Naruto Shippuden Episode 259 – Rift – Review / Thoughts

April 19, 2012

Starting a bit off topic, this is the 100th post on this blog, and I want to thank all the readers and fans who have supported it so far, and hope they will continue to do so in the future. Back on topic, I was hoping for something good to take the 100th post, but instead have been left with reviewing Naruto Shippuden 259, which did nothing other than make me angry.

This episode started with Gaara vs Sasuke in the forest just as Gaara was in his partial transformation form, and it ended shortly after the Sound Ninja 4 invited Sasuke to join Orochimaru to gain power. Something I did like in this episode was the music choices, with even the unreleased version of Sasuke’s Destiny (last heard during the flashback to Sasuke showing his father the fireball jutsu) getting a run out. It’s really nice and nostalgic hearing the themes again, and it certainly does bring back some good memories of the series for me.

I also have to say that this episode was put together far better than the last one was. Although there were obviously big parts skipped over and certain scenes edited, it was at least coherent and made sense this week, where with the last episode it was like they just threw random parts together for a laugh.

However, I ask that you forgive me in advance, as I feel a bit of a rant coming here. Now I don’t like filler, 99% of the time it’s god awful and just painful to watch, but I still except it for what it is and don’t really have much of a problem with it. We also know that in these filler episodes, they will often add a few new scenes or certain lines by characters, which again, I mostly don’t have a problem with.

What I DO have a problem with however is what they did here, that being adding words / thoughts to characters that contradict canon and who they are. If you haven’t seen it, I am referring to a scene from the Sasuke vs Naruto rooftop incident. For those that watched the original Anime or read the Manga, we know that after all the recent events Sasuke had become extremely angry and jealous of Naruto to the point where he just wanted to fight and beat Naruto to prove to himself that he was stronger, but in this filler, they decided to add some thoughts coming from both Naruto and Sasuke that weren’t included in the originals.

While in the Anime and Manga Sasuke and Naruto were both on the roof basically trash talking and winding each other up, it was always pretty clear (for Sasuke at least) that this fight was something he wanted to do and had no regrets about either. In this episode though, even while they are talking to each other (like in the above pic), the Anime team decided to add thoughts coming from both Naruto and Sasuke which were along the lines of “I don’t want to do this” or “I have to stop this”, which quite honestly annoyed me an awful lot (and probably more than it should have).

I know when both Naruto and Sasuke were aiming their attacks at each other during their fight, they both had an “oh damn” moment when they realised they couldn’t stop the Chidori or Rasengan, and that was fine. I just hate the way that they basically added doubts to the minds of both Naruto and Sasuke before a single punch was even thrown in this episode, as it just made it look stupid. I mean, they showed the scene shortly before with Sasuke smacking the plate out of Sakura’s hands, activating Sharingan, and then demanding that Naruto fight him, so for about 2 minutes later to suddenly have doubts is just ridiculous. It was really unnecessary and really cheapened Sasuke’s feelings and actions at the time.

Though even moving on from that, this episode I felt did a very poor job of showcasing how Sasuke became so bitter and angry. While it did show his meeting with Itachi, where it was always skipping parts it just didn’t give the same impression or make the same impact. In the originals, we were given time to digest what had been happening, and Sasuke’s descent in to the darkness was played more slowly and with more emotion. I know it’s hardly the Anime team’s fault since they have to rush things, but if you were watching this for the first time without any prior knowledge of what happened with Naruto and Sasuke etc, then it would make Sasuke come across as pretty pathetic or at best make them wonder why he got so pushed over the edge so easily.

As much as I hate to admit it, this episode was a lot better than the last one even though I hated the filler between Naruto and Sasuke and the way it made Sasuke come across. At least the music choices were good and nostalgic, plus the editing was mostly fine.

I apologise for the rant too and I know it probably makes me come across as a Sasuke fanboy, but I can honestly say that I am not ranting because it is Sasuke I feel is being mistreated, I would be equally pissed off if they did it to someone I am fairly neutral about such as Gaara or Kabuto for example. If you can forgive those moments though, it isn’t a terrible episode by Naruto filler standards, but it’s still not something I could actually recommend watching anyway.

My advice – rewatch or re-read the Manga parts of the story if you’re really looking for some nostalgia or want to relive classic moments, as either will do a far more satisfying job than this mini filler arc has.

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Naruto SD: Rock Lee no Seishun Full-Power Ninden Episode 3 – A Competition with the Genius Ninja, Neji / TenTen’s Must Win Battle – Review / Thoughts

April 19, 2012

Apologies for the late review of Rock Lee this week, time has been lacking a bit recently for reviews. In any case, better late than never!

