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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Naruto Uncut Box Set 11
Naruto Uncut Box Set 11
VIZ // Unrated // December 16, 2008
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted December 15, 2008 | 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
Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Show:

It's hard to deny Naruto's place in the anime world. It's arguably one of the most popular franchises this side of DBZ and all you need to do is hit an anime convention and see how many cosplay characters you can pick out of the crowd to understand that. 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 the better of the two.

The long running adventures of Naruto continue and not too long ago it seems like we just sat down to watch the ninth volume. Last time around we saw the conclusion of one of the show's biggest arcs. Sasuke got all pissed off with Naruto and his evil brother and stormed off in a barrel with some of Orochimaru's henchmen. This meant that Naruto and some of his other leafy compatriots had to track him down and rescue him from the nefarious Sound Ninja. All sorts of fighting took place and in the end the confrontation between Sasuke and Naruto bordered epic. By the time the dust settled Sasuke went his own way and Naruto lost his chance to bring him home. The mission all around was a failure and everyone was left trying to pick up the pieces.

It's worth noting that at this point, several Naruto fans may simply have decided to stop collecting the sets. From here on out there are quite a few filler episodes and things are stretched beyond the point they should be, but in all honesty filler episodes still have quite a lot to offer. Sure the quality of this eleventh installment isn't quite as high as some of the ones in the past, but there's still a lot to love, plenty of character development, and loads of laughs.

The volume starts out with Naruto, Sakura, and Jiraiya being forced together on a mission, though really it's to keep the kids in line and from going after Sasuke on their own. Even so the trio winds up fighting Sound Ninja in no time and they wind up making their way to Orochimaru's layer anyway. While there they fall into one of Kabuto's traps and, naturally, a battle ensues. What Naruto story arc would be complete without some type of battle for Naruto to get involved in? Some of the Fuma clan also gets involved during this storyline, though I felt that element was kind of weak in all honesty.

With a decent chunk of the volume eaten up by that leg of the journey, the rest is broken up into two smaller morsels. The first focuses on Mizuki's escape from prison with a couple of other guys. In case you don't remember Mizuki, he's the guy who originally suckered Naruto into stealing the village's forbidden scroll. I appreciated the throwback to the character and it was nice to see the show use him again. Unfortunately this plot feels like filler from beginning to end and there's really no point for it to happen other than to suck up time. It does give Naruto, Shizune, and some of the other Leaf Ninja something to do, but all around there's very little here that pushes the series forward. Once that bit is done the rest of the volume takes place during the Bikochu arc, which means we get to see Naruto and company hunt for a bug that may allow them to find Sasuke.

After the breakneck pacing of the past two volumes, coming to this installment was kind of jarring. The show felt like it lost its focus and that there was nothing going on. Granted a series such as this doesn't get to the massive episode count it does with one grandiose arc after another. Filler episodes are an unfortunate necessity and this installment has they in spades. These still prove to be entertaining and there's plenty to like about them, but if you're coming from volume ten you're going to be feel disappointed. Even so, I'd consider this a recommendation for fans of the show, but I'm not quite as enthused as I was with Sasuke and Naruto clashing like titans.

The DVD:

Video:

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.

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:

VIZ has changed a couple of things for its eleventh Naruto installment. For starters the storyboard booklet has been taken out of the equation. In its place we have the beginnings of a Naruto card set with a joker, four aces, four two's and a box to put them in. In the coming volumes we're apparently going to get the rest of the cards. It's kind of a neat addition actually and I'm happy to see VIZ exploring other things with add-in promotional materials. Otherwise the bonus features on the discs themselves are rather standard to the series with a production art gallery, some previews, and a storyboard comparison for episode 138.

Final Thoughts:

Naruto is just one of those series that has lasting appeal with a wide range of audiences. It's rare that something is as widely accepted, but the action, humor, and heartfelt storytelling are perfect reasons for its success. Up to this point the show has been a ruckus affair and though I don't typically go for this kind of thing, I have been utterly enthralled. It's just a fun, lighthearted show that has a can-do attitude that never really gets old, kind of. Unfortunately this installment does drag in parts and the fact that the entire volume is made up of filler arcs doesn't help matters. We'll see how things go from here, but you can still consider the series highly recommended with this volume being a regular old recommendation based on its merits.


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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