Konoha, the Hidden Leaf Village is your average ninja hamlet,
except for one thing, it contains Naruto Uzumaki. Unbeknownst,
to the children, but known to their parents Naruto's body
contains the trapped spirit of Kyubi, a demon fox which had
been defeated twelve years ago. Because of their parent's
behaviour towards Naruto, the children of the village also
treat him with deferential fear. All Naruto wants is to become
the best ninja that he can and win the respect of the villagers,
especially Haruno Sakura who he has a crush on and his mentor
Jounin Sensei, Hakate Kakashi. Only time will tell if even
his arch rival Uchida Sasuke will play a part on his road
to become the village's Hokage...
after its initial transmission in 2002 Naruto soon
became a firm fan favourite. This popularity continued when
it was broadcast in North America. Based on the original manga
created by Masashi Kishimoto, which sold in excess of 59 million
copies in Japan and 60 million in the States, this has created
a huge fan base and there has been a lot of expectation from
anime fans for this show, and a long arduous wait for it to
come to our shores. Although, it is now being shown in this
country, it is in its cut format. Now for the first time,
courtesy of Manga Entertainment, you can see the first thirteen
episodes in their full uncut glory giving you a full three
hundred and twenty-four minutes of Naruto madness.
As with all successful shows Naruto has spawned everything
from computer games to collectable cards plus three movies,
the last of which should be being released as you read this.
one contains episodes one to five.
Episode one: Uzumaki Naruto Arrives, and we're into
the introduction story. It turns out that our Naruto is a
bit of a scamp, getting caught defacing a Mount Rushmore type
monument. As well as introducing the main character the main
thrust of the story is to introduce the back story of the
fox demon living in Naruto and the reason for the villagers
fear. Of course, to round off this introduction, there is
a bit of ninja butt kicking thrown in for good measure.
Episode two: I am Konohamaru and, having graduated
as a ninja, Naruto's first task is to get his picture taken.
However this is interrupted by the arrival of the young man
Konohamaru, the grandson of the third great Hokage. Naruto
tries to mentor the boy, using girly mags and sneaking into
the girl's bathroom. It's an amusing episode, but not one
that pushes the story ahead much.
three: Rivals! Sasuke and Sakura, in which we are introduced
to two important reoccurring characters and Naruto gets more
than a little bit p*ssed, well I did say these were the uncut
four: The Trial: Survival Training, and the gang start
on their road to becoming real ninjas.
five and the last story on disc one: Failure: Kakashi's
Conclusion, and the kids discover that they have royally
screwed up. In the middle of their fight training the Sensei
stops the fight and tells them that they have all failed as
they have not learned to work as a team. If that wasn't bad
enough Naruto is hanging upside down from a tree.
the first disc does its job, by now the most important characters
have been introduced and the various pressures between them
set up. The first scenes are well choreographed, though whether
this element of the show will become repetitive only time
will tell. So far the show has relied heavily on its comedic
and fight elements with little in the way of a dramatic story
arc developing, but then these are the early episodes.
two contains episodes six to nine and the real story begins...
six: Important Mission! Heading to the Country of the Wave,
and Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura are sent off on a number of
missions to further their ninja training. Given the level
of difficulty baby-sitting and cat retrieving Naruto decides
to have a p*ssy fit. On the way to the Country of the Wave
the gang meets a drunk who reveals himself as a great bridge
builder, before they can get to the village they are attacked
by the Demon brothers.
seven: The Assassin of the Mist, and it would appear
that the gang has made some powerful enemies. Tazuna the drunk,
introduced in the previous episode, is being hunted by the
shipping magnate Gatou who is incensed that Tazuna's bridge
will destroy his shipping monopoly.
eight: Decision Sworn on Pain, and the show opens with
the fight from the previous show. In truth this episode does
little to advance the plot, rather it is a lengthy fight scene,
though the fight choreography never lets the show get boring.
Episode nine and the last episode on disc two: Sharingan
Kakashi and Kakashi, and Naruto's fight with Momouchi
continues from the previous episode. The episode wraps up
the extended fight which has been going on over episode seven
to nine. Where as the initial episodes showed Naruto as a
troublesome young man, his experiences in the last few shows
is starting to have an affect on him to the extent that his
emotional repertoire is extending past purely the juvenile.
We are into the last disc of the box set and episodes ten
to thirteen are beckoning us.
ten: The Forest of Chakra, and its time for the gang
to take stock of what has happened to them. Kakasi is wasted
for the fight but feels the need to train the gang further.
He gets them to climb trees in order help them control their
chakras, the source of a ninja's power, however unbeknownst
to them Zabuza, who they thought they had killed, is really
recovering in the home of Gatou.
eleven: The Country that had a Hero. The reality of
the world in which Naruto finds himself is gradually dawning
on him. He finds it difficult to come to terms with the poverty
he sees all around and the corrupt power that Gatou wields
on the land. He is told of a hero who Gatou had eliminated
which only spurns Naruto to prove that heroes do exist.
twelve: Decisive Battle on the Bridge! Zabuza Returns.
The gang continues to further befriend the poverty villagers,
whose only hope is Tazunas' bridge, but things are about to
get ugly. After oversleeping in the morning, Naruto races
to the bridge only to be confronted by a swarm of injured
workers and the very alive Zabuza.
And lastly episode thirteen: Hakus Secret Technique: Demonic
Mirrors of Ice Crystals. And the final fight is on. Lots
of great battles interspersed with some great comedy.
episodes are spread across three discs and to be honest given
a RRP of £24.99 it's pretty good value for money. Audio setup
has a pleasant set of options with the show offering Stereo,
5.1 and DTS English or Japanese tracks with English subtitles.
Extras are a little thin on the ground. Disc one has nothing;
disc two has four trailers including the original TV trailer
for the show. Disc three fairs a little better with the textless
opening and closing sequences plus something called From
Manga to Anime which is a bunch of odd shots which tells
you nothing. According to the press blurb you can also look
forward to a storyboard booklet and a limited edition slip
cover, though I can't comment on these as I only got the plain
check disks, boo hoo.
so it's ultimately a kid's show, but a good one, which although
providing a lot of action and comedy is balanced with an engaging
coming of age story. It's nice to see that character development
has not been ignored in deference to repetitive fight scenes.
So, was it worth the wait, I'm pretty happy to say yes it
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