December 6, 2008

You know, I have never been a fan of the anime series Naruto. Not when it started several years ago and not even when I finished watching the first season of it. But somehow, the mysterious magic of that series managed to make me sit and watch through the episodes of the series. Yeah, I don’t know why I was so obliged to watch it either. Perhaps since it was shown on local television, I guess I made it a point to watch it. After all, there is only one way to really find out if I would be addicted to the series or not. Now I know.
I also suppose that since this is one of the most popular series in Japan, and probably the whole world by now, the series is still ongoing and there is no end in sight. Yup, for anime otakus, this is one of the must-see series in their list and those who don’t really watch it can’t call themselves anime fans. So okay, I made that one up myself but I feel that because Naruto has been so popular, I guess nearly everyone has watched the series, read the manga or at least heard of it. And I’m not talking about that fish paste you find in your ramen bowl. So if you haven’t heard of this name already, you must be living on planet Pluto for the past 10 years of your life, in which by the way, that last little planet in our solar system has been demoted to a dwarf planet.
Anyway if you really can’t remember what this show is about (I doubt anime fans would), then just let me briefly recap on it. You see, in some world where there are several countries and hidden ninja villages. You can guess which village a ninja comes from, from the logo they wear as a headband or armband. One of the hidden villages is called Konoha and basically this is where the story mainly sets. We have a little kid called Naruto Uzumaki, not your typical studious kind of boy as he is well, a little lazy, not that bright, a loudmouth, a simpleton and loves eating ramen. At first it was kind of irritating that he ends nearly all his sentences with ‘~datteba yo’ but I somehow got used to it. But you know, with these kind of characters as the main lead, surely they have a good sense of justice in them to balance off those ‘negative’ traits.
To cut short another long winded story, Naruto is an orphan and has a 9 tail demon fox sealed inside him. Something about that fox caused some havoc throughout the village before it was successfully sealed within him by the 4th Hokage, in which caused the latter’s life. Because of that, the other villagers shun him and treat him as though he’s like an alien. But that doesn’t stop this cheerful boy from trying to make friends and earn respect along the way (okay, maybe not total respect). Plus, he has a dream of becoming the next Hokage of his village, in which most peers laugh it off at first. With guys like him having such determined ambition, my guess is that there’s a high chance he’ll be one and make those non-believers eat their words. Erm… Okay, so I too have my own reservations. So that’s about what I need to blog on and if you’re really interested about knowing more on this kid (don’t think about asking for his phone number. Just kidding), there are lots more information about him, other characters and other stuff on the series in Wikipedia or dedicated Naruto-crazy fansites.
Of course in order for Naruto to become Hokage, he needs to hone his ninja skills. So he undergoes ninja training at the village’s ninja academy. I’m not sure about the rankings as in this academy, a Jounin rank ninja can undertake 3 Genin rank ninjas as their student. Under the guidance of a perverted easygoing Jounin, Kakashi Hatake, Naruto soon finds himself team-mates with Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno. Well, I got to know that Naruto has a crush on Sakura and even though Sakura’s a little more of a violent girl who doesn’t hesitate to punish Naruto for his stupidity. But this girl seems to have her sights more on the ”cool genius’ Sasuke. Speaking of which, this Sasuke guy must be really popular. Either girls just want his attention or bad guys want to get hold of him. He’s such an attraction magnet. Because of this, Naruto views him as his potential rival. However, Sasuke doesn’t bother much with all those and just does things at his own pace.
Then other main characters of the same rank as Naruto include Shikamaru Nara (a genius strategist and planner despite his lazy attitude because he view things troublesome if he needs to get up and do it), Ino Yamanaka (another love rival for Sakura over Sasuke), Chouji Akimichi (a fat kid who’s seen munching food most of the time), Rock Lee (a training mania who is so passionate about it and also likes Sakura), Neji Hyuga (a child prodigy of his clan), Tenten (a girl who can summon several weapons through a scroll), Kiba Inuzuka (posses dog-like features and abilities and has a little puppy named Akamaru), Shino Aburame (a bug master and always wear sunglasses), and Hinata Hyuga (Neji’s shy soft-spoken cousin who has a crush on Naruto). The other Jounin teachers include Asuma Sarutobi (also the son of the 3rd Hokage), Kurenai Yuhi (a skilled genjutsu user), and Maito Gai (another loudmouth passionate guy. At first I thought he was the father of Lee but later found out that Lee looks up so much to him, that he even dresses as close as his teacher). Then there are the siblings from the Sand Village, namely Gaara (always carrying a large sand pot on his back and dubbed the Sand Village’s ultimate weapon), Kankuro (doesn’t really have fighting skills as he is a puppet master as his puppets do all the fighting), and Temari (a girl who wields a large fan and could really kick up a storm. Literally).
