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Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

December 26, 2010 by  



The first half of the fourth season in the U.S. of  the popular anime series “Naruto” was seen as an all-filler season. Regardless, I have no doubt that “Naruto” fans will enjoy the episodes and the fact that you get 28-episodes in one set for a great price is fantastic!  But if you dislike episodes that are not canon to the manga and filler episodes in general, this volume of “Naruto” may not be for you.

Image courtesy of © 2002 Masashi Kishimoto. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Naruto Uncut Season Four Box Set Vol. 1

ANIME RELEASE: 2002

DURATION: Episodes 164-191 (700 minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: Original and Uncut Episodes, Bilingual (English and Japanese), Subtitles: English, 4:3

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASED: October 26, 2010

Originally created by Masashi Kishimoto

Directed by Hayato Date

Script by Akatsuki Yamatoya, Junki Takegami, Katsuyuki Sumisawa, Kou Hei Mushi, Michiko Yokote, Satoru Nishizono, Shin Yoshida, Yasuyuki Suzuki, Yuka Miyata

Character Design by Hirofumi Suzuki, Tetsuya Nishio

Art Director: Shigenori Takada

Music by Toshio Masuda

Anime Production: Studio Pierrot

Featuring the following voice talent:

Junko Takeuchi/Maile Flanagan as Naruto Uzumaki

Chie Nakamura/Kate Higgins as Sakura Haruno

Noriaki Sugiyama/Yuri Lowenthal as Sasuke Uchiha

Akira Ishida/Liam O’Brien as Sabaku no Gaara (Gaara of the Desert)

Houchu Ohtsuka/David Lodge as Jiraiya

Kazuhiko Inoue/Dave Wittenberg as Hatake Kakashi

Kentarou Itou/Robbie Rist as Chouji Akimichi

Kouichi Toochika/Steve Staley as Neji Hyuuga

Kousuke Toriumi/Kyle Hebert as Kiba Inuzuka

Kujira/Steven Blum as Orochimaru

Nana Mizuki/Stephanie Sheh as Hinata Hyuuga

Romi Paku/Tara Platt as Temari

Ryoka Yuzuki/Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Ino Yamanaka

Shinji Kawada/Derek Stephen Prince as Shino Aburame

Yoichi Masukawa/Brian Donovan as Rock Lee

In the Village Hidden in the Leaves, there are few things Naruto and Choji love more than a steaming bowl of Ichiraku ramen, and when the daughter of the owner is kidnapped, they’re on the case. Then, missions for the Leaf ninja lead them to the Land of Bears after a fallen meteorite and the Land of Greens to protect a princess. When an evil ninja who’s after the princess gets in their way, it’s Naruto’s life on the line!

Since 1999, “Naruto” created by Masashi Kishimoto (“Karakuri”) has been one of the most popular anime and manga series in Japan and has easily become a favorite best selling anime/manga series among fans all over the world.

For the anime series, since 2002, “Naruto” lasted until 2007 with a total of 220 episodes.  The series would follow the adventures of a boy named Naruto Uzamaki, who may not be the brightest ninja from the Konoha Village but he makes it up with heart and also tremendous power as the killer beast known as the nine-tailed fox has been sealed within him.

Earlier in the series, the anime series focused on Naruto and his team members Sasuke Uchida and Sakura Haruno as they would go on adventures and learn to become a team and also honing their ninja abilities.  The series would then begin to introduce other young ninjas from the village who Naruto would be paired up with and the young ninjas would take on rival clans to helping people in need.  But somehow as the series continued, Sasuke Uchida would then go off on his own personal mission to stop his brother Itaki Uchida, who murdered the whole Uchida clan and his family, only leaving Sasuke alive.

Within those six years, we have seen Naruto and his friends grow as friends and also in their abilities.  For Naruto, all he has wanted is to become the next Hokage (the leader of the village) when he grows older and to help his friends accomplish missions.  He knows that to be a good leader, he will need to get stronger so he can protect the village once he grows older.  Of course, there is so much involved in the “Naruto” anime series and what makes its special is its humor, its action but also how well the series integrates so many characters but yet features a good number of character driven episodes that makes the viewer appreciate many of the characters in the series.

But in Japan, the anime series creators started to face a typical snag when the TV series starts to come close to where the manga series storyline is at.  And because the series was so close to Masashi Kishimoto’s timeline of where he was at in the series, the only thing animators could do to provide adequate spacing without discontinuing the popular series was to create filler episodes (note: This has been done in the past with popular Shonen Jump series such as “Dragon Ball Z”, “Inuyasha” and “One Piece”) and for “Naruto”, many episodes would have to be written and with so many characters featured in the series, it gave writers a chance to show teamwork between Naruto and other Konoha ninjas.

