| Naruto Shippuden : Review |
Naruto , The series that sold over 220 million manga copies winning handful of awards along the way , an anime that ranked as one of the most watched series in Japan that got tarnished by a greedy studio and have received a tons of internet backlash throughout the years.
Let me start off by saying Naruto is by no means a flawless anime. It's the exact opposite. The series had too many fillers. Sometimes the animation quality was below par and pacing can be painfully slow at times.
But please bear with me here , I'm going to tell you why it has been the best experience an anime gave me in my life life , and dig into what made the series popular and also it flaws.
Story - 8
The story of Naruto has been a mixed bag. while it's not bad , It's certainly no Berserk. But what it is.., is beautiful (probably not the word that can be often used to describe a shounen anime), but it really is , It's unpredictable , It's thrilling , It's plays with your emotions , It's funny , It's tragic , It's sometimes downright frustrating but it is , more than anything , is wondrous and fun. This is series gets more mature themes , darker tones as the series progresses. There are multiple issues I have with the series story , But main flaws comes down to the Filler and Pacing issues.
Let's start with the fillers , the amount of fillers in this show is staggering. It counts as 219 total filler episodes which make up 44% of the series as a whole.
The issues that lies within the filler episodes are , that they are not allowed to make any significant changes to the story or specially it's characters. This being a mainly character driven plot , this becomes a huge issue. In short , Fillers can't move the plot line ahead , at all. This is worsened by the below par writing for these filler episode as they are not written by the original author Masashi Kishimoto himself.
Although , there are exceptions for this. Some of the filler episodes can be genuinely enjoyable but those are few and far between. The fact that fillers can't move the plot along fuels the second big flaw. which is,
Pacing Issues , Aside from what I've said above , even some of the non-filler episodes are very slow paced. This is mainly only an issue at the start of the series. Once the series kicks it into high gear around 70th episode , It's manages to keep that pace up.
Now we got the flaws out of the way , Let's talk positives.
The main strength of the series is It's characters that drives the plot. which we will discuss in detail later. After the first 70 episodes , things begins to get lot more interesting really fast. The world of shinobi gets expanded exponentially , and If you're a fan of deep lore in stories , this will fit right in your wheel house because it begins to explore the roots of it's world , the history very deeply.
A thing that the series does very well is explaining it's concepts to the viewer. The techniques that characters use , How the things in shinobi world works are explained in detail and the concept of Chakra , and what a versatile power system it is compared to other shounens really stands out.
The amount of themes explored in the series are vast , It explores all the basic themes of a basic shounen and as it goes on it delves into themes such as the nature of humans , self sacrifice , discrimination , manipulation , roots of war and peace , difference of perceptions , the line between good and evil , alienation as such. It manages to deal with all these themes without abandoning the shounen type feel to it or making it pretentious.
Something that the author Kishimoto really excels at is setting up events , for example he started setting up the base and motion for major events that's happened in the last of Shippuden from the early episodes of Naruto (prequel) itself , but at that time we look over these little details and minor events and have no idea that they are going to have such an impact later in the series. and when it all comes together in the end , you feel so satisfied. Most of the times these events and twists will take you by surprise and maybe you'll have fun trying to figure out them before they happen as Kishimoto drops clues for you to pick up throughout the entire series.
The last arc of the series have been very controversial as the constant change of antagonist have irritated some of the viewers. But in all honesty , all of the antagonist that were presented had different motives that drove them to do what they do and distinctively different from each other which made them very enjoyable. That being said , the final part of the war arc was really disappointing as
the final villain of the series is the worst character that the series had to offer.
Being a battle shounen , of course there are going to be combats. and this is one area that the series really shines.
To put it blatantly , Naruto have the best combat scenes I've ever witnessed in an anime. I have to mention that this style of combat is heavily inspired by Hunter x Hunter. Kishimoto does a fantastic job putting emotions into it's battle scenes which are backed up by gorgeous animations (at times , we'll get to that later) and a mesmerizing soundtrack , and with these combined it really sets up fantastic visual storytelling through combat and Kishimoto does an excellent job at setting up the events leading up to the fight to make it feel all the more personal. and these battles often comes down to which character outwits the rather than who can punch harder. This makes characters like Shikamaru Nara who have very little ability make a huge impact in the series.