Each of the ninjas here posses their own unique skill such as Naruto’s clone techniques, Shikamaru’s Shadow Imitation (controlling movements of another when one steps into his shadow), Neji and Hinata’s Byakugan (heightened vision to view hidden or faraway things), and Ino’s Mind Alteration (allowing her to control the mind and body of her ‘victim’). Furthermore, each of the ninjas has Chakura (some inner power or chi) which enables them to use such techniques. So if their Chakura runs out, it’s bye bye. Though at first I find the fighting techniques to be unique and amazing, as time goes by, I kinda noticed that these are so much that they could do and well, it does feel repetitious after awhile. Also, I noticed that whenever they want to do some kind of jutsu (technique) they will do some weird hand signals and movements. At first it looked cool, but then it felt kinda weird like as though they’re just making the hand movements up. I tried it myself by it was lame. Very.
Honestly, I didn’t really start watching Naruto right from the start as I only started somewhere during the Chuunin exams after the 2nd stage, The Forest Of Death part, the part whereby the surviving Chuunin examinees are supposed to bring some scroll safely to a spot if they want to advance to the next stage. This is a tough exam because they’re not going to let just anybody pass it. Uh huh. The examiners purpose here is to fail the examinees and those who deserves to pass will only get through. So a total of 7 teams (21 examinees) pass this stage. As far as I can remember, the examiner even mentions that there are too many examinees at this stage and even asks for volunteers to pull out! Who in their right mind would do so? Well, there is one. He is Kabuto Yakushi, and Naruto isn’t too happy that he did so.
Thus the 3rd round of the Chuunin preliminary exams sees the remaining 20 ninjas being randomly picked to face each other with the winners advancing to the next round. As usual, it seems lots of ninjas who entered this exam wants a piece of Sasuke, and this guy is injured during the previous stage. As luck would have it, Sasuke’s name comes out first. Can he make it? Below are the real short fight summary:
Fight 1: Sasuke Vs Yoroi
Though Yoroi used some absorption technique to suck his Chakura, Sasuke makes a comeback by inventing a new Lion Combo and wins the match.
Fight 2: Shino Vs Zaku
Shino wins the match by using his bugs to block Zaku’s block holes in his arm to make it unusable.
Fight 3: Kankuro Vs Tsurugi
Kankuro uses his puppet as a decoy to break all of Tsurugi’s bones.
Fight 4: Sakura Vs Ino
Looks like a match over Sasuke but in the end, both knocked each other out and is a draw. Thus, both failed to advance.
Fight 5: Tenten Vs Temari
Temari uses her big fan to blow Tenten’s weapons away as windfall comes to the former.
Fight 6: Shikamaru Vs Kin
Shikamaru uses his Shadow Imitation technique as both sides threw shurikens and dodge them at the same time. Only thing is, Kin hit the wall and became unconscious, thus handing the victory to Shikamaru.
Fight 7: Naruto Vs Kiba
As expected, Naruto copies some move he saw Sasuke did during the previous stage, combined with his clone technique to defeat Kiba.
Fight 8: Neji Vs Hinata
An intensely and closely fought match between the cousins as they trade power blows. Ultimately, Neji wins as Hinata is seriously wounded.
Fight 9: Lee Vs Gaara
Another intense match but in the end Gaara wins after using his sand powers to crush Lee’s hand and leg bones. It could have been fatal if Gai didn’t intervene and stop the match.
Fight 10: Chouji Vs Dozu
The fastest match of all. After Chouji gets all hyped up and transform into some large ‘rocket’, Dozu jumps away and gives a single punch to let Chouji smash himself in the wall.
