What They Say:
The Fourth Great Ninja War intensifies as the Allied Forces face the might of the Reanimated Jinchuriki, who have been equipped with both the Rinnegan and Sharingan. Naruto tries to convince the Four Tails that he ll free him and the other Tailed Beasts from Madara’s control. While listening to Naruto, the Nine Tails goes through a surprising change. Meanwhile, Sasuke has obtained new information found at one of Orochimaru’s old hideouts that may turn the tide of the entire war! Will the unity of the Allied Forces hold under combined fury of the Reanimated Jinchuriki and their mysterious commander?
Set up in Stereo 2.0 in both Japanese and English instead of a 5.1 release is still an acceptable quality but a bit of tinkering of the volume was needed to make it of an acceptable quality, though there weren’t any issues in terms of the sound being out on sync with the subtitles or the video.
The video is as usual of a decent quality, with no noticeable issues with lag or video in poor resolution during viewing or when pausing, so no problems with watching the whole release through, with a lot of great battle animation and the fact that a lot of the scenes becoming way more flowing whether it is running to find Naruto, or the final set up where Kabuto, Itachi and Sasuke meet up, there are no delays with timing with subtitles with animation in either language or slowdown with normal rates or via pausing where the animation can become fuzzy.
There was no packaging for this test release.
Set on a black background, we have a shot of Naruto on disc 1, and of Sage Mode Naruto in disc 2, it is a very standard menu with the selections Play All, Episodes and Set Up on the first disc, with Extras available on the 2nd disc. The menus are very basic, and function fine in selection both from the main menu and from watching the show, but nothing interesting.
Time to repeat myself; the only extras are the same as always – trailers for Shippuden and the first movie for some reason. This is very grating considering with all the movies now out in the UK that they won’t even change the trailers and make it a very basic extras list and repeatable.
There are a couple more extras though – we have storyboards (5) and art cel drawings (5) easily selectable, regarding the tailed beasts which is an interesting story that occurs in Naruto: Shippuden this arc.
With most of the long running Shounen Jump series, the shows gets slowed down when it comes to plot and catching up with the manga, so filler is quite prominent. When the story returns, you appreciate how good they can surprisingly be, as whilst some shows it isn’t as obvious (One Piece) when filler occurs, other times it is (Naruto, Bleach) – Naruto is one of those series that when it does good, it does good. And it is returned to that with the continuation of the Ninja War but with some epic battles, the reunion of the 5 Kages vs. Madara, and the shocking duo of Sasuke and Itachi vs. Kabuto.
The start is Tsunade being transported over to face Madara, whilst Naruto holds off other enemies so the other Kage can reunite. So with all of them there and ready to clash with Madara, sending Naruto to face the ‘other’ Madara. Madara is insanely powerful that even the Kages together will have trouble defeating him – we get to see some of the lesser known Kages do stuff like Onoki, but the focus is mostly on Tsunade which is actually quite refreshing as whilst she is the Hokage, she hasn’t really had much change to shine since back when she was introduced and her relationship with Jiriaya and Orochimaru – here, Madara pretty much dismisses her as she is a pale shadow of Hashirama, and the worry is that she is no match for him. However, she is able to reveal a few tricks which surprise him (like able to heal without hand seals a la Hashirama) – Madara still seems overwhelming especially when he summons several clones which can also use Susannoo however it is a good cliff-hanger for this arc as we see flashbacks with Onoki, the powers of the other Kages and Gaara all trying to help out against this monster…
Naruto himself has his own story as well, as he begins to try and reunite all the Jinchuriki instead of hoping dying – with the aid of Killer Bee, Naruto clashes with the other Madara, a.k.a. Tobi who still intends to capture the tails, Naruto plans to expose him and bring the tails to his side and is joined by Guy and Kakashi and we learn of the resentment of the Tailed Beasts towards humans. This leads to Naruto ‘meetings’ many of the tailed beasts (and with one named Son Goku, the jokes and references are too many to make), he meets Kurama, a.k.a. the 9 tails, as they are starting to see that Naruto is a possible exception…
We get a lot of good flashback style moments of Kurama trying to emerge, his instances of him giving Naruto power (back in the early days when Sasuke nearly died up until the battle with Pain which almost killed Hinata) and the fact a lot of his friends are now on their way to help Naruto out, Naruto manages to break some control of Tobi over Son Goku, Tobi still has control over the rest and ready to attack Naruto. Kurama now powers him up and whoa, are we in for a treat – not only is it a great visual spectacle but the fact the rest of the tailed beasts acknowledge Naruto and he manages to break all of them to the point that Tobi has to withdrawn them as he has no control – it even adds a bit of comedy with Naruto trying to remember their names – Tobi is finally feeling a bit of worry as he withdraws, suggesting all he needs to do is win the war.