This is the 3rd week of the Rock Lee spinoff Anime, and I am happy to say it has been getting better and better each week. While unfortunately the second half of this week’s offering was only average, the first half / story was actually really funny. If they only made it an 11 minute episode per week, it truly would turn out amazing most likely.

The first story was all about Rock Lee’s rivalry with Neji. Of course as fans of the original Naruto series will know, they have had a long rivalry and Lee has always come up short in his efforts to beat the genius Neji. In this episode Lee gets annoyed by how everyone talks about how amazing and cool Neji is, while he gets no attention himself. Lee gets annoyed to the point where he eventually challenges Neji to a fight in one weeks’ time, which Neji accepts.

The episode consists of Lee trying to get stronger in the space of a week so that he can beat Neji, and it’s pretty hilarious. Before his challenge with Neji even came about, initially Lee was just seeing Neji and comparing himself to his standards (and Naruto was soon involved with helping Lee once he saw Sakura was also impressed by Neji). One of the things Lee does is tell TenTen that he also has Byakugan, so he lowers his head and closes his eyes, and when he looks back up at her he has tape on his eyelids that makes him look really silly, shocking TenTen who thinks Lee is being an idiot. When Naruto first sees Lee looking that way, he doesn’t even recognise who it is, as TenTen can’t believe anyone could be so dense.

The really funny parts were a bit later, including Lee saying he was even less of a man than Neji since he wore briefs while Neji wore boxers. And shortly after that, Lee, Naruto and Neji were all using some urinals, and Lee and Naruto come out and sit hunched over acting depressed. They then bemoan the fact that they are smaller than Neji, and “that it’s just one more gift god has bestowed upon him”! I swear I am not kidding, they actually did that and it was hilarious.

There were just plenty of really funny moments like that in the episode, and there are of course more moments that I haven’t mentioned which are almost if not just as funny that you can see for yourself if you watch it.

The second half is about TenTen trying to get Lee and Neji to act more like gentlemen around her, as currently they kept doing things like stripping down to their underwear in front of her and letting her fight the enemies by herself instead of protecting her. TenTen gets angry and whacks them both a few times throughout the episode as they misunderstand what she means about acting more like gentlemen, and there are a few humourus moments where Lee and Neji go over the top in trying to change their ways, including basically waiting hand and foot on TenTen for a while and wearing fancy white suits.

After numerous failed attempts, Lee and Neji realise things aren’t working, so instead they dress TenTen up as a boy saying things will be easier that way. TenTen first of all agrees before she realises what she’s saying, and then of course ends up whacking them both again and calling them idiots. In the end it just ends up with TenTen realising that she doesn’t want or need any special attention just because she’s a girl, and that she was happy with things the way they were before.

As I said, the first half was really good, I found myself laughing throughout the whole episode. Sure it’s pretty immature stuff most of the time, but who cares?  This Anime is supposed to be silly like that to get laughs, and anyone who is watching expecting anything different are just deluding themselves. As long as a comedy series is funny, I for one don’t care how it makes me laugh, as long as it does make me laugh, which Rock Lee does.

The second half was pretty average though. While there were a few laughs, they were pretty few and far between sadly. So far Rock Lee seems to always be like that, with one half standing out as much better than the other, and that’s what leads me to believe that maybe it would have been better as an 11 minute episode per week rather than splitting it up in to two stories. That said, since the show has been steadily improving each week, I do have faith that a bit further down the line we may start seeing the whole 22/23 minutes become entertaining.

Rock Lee has really impressed me, as I will admit I wasn’t expecting much from the series to begin with, but it is a really fun show to watch and gives me a good laugh most of the time. Rock Lee’s Anime has really been growing on me, and I can see myself beginning to look forward to it more and more each week. Hopefully this trend can continue, and if it does, then it will certainly be a series I will recommend to someone who is looking for a good comedy.


Naruto Chapter 583 – Who is This? – Review / Thoughts

April 18, 2012

Let me start by saying that Naruto chapter 583 is a full chapter of flashbacks, though thankfully they all contain new material, that being more of Kabuto’s past / backstory.

I said last week that I wanted more action, and while that hasn’t changed, on this occasion I am not going to complain about not getting what I was hoping for. In fact, this is kind of what I was also hoping for, that being more info on Kabuto. I complained about the lack of info we got from last week’s chapter considering what should be a long and storied life for Kabuto, so this chapter definitely delivers more on that which is something I am grateful for.

As I said, the whole chapter is flashbacks to Kabuto’s backstory, so if you don’t like this type of chapter or if you don’t like Kabuto, then you are probably going to find this pretty boring admittedly. It was pretty interesting though I have to say, as we got to see both Orochimaru and Danzo in their younger days (and working together), plus we found out how Orochimaru first met Kabuto.

