Monday, December 15, 2008
I'm Impressed: Musings on Naruto Shippuden
I've probably mentioned before that I had the benefit of starting into Naruto fandom late, which has it's ups and downs for sure, but the biggest positive is that by the time I watched up to the filler arc, the one everyone hates and rightfully so, Shippuden was releasing so I skipped the filler and went straight to the new Naruto: Shippuden.
I was quite a fan of Naruto fairly early on being entranced by the Zabuza arc and how, unlike kids in mechs, these guys looked as if the pain was more brutal, and the need more pressing. Sure, some emo-ness and "believe its!" kind of wore a bit on me, but not enough to cover a genuinely entertaining story. I think the fights with the Sound Ninja impressed me the most, seeing how these kids were having to fight for their village and their friends and were giving it their all till they passed out or worse died (which I don't remember happening).
With the transition to Shippuden, expectations were high for many, and since I at that point hadn't begun to read the manga, I truly had no concept of where the story was going except some rough idea of Akatsuki being the big baddies. Well a time jump alone does not nessecarily mean awesomeness, but finding Gaara pitted against Deidara so early, and then having Sakura & Naruto go after Sasori and Deidara? Awesome! But that's only the beginning, especially since their's a bit of slow down with the Sai arc. More importantly though you have Naruto's all out fight with Orichimaru, which highlights the awesome animation styles they've used of late, while also allowing just purely great fights continue on for many episodes. Sure, they too have probably a bit too much talking but it's not terrible.
Lately though, I had begun to read ahead and I saw the Shikamaru & Asuma fights with Akatsuki coming, and with the filler saga underway (like Bleach actually quite decent), I just couldn't wait to see how this would all come together in fluid animation. Wonderfully is how I'd put it best, as we get to see Kakuzu and Hidan go all out absurd truly no-holds barred, and watch Shikamaru, the greatest mind in Konoha, demonstrate truly why he's the leader he is. The animation styling is superb, the fighting is just terrific, and frankly the only disappointment is that the fight with Hidan ends the way it does (or so I think till I see this next episode perhaps?)
I know I do not usually comment on a show till it's over, but with these long Shonen Jump shows such as Naruto and Bleach that's hard to do its hard to any other way. Anyways, I just thought I'd share my thoughts on what to me is one of the best long running shows on air, and maybe I'll have to give equal time to Bleach now, since we've just hit the truly awesome phase on that show as well.