While filler episodes are not seen as favorable from the hardcore fans perspective, it all comes down to how well the filler episodes are written.

With the re-release of “Naruto Uncut” featuring 28 episodes and six DVD’s total, “Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 1” focuses on episodes 164-191 (in Japan, these episodes are part of season 7 and season 8).

Here is a brief spoiler-less synopsis of each episode featured in this set:

DISC 1

  • EPISODE 164: Too Late for Help – Naruto discovers the true identity of the Watari Ninja.
  • EPISODE 165: The Death of Naruto – Neji, Tenten and Kakashi stare at a grave and believe it may be Naruto who has died.
  • EPISODE 166: When Time Stands Still – The truth revealed about Sagi and Toki.
  • EPISODE 167: When Egrets Flap Their Wings – Mousou reveals his true self.

DISC 2

  • EPISODE 168: Mix It, Stretch It, Boil It Up! Burn, Copper Pot, Burn! – Chef Teuchi needs to win a cooking contest or else he will lose his daughter Ayame.  Naruto, Chouji and Sakura help him out.
  • EPISODE 169: Remembrance: The Lost Page – Anko Mitarashi is sent to the Land of the Sea and Naruto, Shino and Ino investigate the “Kaima” monster.
  • EPISODE 170: The Closed Door – Naruto awakens in a hut in which belongs to Isaribi.  Meanwhile, Sasuke overhears a conversation between Orochimaru and the scientist Amachi.
  • EPISODE 171: Infilitration: The Set-Up! – Shino, Naruto and Ino discover an experimental laboratory.
  • EPISODE 172: Despair: A Fractured Heart – Anko summons a giant snake to save the team.

DISC 3

  • EPISODE 173: Battle at Sea: The Power Unleashed!! – Naruto vs. Amachi.
  • EPISODE 174: Impossible! Celebrity Ninja Art: Money Style Jutsu! – Naruto must protect a spoiled rich kid named Kunihisa.
  • EPISODE 175: The Treasure Hunt is On! – Naruto, Hinata and Kiba go on a mission.
  • EPISODE 176: Run, Dodge, Zigzag! Chase or be Chased! – The group continue their mission but get in a battle with an exact copy of themselves.
  • EPISODE 177: Please, Mr. Postman! – Naruto meets up with Jiraiya and ghost writes a script which now may make two clans go to war with each other.

DISC 4

  • EPISODE 178: Encounter! The Boy with a Star’s Name – Tenten, Neji and Rock Lee go on a mission to protect the star belonging to the Hidden Village of the Star and Naruto joins them in their mission.
  • EPISODE 179: The Remembered Lullaby – The star has been stolen and the team looks for the thief.
  • EPISODE 180: Hidden Jutsu: The Price of the Ninja Art: Kujaku – The thief who stole the star is revealed.
  • EPISODE 181: Hoshikage: The Buried Truth – Naruto learns the truth of why the star training had been banned.

DISC 5

  • EPISODE 182: Reunion, the Remaining Time Sumaru and his mother reunited, Akahoshi declares himself as the fourth Hoshikage of their village.
  • EPISODE 183: The Star’s Radiance – The villagers try to stand up against Akahoshi.
  • EPISODE 184: Kiba’s Long Day – Naruto is assigned to watch over Akamaru, who for some reason is acting strangely and is affected by a bacteria.
  • EPISODE 185: A Legend from the Hidden Leaf: The Onbaa! – A creature known as the Onbaa has attached itself to Naruto’s back and as it grows quickly, Lady Tsunade wants Naruto to get rid of it before it causes problems and chaos to the village.
  • EPISODE 186 – Laughing Shino – A man named Moshino Kagetsu Fuuta hires Naruto and Shino to protect him as he will lose an inheritance of he laughs during his father’s funeral.

DISC 6

  • EPISODE 187 – Open for Business! The Leaf Moving Service – Naruto, Choji and Hinata help a group move out of the Land of Greens.
  • EPISODE 188 – Mystery of the Targeted Merchants – Naruto learns about the truth of why the peddlers were being used.
  • EPISODE 189 – A Limitless Supply of Ninja Tools – Naruto and Yurinojou vs. Ruiga
  • EPISODE 190: The Byakugan sees the Blind Spot – Hinata comes to the rescue in order to help Naruto but will she be able to use her byakugan effectively in battle.
  • EPISODE 191: Forecast: Death! Cloudy with Chance of Sun – Naruto’s friends have been kidnapped by Renga’s men.

