In Naruto Shippuden we are in the midst of the Fourth Great Ninja War. The Five Great Nations have formed an alliance in order to confront old comrades and enemies that have risen from the dead under the control of Kabuto. While some main characters plough through with fighting spirit, others are forced to face issues from their pasts in order to become victorious. The last two Junchuriki (Naruto – Nine Tails and Killer Bee – Eight Tails) have decided that they will no longer hide from this battle and are on the way to enter the battlefield!
In this volume of Naruto Shippuden, we have more padding or filler episodes, which go between the war and flashbacks of the past that impact issues that lead to the war. These filler episodes to me personally aren’t a bad thing – without them we wouldn’t have all this amazing background information on the characters we love and insight on how they get more powerful. These episodes lead to some light fun and some pretty amazing fight scenes throughout. Lets face it – the filler episodes come along way from the original Naruto series.
The story sets focus on Sai, a character that hasn’t had a huge amount of spotlight on his past, so it was great to see some background information. He is the only one that can use the Foundations sealing jutsu to relieve foes and comrades of old from the re-animation jutsu. By using this jutsu however it has great implications – he has to release his pent up emotions for it to be able to work. If negative emotions get released – it can however affect him from performing the seal correctly. So we have an episode of Sai dealing with his past and emotions in order to save the day!
After this we have more side stories that set scene to enemies that our protagonists meet on the battlefield, such as Pakura of the Sand, Jinpachi and Kushimaru, The Lightning Blade: Ameryuri Ringo, all of which play their part in progressing in the story line, feeding us useful snippets of information in regards to the Ninja War with some amazing fight scenes.
We then delve into the past of Tsunade and the Fourth Raikage, which for me added a touch of light comedy to where we are at in the series. As we all know Tsunade loved to drink and gamble (before Naruto set her on the straight and narrow) – known as the Legendary Sucker to her rivals – lets just say she couldn’t win a bet to save her life. As time goes on you see that Tsunade drinks and gambles, as a form to deal with the two great loves of her life passing. During her rampant gambling and drinking escapades, they bump into the Fourth Raikage who has just come back from a disastrous mission where one of his team members is on the brink of death with a chakra explosive bomb has been implanted in his chest. They seek help of Tsunade (being an all famous medical ninja) but Tsunade doesn’t help at the drop of a hat, they have to earn it – so we enter an arm wrestling match between Tsunade and the Fourth Hokage, which hands down is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while. The Fourth stands victorious and Tsunade accepts to do the operation – however Kizune is the one to perform it due to Tsundade’s Hemophobia (Fear of blood). I thought this was a great story line to be included – as earlier on in the series – The Fourth Raikage and Tunsade are set to stop Naruto and Bee from entering the battle – there’s many times that you could see a connection between them – but wonder how they would of met in the past.
Where collection 23 really fines form is its six-episode clencher called ‘Power’ where Naruto Shippuden moves away from the Great Ninja war and delves into the past of where the war originated. This six-part arc was created to commemorate the completion of 500 episodes – it’s beautifully animated, with excellent composition and some of the best fight choreography in the series. It’s believed that this arc was originally conceived as the Naruto 2012 movie, but then decided to be turned into a televised arc.
The Power Arc revolves around Kabuto, who is working on perfecting the forbidden Reanimation jutsu, while seeking out an ancient power source called Saezuri. The story begins in a village called Tonika, otherwise known as The Hole being massacred by an unknown army. Sensei Dokku saves two of his students Leo and Mina from this severe battle and are appointed to keep the secret of Saezuri safe. Message gets to the Hidden Leaf Village and Naruto and crew are sent to investigate the tragedy in the town. On arrival Naruto and Kabuto soon cross paths and light gets shone on what Kabuto’s true intentions are and that he’s the person behind all this evil. On return to the village, Naruto and company meets Dokku, the young orphans (Leo, Mina, Lando, Faz & Sora) and Shisheru (a childhood friend of Dokku), which are intertwined in the story due to knowledge of the Saezuri. Mina in particular has unique powers to sense darkness in people – which becomes a useful tool throughout the story line. This arc has an uplifting message of hope that shows that even those with no blood relation can form a familial bond.
The remaining episode sets the scene for collection 24 with Naruto and Bee finally reaching the battlefront at the Great Ninja War, I’m excited to see what’s happens next.
This latest edition Naruto Shippudden has to be one of the strongest collections I’ve seen in recent times, it contains everything a fan would want – progress on the over arching story, character development and some fantastic background history! The extras on the discs include: storyboards, production galleries and trailers, yet another fantastic release from Madman with high production values!
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.