Reviewby Luke Carroll,
Naruto Shippūden Collection 01
Naruto Uzumaki is back!
Naruto Uzumaki is back! After two and a half years of training on the road with Jiraiya of the Sannin, Naruto is back in the Village Hidden in the Leaves and he's ready to show off his new skills. He and Sakura team up to take on their old master Kakashi, who's pretty impressed with their progress. They'll have plenty of opportunity to put it into action when news arrives from the Sand Village that Gaara, Naruto's former rival and now Kazekage of the Sand, has been kidnapped! And the culprits are the very same group who are after Naruto - the Akatsuki!
After an amazingly long 220 episodes and three movies, the first series of Naruto has finally ended. That's not the good news though. No, the good news is that after what may have seemed like eternity for fans, Naruto Shippuden has finally begun to move everything forward and rejoin the manga in its ninja storytelling goodness. The only unfortunate thing about it all is that it's hard to shake the underwhelming feeling you get from these 13 episodes. The action is there, the story (finally) is there, and yet it's handled in such a way that you are always left with the impression that it could have been much better.
Despite there being all this new content to finally work with, it becomes evident very early on that the series is in no hurry to show it all off. The first battles for instance unfold at an agonisingly slow pace. The constant switching between various cast members and multitude of flashbacks cause everything that is shown to feel quite anti-climatic in nature. With the characters also maturing, the fun and silly humour of the first series has toned down a bit. Whilst there are still some nice gags at the start, things get put to the side really easily when the show tries to get serious.
It's not all bad though. Studio Pierrot has managed to still pull out the works with the animation. Although coming across as dull in nature, the fights look rather spiffy in their CG goodness. The background art is still very much the same quality, and other than Naruto's obvious new threads and some slightly different builds, the look of the cast is relatively unchanged. That's only a good thing though, because the first series wasn't too bad looking in the first place.
It also sounds good. The music might not set hearts alight, but the score does play some decent pieces when a scene requires it. The opening and closing themes are also well chosen to suit the series. On the dub side of things, much of the cast has once again returned for this new series. Naruto now sports a slightly huskier voice that will take a while to get used to, whilst David Lodge and Kate Higgins do a decent job of Jiraiya and Sakura respectably.
Unfortunately our editorial copy of this release did not include any extras.
It's really hard to argue that Naruto Shippuden isn't for anyone but the die hard fans of the last series. These first 13 episodes make it their purpose to show you just how strong the cast has grown over the missing years. And with a plot that picks up from a storyline that halted partway through the last series, trying to pick up the show for the first time now would be nothing short of a large feat. If you're willing to put in the catch up time (and money), Naruto Shippuden is certainly a decent series to consider watching, otherwise this is a series for the previous Naruto fans only.
©2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO / 2007 SHIPPUDEN All Rights Reserved.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C
Animation : B-
Art : B-
Music : B
+ The fillers are finally over, some nice fight sequences
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