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Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 2 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

January 29, 2011 by  



The conclusion to the first “Naruto” anime series and the second-half of the all-filler episode fourth season. Regardless of each episode being filler episodes, I have no doubt that “Naruto” fans will enjoy them 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 192-220 (650 minutes)

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

COMPANY: Viz Media

RATED: T for Older Teen

RELEASED: December 14, 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

Naruto and his fellow Leaf ninja are desperate to find a set of stolen blueprints revealing secrets of the Hidden Leaf Village, and in their search they discover something even more devastating: someone has set paper bombs all over the village. Is the Hidden Leaf doomed to destruction? Then, the legendary Toad Sage, Jiraiya, returns to the village, and for Naruto, another amazing adventure begins!

Contains episodes 192-220.

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 the “Naruto” anime series on DVD, “Naruto Uncut: Seaspn Four Box Set Vol. 2” features a total of 28 episodes and six DVD’s total and this final volume of the “Naruto” anime series features the final episodes (192-220, note: In Japan, these episodes are part of season 8 and season 9).

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

DISC 1

  • EPISODE 192: Ino Screams! Chubby Paradise! – Ino and Naruto are on a mission to help a chubby princess find her man.
  • EPISODE 193: Viva Dojo Challenge! Youth is All About Passion! – Lee has created his own dojo and wants Naruto to spar with him, but Naruto has someone else in mind to fight Lee.
  • EPISODE 194: The Mysterious Curse of the Haunted Castle – The Mysterious Curse of the Haunted Castle – Naruto, Kiba and Hinata enter a haunted castle.
  • EPISODE 195: The Third Super-Beast – Tsunade is concerned that Rock Lee may be overexerting himself and his career as a ninja.

DISC 2

  • EPISODE 196: Hot-Blooded Confrontation: Student vs. Sensei – Guy is trapped inside a pagoda fighting kung fu training dummies.  Who is after him?
  • EPISODE 197: Crisis: The Hidden Leaf 11 Gather! – Naruto has lunch with a kind man named Gennou but it appears he may be planning a suicide bombing attack.
  • EPISODE 198: The ANBU Gives Up? Naruto’s Recollection – The ANBU agents try to learn from Naruto about Gennou, as a hunt is after the alleged suicide bomber.
  • EPISODE 199: The Missed Target – The group try to look for Gennou and the bombs that may be all over the village.
  • EPISODE 200: The Powerful Helper – The group tries to disarm all traps before Gennou can find out.

DISC 3

  • EPISODE 201: Multiple Traps! Countdown to Destruction – Naruto goes after Gennou.
  • EPISODE 202: The Top 5 Ninja Battles – A special recap episodes featuring Naruto and Sakura talking about the five battles when they tried to retrieve Sasuke.
  • EPISODE 203: Kurenai’s Decision: Squad 8 Left Behind – Naruto meets a girl named Yakumo and that same day, finds out that Kurenai Yuhi has resigned as leader of Team 8.
  • EPISODE 204: Yakumo’s Sealed Power – Naruto has a dream that Kurenai is trying to seal Yakumo’s genjutsu abilities.
  • EPISODE 205: Kurenai’s Top-Secret Mission: The Promise with the Third Hokage – The reason why Kurenai left Team 8 for Yakumo.

DISC 4

  • EPISODE 206: Genjutsu or Reality? – When Naruto and Team 8 return back to Konoha, has the village been destroyed?
  • EPISODE 207: The Supposed Sealed Ability – Naruto and members of Team 8 do what they can to stop Yakumo.
  • EPISODE 208: The Weight of the Prized Artifact! – Naruto and Kiba escort a man named Shinemon who is in danger because of a rare artifact that he is transporting.
  • EPISODE 209: The Enemy: Ninja Dropouts – Naruto, Sakura and Lee are hired to escorted a Ninja Dropout criminal, Gantetsu to prison. (note: in Japan, this is the first episode of season 9)
  • EPISODE 210: The Bewildering Forest – Naruto, Gantetsu and Todoroki’s boat falls over the waterfall and the three are in the forest.

DISC 5

  • EPISODE 211: Memory of Flames The Ninja Dropouts attack Naruto and Todoriki.  And we learn what happened to Todoroki’s brother.
  • EPISODE 212: To Each His Own Path – Naruto, Todoroki and Gantetsu make their way to the Ninja Dropout mansion to take on the ninjas.
  • EPISODE 213: Vanished Memories – Naruto meets a guy named Menma who has lost his memory and brings him to the village, but what if he is a spy?
  • EPISODE 214: Bringing Back Reality – In order to find out Menma’s true identy, Naruto along with Menma, Neji and Tenten go on a mission.
  • EPISODE 215- A Past to Be Erased – Menma’s true identity is revealed.

DISC 6

  • EPISODE 216 – The Targeted Sukaku – A group of rogue ninjas from the Takumi Village, Shitenshonin invade the sand village and kidnap Matsuri, a student of Gaara.
  • EPISODE 217 – Sand Alliance with Leaf Shinobi – Gaara, Temari and Kankuro chase after the Shitenshonin.
  • EPISODE 218 – Sealed Sand: The Counterattack! – Gaara, Temari and Kankuro vs. the Shitenshonin.  Lee and Naruto come to help them out.
  • EPISODE 219: The Ultimate Weapon Reborn – Jin plans to use Gaara to revive Seimei, leading to a battle between Naruto vs. Seimei.
  • EPISODE 220: Departure – Final episode of the “Naruto” anime series.  Gaara vs. Seimei and a new adventure in the life of Naruto Uzumaki.

VIDEO:

“Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 2” 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 16 Sneak Preview – (4:14) Featuring a trailer for the older “Naruto” Vol. 16 DVD release.
  • From Sketch to Screen, Episode 193 – 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
  • Naruto Shippuden Sneak Preview – (2:37) Featuring a preview for “Naruto Shippuden”.
  • 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 220+ episode series with these DVD new box sets.

As for “Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 2”, it all comes down to of how much of a big fan you are of the series because similar to “Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 1”, this second volume is literally all filler episodes.  Granted, it ends the “Naruto” anime series which will lead into “Naruto Shippuden” but the conclusion for the first animated series was not as great as I was expecting.  But needless to say, a reunion of Naruto and Gaara is still a notch ahead over a regular filler episode.

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 “Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 2”, there are a few cool episodes that caught my attention.  The episode about the ninja with amnesia, Menma was good.  Also, the “Ninja Dropout” episodes featuring Naruto escorting a criminal to jail was good but still these are all filler episodes.  Some that didn’t seem right because even in the “Ninja Dropout” episodes, when a child is about to be attacked and kidnapped by an enemy ninja, Rock Lee and Sakura don’t do anything to defend them.  They just stand back and watch… and we know that in previous non-filler episodes, these two are capable of defending this kid let alone the children around them.  So, those are typically things you see from filler-episodes.  It’s a been ridiculous in some aspect if you are a fan who has been following the series regularly but when you think about the targeted demographic in Japan and many children are watching this series, children typically don’t care about the inconsistencies.

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.

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 (especially watching them after “Naruto Shippuden”) 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 filler episodes.  They are not the greatest episodes but the fact that Naruto teams up with every one of his friends from the Leaf Village is pretty cool.

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 a fan of “Naruto”, it’s a great deal!

If you are fan of the anime series “Naruto”, especially if you are a completest and want to own all sets, “Naruto Uncut: Season Four Box Set Vol. 2” is definitely worthy of having in your collection, otherwise if you are more focused on “Naruto” manga canon, then this latest volume can be passed over and you can move on to the awesome “Naruto Shippuden”.






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