With the preliminaries over, the remaining 9 examinees advances to the next round. Of course there are other developments too like we see Kabuto is actually an underling working for Orochimaru, the main villain of the series. They cook up a plot to kidnap Sasuke. Also, Dozu seems to be wanting to reveal Gaara’s true form so they had an unofficial fight, but Dozu lost not only the match, but his life as well. Due to Lee’s critical wounds, he is being hospitalized and his condition means he can’t continue to be a ninja anymore. Also, Naruto tries to get Kakashi to train him, but to his dismay finds Jiraiya as his teacher. Yeah, another perverted guy only difference is that his womanizing ways are more obvious. But having Jiraiya as his master is a blessing in disguise as he teaches Naruto how to summon a giant frog and later a super technique called Rasengan, which will send opponents flying away in a spiral if they’re being hit. Initially, you’ll see the explanations in detail of how this Rasengan is done but of course as time goes by, to save time (because by that time he’ll be doing it the umpteenth time), it’s like he’s doing it without much effort. It’s like a lot has been skipped.
The finals begin with a grudge match between Naruto and Neji. Naruto is determined to avenge Hinata’s defeat and put a sock in Neji’s blabbing about his better-than-you and destiny crap. As expected, Naruto uses his clone technique and even summoning his fox spirit to defeat him (after receiving some flashback and back story telling from Neji of course). Next round is supposed to be Sasuke against Gaara but since Sasuke is missing, the match is postponed. Which means, Kankuro’s match against Shino is to be brought forward. Because Kankuro is thinking that this will affect some plan that the Sand Village has been planning all along, he forfeits his match and lets Shino win by default. I’m sure the crowd are feeling ripped-off as after watching the splendid Naruto-Neji match, 2 subsequent matches are a no show. Luckily, the final match between Shikamaru and Temari gets on the way. That guy thinks it’s troublesome because he is always drawn to fight a girl but he has to. Even if he seems like the lazy daydreaming kind, Shikamaru manages to come up with a brilliant plan to trap Temari with his Shadow Imitation technique. Just when Shikamaru was about to deliver the final blow, he forfeits the match by saying he has no more Chakura, sending shock waves to everyone. Though Temari is declared the winner, we all know who is the real one, right?
The final match between Sasuke and Gaara finally starts when Sasuke appears in time (and even in a new outfit). Sasuke has a new ability called Chidori, which is some powerful lightning-based hand beam. Downside is that he can only use it twice in a short period of time. However, the superb match has been interrupted by Orochimaru, who is under the disguise of 1 of the Hokage and holds Konoha’s 3rd Hokage to a hostage. Orochimaru’s plan is to have Konoha village destroyed as the Sound and Sand Village ninja infiltrates Konoha. So everyone in Konoha who is still able to fight, fights back against the menacing threat. It’s like a big battle. Since Gaara is injured during the fight, Temari and Kankuro whisks him away but Sasuke isn’t about to let their unfinished business go and chases after them. Shikamaru, Naruto and Sakura soon follows. Also, Orochimaru engages in a fight with the 3rd Hokage.
Temari faces Shikamaru so that she could make time for Kankuro to let Gaara escape. But soon, Kankuro is faced with Shino who thinks they should properly settle their early match (match ended with a draw). Which means, Gaara has to face Sasuke who has already catch up to him. However, the curse that Orochimaru put on Sasuke during the exams has restricted and weakened him. Gaara also transformed into some large ugly sand beast. With Sasuke out of the picture, it’s Naruto’s turn to take charge. Sasuke can only watch in pain. Because I watched Naruto on a weekly basis, I find this part funny. When the 3rd Hokage did some summoning technique to seal Orochimaru (by trying to pull out Orochimaru’s soul), Orochimaru uses his sword to stab the 3rd Hokage. So while Naruto is fighting Gaara and as the episode progresses, each time they show the scene of the 3rd Hokage and Orochimaru in that position, I’d go "OMG! I can’t believe they’re still in that position! It’s been how many weeks already and they’re still like that! Hahaha!". Yeah, it was pretty hilarious to note that.
