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DVD Review

Naruto Unleashed
Series 3 - Volume 1


Starring (voice): Junko Takeuchi
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 07 April 2008

Naruto Uzumaki, the hyperactive adolescent who contains the imprisoned soul of a Demon Fox, continues his Ninja quest to become Hokage of his village. Acknowledged as the finest fighter and the best warrior, through a series of tests, he and his friends grow as fighters and people. With his friends Sasuke and Sakura, Naruto must face the next stage of the Chuunin Exam. With the final elimination round about to start Naruto is left without a trainer, that is until the pervy Jiraiya, The Toad Mountain Sage, turns up on the scene...

This new box set, Naruto Unleashed 3.1, adapted from the best selling manga by Masashi Kishimoto, contains another generous thirteen episodes.

Disc one contains five episodes (53-56), Disc two (57-61) and finally disc three (62-65). Together these episodes represent the first half of Season Three. There have been some changes in the Naruto camp with this set having only an English or Japanese stereo track with the usual subtitles. There is no explanation as to why the 5.1 or DTS tracks have been dropped, it certainly isn’t to include more extras as the only extras in this set are a bunch of trailers on disc one. That said, given the number of episode that are on offer, this is a very reasonable way of collecting this ongoing show.

The animation on the show remains crisp and colourful, showing little in the way of cutting corners, and although the action quotient remains high this season shows a little more in the way of both character and plot development. To augment the regular cast Jiraiya, The Toad Mountain Sage (who has a sideline as a peeping tom that he uses as a basis to write books about young girls), has been introduced as a new foil for our hero. He is one of those extreme characters so beloved of anime and has much in common with the character Happosai from the Ranma series - full of salacious sexuality, which is portrayed as ultimately harmless. If you can ignore the inherent misogyny and sexual deviancy in these types of characters they often add to the overall comic possibilities.

When we left Nartuo last, he was training with Ebisu, until a stranger in the form of a hermit knocks out Ebisu; Naruto does his nut until he discovers that the stranger may well be able to train him. What follows in episode fifty-three, Long Time No See: Jiraiya Returns! is Naruto’s attempts to persuade him - the hermit refuses until he sees he sees a seal on Naruto’s chest and suddenly understands his ancestry. This changes everything. He takes him on as a student and he asks Ebisu to keep the boy's identity secret. From here on in you may as well take two things as a given, firstly any episode with Jiraiya will involve some form of female interaction and secondly there will be at least one fight scene.

Episodes fifty-two to fifty-eight represent the last arc dealing with the training required for the third Chuunin martial arts exam, so expect a lot of new fight moves. Episode fifty-four, The Summoning Juts: Wisdom of the Toad Sage and Genin is killed in a confrontation with Gaara, Hayate in a related incident. Jiraiya meanwhile is trying to teach Naruto to summon specific animal types with the usual amusing efforts on Naruto’s part.

Episode fifty-five, A Feeling of Yearning, A Flower Full of Hope, is a pretty packed episode as far as story content is concerned. With the murder of Hayate the Hokage assemble to decide their response. Not wishing to call a halt to the contest they determine to continue as they are - if the worse happens they have a good supply of trainee ninja’s. Meanwhile, Sakura is still troubled about what happened in the Forest of Death and the effect on Sasuke when Sasuke was attacked in the neck by Orochimaru. This sense of foreboding is increased when she goes to visit him in the hospital only to discover that both he and his belongings have disappeared.

Episode fifty-six, Live or Die: Risk it all to Win it All, and the last on disc one sees Naruto continue to perfect his summoning technique to no good end as instead of toads all he can manage is a tadpole. This infuriates Jiraiya so much that he throws him off a cliff. Only then does he get in touch with the demon, Kyuubi, who resides inside of him who gives him the power to finally summon a toad.

Disc two contains five episodes and opens with episode fifty-seven, He Flies! He Jumps! He Lurks! Chief Toad Appears, and Naruto learns that sometimes it is better to wish than to get as he successfully summons the Giant Toad Gamabunta, a creature that even Jiaiya has trouble controlling. What follows is a fairly amusing piece where the seriously unimpressed Toad tries to get rid of Naruto. Although he nearly succeeds, his efforts win the respect of the toad and when Naruto falls off he is rescues by the toad and taken to hospital - where we catch up with him in episode fifty-eight: Hospital Besieged: The Evil Hand Revealed, recuperating from his ordeal. Shikamaru takes the opportunity to visit the recuperating Naruto, but this is not the only visitor that day as Gaara, having escaped, heads straight for the unconscious Rock with the intention of killing him. Only Naruto can stop another death.

Fifty-nine The Final Rounds: Rush to the Battle Arena, and finally we get to another round of little story and lots of fighting. Of course, this being Naruto, getting to the fight is no straight forward affair, involving as it does secret passages, sewers and eventually a bull ride - I kid you not. Of course, Naruto makes it to the opening ceremony in episode sixty Byakugan vs Shadow Clone Jutsu, and the fighting begins.

The following episodes, which run into disc three, Sixty-one: Ultimate Defence: Zero Blind Spot!; sixty-two: A Failures True Power; Sixty-Three: Hit it or Quit it: The Final Rounds get Complicated; Sixty-four: Zero Motivation: The Guy with the Cold Envy; and Sixty-five: Dancing Leaf, Squirming Sand, are little more than one protracted set of fights as Naruto’s gang work their way through their exams.

So another great value set for fans of Naruto and fight animes, though to be honest watching the whole thing gets a bit repetitive.


Charles Packer

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