Naruto Shippuuden – 5 – Keep The Car Running

The massive clash of Gaara’s sand vs. Akatsuki’s blonde bombshell Deidara rages ever on while Naruto and Sakura celebrate with a bowl of ramen having again teamed up with their perverted old sensei; anti-social bastard that he is, Kakashi declines their company, no doubt to finish off the latest volume of his favourite romantic yarn “Make Out Paradise”. In between the action, we glimpse a sun drenched flashback to a pre-Kazekage Gaara and Kankuro, striding atop a cliff that majestically looks over their endless desert, reaffirming their new found desire to work hard, protect the innocent and earn friendship the good old fashioned way – just like Naruto. The episode ends with a devastating explosion when what appears to be a clay-based nuke is dropped in the middle of down-town sand village by Deidara. Civilian casualties are expected.
I can see why people are already starting to complain about Naruto Shippuuden. It’s true that the story is slow going, just as it’s true that the animation has been mediocre since the superlative first two episodes. I’m still enjoying it though. As is the case with Death Note, it seems that reading the manga is key to our ultimate enjoyment of Naruto; I’ve steered clear of the manga for that very reason, I’d rather not spoil the story. I enjoy anime more than I enjoy manga.
Sometimes I wonder why I’m so compelled by Shonen Jump’s “fighting” anime; characters like Gaara are the answer. Over two hundred episodes plus and we’ve seen him dragged through hell; abused and isolated as a kid, lost in life and consumed by hatred, yet he finds salvation through friendship. That he changes so much through out the series and finally discovers a meaning to his existence, only a heart of stone would not feel a pang of attachment to him.
Next week’s episode is an hour long special. Here’s hoping something big and flashy happens!

Editorials Music

Standing on the brink of a new era, looking back at Naruto

Standing on the brink of a new era for Naruto, I’ve turned back the clock to look at my favourite moments from the series; fair warning – hyperbolic fanboyisms ahead. I started watching the show in 2003 with a cheap 15″ CRT monitor and two tinny sound blasters, at the time I wasn’t interested in anime and hated bloody subtitles. 4 years on and I find myself hooked up with a 24″ LCD flat-screen, 6.1 Dolby Surround Sound system and I’m writing on my own anime blog. What the hell happened?! Honestly, I blame Naruto.


Naruto – 219 – For the love of god, not long now

We join the “fun” just as Gaara corners the warrior from Takumi, and given his murderous ability, a simple win for the ultra-strong sand man is expected, but the warrior turns to confidently exclaim, as diabolical villains often do, that in fact, Gaara is now “the one cornered! Muhaha…” Naruto arrives on cue just in time to save a crest-fallen Gaara, who gets trapped in a chakra sucking machine designed to feed on his monstrous energy and resurrect Takumi’s long dead legend Seimei; this turns out to be a white haired inbred looking chap with a big phallic sword and impossibly manly voice. Just as Gaara is overwhelmed by his latent Shukaku possession, the episode ends. Damn.
It’s hard to remember a time when I actually enjoyed watching Naruto. While not terrible, this episode (and the detested fillers arcs in general) commit the far worse crime of being mediocre to the point of boredom; the animation is flat and the characters are stuck in a nonsensical narrative loop, repeating the same old moves and phrases time and time again. I’m watching this for one reason – Naruto: ShippÅ«den (Hurricane Chronicles) begins February 15, 2007. And the current OP is one of the best too; in place of the episodes it opens, this sequence so well illustrates the nostalgic and energetic value of Naruto.
For what it’s worth, I enjoyed seeing Gaara again – as ever, he proves an interesting character and his half- Shukaku transformation remains positively disgusting. Seeing this reminded me of the show at its jaw-dropping best; the epic sight of seeing him and Naruto fight it out atop two impossibly giant animals in Konoha forest, it seemed the world was at stake – Naruto eventually wins the day with a head-butt full of bravery, courage and friendship. I desperately hope Hurricane Chronicles can capture that same spirit.