So after another round of flashbacks from Gaara as we learn why he wants to kill everyone, Naruto’s sense of justice and determined will to protect his friends of course changed Gaara’s mind as Naruto defeats him along with the giant toad he summoned. Hey, if he’s going to go up against a giant monster, might as well fight fire with fire, right? And after don’t know how many episodes, the match between Orochimaru and the 3rd Hokage ends with the latter sacrificing his life and at the same time managed to only ‘cut away’ Orochimaru’s soul of his arms. This leaves Orochimaru unable to use his both arms again. So he has his men retreat for the time being. But you can count on it that he’ll be back. In the aftermath, everyone finds out about Hokage’s demise and pays their last respect. As for the Chuunin finals, it has been postponed indefinitely.
Due the 3rd Hokage’s passing, the elders of Konoha decides to find a replacement and be the 5th Hokage for the village. Though Jiraiya himself declines for that position, he suggests that he’ll find the medical expert Tsunade for the position. Tsunade is 1 of the 3 great legends of Konoha with Jiraiya and Orochimaru being the other 2. So Jiraiya sets out his journey with Naruto to find Tsunade. At the same time, Sasuke’s renegade older brother, Itachi, along with some shark-looking guy, Kisame, both from an evil group called Akatsuki, arrives in Konoha to get Naruto. They are being confronted with Kakashi and soon they engaged in the battle of Sharingans. So that is what Kakashi’s other hidden eye is. Anyway this Sharingan, when someone looks into it, will experience life-threatening pains. That’s what I think. In the end, Itachi won. So Kakashi will be out of commissioned for some time. Also, because Sasuke really hates his older brother, he is determined to kill him. But since Sasuke is weak, Itachi defeats him easily and lets this weakling live after brutally wounding Sasuke. Since Itachi isn’t really interested in all that and is after Naruto, he focuses his attack on him. They had to back off when Jiraiya uses a powerful technique to fend them off. Itachi and Kisame decides to back off for now.
Meanwhile, Orochimaru and Kabuto approaches Tsunade and her attendant Shizune (always carrying a little pig named Tonton around) and makes a deal with her to heal his hands. At the same time, Tsunade too has met up with Jiraiya but declines the offer. Since Naruto is pretty much pissed off because he can’t believe the fact that somebody would turn down such a nice position (well, to him), they engaged in a short fight (of course Tsunade is in a far better league than him) and then made a bet. Of course Tsunade had no intention of helping Orochimaru so they decide to take her by force. A battle of the 3 Konoha legends soon starts. It’s kinda odd to see them summoning their own giant creatures to fight it out. While Jiraiya has his giant toad, Orochimaru’s is a giant double headed viper while it’s a giant slug for Tsunade. Also, Naruto gets to find out that Kabuto is on Orochimaru’s side and he can’t believe it. You can’t have a grand battle without involving Naruto as he takes on Orochimaru as revenge for destroying lovely Konoha. But Naruto was severely wounded by Kabuto’s attacks but after seeing his strong determination, Tsunade decides to accept the position of 5th Hokage and with that, did some move to defeat Orochimaru and send him retreating in defeat.
With Tsunade as the 5th Hokage, she also tries treating Lee and in time, Lee’s injuries will gradually heal and that kid will be back to his usual self. I’m not sure if it’s a Hokage’s main job but most of the time I see Tsunade stamping lots of paper work in her office. Is this necessary? In the mean time, with Kakashi out of the picture, Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke are being given a task to protect a young man, Idate, in some race between 2 rival clans, in which the winner will get control of the place for a year. Of course the other side too has hired a ninja to sabotage the race in their favour. Not if Naruto can help it. As usual we get to see Naruto’s sheer determination which brings Idate to his senses bla bla bla (flashbacks included). In the end, Idate wins it for his clan.
