Review

by Carl Kimlinger, Dec 15th 2009

Naruto Shippūden

DVD 1

Synopsis:
Naruto Shippūden DVD 1
There, in the forest, quietly approaching Konoha Village...is it a bird, a plane? No, it's Naruto Uzumaki, newly returned from two years in training! Two years under the tutelage of legendary ninja Jiraiya have strengthened the mischievous young ninja, but he soon finds that his friends back home, specifically Sakura, haven't exactly been sitting on their butts either. As a test of his and Sakura's newfound abilities, the two ninja are told to face off against their old teacher Kakashi. The resultant melee proves beyond a doubt that both are ready to move on to bigger and better things. Elsewhere, two members of Akatsuki—the organization that once tried kidnapping Naruto—pay a visit to new Kazekage Gaara, with predictably violent results.
Review:

When plans for Naruto Shippūden were announced, Naruto fans the world over wept with joy. Or at least relief. The last leg of the first Naruto series was perhaps the most infamous stretch of filler ever, a soul-crushing procession of lame ninja missions that could not have been worse had it been designed specifically to kill the ardor of the devoted. The dismay of fans as the filler stretched ever further, first twenty then forty then eighty episodes, was devastating. The onset of Shippūden and its promise of canon goodness acted upon the disapponted as sight of a ship on starving castaways. That the ship turned out to be a chugging freighter rather than a sleek ocean liner hardly mattered.

Of course, once the prospect of spending money on DVDs rears its ugly head, it starts to matter rather more. As well it should. Naruto may have escaped the filler mire, but it did not do so unscathed. It comes out the other side moving in slow motion, as if afraid that a reasonable pace will chew through Masashi Kishimoto's manga too quickly, leaving it no recourse but to re-enter the mire. These four episodes include exactly one important event: the opening gambit in the Akatsuki's newest plan. The rest is an epic waste of a perfect chance for revivication as the series draws out a demonstration of Nar>uto and Sakura's newfound powers to excruciating lengths, dwells interminably on the pointless reflections of a variety of characters, and fiddles around with equally pointless flashbacks. It's certainly nice to see Gaara back in action and as bad as ever, but even his battle is less a thrill ride than a test of patience (and it's only beginning).

Shippūden also exited the mire with its sense of humor severely impacted, though that is less the fault of the mire than of the deadly serious turn that the series took previous to it. Regardless of ultimate cause though, the result is the same: a series with a neutered fun factor. After a few decent opening gags, the show exudes gloom. Even when it shoots for light, it somehow unerringly hits heavy. Coupled with the creeping pace, the absence of the show's trademark off-color humor renders these four episodes positively dreary. Compared to the mixture of belly-laughing silliness and ninja intensity Naruto sported at its peak, this is a poor showing, particularly for a series that purports to be a return to that peak.

Even the skills of director Hayato Date and his Studio Pierrot cohorts are dampened by the lumbering beast that the series seems to have become. Though their eye for cool is as instinctive as ever and their well-timed bursts of CG showboating and canny editing are in full evidence, none of that can work at full potential when the fights are so drawn out and tiresomely intercut that they lose all tension and forward motion. The visuals lack that spark, that energy that gives even budget-animated series a sense of quality. The show looks good, and Nar>uto's new threads are pretty neat, but it somehow feels cheaper, or at least lazier, than before.

One guy who isn't getting lazy is Yasuharu Takanashi. And no wonder; he was brought on to replace the estimable Toshio Masuda, so he didn't make the final slog. And perhaps as a result (but probably not) his odd but appropriate mix of baroque organs and straight-up guitar rock can stand tall even next to Masuda's excellent score. It is largely thanks to it (and, to an extent, Date and the remnants of his action timing) that the Gaara fight attains its handful of "hey, cool!" moments.

Another group of folks unfazed by the filler torture they just endured is the English cast. If anything they seem rejuvenated. The dub they turn out is enthusiastic, elastic and yet wholly accurate and remarkably respectful. Maile Flanagan deepens her register but otherwise keeps Nar>uto sounding spunky and good natured, and the rest of the cast, from bit parts like Konohamaru right up to Sasuke and Sakura, sounds great. They even do the series a service by playing things a little lighter and toning down the "Nar>uto, you've grown so manly!" garbage that mars the original dialogue.

