This DVD set ties up the incredible Pain saga, and then takes a look back at Naruto's troubled beginnings.
The first episodes focus on the end of the battle with Pain. It starts with Naruto losing control and transforming into more powerful and destructive states of the Tailed Beast. The animation in the battle scenes is an example of anime at its finest. This is the kind of stuff you’d never see in an American animated show; it’s just too well done and complex. American animation has certainly advanced over the years and even gotten quite good, but I don’t believe it’ll ever catch up to anime when it comes to complicated battle scenes like this.
In any case, it’s a truly an eye-popping battle to watch. Lots of Tailed Beast tendrils throwing everything they’ve got at Pain, who nimbly dodges, counterattacks and occasionally gets pounded into the ground like a human nail. Seriously, that happens. It was kind of humorous. The battle crescendoes with Pain trapping Naruto in a giant prison of rock and earth. And just when Naruto’s finally going to fully give in to the Nine Tails, a very unlikely and special person interrupts him.
After that, Naruto finally confronts the villain behind all the Pains. This may sound a bit obvious, but one neat thing about watching the anime versus reading the manga is sound effects. It’s clear that the guy Naruto is talking to is in very poor health, and you can really hear the wheezing in his breath. It gives the scene a chilling, atmospheric effect.
But before things are settled, the anime jumps back in time to right before the final rounds of the Chunin Exam tournament. On the DVD set, it’s billed as the Hokage’s Legacy, which is a two-episode lighthearted side-story about Naruto and friends on a quest to find a scroll called The Hokage’s Legacy.
And then it’s back to the main story and deep into the backstory of war orphans, Nagato, Konan and Yahiko. Growing up as kids in the middle of a brutal war is shown with no punches pulled—murdered parents, starving children, bleak futures. Tragically, children are often the forgotten victims of war and that comes across very clear in this flashback. One of the key concepts in Naruto is that war is a cycle of unending violence. And that’s expressed as “Pain” in this specific arc. Children, who grow up only knowing suffering and pain, become bitter and often turn their destructive anger out towards the world. Not to get political or anything, but this is especially timely considering the seemingly endless cycle of violence that has spread across the globe.
The final episodes of the DVD Set take a look back at the humble (and troubled!) beginnings of Naruto and his peers. There are a few episodes that focus on Naruto’s first mentor, Iruka. These are surprising, because it’s revealed that he really didn’t want to mentor Naruto at all. And a good part of that hesitation stems from the fact that the Nine Tails, which is sealed in Naruto, killed his parents. It’s interesting to see how he struggles with it, and eventually learns a little about himself in the process.
And for you old school fans, there’s a lot of behind the scenes stuff that explains the reasoning behind a lot of the choices made concerning Naruto’s future. Like why he’s put in a team with Sasuke, and why Kakashi should lead them. Hardcore fans should get a kick out of it.
This is a great DVD set, because it concludes the Pain Arc in a satisfying, yet unexpected way (well, unexpected if you haven’t read the manga!). And it’s cool to see stuff that predates the classic anime, and see stuff from the classic anime, but from a new perspective. Well, I think it’s cool.
English & Japanese 2.0 Audio / English Subtitles
Special Features: Production Art, Storyboards, Omake
Naruto Shippuden DVD Set 14 is available here!
©2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO / 2007 SHIPPUDEN All Rights Reserved.
by Urian Brown