But back at Konoha, Sasuke isn’t particularly happy about Naruto because that boy has grown to be stronger than him. Uh huh, he’s been hogging all the glory and limelight ever since the Konoha attack. Jealous, isn’t he? I mean, even his own brother doesn’t think he is that strong too. So eventually the 2 guys even had a duel on the rooftop and it could be devastating if Sakura and Kakashi hadn’t stop them in time. So one night, Orochimaru sends his Sound Four subordinates to get Sasuke. I don’t remember their names but they include a big guy who looks like he has Down Syndrome, a flutist lady, a spider guy, and a 2 headed puppet guy. In short, Sasuke decides to turn to the dark side and seek Orochimaru’s powers to become stronger. When news that Sasuke has gone over to Orochimaru, Tsunade assembles a team to get him back. At this time, Shikamaru has been promoted to a Chuunin even though he lost but since he requested it and has a proven track record, I’m sure Tsunade has no doubts about him being one.
The team Shikamaru assembles include himself, Naruto, Chouji, Neji and Kiba as they go on a journey to take back Sasuke. Sakura emotionally pleads to Naruto to bring Sasuke back because she herself was unable to do so. But don’t worry, Naruto always keeps his promises. Well, most of them. The funny thing I kinda noticed is that the ninjas seem to hop tree to tree like as though they’re flying. And they’ll be doing it very often. With ease. Not only that, whenever they run, they have both their hands stretched back like as though it’s for wind resistance purposes. As Shikamaru’s team closes in on the Sound Four, in order to buy time slowly one by one engages in a melee combat. But even if the fight is intense and close, we all know how it will turn out in whose favour, right? First it’s that Down Syndrome guy against Chouji. Then the spider guy against Neji followed by Kiba taking on 2 headed puppet guy. Finally when it’s down to Shikamaru and flutist girl, Sasuke has broken out from his container and continues heading to Orochimaru himself. Of course Naruto is hot on his heels. Naruto then is stopped by another one of Orochimaru’s henchmen. I don’t remember his name too but I’ll call him bone guy because he can use any part of his bones as his weapon. Luckily for Naruto, Lee has been healed and comes to his rescue. While Lee takes on bone guy with his drunken fists, Naruto continues pursuing Sasuke. Then I’m not sure I remember why, the Sand siblings come to the aid of their Konoha counterparts. Though Chouji and Neji have defeated their opponents but blackout after the match, Kankuro helps Kiba, Temari assists Shikamaru, and Gaara teaming up with Lee to defeat their respective opponents. It’s like the Sand village is on Konoha’s side now.
Finally, Naruto meets up with Sasuke at some waterfall. Some talk here and there. Both are still stubborn. Sasuke wants to become stronger while Naruto is bent on bringing him back. So who’s going to give way? Let’s slug it out then. Another draggy part here. While Naruto engages in a fight with Sasuke, we get to see Sasuke’s sad and tragic past. At this point it’s like they show several seconds of the action and then the rest of the episode is to the flashback. I don’t want to go into all that flashback as all I know is that Itachi killed everyone in the Uchiha clan and left poor Sasuke the sole survivor. So I guess it’s in their genes for them to turn to the dark side, huh? This happens for don’t know how many episodes so much so I got really irritated when this happens. So after all that flashback, it’s finally Naruto’s Rasengan or Sasuke’s Chidori. In addition, Naruto has summoned his 9 tail fox spirit while Sasuke has turned into some ugly hand monster. That’s right, a hand monster. It’s such a fiery and explosive battle, literally. In the end, Sasuke is victorious and continues his journey to Orochimaru. At that time, Kakashi arrives and carries an unconscious Naruto back to Konoha. After Naruto comes to back in hospital, he apologizes to Sakura for not being able to bring back Sasuke but will continue to do so in the future. Sakura must be feeling bad for asking such requests and so she asks Naruto to drop it. But would that guy listen? Thus, Jiraiya offers Naruto to undergo some training under his guidance to become stronger and meanwhile as Sasuke arrives in Orochimaru’s hidden lair, Akatsuki assemble themselves to begin their plan that will commence in 3 years time. Wow, does it take that long to start?
For Naruto fans, most of them will know that the manga story ends there and the rest of the Naruto episodes are considered to be filler episodes. Meaning episodes which don’t really follow the manga’s storyline. And there’s quite a lot of them. Over a year’s worth of filler episodes as they are divided into short story arcs lasting over a few episodes. Mostly the filler episodes either has Naruto being paired up with the other main ninja characters (feels like they’re being rotated) on a mission to rescue Sasuke or go on missions that other countries hire them for a particular job. From this point on, Sasuke won’t be making anymore appearance except through flashbacks.
