REVIEW: DVD Release: Naruto Shippuden Box Set 2

Series: Naruto Shippuden Box Set 2
Release date: 9th August 2010
Certificate: 12
Running time: 325 mins
Director: Hayato Date
Starring: Chie Nakamura, Junko Takeuchi, Noriaki Sugiyama, Akira Ishida, Hideo Ishikawa
Genre: Anime
Studio: Manga
Format: DVD
Country: Japan

Taking us through episodes 14 to 26 of the series, Naruto and his ninja comrades in Team 7 and Team Guy are back facing ever more tricky and cunning foes, as the popular anime series continues.

We are thrown straight into the action as the Kazekage Rescue Arc continues. Naruto finds himself locked in a tight battle with one of Pains, of the criminal Akatsuki gang’s body doubles, in the form of Itachi Uchiha, who traps the young ninja in a tricky mind genjutsu. Meanwhile, Team Guy is equally in trouble as they struggle to defeat Kisame, and his mighty water techniques. However, both teams prevail, and, realising that these fights were a ruse by the Akatsuki to slow them, rush to try and rescue the captured Gaara, who is slowly having his life drained away as the Akatsuki attempt to steal his jinchuriku energy.

Arriving at the cave where the Gaara is being held, the two teams reunite only to find that the entrance is blocked with a special Chakra gate; requiring the team to split up again and remove the four paper seals of the gate. Team Guy are sent off to find the seals, however, they are soon then trapped in a deadly clash with a further security measure of the gate - clones of themselves, who share all their techniques.

In the meantime, Naruto, Kakashi, Sakura and Chiyo smash into the cave only to find their efforts were in vain, as they discover Akatsuki members Deidara and Sasori sitting on top of Gaara’s lifeless body. An enraged Naruto chases after Deidara, who leads him and Kakashi on a wild goose chase. This leaves Sakura and Chiyo facing down against Sasori, Chiyo’s grandson and an incredibly powerful human puppet master...

Naruto fans will not be disappointed with the battles that these DVDs cover, as we get the bulk of Naruto’s fight with the clone of Itachi Uchiha, as well as the major battle between Sasori, Chiyo and Sakura.

However, as there are only a limited numbers of episodes included in this box-set, the continuity can feel somewhat clunky, particularly as the first episode starts in the middle of a battle. This will make following the plot especially difficult to newcomers to the series, who are thrown straight in without any real clue of what’s going on. Additionally, after investing the time viewing the discs, the box set ends on a major cliff-hanger, which could make some fans feel a little cheated, as there is little resolution to what was a long and fraught battle.

However, some electrifying moments from this part of the series are present despite these problems. The battle between Sakura, Chiyo and Sasori is particularly intense. But Sasori himself (including his many puppets) is incredibly creepy. The creators have done well to make this fight seem extra atmospheric, as the fight is visually and aurally intense; especially thanks to a bone clattering sound effect used when the puppets fight. If you didn’t find puppets sinister before, you likely will after witnessing this fight.

Strangely, we do not see a great deal of the titular hero from the midway point of this box set. In the meantime, Sakura becomes the main focus, and definitely shows that she is a formidable ninja, with a strong resolve to win. These episodes really concentrate on how the characters have progressed, starting with Naruto himself, but then placing the emphasis more and more on Sakura. To be fair, it is nice to see a female character in an anime series not being marginalized for once.

For those unfamiliar with the style of Naruto Shippuden, the animation is generally of a good standard. It doesn’t contain the sometimes sketchy, almost draft like style, which some anime series’ utilise. The lines are well drawn, the scenery is colourful, and the animators make good use of CGI in some parts, which compliments, rather than clashes with the style of the drawing. Also, the animation can be particularly expressive on occasions - as good anime should be, especially when it comes to some of the more poignant and explosive moments of battle.

The second box set includes some great action from The Kazekage Rescue Arc of the show. However, it is probably not worth a look without having seen the first box set, or without being familiar with the series. Ultimately, however, Naruto: Shippuden fans will not be disappointed, as there are some gratifying moments to enjoy, as well as a fun all-round anime experience. DJ

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