This volume isn't a complete wash. At the very least it gets the ball moving again, returning to the machinations of the Akatsuki and pushing its characters up a couple of levels power-wise. And the Gaara fight does have its moments. Well, moment, really. And only at the end (the very end) of the volume. But still, it's no entertainment holocaust. It is, however, quite obviously aimed not at gaining a new audience but at pleasing its old one, the audience that feels a little thrill of vicarious pride when Nar>uto, Sakura or Gaara demonstrates (albeit slowly) just how awesome they've gotten in the interval between series. If that isn't you, save your money and your time.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : B

+ Gaara fight can be cool; no miracle curry or bug-hunting missions.
Ponderous pace; over-serious tone; dearth of signature humor.

Series Director:Yasuaki Kurotsu
Director:Hayato Date
Series Composition:
Satoru Nishizono
Yasuyuki Suzuki
Junki Takegami
Screenplay:
Hayato Date
Masahiro Hikokubo
Yasuaki Kurotsu
Yuka Miyata
Satoru Nishizono
Yasuyuki Suzuki
Junki Takegami
Toshiyuki Tsuru
Shin Yoshida
Storyboard:
Charozo
Noriyuki Abe
Akitaro Daichi
Hayato Date
Masaaki Endou
Kiyomu Fukuda
Naoki Hishikawa
Masahiro Hosoda
Takayuki Inagaki
Hisashi Ishii
Kei Jūmonji
Yutaka Kagawa
Jun Kamiya
Shigeki Kawai
Hiroshi Kimura
Yuki Kinoshita
Hiroyoshi Kishikawa
Yoriyasu Kogawa
Junya Koshiba
Rion Kujo
Masaaki Kumagai
Tomoyuki Kurokawa
Yasuaki Kurotsu
Koji Masunari
Yukihiro Matsushita
Tokuyuki Matsutake
Shigeru Mita
Yuichiro Miyake
Kazunori Mizuno
Tsutomu Murakami
Masahiko Murata
Naomi Nakayama
Tsutomu Naniwa
Toshiya Nidome
Atsushi Nigorikawa
Toshiya Niidome
Ken'ichi Nishida
Mitsutaka Noshitani
Maki Odaira
Takahiro Ohno
Marabe Ono
Tetsuto Saitoo
Chikara Sakurai
Sumito Sasaki
Shinji Satoh
Gorou Sessha
Ogura Shirakawa
Yoshihiro Sugai
Masato Suma
Shigeharu Takahashi
Wakoudo Takahashi
Tetsuji Takayanagi
Chiyuki Tanaka
Toshiyuki Tsuru
Atsushi Wakabayashi
Keisuke Watanabe
Shuu Watanabe
Hiroyuki Yamashita
Shingo Yamashita
Yuu Yamashita
Hiroshi Yamazaki
Akitoshi Yokoyama
Episode Director:
Noriyuki Abe
Eitarō Ano
Hayato Date
Junichi Fujise
Kiyomu Fukuda
Hayato Goda
Naoki Horiuchi
Yoshihide Ibata
Hisashi Ishii
Yutaka Kagawa
Hiroshi Kataoka
Shigeki Kawai
Hiroshi Kimura
Yuki Kinoshita
Hiroyoshi Kishikawa
Masato Kitagawa
Rion Kujo
Masaaki Kumagai
Masaaki Kumatani
Yasuaki Kurotsu
Yasumi Mikamoto
Shigeru Mita
Yuichiro Miyake
Kazunori Mizuno
Masahiko Murata
Jun Nakagawa
Naomi Nakayama
Atsushi Nigorikawa
Ken'ichi Nishida
Hiroaki Nishimura
Mitsutaka Noshitani
Maki Odaira
Takahiro Ohno
Kunitoshi Okajima
Takahiro Okao
Katsumi Ono
Yūsuke Onoda
Maneko Ooku
Masahito Otani
Chikara Sakurai
Sumito Sasaki
Kazuma Satō
Mitsutoshi Satō
Shinji Satoh