Missions which include to find clues of Sasuke’s whereabouts such as Jiraiya taking Naruto and Sakura to the Rice Field Land to investigate supposedly Orochimaru’s lair, befriended a girl named Sasame but got involve in the local clans bid to join Orochimaru’s side in order to revive their clan. They did meet Orochimaru and Kabuto, but Sasuke was nowhere to be found. Another mission whereby 3 prisoners escape from a prison with one of them named Mizuki, an ex-instructor of the academy who seems to want to settle a score with another instructor of Konoha’s ninja academy and childhood friend, Iruka, by wanting to become stronger. Anyway he was just one of Orochimaru’s many experimental failures in the end. Another mission involving Naruto, Shino, Hinata and Kiba about finding a rare beetle which would always find the owner’s scent but the quartet got into a sticky situation as they encounter a clan who wants the beetle all to themselves. But I like the end part whereby the gang successfully got the beetle and was about to let it sniff Sasuke’s headgear when Naruto farted! Haha, now the beetle will always be attracted to Naruto’s butt! Another mission has Naruto travelling with Neji, Tenten and Lee to find a man named Raiga who seems to be connected to Kisame, so they thought they can find some answers. But they didn’t manage to get anything from him.
I think due to the recent failures to locate Sasuke, I guess Tsunade would assign the young ones to other missions. I mean since people from other countries hire an pay them for their services, why not? Like Naruto and co needing to catch a killer crook with some bounty hunter, Naruto and friends heading to the Country Of Birds to investigate reports of a terrorizing ghost (can’t believe Naruto is afraid of ghosts) but finds out that there’s a conspiracy to topple the current feudal lord and that the current feudal lord is actually a girl disguised as her deceased brother, and Naruto heading to the land of Sea with a Jounin, Anko, to investigate Kaima monsters sinking ships in their waters. Since Anko was an ex-follower of Orochimaru, this place brought dreadful memories back to her. Yeah, another experiment victim. Here, they befriended a half-human half-monster girl Isabi, who has been ostracized by the other villagers for her looks. Though they found out Orochimaru’s hideout, he’s no longer at this abandoned lab even though one of his mad scientist assistant is still there carrying out this dangerous experiment. Then another mission to protect some star in the Star Village but it turned out as usual one of their own people with greedy ambitions to be stronger is the one behind all of it as the Konoha ninjas manage to put a stop to it. Then an escort mission whereby a group of assassins are targeting a royal princess disguised within a group of peddlers. Though Naruto finds her selfish, but you know, this guy’s determination can change anybody who witness and hears him long enough. Another escort mission which has them accompanying a gang member of a murderous group called Shinobazu. But one of the escort guards wants to kill him because he killed his little brother when he was young. Of course another twist in the story which reveals that all this was a setup and that he’s doing it to bring the group down as he is fed up with their murderous ways. And that little brother of his, he is still alive and well. A short arc which has Naruto befriending a guy who has lost his memories and names him after a bamboo shoot. He along with Tenten and Neji decides to bring him back to where he can recover his memories but stumbles upon a devastated village. It’s revealed that this guy was part of some murderous group and that he never lost his memories in the first place. In the end, he sacrificed his life to save the villagers from their impending doom. Also another short arc which involves Kurenai whereby an ex-genjutsu student Yakumo is seeking revenge on her for sealing her powers and suspects she and 3rd Hokage of killing her parents. But Kurenai did this to seal a dangerous beast within her and that it was her other monstrous self which led to her parent’s demise.
Then for the first time, when there is a hidden threat to the Konoha village, all the 11 Konoha ninjas are reunited to find out the perpetrator who seems to have planted explosive charms throughout the entire village. Furthermore, this guy is believed to be a very skilled architect and has faked his own death. What’s worse is that Naruto did befriended him earlier on and can’t believe that he would be the suspect. I mean, this guy was so nice to him and even gives Naruto his portion of his favourite ramen, he would be the least to be suspected, right? So the gang plays a detective cat-and-mouse game as they race against time before their village goes up in smoke. Naruto finally catches him hiding behind that Mount Rushmore-like mountain (that mountain which has faces of all Konoha’s past Hokage) but this old geezer isn’t willing to give up. It takes all 11 of them to bring him down but in the end it is revealed that his bomb threat was never real. Since Naruto reminded him of his late grandchild, he just wanted to relive the days when he played treasure hunting with him. All this for just that? Well, at least it shows Konoha is still on their toes.
