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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Naruto Uncut Box Set, Volume 8
Naruto Uncut Box Set, Volume 8
VIZ // Unrated // June 10, 2008
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted July 27, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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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!

The long running adventures of Naruto continue and though the ninth volume is just around the corner today we're looking at the eight installment. A lot has happened to the Hidden Leaf Village's most aspiring ninja since VIZ started releasing the franchise. If you have been following then you have undoubtedly noticed a pattern which includes a rather lengthy arc followed up a smaller one. The last time around Lady Tsunade was approached by Orochimaru in an effort to see if she'd fix his arm. Along the way Naruto and Jiriya showed up and tried to pass along the information that she has been tapped for the next Hokage. On top of all that Naruto also trained on a new technique that was mastered by the Fourth Hokage.

This eighth volume picks up basically where the previous one left off and we join Tsunade in a battle with Orochimaru and his subordinate. Naruto and company have to find them first and that proves to be half the trouble. Once they all meet up there's quite a fight between the three Legendary Sannin that puts most of the previous battles seen on the show to shame. Granted with Orochimaru's limitations due to his confrontation with the Third Hokage the fight is rather one-sided. Naruto does have some nice time in the spotlight to practice his new technique and do his best to save Lady Tsunade. The best part of this section features some cool summon creature battles as all three Sannin bring their powerful allies into the fray.

Once the dust settles from that storyline the crew begins their trek back to the Village of Hidden Leaf. There is a pointless side story thrown into the mix but thankfully it only lasts for one episode and then the show gets back on track. Probably the most interesting bit from this volume involves the ascension of Tsunade and how the townspeople accept here as the new Hokage. To be more specific there are some nice moments with Konohamaru where he copes with the loss of his grandfather and some fine developmental content for the incapacitated Lee.

As the volume comes to a close Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura accept a mission that takes them to the Land of Tea. The trio is charged with protecting a runner in a race but as you'd expect things get a little muddled along the way before all is said and done. After all you can't have a show about ninjas and exciting episodes if everything goes according to plan.

Overall this was another good batch of Naruto episodes but it was certainly more on the rocky side compared to the previous volumes. This installment started with some very high moments but a few awkwardly paced and oddly situated episodes in between didn't do any favors. An entire episode devoted to Naruto and company attempting to see what's behind Kakashi's mask? Sure it's fun but man did it drag and seem really out of place. The little story towards the end of the volume was a nice mission for the crew but there wasn't really much in the way of development all around. If you're a Naruto fan then you'll appreciate this installment but it's certainly not the best one in recent memory.

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 eighth installment of Naruto keeps the trend going and offers up a storyboard booklet for episode 96 and a few familiar inclusions on the third disc. A gallery of production art, some trailers, and a storyboard to screen comparison for episode 93 is available as well. All around these are the same standard features we have been receiving with each volume so there shouldn't be many surprises or disappointments here.

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. This volume isn't quite as exciting as the other more recent ones but the episodes here are good nonetheless. The Orochimaru storyline is put on the backburner, Naruto makes a new friend, and the Leaf Village copes with the changing of the Hokage guard. There are some interesting moments scattered throughout but there's little denying that this one's pacing feels decidedly less steady than we've grown accustomed to.


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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