Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: VIZ Media
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 350 minutes
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
Everyone gets a little lost on the way to becoming Hokage.
Naruto filler episodes are like the prizes in a Cracker Jack box … you either get a really good prize or you get one that hardly felt worthy of being put into the box in the first place. In the last two box sets, we were able to find a few things to like about a particular story arc but, overall, these episodes just aren’t as compelling as, say, Bleach filler episodes. Naruto, Uncut Box Set 15, isn’t the strongest season but there are a few moments worth savoring for die-hard fans of the series.
The box set begins with Episode 192 where the lovely Ino is asked to take on a mission for a Princess that asked for her in particular. You see, Ino bears a striking resemblance to the Princess and a double is required for a mission that requires Ino to take the place of the Princess for a meeting. As it turns out, the Princess does look like Ino … if Ino gained a few pounds and the meeting is one of courtship with what she describes as a dashing young Prince. Unfortunately for Ino, Naruto comes along to help but the Prince – who isn’t so slender either and has an Elvis obsession – doesn’t make things easier for the picky Ino.
In another episode, Rock Lee has started his own dojo in order to fight against new challengers who will give him a chance to test his fighting skills. Lee is still recovering from the surgery that had officially taken him off his team’s roster but it is clear that Bushy Brow has been keeping himself busy by training. While Naruto steps into the dojo out of curiosity, he doesn’t intend on fighting Lee so when he mentions the dojo to Guy-sensei the man jumps at the chance to give Lee what he wants. Putting on a cheap disguise, Guy intends on challenging Lee but when he is called away on a quick mission by the Hokage a mysterious stranger who is an expert in disguises shows up looking like the disguised version of Guy and ends up facing Lee.
I should note that this is by far one of the funniest episodes in the set. In fact, an episode connected to this one is another highlight and mainly it’s because of the intentionally cheesy and thoroughly hilarious Guy-sensei. Guy becomes the target of an assailant who comes to the Hidden Leaf Village posing as a student willing to learn from Guy. It also offers us an even deeper look into Guy and Rock Lee’s relationship that comes as close to a father-son relationship that becomes even more meaningful in this two-episode story arc when the assailant tricks the two into fighting each another.
Once again, Naruto is teamed up with Hinata and Kiba (with the always adorable Akamaru) to look into the disappearance of a few nobles near a road said to be haunted by a ghost. The team discovers a palace that isn’t on the map and soon finds out that something is not quite right about the creepy place. Looking into the history of the palace, Hinata discovers a number of startling things about the owner and the reason why the place is attempting to swallow them whole.
Then there’s the story arc that takes five episodes to cover and is actually quite interesting as the Hidden Leaf Village finds itself in danger when a mystery man runs off with the valuable blueprints of the village only to be cornered by Black Ops and then commits suicide by way of paper bombs. The Lady Hokage’s intelligence reports that the culprit might have been an old man who settled into the village as a construction worker sent to aid Konoha in the reconstruction and who has befriended Naruto. Naruto himself doesn’t believe the old man capable of such a thing but the Hokage has Shikamaru look into the matter anyway.
As it turns out, though, the Black Ops manages to gain some insight via Naruto’s memories when they take him in for questioning. On top of that, Shikamaru discovers that the old man might have been a covert operative from some other village sent to learn the Leaf Village’s weak spots. Instead, imagine their surprise when the stolen blueprints rain down on them from above. There’s another twist to the story when Neji and Hinata see that the entire village is wired to explode. The best scene in this story arc has Naruto running to fetch Hinata only to call at her in the most awkward manner.
“Hinata! You’re the one I want!” Naruto shouts and makes Hinata blush with thought that Naruto had finally found out she has a crush on him.
I won’t spoil the ending of that story arc and instead dive right into the other story arc that involves Kurenai-sensei and a girl that Naruto meets while training alone. We meet Yakumo, a girl Naruto finds painting the village until she begins to paint dark clouds an lightning striking the Hokage’s office. When the clouds do go dark and lightning does strike the Hokage’s office, Naruto suspects it is because the girl painted it. When Kurenai-sensei finds out about it, she calmly goes to the Hokage and resigns … an act that upsets and worries the members of Squad 8. Wanting to help, Naruto attempts to discover why Kurenai would abandon Shino, Hinata and Kiba only to find out that it might have something to do with Yakumo and something that occurred in the past with the Third Hokage.
As I said earlier, the episodes aren’t great but there’s a few moments that do make it worth watching if you’re a Naruto fan. There are episodes that really don’t add much such as the Ino episode and the Top 5 Ninja Battles! is only worth it for the surprise at the end. Sure, Naruto’s two battles with Sasuke do deserve to be on the list and the other three battles are memorable but they’re hardly the best ninja battles in the series.
Naruto, Uncut Box Set 15, isn’t a bad investment if you’re a loyal Naruto viewer but if you’re expecting quality episodes you are in for a disappointment. At the same time, there are some irresistible moments worth viewing in the set that will make this worth it for the more dedicated Naruto fan rather than the casual viewer. The Uncut Box Set 16 of Naruto will certainly be the one fans will be waiting for so we will definitely wait for that one instead.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Naruto aids Ino on a mission to help a Princess win over a Prince she has never seen and in another story arc Rock Lee and Guy-sensei’s bond is unbreakable. There’s even a haunting story that has Naruto, Hinata and Kiba working together. The better story arcs in this season has the Leaf Village in terrible danger from a bomber and in another one story Kurenai-sensei calls it quits.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The episodes look great on DVD and in its uncut format this is certainly the way to watch the Naruto series. Once again, VIZ Media manages to do justice to the original presentation.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
As far as Naruto is concerned, I love the Japanese voices but the English dub still does a good job of keeping up with the tone of the original Japanese. The music still works quite wonderfully throughout the series as it always has and the two opening theme songs, “Re:member” and “Yura Yura” are just awesome.
Future animators will get a kick out of the From Sketch to Screen: Storyboard Comparison for Episode 193 and there’s also the return of Production Art. There’s a preview for Volume 16 as well as a number of trailers for other VIZ Media DVDs as well as manga covers.
The Uncut Box Set 15 isn’t entirely bad as far as filler episodes go but there’s very little here that makes the grade or will remain as memorable as a few filler episodes from past seasons. That said, Naruto fans will want to check it out either way for the few good moments this season does manage to squeeze into the box set.