What They Say:
Naruto declares to his friends his intention to take on Sasuke by himself, while the Elders of the Leaf make a serious decision about who will fill the vacant seat of Hokage: Kakashi! In Mount Myoboku, Gerotora, Fukasaku and the Great Lord Elder debate whether or not to give Naruto the key to the Tetragram Seal that Gerotora holds, an act that could potentially unleash Nine Tails. Meanwhile, Tsunade recovers from her coma and, having grasped the situation, issues orders to prepare for war! Contains episodes 219-231. Special Features: Additional Scenes, Production Sketches, Storyboards. Spoken Languages: English, Japanese, English subtitles.
Set up in Stereo 2.0 in both Japanese and English instead of a 5.1 release, is still an acceptable quality but a bit of tinkering of the volume was needed to make it of an acceptable quality, though there weren’t any issues in terms of the sound being out on sync with the subtitles or the video.
The video is again of a decent quality, but there was a mixed bag with some of the quality in the animation in the filler episodes (the pirate one was very noticeably bad). No noticeable issues with lag or video in poor resolution during viewing or when pausing, so no problems with watching the whole release through in terms of syncing and sound, but animation is definitely a mixed bag.
A 2 disc release, set on a green background, with a picture of an onlooking Naruto on the right hand side, it is a very standard menu with the selections Play All, Episodes and Set Up on the first disc, with Extras available on the 2nd disc. The menus are very basic, and function fine in selection both from the main menu and from watching the show, but nothing interesting.
There are a few minor extras on the 2nd disc; we have some storyboards in a very cartoony style of the drunken Rock Lee scene in the restaurant. We also have some key art which have three nicely done cel like art of a number of the characters and finally we get the same old trailers of Naruto Shippuden The Movie and the actual series…you know the one you are watching or have bought…this extra seems to have been on every release of Shippuden I’ve had to review and it does seem very pointless to me…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Naruto continues to be a mixed bag with the releases, because like any long series, it may have to mix in the main story with filler episodes to make sure the anime doesn’t overtake the manga. This set is similar, with the first half being the story focus but then goes into the filler episodes, with some O.K, and some both animation and story wise pretty weak.
It follows up from the last release with Naruto saying he is the one that has to take out Sasuke. Whilst there isn’t much information on why he is and is kept cryptic, the big issue is Kakashi was set to become Hokage (and a rather fun and nice moment with Gai challenging him to another rival battle, which Kakashi actually gladly accepts as is the last time he may get to do that with his rival and friend) but Tsunade recovers from unconsciousness and is able to be reinstated as Hokage, and now continues as boss to focus on war on the Akatsuki. Meanwhile Naruto is transported to the Great Elder by Jiriaya’s old summon Fukasaku, and is given a choice to sign a scroll allowing him to control the Kyubi’s full chakra, which whilst worried about, he does eventually sign the scroll.
Whilst a development, the real shocker of the main story is the return of Kabuto, who brings Madara onto a trail, which whilst it looks like Kabuto will be killed, he reveals a new jutsu, which resurrects several old friends…which definitely suggests some interesting possibilities when many of the Akatsuki re-emerge, including Itachi. Madara eventually accepts when a 6th coffin is brought up…which we don’t see but causes Madara of all people to be shocked, and the two become an unlikely team up.
Tsunade seems to not want to involve Naruto or Killer Bee in the war due to their tails, and from a prophecy given to Naruto via the elder, send him along with a few others on a journey to the Hidden Cloud village. And thus the filler season starts.
There are some amusing moments (the running gag of Gai being seasick for example) but they definitely range from OK to poor – some of it is just that other ninjas are on missions that coincide with them as coincidences, such as Sakura, Ino and Choji on an island they are resting so they can find some medicinal herbs which leads to a clash with some other rogue ninjas, or one of the worst animated episodes I’ve seen in a while when Naruto comes across a ghost ship with some non One Piece pirates also looking – whilst the story of the young boy actually being dead that leads them was interesting, watching it was rather silly to say the least with the designs and animation (and longing for the quality of the Hinata/Pain fight…) – Naruto has his hero syndrome fully on with saving a village’s legacy by avenging their deaths from further pirates, which whilst good to see is again following a very standard formula which is sadly rather predictable in today’s Shounen Jump series.
Some of the episodes weren’t too bad – I enjoyed the one where there were giant animals on an island and the experimentation of the animals allowed them to have abilities for summons, with one in particular able to eat any of the animals and other victims and absorb their powers and abilities. It seems a lot of the Hidden Crowd islands have a lot of ghosts and spirits though for plot convenience and tugging at the heart moments though so with several recycled ideas it cannot really be showcased as a good episode, but giant insects using genjitsu was pretty cool. The following one as well was a fun flashback to Rock Lee’s affiliation to drunken style fighting as we finally see what happened when Lee got drunk at a celebration do at a restaurant way back during the Sasuke Retrieval Arc. Somehow it does link to the seasickness and it doesn’t exactly follow how I remembered it was during the flashback in the Sasuke Retrieval arc, but it was still quite enjoyable and reminded me why I like Gai and Rock Lee. Also the Shikamaru episode where he is wondering if he is good enough to be a jonin and protect his comrades gives some decent thought into his mood and how he actually gets out of a situation is another reason why he along with a few others I usually enjoy more than the main characters.
Of course, the decent are nullified by the bad. The mushroom filler episode was obviously an attempt to be funny, but it came out as pointless and rather dumb, especially whilst their solution to starvation is legit, it really took a real shot in the dark to come to that theory and it just didn’t work as a funny episode either. And the one where Naruto’s shadow clones go on strike…yeah, it sounds as silly as it was. I understand they were trying to go with the idea that Naruto had to understand the worth of his clones, but it was done so stupidly that it really felt like I wanted to skip the episode.
Unfortunately, because most of this set is filler, it does hide the fact the beginning of the story has some key moments with Tsunade returning and Kabuto apparently joining Madara and using the Resurrection Jutsu to potentially bring back some key characters like Orochimaru did in the past. The problem is those episodes are basically the first 3 and the remaining 10 are mostly unentertaining gaps before the series returns to the main arc. I am not sure how much more there is of this before the story continues, but hopefully not much more…
This set of Naruto Shippuden suffers from many of the problems other Shounen Jump long runners do, that the bad outweigh the good. In this case, the only real worth apart from the odd interest concept in the filler are the first few episodes when the plot kicks into high gear. As it is, and no sign when the filler will end, this is hard to recommend because the first part does have 2 key issues which will almost certainly impact the plot, but otherwise it is majorly skippable.
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: B-
Video Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: July 21st, 2014
Running Time: 293 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamoprhic Widescreen
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.