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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Naruto Uncut Boxed Set, Volume 5
Naruto Uncut Boxed Set, Volume 5
VIZ // Unrated // December 4, 2007
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted December 16, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Show:

It's hard to deny that Naruto has become one of the world's most popular anime franchises. Heck, all you really have to do is hit an anime convention and see how many cosplay characters you can pick out of the crowd. The masterpiece created by Masashi Kishimoto has more volumes of manga than you can shake a stick at and an anime with over 200 episodes. You just know going into a DVD release that you need to be vested for the long haul and thankfully VIZ's uncut collections capitalize on that.

While you can find DVDs of Naruto edited for the younger American audience the original Japanese version is by far the better of the two. After all, would you want to watch some watered down shadow or one that packs more of a punch? Punch it is!

With four uncut volumes under its belt, a movie, and OVA, VIZ has finally released the fifth installment of the Naruto saga. So much has happened up to this point that it's kind of silly to catch you up on everything. Go back and check out some of the previous reviews if you want a series synopsis because rather than blather on about what happened the last time I'm just going to cut right to the chase and discuss this installment.

As the fifth volume of Naruto opens up our plucky young hero has come across a great sage, Jiraiya, who finds himself returning to Konoha for research on his novella. You know his works well if you have been a fan of the series because Kakashi can't tear himself away from them. That's right, this sage is the author of "Make Out Paradise" and the "research" that he's undertaking is decidedly perverse. Thusly I suppose it's only appropriate that Naruto takes to calling him Pervy Sage during their time together.

Now, when Jiraiya arrives onto the scene he knocks out Ebisu who was supposed to be training with Naruto in the time before the Chunin final round competition. This leaves Naruto without a tutor and without a second thought our favorite kiddy ninja harasses the pervert into watching him train. Jiraiya flat out refuses at first and eludes Naruto until the famous sexy transformation which causes as much of an uproar with the sage as it does with anyone else. In good form he agrees to watch Naruto train if he continues to use that technique in his presence. Ok, it's a little creepy but it certainly is funny when you get right down to it.

The first skill Naruto is practicing is the ninja ability to walk on water. Unfortunately the limiter that Orochimaru placed around his fox demon seal keeps his true chakra potential to a very small degree. Fortunately for Naruto Jiraiya undoes the seal and begins coaching the lad about his two types of chakra. Not only does the sage do all of that for the kid but he also gives him the ability to summon powerful toads. Like almost everything else Naruto practices and practices but can only summon a tadpole. This leads to a rather hilarious series of events that wind up with Jiraiya putting Naruto's life in danger in order to call forth the fox demon chakra. Once that is complete our hero's training is done and there's little for him to do from here on out apart from resting for the final round.

In the meantime Sakura and Ino have gone to check up on Sasuke at the hospital but to their surprise Sasuke has disappeared. Filled with concern they also go to see Lee who has been told that he'll never be able to fight again. Naturally our buddy Rock doesn't take kindly to that and he's practicing relentlessly to build his body back up. Back to the girl's original intent though; where did Sasuke go? We don't find out until later in the volume and I won't spoil it for you. Let's just say that what happens is very appropriate and the build up is fantastic.

In addition to all of this some of Orochimaru's agents are meeting in secret and they dispatch of one known character from the previous volume. You remember that guy who was in charge of the first round of combat that coughed a lot? Yeah, he bites the dust. This sets some events in motion that are leading up to a massive conflict and somehow in between Gaara from the Land of Sand is involved. We learn a lot about this tragic youth and what his strange power is and I must admit that he and Naruto aren't all that different.

Eventually the moment arrives when Naruto has to fight Neiji Hyuga who is revered as one of the most promising contestants for the Chunin level. Again, I don't want to spoil things for those of you who haven't seen this arc of the series so I'll just stop right there with the details. The fighting gets pretty intense and we learn a lot about Neiji.

It's kind of funny for all of the talk about how Naruto is a simple show aimed at children I must admit that there is a surprising amount of depth. The world that Naruto lives in is populated by interesting and well-developed characters. The background story is fleshed out to an insane degree and this proves to be a show that you can lose yourself in. Sure the series has a tendency to draw things out like Dragon Ball but this volume features significantly less of the stalling than previous ones. The experience feels much more solid this time around and I was glued to the TV from start to finish. I can't wait for the next installment but until then these episodes satisfy completely.

The DVD:

Video:

Originally airing in 2002 Naruto is presented with a 1.33:1 fullframe aspect ratio and features a vibrant transfer. The characters absolutely pop from just about every frame with a bright palette and a pleasing art style. With the recent production date the show doesn't have a lot of visible flaws though it's hard to deny that there are some here and there. A slight amount of grain blankets areas of the feature where colors are shaded or murkier than most. Some bits of compression where identifiable as well. Apart from these minor borderline nitpicky gripes there really was nothing to complain about. This is a solid looking show that is presented well on DVD.

Audio:

The audio presentation for Naruto comes in the form of two 2.0 stereo tracks. The English dubbing offers up some irritating voices and an experience that one might call overacting. The Japanese language track was much better with easily acceptable vocals and equivalent quality in sound. With the limitations of a stereo track it's no surprise that there is little to no directionality. It wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination but a 5.1 offering would have gone a long way. Still, this collection is problem free; it just doesn't go out of its way to impress.

Extras:

The fifth volume of Naruto follows the trend set by the previous ones. A gallery of production art has been included along with a preview of volume six. Another storyboard booklet has been packed in here (this one for episode 58) and the third disc features a storyboard comparison for episode 56. Once again there's nothing that impressive but it's certainly better than just receiving trailers or clean animations.

Final Thoughts:

Naruto is just one of those series that has lasting appeal with all audiences. It's rare that something is as widely accepted, but the action, humor, and heartfelt storytelling are perfect reasons for its success. As far as progression of the story and characters there's a lot that happens this time around and almost none of it is recycled. The storytelling feels much more solid with this installment and I was satisfied from start to finish. This may just be the best volume of Naruto to date though the next one looks pretty promising.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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