VIDEO:

“Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 1” is presented in 4:3, standard definition.

Maybe it’s me but I have felt there was a bit of a simplistic style of character designs in the later seasons of “Naruto” versus the earlier seasons and sometimes I wonder how many episodes were being done all at once because most shots were either closeups and the fight scenes were simple and not fluid.  If anything, the series makes things up with Naruto’s witty dialogue and the overall writing but animation was OK, not spectacular for these later episodes (note: This is typically how things have been with a lot of longtime anime series and possibly the most drastic of an example is “Ranma 1/2”).

But there are some scenes which do look good with shading and lighting for the artistic backgrounds but in general, you can tell that they kept to a formula of keeping things simple for animation and artistic backgrounds.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Naruto Uncut” is presented in bilingual Japanese and English uncut.  The acting are well-done for both languages and since the first day I started watching the English dubbed version of “Naruto”, I have always felt the voice acting for the series was excellent.  But whichever language you choose, both are well-done and grateful that both audio tracks are included in this set.

It’s important to note that this series is a TV series and thus, one should not expect an immersive soundscape especially from the surround channels or LFE.  But if you have a receiver that can output stereo on all channels, you may enjoy that option for a more immersive soundtrack than just the two front channels.

Subtitles are presented in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 1” includes the following special features:

DISC 3

  • Production Art -Featuring 15 pages of production art
  • Volume 14 Sneak Preview – (4:01) Featuring a trailer for the older Naruto Vol. 14 DVD release.
  • From Sketch to Screen, Episode 173 – Featuring eight pages of the storyboards and corresponding video clip.
  • New from Viz Media – New releases from Viz Media
  • DVD Trailers – Viz Media trailers
  • Game Trailers – Featuring clips from various “Naruto” video games.

DISC 6

  • Production Art -Featuring 15 pages of production art
  • Volume 15 Sneak Preview – (4:11) Featuring a trailer for the older Naruto Vol. 15 DVD release.
  • From Sketch to Screen, Episode 182 – Featuring eight pages of the storyboards and corresponding video clip.
  • New from Viz Media – New releases from Viz Media
  • DVD Trailers – Viz Media trailers
  • Game Trailers – Featuring clips from various “Naruto” video games.

If you haven’t purchased the original “Naruto” series on DVD, I have to say that Viz Media’s release of these uncut box sets are much more economical than the old 14-episode sets.  You get 28-episodes and for the most part, it’s easier to follow a 200+ episode series with these DVD new box sets.

As for “Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 1”, it all comes down to of how much of a big fan you are of the series because this volume is literally all filler episodes.

Back when I watched this series on television, I admit to becoming more impatient as I wanted the storyline of Naruto’s quest for Sasuke to become the focal point as we got a taste of the new Sasuke vs. the Naruto in which the fox spirit is starting to consume him but also help him become more fierce in battle.  I thought at the time that filler episodes would last about a 2-3 episodes long but nowhere was I expecting nearly 30+ filler episodes.  I enjoyed “Naruto” but the filler episodes were really hurting the quality of the series.  They went way too long and by the time you reach a major storyline, it doesn’t happen until the last dozen of episodes and then it transitions to the action-packed “Naruto Shippuden” series which takes place seven years after the final episode.

But I understand that in order to keeping the show from catching up to the “Naruto” manga, fillers are needed, especially for continued interest in the extensive “Naruto” merchandise and video game releases.

With that being said,  it’s been awhile since I have re-visited these filler episodes and I actually appreciate them more several years later and see what the writers really had to contend with by trying to remain faithful to the characters and storyline but trying to come up with as many filler episodes as possible until the next major story arc.  What best than to have Naruto paired up with Neji, Rock, Shino, Chouji and many others in crazy but fun episodes.

If anything, the filler episodes were entertaining but the problem is, how much can one endure episode after episode of filler-based storylines especially when viewers were teased between the battle between Naruto and Sasuke.  Also, it didn’t help when people had to watch many filler episodes of “Bleach” on the Cartoon Network as well.  So, it was a double-dose of filler episodes from two extremely popular anime series.

Back when Vol. 14 and 15 were released as uncut sets, I admit that I would probably have scored this much lower.  But because we are getting 28 episodes sold for a pretty good price these days, its hard to complain other than the episodes being filler.

If you are fan of the anime series “Naruto”, especially if you are a completist and want to own all sets, “Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 1” is definitely worthy of having in your collection, otherwise if you are more focused on “Naruto” manga canon, then this latest volume can be bypassed.






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