Danzo again showed in this chapter that he was willing to play dirty to get what he wants, with this time him threatening to stop all funding to the orphanage Kabuto was at unless Nonou (Kabuto’s “Mother”) agreed to take part in a very long and risky mission to gather intelligence in the hidden rock village. At first of course Nonou didn’t want to leave the orphanage, and hence why Danzo resorted to the threats. Even after she eventually agreed, Danzo told them that since one of the Root members of his team died in the last mission, he would be taking a child from the orphanage as a replacement. Of course there are objections to that too, but Kabuto is outside and overhears the whole thing, and with Orochimaru’s earlier words about how he would make a good shinobi still clearly resonating inside of him, Kabuto volunteers himself to go so that the orphanage won’t suffer.

It goes to show how much Kabuto valued his adopted family and home, as despite having no interest whatsoever in becoming a ninja, he still gave in and volunteered himself just so that the funding for the orphanage wouldn’t be stopped. Oh, also slightly going back a bit, when one of the other people in charge said that there was no way Danzo could stop their funding because they had an agreement with the Third Hokage himself, one of the hooded guys along with Orochimaru made a thinly veiled threat by saying that it would be very easy for a ninja to sneak in and rob the orphanage considering they couldn’t afford to hire a bodyguard / security. It shows just what Danzo and Root were capable of, and that’s why it’s no real surprise to me that Orochimaru once worked alongside Danzo.

What really stood out to me though was one panel in particular, where even after Kabuto put glasses on his mother (after she repeatedly asked Kabuto who he was years later when Kabuto was there healing her, but of course didn’t have her glasses on) she still didn’t recognise him. The panel was brilliant, because it genuinely showed the moment where it looked like Kabuto just broke inside. I mean, his whole life was a mystery to him apart from his time at the orphanage and the love and bonds he had developed with her, so when the person he cared about most didn’t even recognise his face anymore, it’s no wonder he apparently snapped / became broken like that. Shortly after that, when Kabuto was looking in to a small puddle of water wondering why his own “mother” didn’t even recognise him and what the point of his existance even was anymore, Orochimaru appeared and told him that he remembers who Kabuto is.

Of course I never covered every incident that happened in the chapter, but those were the main focal points in any case. It was really interesting actually having the chance to see Danzo and Orochimaru together like that, as we knew from Tobi’s comments during Sasuke’s fight with Danzo that they had some sort of previous affilliation / relationship. Danzo once again proved that he was willing to do absolutely anything for what he considered to be the greater good, and also how Orochimaru first met Kabuto back when he was a boy, and how years later they met again shortly after the whole incident with Kabuto’s mother.

Since it was clear from the start of the chapter that Orochimaru had a strong interest in Kabuto, some people are already speculating that Orochimaru could well have played a hand in the later events too, saying that he may well have put some kind of spell on Kabuto’s mother so she would forget who he was, or even setting up the events leading to her dying. Although nobody can say for sure, it would come as little surprise if it did turn out to be the case considering how little regard Orochimaru has for others, as well as his constant desire to recruit people he sees potential in.

But yes, although not a fantastic chapter, I still found it quite enjoyable just for getting to see how Orochimaru and Kabuto met, and also seeing Danzo and Orochimaru together. Next week looks like it could well be another flashback chapter too, and although seeing more of Kabuto’s past would by no means be a bad thing, it is getting a bit tiresome with every single chapter now being complete flashbacks. Decent chapter though overall, and hopefully soon we can move back to happenings and battles in the present.


Naruto Shippuden Episode 258 – Rivals – Review / Thoughts

April 12, 2012

Although the official name for Shippuden 258 is Rivals, instead it should be called butchered, because that’s exactly what it was.

I know I commented last week on how they edited the episode to try and cram a lot in, so don’t get me wrong, I knew this would be heavily edited too, but I didn’t expect such a bad episode from it. It seemed like every few seconds they were skipping forwards in massive chunks.

I mean, the previous episode ended at the start of the Land of Waves arc, but this one skipped that entire arc as soon as it started, so we never saw so much as 1 second of Haku or Zabuza. We got to see the middle of Sasuke vs Orochimaru in the Forest of Death pretty early, then shortly after (after skipping most of that fight too) it was on to the part in the forest where they were fighting clones. Then it skipped to Sasuke telling Naruto he was one of the ones he wanted to fight etc, and I can’t even be bothered talking about it because it was taking the piss to be perfectly honest.

