Review

by Zac Bertschy, Jun 29th 2006

Naruto

DVD: Uncut DVD Box Set 1

Synopsis:
Naruto DVD
Years ago, while protecting the Hidden Leaf Village, the fourth Hokage sealed a rampaging demon fox spirit inside an orphaned child named Naruto. Now a coming-of-age wannabe ninja striving to be more powerful than any Hokage before him, Naruto is joined by his jovial and enigmatic teacher Kakashi and fellow students Sakura and Sasuke. Together, they go through rigorous training and embark on a perilous mission that will test their skills more than ever before.
Review:
Arguably the most wildly popular show of the last 3 years, Viz Media's ninja action-adventure hit Naruto has all the earmarks of an international success story; it is beloved by a large and fiercely protective group of fans and embraced by the casual community thanks a successful TV dub on Cartoon Network. Although the show has already been released on DVD in its dubbed and edited form, this uncut box set includes the first 13 episodes in the series, and it's obvious Viz has gone to great lengths to make the show's dedicated hardcore fanbase happy.

The 13 episodes in this set comprise Naruto's initial training and the fight with Haku and Zabusa, ending just before Naruto reaches the bridge himself. It's a much meatier chunk of the show than on the first dub-only offering and gives you a much better idea of what the show is like, ending just when the first decent battle really starts to heat up. It's kind of an awkward place to conclude the set, but the final episode here marks a major turning point in the storyline and since the fight drags on (in typical Naruto style) for a while afterward, it's as good a spot as any to end on. Even totally uncut (and this box set proves that the English version of the show isn't heavily edited in the first place), there isn't anything drastically different about this show. If you found yourself bored by the show's reliance on shonen action clichés or never liked it to begin with, there isn't anything in this set that's going to change your mind; it's the same Naruto everybody knows and a whole lot of people seem to love. This is, at its very core, the archetype of what a long-running Shonen Jump action series is, and if you're not one of the millions of people who go nuts for that sort of thing, this set won't thrill you. In fact, even though more episodes are included here, this set still comprises the relatively dull early part of the first season. Everyone who's been following the show on television knows that most of the truly exciting parts of this show are yet to come.

Realistically, the fans this box set is aimed at have already seen all of these episodes more than once, so what's really important about this set are the details. Although there were a million things Viz could have done to make this release unpalatable to fans, it's as though they looked at a hardcore fan wishlist during production and simply checked most everything off. The subtitles are extremely accurate to the Japanese, and are presented in a very readable and unobtrusive font. The video quality is superior, and all the original opening and ending themes are included; Viz even subtitled the Japanese rock song that opens the show, which isn't something the company usually does for any release. The closing theme isn't subtitled because it's in English – rather “English” since, despite the beauty of the song itself, the singer sounds as though he has a mouth full of marbles, so maybe subtitles would've been the way to go for that one. They even included the dub for all 13 episodes for fans who don't mind the English voices but would rather not have arbitrary cuts made to the more violent or adult bits. It's the same dub you'll hear on TV, complete with Naruto's “Believe it!” catchphrase (which is, blissfully, not included in the subtitles). In fact, watching the dub with the subtitles on is a great lesson in how scriptwriters for English dubs have to rewrite dialogue so it flows better sounds more natural.

It all comes in a very well-done package, set in a handsome reflective slipcase. There are a handful of extras, including a storyboard book packaged with the box set. The extra features on the final disc are mostly innocuous. There's some production art and a screen-to-storyboard comparison feature that should be of some interest to those fascinated by the process of animation. Also included are the requisite trailers for other Viz Media titles and Shonen Jump merchandise. It's nothing too spectacular; the episodes themselves are obviously the real star of the show here. It's possible Viz could have gone a few steps further when including extras, however, even if they were just interviews with the show's American staff.

That said, it's hard to think of how this release could have been better. Fans are getting exactly what they wanted: a faithful, subtitled, Japanese-language version with the opening and ending themes intact and a few goodies thrown in. Any hardcore Naruto fan will be happy to have this set on their shelf, and it's a great way to introduce people to the series they know and love so well. It's easy to recommend this set over the dubbed DVDs, especially considering you're getting more episodes for a slightly lower cost with more features and vastly more attractive packaging. In short, fans have nothing to fear; the Naruto release they've been praying for has been delivered.
Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : B+

+ It's the subtitled Japanese-language version of Naruto; this is basically what everyone's been asking for.
Just when the storyline gets really interesting, the final disc ends. Extras are sparse.

