Critic's Log - Earthdate: July 27, 2012. Review #15: Naruto
ALRIGHT! Let's get right into Naruto!
Naruto Uzamaki is a boy who is feared and loathed by the villagers in the Hidden Leaf Village. This distrust of the boy is not because of whom he is, it is because of what is inside him and causes anxiety on fellow villagers. Before Naruto was born, a great Nine - Tailed demon fox attacked the Hidden Leaf Village with monstrous fury and power, this Demon Fox took many lives. The Fourth Hokage arrives, and The Fourth Hokage was the strongest shinobi in the hidden Leaf village at the time and he bravely fought the Nine-Tailed Fox and the battle was won by the Fourth Hokage as he sealed the demon fox in a newborn baby boy after sacrificing his own life. As Naruto grows, he decides that he wants to become the village's strongest ninja in an effort to show everyone that he is not what they perceived him to be; but is a human being worthy of love and admiration. The road of becoming Hokage however will be a long and difficult one. It will be a path full of betrayal, pain, and sorrow. But with hard, Naruto might be able to achieve the title of Hokage.
To be technical, this is a Studio Pierrot production and they have a pretty good resume if you look up on what animes they have produced past and since Naruto. This show was a big hit in both Japan and in the US, although the US had its issues when it first aired. Japan obviously aired it the way you see it now on DVD, we citizens of the United States saw it on TV in Edited fashion (Obviously censored so kids can watch it). I used to watch Naruto's censored version and trust me... it is 10 times better uncut, Believe It! *I get punched in the face for saying "Believe It"* "OW! What was that for!?... Hello?” Back to the review... Of all the animes I have seen, Naruto is one of those animes that I have a hard time reviewing. The show is watchable because its story is ok for the most part; It is definitely flawed to say the least. Let me just state my opinion on the story arcs to follow... Here I go.
The Introduction Arc - It's nice for starters
The Land of Waves Arc - Pretty Good
The Chunin Exam Arc - It builds up and starts getting interesting, the fights after are awesome until...
The Invasion of Konoha Arc - The Fights are interrupted, but the stakes start going through the roof. Naruto and Gaara's fight was great.
Search for Tsunade Arc - The mini arc which involves Itachi's return was fascinating. This arc is building up to the next arc. This arc has some nice moments.
The 101st Episode is a filler episode, but the episode was meant to be over the top, it's the "Kakashi Mask" episode. It is so silly. It's even silly that they show a horse taking a dump and the horse appears to be laughing while a 4th wall break ensues. Yeah, It's that over the top.
Land of Tea arc - okay, but not memorable
Sasuke Retrieval Arc - This is a pretty good arc, but has its flaws. It does give promising expectation for the sequel series that follows after.
Every single filler arc after the "Sasuke Retrieval" Arc - BULLSHIT! And a waste of time. Some are funny, some are stupid, some are tedious, and some are just flat-out boring and unneeded.
Even if the story is plausible and even though the direction by Hayato Date may be a little mixed at times... the 85 episode streak of fillers is the show's biggest weakness. I have good news for you about these fillers. These fillers are after the main story, unless you are a masochist, skip the fillers and jump right into Shippuden, you aren't missing anything after Episode 135.
The animation is pretty good, but it is slightly dated. It does look better in later arcs. I find it odd that the animation does look better in certain episodes. But there are some episodes that look fluid but less exact than the rest of the show, should I say that the animation is slightly hit and miss? I'll leave this up for you to debate. The one thing that does get repetitive is the use of flashbacks. I am damn serious. This show overkills on the flashbacks. I know it's used to have the character remember certain memories from those characters’ pasts, but it could have been reduced to a certain amount of scenes.
The music by Toshio Masuda and... Musashi Project (a band?) is... fitting for the show in some areas, , but I guess there are some noteworthy songs in the show that are fine without the show. I will give the show some props that it does have a a couple good openings to get pumped up for the episode to start. Some closing themes are good too
I guess the characters are another thing to mention. Some of these characters are deemed as one-dimensional characters *I get punched in the face again for saying* "OW! Damn It, Who's doing that!?... Hello? I said some, not all of them" okay, there are some really good characters in this show. The one thing that some people have criticized the characters for is that some of these characters are a bit stereotypical and can be deemed insulting in some way... This show does have too many characters. There are too many supporting characters, too many minor villains, too many minor characters. There are hundreds of characters. Much less if you skip the filler at least. There will be more added when you see Naruto Shippuden.
The voice acting on both sides does need to be commented on...
The Japanese cast is pretty good and listenable, The English Dub on the other hand isn't bad either *A bunch of masked Ninja appear and all of them have weapons near me ready to kill* "Ok, ok, hear me out, hear me out" The dub is a bit rocky at first and if you remember your first memory of the dub, you got used to it and it got better later on. What I think saved the dub was Steve Blum's performance as Zabuza. (He had a lot of fun as Orochimaru, I can guarantee you that). But the dub has its flaws. Some characters have their voices changed because of certain characters fighting each other that could have ended up played by the same voice (Viz Media obviously didn't read the manga to find out who would fight who) some of these voice changes were made for the better. *The Ninja put away their weapons and they leave*
Junko Takeuchi and Maile Flanagan are very well known for their roles as Naruto, Even though Naruto may have been annoying at first in the dub, Naruto's English voice is just as fitting as the subbed version, even though they sound a little different. Sakura's Seiyuu and English voice actress are okay, Noriaki Sugimiya and Yuri Lowenthal are terrific as Sasuke. There are other cast members for both Japanese and English that have their spotlight, but there are so many cast members to mention. Look them up if you want to...
I guess the real question is... Why do a lot of people like this anime so much, is it the action? is it the themes? Is it the characters? well there are a lot of reasons that a lot of people like this anime. There are some people that find this anime extremely overrated. I may kindly say that I really did like this show in the past. I had a lot of fun watching it. It is super popular that the manga has caught up quickly to catch up with the Japanese serialization. The 7th volume of the manga won a Quill Award in the US (Some award for books I guess) The anime and the manga is one of Viz Media's bestselling titles in the US.
Naruto is available from Viz Media; the manga adaptation by Masashi Kishimoto is also available by Viz Media. Two light novels are probably available by Viz Media, an OVA called "Protect the Waterfall Village" is the one of the only two OVAs available by Viz Media while the others were never licensed. The Leaf Village sports festival OVA came with the first movie, The three movies "Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow", "Legend of The Stone Gelel", and "Guardians of The Crescent Moon Kingdom" are also available by Viz Media. There's also several video games released by other companies but there are too many to tell and there really isn't a point to tell them all. Same goes with the trading card game... Also, Naruto Shippuden (the sequel to Naruto) is obviously available from Viz Media
With that said, Naruto may not be everyone's cup of tea. But it is a very entertaining show that has some really interesting themes. Before I finish my review of Naruto. I will give this show two ratings. One rating for the beginning till the filler streak and one rating for the show as a whole (from Episode 1-220)
I give Naruto a 7.5 out of 10 without the filler streak. It is GOOD!
For the show as a whole though, I give Naruto a 6.5 out of 10, it is DECENT!
Feel free to comment below and pursue your dreams.