I was expecting this to be heavily edited, so it’s not a case of me getting annoyed over that, I am simply annoyed by the massive amounts removed and also the way the episode was spliced together. The episode was focused on Sasuke and went up to just before his fight with Gaara, so that shows how much they tried to cram in this time.

The thing is, they didn’t even do a good job of it. As well as missing a crapload of stuff out, it was also edited together really poorly so that the episode never had any kind of flow or feeling to it, instead it felt like something a 10 year old using Windows Movie Maker put together. They also added in a couple of scenes with new stuff not in the originals that added nothing and were pointless, the only decent thing they did was fixing Sasuke’s hair when he first arrived at the arena with Kakashi.

Basically, there is absolutely nothing I can recommend for why you should watch this episode. It was a poorly put together mess that only succeeded in ruining some of the best parts of the original Naruto series. Unlike last week, I can’t even say it was a nice chance to revisit the series in HD or as a proper recap, as so much was missed out you might as well not bother anyway.

Seriously, just do yourself a favour and avoid this episode. It felt like the biggest waste of 24 minutes of my life, even moreso than the horrible filler they were churning out pre-Shippuden. If you really want to revisit the series, please just watch the old original episodes or read the Manga version, because all you will get here is 24 piss-poor minutes of something claiming to be Naruto.

Next week will be another recap filler too unfortunately, so I can only hope that they do a better job with that one than they did here.


Naruto Chapter 582 – Nothing – Review / Thoughts

April 11, 2012

I might as well get this out of the way now: For anyone who has been looking forward to this week to see Izanami, you will be disappointed, as it is nowhere to be seen here. Instead we are given a flashback to some of Kabuto’s childhood.

So yes, this was another flashback heavy chapter with little actual fighting happening. The past few weeks have been like this now, and to be honest it would be nice to see some proper action again soon. While in recent weeks it has been involving Itachi and Sasuke, this chapter is all about Kabuto.

As you can see from the picture above, he has grown extremely confident and arrogant of late, and he clearly considers himself to be a step above any other shinobi at present. Of course considering he created an army of Edo Tensei, powered up Zetsus and himself has a new form of Sage Mode, he has clearly accomplished a lot since his days as Orochimaru’s henchman, but it still doesn’t sit right for the readers who know that inevitably this is going to be the typical villain’s speech bragging how good they are, only for the next week or two coming and them getting their asses handed to them by whoever they are fighting.

Kabuto did at least damage Itachi in this chapter though. He used a jutsu that allowed him to control inanimate objects, and used the jutsu to make the stalagmites in the cave come down on top of Sasuke and Itachi. Sasuke was protected by Susanoo, but only because Itachi slowed himself down to do it to protect Sasuke, and thus ended up getting himself impaled by them. Of course, being an Edo Tensei means it didn’t really make any difference to Itachi. Perhaps the best moment of the chapter then followed with Kabuto charging towards Itachi, ready to rewrite the tag in him now that he was incapacitated, only for Sasuke to use Amaterasu to create a barrier of black flames around himself and Itachi so that Kabuto couldn’t get near them, something that even impressed Kabuto as it was using such a powerful destructive attack as a defensive tactic.

But aside from that, it was all pretty much Kabuto backstory. Now I am usually one of the first people to stand up for backstories and I do enjoy them an awful lot most of the time, but I don’t know, despite Kabuto being one of the main villains and having the possibility of a very interesting history considering he was an orphan and a spy, instead it just felt pretty flat. It was still good getting a glimpse of how he was found and what he was like as a child considering that he has been in Naruto for ages and this is the first real look we have had at him, but it just wasn’t that interesting.

The woman who took in Kabuto actually looked quite a lot like an older version of him, so maybe a bit later something will be revealed about that. But anyway, basically the whole flashback was Kabuto explaining how he has never known who he is, he was found with no name and no memories of even his own parents, so he has always been “nothing” and “nobody”. It almost echoes Tobi’s own comments of late, except for the fact Kabuto seems to have some idea of who he is now, and of course it’s clear he has no problems trying to make a name for himself and be a someone. Heck, it seems to me like that’s very much what he has really been wanting from the start, some form of true identity and recognition.

Overall it was a pretty meh chapter, nothing exciting happened and it was very flashback heavy as I said. It was very disappointing not seeing Izanami this week after the last chapter, but to be honest there just wasn’t anything that made this chapter stand out as anything great, but at the same time it wasn’t terrible either. This was basically just an extremely average chapter, and even if you’re a Kabuto fan I can’t see you enjoying this chapter especially. Hopefully next week shall be an improvement.