There are one episode only fillers which in my opinion and are quite hilarious to watch. Probably after watching so many arcs, this one-off episode is quite refreshing as they appear in between main and filler arcs. My favourite one has got to be the one whereby Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura are determined to find out how Kakashi looks like beneath his mask, since they’ve never seen him without one. So the trio go to great lengths to get Kakashi take off his mask without him noticing but flops. In the end, Kakashi did mention if they wanted to see him unmasked, they should just say so. And as Kakashi prepares to take it off, he reveals it… to be another mask! Hahaha! They’ll never know what kind of mouth he has. My second favourite one is where Naruto and Shino are to be a representative at a funeral for a man inheriting a large fortune from his deceased father. That guy will inherit all the wealth provided that he does not laugh during the funeral. So we see all the other members trying to make him laugh. But the most funny part is whereby Shino is test drinking a tea which might be spiked with laughing gas. It was! So the hilarious part is to see Shino can’t stop laughing! Even throughout the night! In the end, it’s revealed that this was a plot by the deceased dad to make everyone reunite and laugh together just as they did before in those good old times. My third favourite one is whereby Naruto has to accompany Ino, who has to disguise herself as a bride who looks exactly like her. Thing is, this princess bride is fat! Not only that, the groom is a fat foreigner (what is with the Elvis getup?). So Ino is in a dilemma to accept his flamboyant advances or not. The funny part is that Naruto transformed himself into Ino’s bride and was caught by the real princess as he is peeing standing up! So as he runs away, it’s funny to see his pee non-stop! It’s like watering it everywhere! But in the end, that fat foreigner prefers fat woman so he has no qualms to see the real princess’s body size and loves her even more.
Other one episode fillers (okay, maybe some 2-3 episodes) include Lee opening a dojo to further practice his skills so when a ninja spy comes in disguised as Gai, he finds out the hard way that this village is weird. Another ninja spy infiltrating the village with them disguising as Lee and Gai but since Tsunade knows that they’re fakes, he has them do meaningless chores till they gave up on stealing their information. Another one whereby Naruto and Kiba escorting a selfish national treasure guy safely to his destination, a cooking episode whereby Naruto teams up with the ramen owner to cook up an ultimate ramen recipe in order to win back his daughter, Naruto along with Hinata and Kiba have to team up and find a treasure or else Tsunade will send them back to basics after she notices this team has contributed to many mission failures (note that the treasure in the end was a bill sent to Tsunade as services for part of this treasure hunt), Naruto needing to babysit a wealthy spoilt brat (this episode makes you think money can buy everything and that all his bodyguards are money hungry!), Jiraiya and Naruto trying to prevent the wrong delivery of some ecchi script to the wrong person (by the way, it did but because that person was a fan of the script, a war was averted), Naruto getting pretty attached to a sloth-like baby as he tries to return it to its mother, Kiba trying to find a cure for Akamaru as it is infected with a virus which makes him lose his senses and go dangerously wild, Naruto and co entering a haunted living castle to search for the lost wife of a feudal lord.
The final story arc has a group of people from the Waterfall village intending to revive Gaara as their ultimate weapon. So they kidnapped one of Gaara’s students, Matsuri (heck, she’s the only student) as a bid to force him to do so. Gaara has no choice but to pursue them along with Temari and Kankuro. Since the trio are in a pinch, it is Konoha’s turn to do some payback. Yeah, everyone excluding Tenten is on the team to repay their debts off to the Sand siblings. I don’t want to go into this in detail but in short, they won and managed to suppress and prevent the threat of the revival of Waterfall village’s founder who is also their ultimate weapon. When everything is settled down (maybe except for Tenten who is real mad that she got left out from the team and taking her frustrations out on Lee), Naruto goes on a 3 year training stint with Jiraiya. Likewise, Sakura is under the guidance of Tsunade. Looks like it’s going to be quiet in Konoha for awhile.