The other part of this story is the return of Sasuke to the show and of relevance – big time. He is still plotting to destroy Konoha after learning the truth about Itachi (unaware he has been resurrected at this point by Kabuto’s reanimation jutsu) and his followers are looking for him (leading to one humorous moment where Karin is in jail and is angry but still in love with a picture of Sasuke….which turns out to be false as she actually has hidden ninja equipment inside the photo frame) but things change when Itachi deliberately finds him as he is searching for Sasuke. Sasuke, understandably follows him, but in truth Itachi is leading him to Kabuto (Sasuke thought the power was from Orochimaru) – this leads to basically Kabuto finally admitting that he is the enemy – the problem is they need Kabuto to be alive to stop the reanimation technique so for the first time, the two brothers reunite and are on the same side to fight Kabuto. Here, it seems the brothers have the advantage but Kabuto reveals he has some techniques related to Sasuke’s squad, as well as having a Sage mode (which is actually surprisingly well explained) as we start to learn Kabuto’s history as the battle rages…
This is literally a 3 part arc – with it starting with the Kages, then going to Naruto, returns to the Kages and mixing it with a bit of the Uchihas. The focus is well spread out as we get three distant storylines all intertwining with each other, and all relevant to the overall plot of the Great War. The first part with the Kages, is a combination of realising just how damn powerful Madara is, but also that the Kages are not to be underestimated – it is a weird situation that the 5 against 1, and the 5 are the underdogs but it actually does work here – Madara says only Hashirama would have been a good match against him but he is almost a bit sexist dismissing Tsunade calling her ‘just a woman’ at one point. Of course she immediately makes him retract that by showing her true healing abilities so Madara is not underestimating them but you can see when he created his clones that he’s only touching the tip of the iceberg so the tension is there for the Kages to really up their game so to speak and it ends perfectly – in fact all the arcs end with cliff-hangers…
The Naruto part also brings into his development over the years – the fact he was treated with disdain and as an outcast, that the tailed beasts feel the same and humans have treated them horribly so Naruto is almost like a kindred spirit with them, and the fact he might just be the one to break them out of this mentality – the battles he gets involved with (and that catchy little song he does remembering all the beasts and the Kages so he can remember their names ^^) are beautiful to watch and seeing everything that Kurama goes through, first to manipulate Naruto so he can break free, but without losing his character, he turns to being able to use his power willingly so he doesn’t lose those edgy moments. This does feel like it will be a turning point in the story especially with all his friends coming to help him (there is a real nice moment shortly after the nature of the discrimination the beasts had that all his comrades rush to him, each with a thought of their heads about Naruto, from just being a fellow comrade to how much he does mean to them) that I just pray the next set isn’t filler because this has been one of the better sets in a while…
…and the icing of the cake is of course the reunion between Sasuke and Itachi. It is clear that Itachi doesn’t want Sasuke to go through his plan after previous conversations with Naruto and Bee, so he is kind of showing what is going on when he draws him to Kabuto. Kabuto is literally the puppet master behind the reanimation jutstu so defeating him seems to be the way to stop a powerful aide in this war; however the fact the show is setting up into flashback mode with his story means he is going to be there for a bit. In fact, his powers are much stronger than expected and for once, it doesn’t seem like just a deus ex machina – it has all been subtly explained even to the days of Sasuke finding his fellow ninjas for Taka – Kabuto is a much more credible villain than people seem to give him credit for (maybe as he initially doesn’t have the creep factor Orochimaru had. Nowadays you can definitely say he does…) but it also gives an excuse for something fans have wanted in Sasuke and Itachi working together – there is even a flashback to when they did work together to hunt a wild boar and using that in battle – and again, it ends perfectly as we set up Kabuto’s past so we just hope that all three of this stories continue in the next arc…
The only issue is that because of the focus of these three arcs it makes a lot of the other characters obsolete. Even in the main story, the only Kage with real airtime outside of Tsunade is actually Onoki and not Gaara – which is good as it develops the other Kage more but at the same time you hoped more would be with the others – the only part characters like Sakura play is that moment when they rush to find Naruto so it is a bit of a disappointment they are relegated but to be honest, it is totally understandable. This is one of the few Naruto sets where almost everything works out right. The plots are actually strong, the battles are well done, the characters are defined well and it sets up ready for a good climax.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t immediately jump into filler. *fingers crossed…*
Box 26 of Naruto: Shippuden reminds you that yes; this series can be really good at times. With three intense plots running with each other and being part of the large scheme in general, being a well animated arc and the set up for major cliff-hangers, added to some development with the Tailed Beasts, Tsunade, Kabuto and the Itachi/Sasuke relationship, it definitely is worth keeping along for the next set and with the other characters on their way, there is definite potential that stuff is about to get real. Probably the best arc since the Pain one so highly recommended.
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: October 17th, 2016
Running Time: 295 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.