Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: VIZ Media
MSRP: $49.95 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
It’s filler time again for Naruto but this time around it’s not a bad thing at all.
If you’ve been following the anime version of Naruto for a long time now you know by now that the filler episodes and story arcs are either hit or miss with a bigger emphasis on miss but this is the Naruto Shippuden series where things are slightly bleaker than Naruto’s early adventures. Box Set Five of Naruto Shippuden offers us a rarity … a filler story arc that’s actually entertaining enough that Naruto fans should definitely not skip.
Unlike past Naruto Shippuden releases, the 12-episodes are offered up in three DVDs that pick up immediately after the events of Season One’s fourth box set. In this fifth installment, Naruto wakes from a horrible nightmare that he feels might be connected to the failed attempt to bring Sasuke Uchiha back home. Determined as ever to try again, he turns to Kakashi Sensei who is about to be released from the hospital after he was badly injured facing off against the Akatsuki.
As it turns out, though, Kakashi didn’t just spend his recovery time reading his favorite book but rather he has come up with a Jutsu that will benefit Naruto alone. Excited by the prospect of training again, Kakashi and Captain Yamato (who is the only one who can suppress Nine-Tails) aid Naruto in his training to manipulate one of the Chakra Natures. You see, Naruto possesses the Wind Nature and he could use it to his advantage. Even more interesting, however, is that the Kakashi has found a way for Naruto to learn a technique that would take a Jonin several years to master. The shortcut is actually quite brilliant and obvious that it’s actually hard to believe Naruto himself didn’t realize it.
As Naruto pushes himself to learn the new Jutsu and even gets Wind Nature training tips from Asuma Sensei, word reaches Lady Tsunade that a village bordering the Land of Fire has been wiped out by unknown assailants. Thinking this might be the work of the Akatsuki; the Hokage sends Asuma and his old team that consists of Shikamaru, Choji and Ino to investigate. Thinking it might be safe to send Naruto away as well, Tsunade has Team Kakashi accept a request from the monks in the Fire Temple to look into grave robbers looting the graves of respected Shinobi.
Team Kakashi, minus Kakashi Sensei for no good reasons, sets off with Captain Yamato to look into the grave robbers. Failing to meet up with the monks, Naruto runs into a young man who confuses him for one of the thieves and attacks him. It’s clear that the young man is skilled and gives Naruto quite a fight but – as it turns out – he is a monk-in-training by the name of Sora. Immediately taking a disliking to Naruto, Sora’s personality and background resembles that of Sasuke. Sora even has a similar mission: to kill the man that murdered his father.
Together with the monks, they try to find the thieves responsible for taking the caskets of four members of the Guardian Shinobi Twelve … heroic ninja guardians who watched over the Land of Fire. Tracking the thieves, Team Kakashi walk into a trap as the four thieves face off against each Leaf Ninja. Meanwhile, Sora encounters the leader who reveals that he not only knew Sora but the young man’s father as well. As Naruto battles a sexy opponent who can manipulate all Chakra Natures, he learns that you can combine them in ways that make attacks even more powerful.
After having escaped the trap, it becomes clear that the enemy is after somebody and that somebody might actually be Sora. So Captain Yamato has Sora accompany them back to the Leaf Village where the young man has a bonding moment with Naruto over training. In one of the many comical scenes in this set, Sora has a free-for-all battle with Naruto, Choji, Akamaru, Kiba and even Rock Lee.
A lot happens in the later half of the set as Sora comes to like Asuma who reveals that he too knew Sora’s father. Then there’s Lady Tsunade who feels that Danzo of the Foundation is up to something so she has him investigated. As it turns out, Danzo was up to something and there’s a very interesting confrontation between these two and it becomes even clearer that Danzo isn’t happy to leave the Hidden Leaf Village in her hands.
In the final episodes, Sora does find out who murdered his father and the killer happens to be a Leaf ninja as the young man uses his full power that he has hidden. On top of that, the four Shinobi that fought Team Kakashi are back as they too reveal the reason they stole the caskets as well as why they slaughtered villagers who threaten the well-being of the Land of Fire. All of this ends in a cliffhanger finale as Tsunade orders all Leaf Village ninja to stop Sora.
As interesting as the story arc is I found the four enemies to be simply Ok villains for this story and Sora doesn’t exactly come off as likeable either. What does work is the humor and there are a good number of laugh-out-loud scenes such as Sai calling Sakura “ugly” after having obtained bad advice from a book on meeting people. Then there’s Asuma who is embarrassed that everyone knows about his relationship with Kurenai Sensei.
DVD Set Five of Naruto Shippuden is a filler story arc that will is actually good enough to show Naruto fans a really good time. The story works well thanks to its good sense of humor that isn’t too goofy and action sequences that are simply just Ok. In fact, you’ll find enough to like about this installment and find yourself glad that Naruto is able to give us quality filler worth watching.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
As Naruto begins his training with Kakashi Sensei and Captain Yamato, word reaches the Hidden Leaf Village that a group of thieves is digging up the bodies belonging to twelve powerful guardian ninjas. Lady Tsunade sends Asuma’s team to investigate and Team Kakashi to meet up with the monks from the Fire Temple where they meet a bitter young man named Sora. However, the there’s more to the thieves as their real plan is finally revealed and the Leaf Village comes under fire.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The episodes might be filler but that doesn’t mean they don’t look good or feature some great scenes. Sakura losing it and smacking Naruto and Sai in one scene is worth the price of admission alone.
AUDIO QUALITY: A+
The voice acting is actually excellent when it comes to the dub with a surprising performance from Vic Mignogna as Fuen … a female character. Then there’s Laura Bailey who never fails to make her sexy characters sound even sexier. Believe me when I say that the opening and closing songs will quickly become favorites.
The third disc comes with extras that include Storyboards, Production Art, a few VIZ trailers but the best feature comes in the form of the English dub-only Omake (the short scenes that appear after the end credits) pulled from all 12 episodes.
It’s a rare thing to find good filler episodes in the Naruto series and even rarer to find a filler story arc that’s actually handled well but this fifth DVD Set of Naruto Shippuden manages to pull it off well. There are enough really memorable moments here to recommend this as a Must Have for all Naruto fans. Here’s hoping the next box set will due justice to this filler story arc.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media