Gorou Sessha
Ogura Shirakawa
Yoshihiro Sugai
Yuriko Sugaya
Hidetoshi Takahashi
Shigeharu Takahashi
Hideki Takayama
Hayato Takeda
Chiyuki Tanaka
Tomoya Tanaka
Tsuneo Tominaga
Hiroyuki Tsuchiya
Daisuke Tsukushi
Toshiyuki Tsuru
Hideaki Uehara
Fumiaki Usui
Atsushi Wakabayashi
Shuu Watanabe
Hiroyuki Yamashita
Yuu Yamashita
Hiroshi Yamazaki
Akitoshi Yokoyama
Unit Director:
Charozo
Akitaro Daichi
Hayato Date
Yasuaki Kurotsu
Koji Masunari
Tokuyuki Matsutake
Kazunori Mizuno
Masahiko Murata
Toshiya Niidome
Marabe Ono
Shinji Satoh
Chiyuki Tanaka
Toshiyuki Tsuru
Atsushi Wakabayashi
Keisuke Watanabe
Hiroyuki Yamashita
Shingo Yamashita
Yuu Yamashita
Music:
-yaiba-
Musashi Project
Toshio Masuda
Yasuharu Takanashi
Original creator:Masashi Kishimoto
Original Character Design:Yasuaki Kurotsu
Character Design:
Tetsuya Nishio
Hirofumi Suzuki
Art Director:
Hideaki Kudo
Shigenori Takada
Art:Hideaki Kudo
Chief Animation Director:
Seiko Asai
Kumiko Horikoshi
Yasuhiko Kanezuka
Gorou Sessha
Chiyuki Tanaka
Yumenosuke Tokuda
Zenjirou Ukulele
Animation Director:
Charozo
Hiroki Abe
Naoki Aisaka
Manabu Akita
Yoshinobu Aohachi
Erika Arakawa
Seiko Asai
Takahiro Chiba
Ik Hyun Eum
Akihiro Fukui
Manami Fukuyo
Kōji Furuya
Masatoshi Hakanda
Hiroki Handa
Noritomo Hattori
Hyo Jung Heo
Ken'ichi Hirata
Beom Seok Hong
Kumiko Horikoshi
Yūri Ichinose
Hiroaki Imaki
Keiichi Ishida
Hirokazu Ishino
Yūko Ishizaki
Yukiko Iwata
Min-Ho Jang
Hiroyuki Kamura
Yasuhiko Kanezuka
Koji Kataoka
Shigeki Kawai
Dae Hoon Kim
Kang Won Kim
Yuki Kinoshita
Yukari Kobayashi
Hiroki Koike
Yuki Koike
Ryo Komori
Masayuki Kouda
Yasuaki Kurotsu
Boo Hee Lee
Kengo Matsumoto
Hideaki Matsuoka
Tokuyuki Matsutake
Shin Minseop
Minoru Morita
Tsutomu Murakami
Hisao Muramatsu
Masahiko Murata
Takashi Nishikawa
Ichiro Ogawa
Yukimaro Ohtsubo
Hidehiko Okano
Hiromi Okazaki
Masaya Onishi
Marabe Ono
Noriko Otake
Hong Rong
Takashi Saijo
Konomi Sakurai
Shinji Satoh
Ryousuke Senbo
Gorou Sessha
Naoki Sousaka
Yoshihiro Sugai
Yuriko Sugaya
Hirofumi Suzuki
Natsuko Suzuki
Shinichi Suzuki
Naoki Takahashi
Makoto Takahoko
Itsuko Takeda
Tatsuki Takemoto
Kei Takeuchi
Chiyuki Tanaka
Hironori Tanaka
Hiroto Tanaka
Shinsuke Terasawa
Yumenosuke Tokuda
Eiichi Tokura
Megumi Tomita
Kayano Tomizawa
Akihiro Tsuda
Takenori Tsukuma
Zenjirou Ukulele
Atsushi Wakabayashi
Akira Watanabe
Keisuke Watanabe
Anna Yamaguchi
Hiroyuki Yamashita
Shingo Yamashita
Yuu Yamashita
Kwang Seok Yang
Mamoru Yokota
Hyo Sang Yoo
Hideyuki Yoshida
Hiromi Yoshinuma
Miho Yoshioka
Sound Director:Yasunori Ebina
Producer:
Fukashi Azuma
Tomoko Gushima

Full encyclopedia details about
Naruto Shippūden (TV)

Release information about
Naruto Shippūden (DVD 1)

discuss this in the forum (33 posts) |
bookmark/share with:

Add this anime to

Add this DVD to
Around The Web