We reach, and surpass, the 100th episode mark with Naruto Season Two Volume Two from Viz. This collection starts off strong with the battle for the fate of the
I'm going to skip the 'series background' recap. I figure everyone reading this should know the background by now. If not, feel free to type "Naruto" in the search box at the top of this page and read my reviews of the earlier collections.
As the last collection ended, the final round of the Chunin Exams were interrupted by a surprise attack by the ninjas from the Sound and Sand villages. The villainous Orochimaru took the Third Hokage hostage and sealed himself and the elder behind an impenetrable barrier where they faced off in battle. Meanwhile Naruto and Sakura were instructed to follow Sasuke who was chasing after Gaara, a very powerful Sand ninja. The pair catches up to their comrade, but Gaara is no pushover and their combined might may not be enough to take him down.
As this collection opens Gaara and Naruto have both summoned giant creatures to do battle, and it's unclear who has the advantage. It's only by tapping into the power of the Nine-Tailed Fox trapped within him that Naruto is even able to keep up with Gaara.
Meanwhile things are looking dire for the Third Hokage. With a sword sticking through his chest and his power draining away, he has to summon all of his power to trap Orochimaru, something that will end up killing him anyway. The battle for the
In the aftermath of the attack the Leaf Village is trying to put itself back together, but events may not give them much time. A pair of powerful ninja belonging to a renegade group arrives in the town for one purpose: to capture Naruto. They want to harvest and use the power of the spirit that's trapped within him and the first step is to take the boy by force.
After the initial attack has been repelled, It is decided that Naruto will go off with Jiraiya, the ninja who taught him the Toad Summoning Technque, to look for a medical ninja Tsunade. That'll hide him from the group that's searching for him and also give Jiraiya time to train him some more. It's not quite enough though, because they're soon discovered by the ninja that heave been searching for Naruto, one of whom in none other than Sasuke's brother; the man who murdered his whole Uchiha clan.
I had a lot of fun screening this collection. The end of the battle for the
After the attack things settle down a bit and it feels somewhat anticlimactic. Looking for Tsunade isn't nearly as exciting as giant creatures battling or life-and-death struggles between high level ninja. After that story arc, Naruto and his companions take on a mission that, like the Tsunade story, was nice but not as intense as what came before. This isn't really a flaw, the show needs some downtime. There's only so many life-shattering story arcs that you can take before a show starts becoming a parody of itself. Some of these later episodes were quite good too, like the stand alone show where Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke decide to trick their master Kakashi into removing the mask that covers over half of his face. It's was a funny episode that has a great punch line.
This set includes the next 26 episodes (79-106) on 6 DVDs. They come in a single double-width keepcase with each disc on its own side of a page. They are not overlapping.
This collection comes with both the original Japanese audio (with optional English subtitles) as well as an English dub, both in stereo. The dub track was not outstanding. Some of the children's voices were a little too high pitched and squeaky and other actors put a little too much emotion in their performances and hamming it up too much. Because of that I mainly screened this with the Japanese track, which I enjoyed much more. Being a recent show, the sound quality of both tracks was very good without any defects.
The full frame image was very good overall. The colors were bright and strong, and the lines were tight. Happily, digital defects were not prevalent and even aliasing was very minor. A solid looking DVD.
The extras are pretty minor. Scattered across the six discs are a couple of storyboard to finished product comparisons and production art galleries.
I'm still enjoying the program. Like other Shonen Jump based shows it has an innocent charm and they cram each installment full of action and adventure. The show moves so fast (action-wise) it's hard to get caught up on the small flaws. This gets a strong Recommended rating.