Everything changes as we say goodbye to the third Hokage, and a new battle begins.
What They Say
In the battle-torn Hidden Leaf Village, the Third Hokage and the Leaf Ninjas make their final stand against Orochimaru and his minions.
In the aftermath of Orochimaru's attack, the village mourns, but the life of a ninja goes on! An eager Naruto departs on a training mission with Jiraiya to find a legendary kunoichi. Meanwhile, two unwelcome visitors arrive in town. Why does this trouble Sasuke? And why are they looking for Naruto?!
I watched all three discs here primarily with the English stereo track, while sampling the Japanese track. I noticed no dropouts or distortions on either track during regular playback, and both tracks are fairly standard fair.The dub, produced for TV but not really toned down a great deal (thus far) is actually thoroughly enjoyable. Some of the performances are really good, with the voice actors for the main kids all coming across very well.
The video is presented full-screen and looks pretty good for the most part, and is on par with the last volume. Colours are vibrant and well reproduced, but there is still some banding and colour bleeding going on, and during high motion scenes things tend to become quite blocky. This is more noticeable on a bigger screen, but it’s not at horrendous levels.
For this release the openings and endings are presented in their original, untouched Japanese kanji form. It’s nice to get this for a TV show aimed at a young audience, but even better is there is a translated credit scroll after each episode. Unfortunately, there are no credit scrolls in English at all, meaning we don’t get any translated voice actor credits or anything. Like most Manga releases, this one comes with standard white subtitles with a black border, and it pleases me to say that they’re a literal translation of the Japanese track.
No packaging was included as this was a check disc.
The menus are really well done and fit the style of the show perfectly. The main menu loops through the characters as they move across the screen before coming up in a group shot, while the selections are static at the bottom of the screen and the opening theme of the edited version plays over the menu. Sub-menus are all in a similar style, some with a bit of movement and music and others static, but they’re all in the same theme and easy to access. I was really impressed with the menus here, especially given a couple of recent Manga series haven’t been the best.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There comes a point with a long series like Naruto that you realise that getting the whole thing in chunks has its disadvantages. For one, the strict breakdown of 13-episode sets doesn’t really align with the show’s story arcs, leaving the first episode on this disc to conclude the arc that’s been going on since before the last set, which isn’t entirely ideal.
Not only that, but watching a long running shonen series like this in big chunks can get repetitive, especially when there are times that the story is spread thin. Thankfully, this set of episodes did manage to avoid that trapping, since once you get past the initial conclusion a whole new plot emerges.
First things first, the opening episode concludes the massive battles spilling over from the last disc, most notably the Hokage against Orochimaru. While both have the advantage at times, it doesn’t end well for Naruto and the gang because while the villain manages to escape with just a bit of drained ability, the Hokage dies in the course of battle.
This sends shockwaves through the Hidden Leaf village, and it’s a sad moment that does evoke some emotion as you watch the characters react. But there’s no rest for our stars as Sasuke’s brother arrives on the scene with a cohort of his own, and works his way into getting what he wants – Naruto. This was interesting as we have heard rumblings of Sasuke’s past before, but never known too much detail. But here, it is all revealed in a flashback and we see exactly what happened between the pair. Sasuke figures out the plan to get to Naruto but it’s all a bit too late, and there is a big showdown between everyone that results in Sasuke being taken out. This after the same thing had happened to Kakashi just a short while earlier.
While it’s not exactly clear what Sasuke’s brother and his organisation, the Akatsuki, want to do with Naruto, they’re clearly interested in his character traits, and don’t care who they’ll have to take out along the way. The story takes a rather bold move as well by sidelining two of its most important characters from this point out to the remainder of the volume; though they are mentioned neither Sasuke or Kakashi are seen again as they remain unconscious. This is slightly disappointing in a way, as both characters tend to have some great scenes, and the Naruto-Sasuke interplay is always missed, yet it does keep things a bit fresh at this stage.
From here, another new arc begins, this time it’s a bit longer though and will spill over onto the next volume and beyond. Naruto undertakes some training with Master Jiraiya, with the end goal being them finding the third of the legendary sannin, Lady Tsunade, who can heal both Sasuke and Kakashi. This is not going to be simple though, and Jiraiya takes the tough approach at first with his training. Naruto continues to show plenty of drive and character as he is desperate to better himself all the time, and also shows some sweet moments of concern for Sasuke’s current predicament. After a lot of work, he eventually masters a new skill and it shows Jiraiya exactly what this young boy is made of.
All is not what it seems though, and the woman with a reputation as a bit of a gambler, Tsunade, is confronted by Orochimaru in a village attack. He too needs healing from his fight with the Hokage, and offers something to her. In exchange for her healing him, he will bring her dead brother and dead lover back to life, but he will also use his repaired hands to destroy the Hidden Leaf Village. Tsunade is torn but clearly considering it, something that her friend seems to see as out of character and a bit troublesome. It’s probably a safe bet that she’ll come through in the end, especially after Jiraiya later announcing she’d been selected by the village as the fifth Hokage, but it does add a bit of tension to the proceedings.
So the story takes some nice twists and turns as it continues, with the end of the first arc providing a bit of a surprise, the next arc setting things up nicely and the Tsunade story giving us a nice change of pace (well, to a degree – we still get a few fights including a funny showdown between Naruto and Tsunade). It’ll be fun to see how things develop from here as the ominous appearances from Orochimaru and Sasuke’s brother do not bode well in the long term, with Tsunade’s wavering conscience causing a problem for now.
Naruto continues in much the same way as before with this volume; if you’ve come this far and enjoyed it then you should enjoy this volume as well. Over 90 episodes in and the show is still managing just enough to feel as fresh as a show like this can be, with some more good moments appearing here. This is certainly not a volume that will change anyone’s preconceptions of the show, but overall it’s a fun volume.
Japanese Language (2.0), English Language (2.0), English Subtitles
Samsung LE40M86 1080p HDTV, Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player (upscaling DVDs to 1080p via HDMI), Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.