Director:Hayato Date
Script:
Kou Hei Mushi
Yuka Miyata
Satoru Nishizono
Katsuyuki Sumisawa
Yasuyuki Suzuki
Junki Takegami
Akatsuki Yamatoya
Michiko Yokote
Shin Yoshida
Storyboard:
Tetsuro Amino
Hayato Date
Takafumi Hayashi
Yuki Hayashi
Tsubute Hyakuno
Hayauma Ippaku
Satoru Iriyoshi
Takaaki Ishiyama
Mashu Itō
Kei Jūmonji
Shigenori Kageyama
Hiroki Kawashima
Hiroshi Kimura
Yuki Kinoshita
Kazumi Kobayashi
Junya Koshiba
Rion Kujo
Masaaki Kumagai
Yasuaki Kurotsu
Koji Masunari
Hitoyuki Matsui
Tsuyoshi Matsumoto
Tokuyuki Matsutake
Yasuhiro Minami
Yuichiro Miyake
Masahiko Murata
Noriyoshi Nakamura
Atsushi Nigorikawa
Toshiya Niidome
Mitsutaka Noshitani
Seiji Okuda
Takeyuki Sadohara
Mamoru Sasaki
Shinji Satoh
Toshiyuki Shimazu
Hirofumi Suzuki
Tetsuji Takayanagi
Chiyuki Tanaka
Toshiyuki Tsuru
Hidehito Ueda
Yasunori Urata
Atsushi Wakabayashi
Yuu Yamashita
Ryo Yasumura
Episode Director:
Hayato Date
Kiyomu Fukuda
Hayato Goda
Yuki Hayashi
Yasuyuki Honda
Masayuki Iimura
Mashu Itō
Shigenori Kageyama
Keiichiro Kawaguchi
Hiroshi Kimura
Yuki Kinoshita
Rion Kujo
Masaaki Kumagai
Tsuyoshi Matsumoto
Kyosuke Mikuriya
Shuuji Miyahara
Masahiko Murata
Atsushi Nigorikawa
Toshiya Niidome
Mitsutaka Noshitani
Yukio Okazaki
Takeyuki Sadohara
Shinji Satoh
Akira Shimizu
Yoshihiro Sugai
Chiyuki Tanaka
Toshiyuki Tsuru
Yasunori Urata
Atsushi Wakabayashi
Kazuyoshi Yokota
Unit Director:
Rion Kujo
Tokuyuki Matsutake
Hirofumi Suzuki
Toshiyuki Tsuru
Yuu Yamashita
Music:
Musashi Project
Toshio Masuda
Original Manga:Masashi Kishimoto
Character Design:
Tetsuya Nishio
Hirofumi Suzuki
Art Director:Shigenori Takada
Art:
Tomoyuki Shimizu
Shinji Sugiyama
Kazuhiko Suzuki
Shigenori Takada
Michiko Taniguchi
Animation Director:
Naoki Aisaka
Mariko Aoki
Atsushi Aono
Seiko Asai
Yukiko Ban
Choi Jong Gi
Hideki Hashimoto
Kumiko Horikoshi
Masaru Hyodo
Yasuhiko Kanezuka
Kazuhisa Kosuga
Akira Matsushima
Tokuyuki Matsutake
Minoru Morita
Yuji Moriyama
Kenichiro Ogata
Yukimaro Ohtsubo
Hidehiko Okano
Hiromi Okazaki
Takako Onishi
Takeshi Ozaka
Kazuya Saitoh
Chikara Sakurai
Gorou Sessha
Haruo Sotozaki
Hirofumi Suzuki
Shinichi Suzuki
Marie Tagashira
Chiyuki Tanaka
Akihiro Tsuda
Takenori Tsukuma
Zenjirou Ukulele
Atsushi Wakabayashi
Masafumi Yamamoto
Hideyuki Yoshida
Sound Director:Yasunori Ebina
Director of Photography:Atsuho Matsumoto
Producer:
Tomoko Gushima
Hiroshi Hagino
Ken Hagino
Noriko Kobayashi

Full encyclopedia details about
Naruto (TV)

Release information about
Naruto - Uncut DVD Box Set 1 (DVD)

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