Review

by Carlo Santos, Jan 2nd 2014

Naruto Shippuden

DVD Set 16

Synopsis:
Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 16
The Hidden Leaf Village, home to ninja hero Naruto Uzumaki, continues to rebuild after a devastating battle. A new Hokage has been appointed to lead them: Danzo, whose strict surveillance tactics are unsettling to say the least. Even worse, Danzo has issued a formal decree to execute Sasuke, Naruto's one-time friend who has long since turned against the village. However, Naruto still hopes to save Sasuke and bring him home. Meanwhile, the Five Kage (leaders) of the ninja nations have gathered to discuss what to do about the Akatsuki organization, who are still a threat to society. Their meeting takes a deadly turn when Sasuke himself—operating under orders from Akatsuki leader Madara Uchiha—launches a direct attack on the Five Kage! Can this ninja alliance hold their own against Sasuke and his band of rogues? And how will Naruto respond?
Review:

Praise the Lord Hokage, filler episodes are over! Well, almost over—this set of Naruto Shippūden DVDs runs through four more one-and-done adventures from the past. At least they make some effort to be original: a ghost story unexpectedly becomes a spy thriller, a gag-comedy situation between Sasuke and Naruto turns out stupid yet entertaining, a sneaky rescue mission emphasizes brains over brute force, and only the last filler episode really falls into the standard "protect this person and fight these bandits" template.

Make no mistake, though—the real substance of Naruto is to be found in the next nine episodes. However, getting to the exciting part takes some patience. From bland, nearly-plotless material, we now go to other extreme where there's almost too much story to tell. The rise of Danzo and his chilling effect on the Hidden Leaf Village is one subplot among many; the series also has to explain why the ninjas of the Hidden Cloud are getting involved in the Hidden Leaf's affairs. (It's all Sasuke and the Akatsuki's fault, of course.) Then there's Naruto's personal story arc as he still clings to the hope of rescuing Sasuke, and political tensions as the ninja nations' leaders prepare for the Summit. In short, the next few episodes after the filler seem to move so slowly because of all the ground they have to cover.

Still, there are some bright spots amidst this exposition. Naruto's argument with the Hidden Cloud ninja, where he stubbornly stands up for Sasuke even to the point of humiliation, is a poignantly heroic moment. And when Sakura catches wind of Naruto's intentions, she takes center stage in another tearjerker scene. The emotional pull of comrades looking out for each other always beats simple hot-blooded tales of revenge.

However, hot-blooded revenge does make its way into the story arc eventually—Sasuke and company, who have spent entirely too long zipping through the woods, finally get some real action as they invade the Five Kage Summit. The last few episodes are ninja warfare at its best, with the five nations' best fighters each showing off flashy, innovative modes of attack. Topping them all, though, is Sasuke himself, whose techniques go past "cool" or "awe-inspiring" and enter the realm of downright frightening. The only problem is that, with so many fighters involved, it gets too chaotic trying to keep up with everyone. In a clever reversal, though, there is no heroic finale to end the fight—instead, we get a chilling scene where Madara announces his evil master plan.

With the transition from filler back to a proper story arc, animation quality is all over place in these episodes. On the low end of the scale are the small-fry missions, where blandly designed characters and brief hand-to-hand combat sequences are the order of the day. (At least Naruto and Sasuke's gag-comedy escapade tries to experiment with the art style.) Then there are the mid-level dialogue and travel scenes, where the main characters and backgrounds are drawn in better detail, but flapping mouths and minimal action serve as a convenient time-saving crutch. The real eye candy doesn't come until the later episodes, where Sasuke's faction takes on the Five Kage. These scenes feature colorfully dressed characters, all-out elemental attacks, and special effects galore—and that's even before Sasuke unleashes his personal doomsday weapon. The only letdown during this battle is the dull backdrop: a rocky basement and a utilitarian meeting hall.

The contrast between filler episodes and main storyline is even more pronounced in the soundtrack, as the music suddenly shifts from repetitive pop fluff to much darker tones. In the later episodes, low strings and ominous choral voices dominate, reminding us how serious Sasuke and Madara are about their nefarious goals. But the soundtrack isn't entirely doom-and-gloom—scenes of friendship are scored in a lighter, more poignant manner, while battles are accompanied (as usual) by heavy drumming and rock guitars.

Because of the story development in these episodes, the voice actors have to cover a wide range of emotions—a challenge that is successfully met in the English dub. Vocal performances are consistent and confident throughout each episode, whether the script involves personal introspection, screaming out a battle cry, or making a comedic outburst. Even the rapping ninja Killer Bee, who makes a brief appearance, strikes the right balance between being a rhyming jokester and a serious-minded warrior. Aside from the language options, though, these DVDs are sparse on bonus content—some storyboard sketches and production art, along with clean opening and ending clips, are all that's offered in the way of extras.

After a regrettable run of filler episodes, Naruto Shippūden acquits itself nicely in this volume, returning to the main storyline and delivering both plot and action. Yes, there are still some inconsequential adventures in this set, but it's a manageable number—and what follows next is a satisfying chunk of story. Various ninja factions are on the move, our hero and his nemesis set out on brand-new quests, and it all culminates in a multi-episode melee involving some of the top fighters in the ninja world. And if this is only the start of the next great Naruto adventure, just imagine what could happen next.

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

+ The main storyline gets moving again, with devious motives and multiple subplots leading up to a thrilling, no-holds-barred battle.
Still contains some filler episodes, and animation quality can be inconsistent (especially with lots of dialogue-heavy scenes).

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 Shippuden (DVD box16)

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