Naruto and the
In the first collection of this series, a group of very powerful ninja, the Akatsuki, kidnapped the leader of the
The Leaf Village sends out two groups, Team Guy (Neji, Rock Lee and Tenten) and Team Kakashi (which includes Naruto and Sakura) to chase after the Akatsuki and rescue Gaara. The later is joined by Chiyo, an elder from the sand village and a master puppet ninja.
As this collection opens both teams are fighting members of the Akatsuki who were sent to slow them down. The battles are tough, and the ninja are significantly delayed. They eventually do arrive at the Akatsuki hidden base where Gaara is being held, but getting there is only half the problem. Getting in will be difficult as the cavern is sealed by a huge bolder which in turn has a defensive trap placed upon it. Team Guy heads off to disarm the trap, and while they're away they face their toughest opponents yet: duplicates of themselves who have all of their ninjistu.
Meanwhile Team Kakashi manages to open the door, so to speak, but Kakashi and Naruto chase after a member of the Akatsuki who departs, leaving only Sakura and Chiyo to deal with the ninja inside: none other than Chiyo's grandson, Sasori, one of the best puppeteers of the
This collection was pretty good, but it's not a
Having said that, this show is still creative and this is where a lot of the fun of the series originates. Sasori is a cool villain, even if there are a few too many false endings to the battle between him and Sakura. There are some interesting attacks and while you need to throw the laws of physics out the window, the fights can be fun.
The animation is still solid in this series, though they rely on CGI effects much more that the original series did. When someone is moving very fast and making multiple hand-signs in rapid succession they'll use CGI to get that across. This only partially works though. It's easy for a computer to speed up the hand signs, and it does look impressive, but at the same time it doesn't mesh with the background animation. It's not smooth and when it pops up it's a little jarring and obviously CGI. It's too bad that it didn't work out better.
This set includes the next 13 episodes on 3 DVDs. They come in three thinpak cases stored in a slipcase.
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.
Just like the first series, 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 set.
The extras are pretty minor on the first two discs. They just have some trailers and ads for Viz. The third disc includes a Naruto trivia game with the English voice actors which was sort of fun. There's also a Relationship Chart for the members of Team Guy which is pretty hokey but it lets you know how various characters feel about each other, on the off chance you haven't been watching the show. The bonus section is wrapped up with 15 pieces of production art.
This is a solid set of shows. Nothing that will convert people who aren't already fans of the series, but a decent collection of episodes that's worth checking out. Recommended.