Variety of the style of combat styles are massive , ranging from intimate hand to hand style combats , tactical combats , long range jutsu battles and most often mix all these !
You will see friends become foes , foes become friends , Unlikely alliances formed and broken , That precious character you loved die. revenge plots , plot twists , characters grow , politics , romances , the world itself change. There are some flaws but it's a full package and the writer always seemed to have the ending and everything planned out from the very beginning.
Characters - 10
Now this is the core of the Franchise.
Each character in Naruto are very distinctive from each other. each have a core motive that drives them and each one specializes in different skill sets. And hats-off to Kishimoto for his brilliant character design as he used a very bright color pallet and made each one very distinctive to make each of them stand out.
No matter which kind of characters you prefer because you're sure to find someone here that you can relate to. What the series really does well is making sure that you'll be attached to the characters emotionally. And you will cheer them on as they try to achieve their goals and break down crying at their deaths.
You will get to see how what's happening around the characters change them , mold them. Witnessing how tragedies that's happening around them having an effect on their psyche is one of the strongest points of Naruto Shippuden. It's fun seeing small character interactions from early episodes grow into full blown relationships.
Now let's move on to the "Villains"
This series checks all the boxes when it comes to antagonist character archetypes.
*Self-Righteous Villain with an God Complex* [Checked] , *Money Hungry Villains* [checked] , *Religious Psychopaths* [checked] , *Villain who is after Revenge* [checked]. I think I've made my point there. But what makes this villains so enjoyable is that no one is a villain just for the sake for being a villain. The best kind of villains are the ones you can empathize with , the ones that you feel for and understand them and make you question your own morality , this is something that this series excels at , As same the main characters , villains too have core motivation driving them , they have their own beliefs , ideologies and they are willing to fight for what they think is right. You might find yourself cheering on the villains more than the "heroes", The morale here is blurred.
But coming back to the war arc , It's main flaw is the final villain (Which I will not spoil here). Compared with the other villainous characters from the series , the final character very bland , motivations are not entirely clear or most likely not relatable to any of the viewers . That being said , this character is only in the series for a very short amount of episodes and the other certainly do more than enough to make up for it.
Art and Animation - 7.5
Again we have a mixed bag here.
This show can look stunning when it wants to , and by stunning I meant big budget movie level of quality. But at times the quality can drop way.., below sub par.
I think I should specially mention "Hiroyuki Yamashita";s work here. He mainly works on battle scenes and this man is a genius when it comes to it. Even though he only worked on a limited number of episodes , his episodes pushes the animation , choreography and stylishness to 11 !
Despite this I can't give it a higher score because this show is wildly inconsistent with it's animation.
And as for character designs , we already talked about how Kishimoto made his characters very distinctive and imaginative , and how the bright color pallet fuels this.
Sound - 10
This is an another strong point of the series. Yasuharu Takanashi have made a masterpiece of an soundtrack for this series that manages to highlight the intensity , the tragedies and sorrow when the series needs to. The emotions that Kishimoto wants to portray makes it through to us so well because of this soundtrack , it connects us with the world of Naruto Shippuden in an odd way. I would recommend listening to tracks like Samidare (Early Summer Rain) to get a taste of what the soundtrack is like.
Enjoyment and Overall Experience - 10
Naruto Shippuden is more of an experience that needs to be experienced than just a mere show. It played with our emotions for over a decade and now it has been concluded. The enjoyment of Naruto Shippuden goes beyond just the series itself. This series got a very big community and fanbase that you could interact with. And it's lore is so vast that you would never run out of things to discuss about it. Although it has it share of major flaws , This series is an journey that shouldn't be missed if you're fine with being committed to the series.
And with this , I conclude my review for this series that defined a generation.
Sub or Dub ? : Sub is recommended
| Recommendations |
[Naruto] : Yes , The original series. It's essential to watch it before the Shippuden series because it contains a lot of character development and the build up the Shippuden series.
[Fullmetal Alchemist : Brotherhood ] : This series contains most of the things that made Shippuden great such as good character development , good soundtrack , excellent world building and this series does it in about 70 episodes which is truly a magnificent achievement. If you like Naruto Shippuden , it's a given that you will like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood as well.