for Sakura. No other character has made out as good as her during it by displaying their abilities and composure under difficult circumstances which also highlights the growth of the character since Naruto went on his two year journey to discover his abilities. While Naruto has grown some, he’s certainly not changed visibly as much as Sakura has. Her return to the Leaf Village here later and her time at Gaara’s village paint her as the real successor to the Hokage in the future who will lead well.
The first half of the disc revolves around the epilogue of the battle with the first two Akatsuki that have been encountered. While there’s a small nod to the other Akatsuki out there that come by to search for a particular ring, the focus is on the aftermath of the event. Chiyo has done all she can to save Gaara but at the price that costs dearly, a price that Naruto is surprised about even after he lends her a lot of his chakra in order to save his friend. Chiyo has been an interesting character from the start and she served this arc well. Gaara’s return to the land of the living is fairly understated, as expected, but there are a couple of good moments for him including when he actually offers his hand to Naruto in thanks for all that he’s done. The return to the Village of Sand is particularly poignant, both with bringing Chiyo home and her final resting place where Sakura feels an important connection.
The second half of the disc is a bit more quiet and reflective overall as the two teams make their way back home and get Kakashi taken care of since he’s so out of it. Of course, that’s made worse because Guy is bringing him back and racing with him on his back for the whole thing. Kakashi is out of it for another week so he can recover and that puts the pressure on as a new group must be formed to deal with the next issue. With Sakura having learned of a potential target that may be a trap as well, she wants to head to the Tenchi bridge in six days to acquire the spy that the Akatsuki have planted in Orochimaru’s group so they can get some very valuable data on what’s going on. There’s a lot of politicking going on here as Tsunade wants Naruto to go for various reasons while her advisors are flatly against it.
What is about to add a new dimension to everything is the apparent introduction of a group called the Foundation. This is apparently an older group that was disbanded whose main leader, a man named Danzo, caused a lot of trouble for the Third Hokage with his view on how the village should be run and the operational structure of everything. Danzo has an interest in the new group that’s forming and pushes, quietly, for one of his own to be included and he’s certainly an interesting one with his ability to create paper images into reality as we see during an encounter he has with Naruto where he pushes him to see what he’s like. Tsunade isn’t keen on this but has to accept while making sure she gets her own Black Ops member to be the final member of the team to watch everyone else. The setup is all here for the next arc before Naruto heads out of the village again, something Tsunade wants in order to keep him from being any one place too long.
As an epilogue for the first story arc and a setup for the next, the four episodes here are pretty good. We get to see the position that Sakura now commands with Tsunade while also seeing just what kind of pressures that Tsunade is under. Naruto’s still the same as always in the end, especially when he’s forced to work with other people, so the new group that’s forming will definitely be difficult and complicated. The quiet nature of these episodes is rather welcome after how things have been but it looks like it won’t last long, which is also a good thing as Naruto thrives on excitement and adventure. There’s a lot of groundwork laid down in these first thirty episodes that hopefully has some eventual payoff.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.