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RCE Info


Naruto Uncut Box Set: Season Two, Vol. 1

Viz Media // Unrated // February 16, 2010
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted April 4, 2010 | E-mail the Author
The Show:
The young goofy kid who has dreams of becoming the best ninja in his village returns in Naruto Season Two Volume One from Viz.  This time around Naruto and his buddy Sasuke have to battle fierce opponents in the final round of the Chunin Exam in order to advance to the next ninja rank.   They've both had special training, but even that can't prepare them for the surprises that are in store for them when their village's enemies strike.  The story keeps getting more and more interesting in this fun and exciting set.
Series background:
Naruto is a 12 year old boy living in a village populated by ninja.  He isn't the best student around, he's failed the test to become a ninja twice as the series opens and it's not looking good for the third time either.  What he lacks in discipline he more than makes up for in moxie: He loudly proclaims to anyone who will listen that he's going to be the best ninja ever! The fact that everyone in the village shuns him and treats him badly just makes him even more determined.
There's more to the story than Naruto knows though. Twelve years ago, a giant nine‑tailed fox attacked the land.  The village all turned out to face the monster, and many ninja were killed, but the creature couldn't be stopped. The only way that the fox could be defeated was for the village elder to sacrifice his life and trap the fox inside a human body:  a baby boy named Naruto.
Shunned by the villagers and without a family, Naruto becomes the class clown.  He figures that it's better for people to be angry with him than ignoring him.  That changes one evening when the boy is tricked into stealing a scroll of forbidden ninja techniques.  Naruto reads one, and miraculously masters the complex maneuver which allows him to make "shadow clones" of himself, countless copies that are solid and not just illusions.
Armed with this technique Naruto manages to become a ninja, but that's only the beginning of his training.  Next the young warrior has to go through advanced training as part of a cell.  He's teamed up with Sakura, a cute girl he has a crush on, and Sasuke, the highest scoring student in their class.  Together they have to go through some rigorous training with Kakashi, a masked master who seems like a goof and they go on some dangerous missions. 
Having proven themselves in the field, Naruto has his companions are allowed to take the Chunin Exam, and if they pass it they'll advance to the next rank.  All three pass the written exam and the team competition that follows, but only Naruto and Sasuke are able to make it through the one-on-one battle round.   After that they still aren't done however.  They have a month off to heal and prepare for the final round.
This collection:
With the final round of the Chunin Exams just around the corner, Sasuke goes off with Kakashi for special training while Naruto is instructed by Jiraiya, the Toad Sage.  Jiraiya soon realizes that Naruto has a two types of Chakra (the inner power that allows ninja to perform their amazing magic-like feats) inside of him.  One is the regular storage of energy that everyone has, while the second is a nearly limitless reservoir of power that belongs to the Nine-tailed Fox that is sealed inside the young man.  If only Naruto can learn to tap the Fox's power, he'll be a very formidable opponent, and Jiraiya has a plan to make him do just that.  First he wears Naruto out and has him expend all of his natural Chakra.  Then he pushes him off a cliff.
The final round of the Chunin exam is a major event held in a large stadium that's filled with spectators from every ninja village.  Naruto battles Neji Hyuga in a spectacular bout and Shikamaru a lazy ninja from the Leaf Village, takes on Temari from the Sand Village in a surprising battle.  Finally Sasuke is pitted against Gaara from the Sand Village, a maniacal ninja who only really feels alive when he's killing someone.  Even Gaara's teammates are afraid of him, and no one, not even Naruto, thinks that Sasuke can beat the crazed killer.
While the Chunin Exam competition is thrilling and exciting, the show really starts to pick up speed when the Village Hidden in the Leaves is attacked by an unsuspected enemy.  A lightning attack takes the village by surprise and they receive a very devastating blow. 
This was a great set... I enjoyed it more than the preceding ones.  The Exam battles were fun, I especially enjoyed the way Shikamaru's match ended, but things really picked up near the end of the set when the Leaf Village is attacked.  This attack included a battle between three Hokages which was pretty exciting, at least to the small boy that's still trapped inside of me. 
Like the earlier collections, the animation is okay but not great.  There isn't a lot of detail in the character designs.  Hair is just a field of color without and texture, and many people look two dimensional.  The motion is alright, with the action flowing fairly smoothly.  The show does cut more than a few corners too.  The most grievous example of this is the repeated scenes.  Each episode opens by replaying the last 3 or 4 minutes from the previous show.  That doesn't sound like a lot, but when you're talking about a 22 minute episode, that's nearly 20%.
Having said all that, I still enjoyed 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. 
The DVD:

This set includes the next 26 episodes (53-78) 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, production art galleries, and a promotional trailer to Naruto Shipuden, the sequel to this series.
Final Thoughts:
This show keeps on growing on me.  While I enjoyed the first sets, I appreciate each one more than the last, and this collection is no exception.  It's my favorite volume so far and if you've enjoyed the ride so far, you haven't seen anything yet.  This gets a strong Recommended rating. 
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