Naruto SD: Rock Lee no Seishun Full-Power Ninden Episode 2 – Love is a Part of the Springtime of Youth / Love Makes Both People do Crazy Things – Review / Thoughts

April 10, 2012

So in to week 2 of Rock Lee’s new Anime, and once again it was very much a tale of two halves, although this was still overall better than the previous episode in any case.

There were some genuinely hilarious moments this week which I am happy to say, including the best part of the entire episode(s) with Rock Lee repeatedly whacking Sakura as he was trying to aim for some Bees that were buzzing around and trying to attack her. The whole theme this week was involving Rock Lee’s love for Sakura and him trying to get her attention and go on a date with him.

Rock Lee firstly jumps out in front of Sakura and asks if she wants to go out on a date with him, which of course she turns down. Lee is crestfallen, while TenTen tells him he really must not know how girls really feel if that was the way he approached someone for a date.

Upon hearing it, we then go in to a skit where yet again Neji is a girl, and he is with both TenTen and Lee. Lee asks what TenTen thinks makes a guy cool, and so she says a few things like being kind, being honest about their feelings, and giving her presents etc. When the skit is finished, Lee decides to try out TenTen’s ideas on Sakura. Firstly he notices Sakura about to sit on a bench that is a little dirty, so he jumps out from behind the bushes and starts cleaning it super fast. Sakura thinks to herself that Lee must really love cleaning which I found pretty funny, as well as laughing at Lee with him thinking that the cleaning was a great chance to give his arms a workout.

Lee then comes back shortly after and presents Sakura with a bunch of flowers, only for a bunch of Bees to emerge and start buzzing around Sakura. Lee is surprised, but then tells her not to worry and begins trying to hit them all with supposedly precision accuracy, although in truth all his punches instead hit Sakura in the face. Knowing that things are a disaster, he then quickly moved on to the last point, that being confessing his true feelings. He tells Sakura that there is something he has to say to her, but that finding the words is hard. Sakura looks at Lee expectantly for what he will say next, but then another Bee appears and stings Lee just as he is about to say it, causing him to call the Bee a beast, only for Sakura to think he was talking about her and so proceeds to punch him.

The second half was all about Rock Lee writing a love letter to Sakura, only to notice that a different letter was sticking out of her handbag with no sign of his. Lee is obviously upset about it, and when Naruto walks along, he tells him about the different love letter she has. Naruto is annoyed too as he thinks it’s another rival to himself for Sakura’s love, and the whole episode is based around Lee and Naruto trying to retrieve the letter from Sakura’s bag so they can destroy it before she reads it.

Of course then they both go through with loads of silly ideas and schemes to try and get the letter with little success, the highlight of which involves them pretending they were officials checking the contents of various ninja’s bags since they had to make sure ninja tools etc weren’t being misused. Then they find what they think are a pair of Sakura’s black panties, and you can probably guess their reaction to this haha. Anyway, in the end the bag ends up being sent flying through the air and all the contents coming out, so Lee and Naruto both grab a love letter each and tear them to shreds, only to find out that they had both destroyed each other’s letter to her, as the other one was Naruto’s all along.

As I said at the start, this was a definite improvement over last week’s episode. The first half was actually pretty damn funny, and while the second half wasn’t great, it was still ok with the odd amusing moment in. I think Rock Lee is just finding its’ feet at the moment, and so will probably continue to improve with each episode. I was really glad to see Sakura involved this time as her antics with Lee were always good for a laugh even in the main Naruto series. Most confusing is why yet again they had a skit where Neji was a girl, even he commented on the fact he doesn’t know why he is doing it haha.

But yeah, the series continues to be really silly and goofy, but definitely in a good way. It’s starting to succeed at being a really fun comedy series, and to be honest I really enjoyed this episode. I definitely think that if it can keep getting gradually better each week like it has so far, it could be a really nice series for fans of Naruto or Rock Lee in general.


New Naruto Shippuden: Road to Ninja Trailer Released

April 5, 2012

Earlier this year we heard the news that Masashi Kishimoto would be involved with the new Naruto Shippuden movie, titled  “Road to Ninja”. Well now I am happy to say that a new trailer for the movie has been released!

I unfortunately can’t embed the video on this site, but you can watch it by visiting TV Tokyo’s official website

http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/anime/naruto/movie12/index.html

It’s only 27 or 28 seconds long, but it looks fantastic so far. I don’t want to spoil what little we are shown, so I won’t comment about the details here.

What I will say though is I am really looking forward to it just from seeing the short trailer alone, so be sure to let me know your thoughts on it – including things like how can some of the stuff we see in the trailer be possible – in the comments section below!

EDIT:

Since originally posting this, someone has uploaded a subtitled version of the trailer on Youtube, which you can watch here