That’s it for me. Uh huh, after 220 episodes of the first season, the second season will finally start under the name of Naruto: Shipuuden. I’ve had my fair share of Naruto already and I don’t feel like I want to continue despite the second season staying true to its manga roots. All I know is that it has been 3 years passed. Naruto has grown up and looks a little more mature now. But his character really mature? Okay, maybe. So perhaps he has learned some new moves and become stronger under Jiraiya’s guidance (hope he didn’t turn out to be a pervert). As for Sasuke, he really did turn to the dark side and all the Akatsuki members put their world domination plan into motion. Whatever that is. But they’ll be the main antagonist of the series. With that, the series is still running in Japan and with something so popular there, end is definitely not in sight. Hell, I am already. If you want to mention about OVAs and movies, that’s another different story. Naruto has plenty of them too.
Speaking of which, the local television is still running the series by the time I finished the first season. I was initially surprised that a series with over 100 episodes didn’t get axed and even made it past the Sasuke chasing arc. Well, it finally happened when somewhere during the fillers, the station decided to repeat some random episode. That’s where I decided to go on my own and of course I finished it. Then many week’s later as I checked back the programme, it went running back to where it left off. Oh hello, I’m already done by the time they realize this mistake or glitch. Unless it was done on purpose.
I noticed that the drawing, art and animation was quite good during the series. Then as it progresses I kinda feel that there is a certain drop in quality as the character’s facial details become a little more simpler likewise with the action sequence. Some of it are rather obvious. But still, Naruto fans won’t complain about it. Maybe just the fillers itself. Hmm… I’m still wondering why Naruto has whiskers on his face. At least those lines on his cheeks look like it. Maybe he eats too many ramen?
Most of the opening and ending themes of the series have that heavy rock feel. It’s kinda suitable for an action pack series. However, only the 2nd opening theme, Haruka Kanata, sung by Asian Kung-fu Generation is my favourite one. I don’t remember which one of the opening songs, it sounded like the singer was singing it with a pretty much drunken and hoarse voice! Didn’t like that one very much. Each time that song comes on, I’ll switch off the volume or skip it. Other themes which sounded okay to me are Rocks by Hound Dog (1st opening), GO!!! by Flow (4th opening), Harmonia by RYTHEM (2nd ending), Hajimete Kimi To Shabetta by GagagaSP (8th ending), and Soba Ni Iru Kara by Amadori (11th ending). The rest wasn’t that appealing to me anyway. Of course such a series has its soundtracks too and the one I like is still Hokage’s Funeral (a slow piano ballad solo) and The Raising Fighting Spirit (a very fast paced and upbeat rock instrumental).
Naruto is so popular not only that there are video games and other merchandise of it, but there are even jokes by fans (or anti-Naruto people) going around about it. Yeah, they’re making a big joke out of Naruto’s catchphrase which includes "Believe it!" and there are plenty of gay and sexist jokes like how the reason Naruto is desperately going after Sasuke because the director threatened to cut gay scenes of them both. Some pretty hilarious to downright disgusting. Call these people creative if you will.
After watching such a long series with so many characters and so many plots and development, my mind feels a little numb. One reason why I still prefer watching short series. As I said, I didn’t really get addicted to this series and once I finished watching the first season, I felt that I was ‘freed’ from the ‘imprisonment’. No hard feelings Naruto fans, but I somehow just don’t quite like the series. Call me a fake anime fan if you will but I guess it all boils down to preference. And you better believe it, datteba yo!

Haruka Kanata

April 21, 2006

  Fumikomu ze akuseru,
  Kakehiki wa nai sa sou da yo,
  Yoru wo nukeru
If there was only a karaoke version of this song, Haruka Kanata, which is the second opening song for the anime Naruto.
  Nejikomu sa saigo ni,
  Sashihiki zero sa sou da yo,
  Hibi wo kezuru
Yup, I’ve searched high and dry for a karaoke version, but to no avail. Then I found out that the singers of this song, Asian Kung-Fu Generation, didn’t actually make a karaoke version of this song (Damn!). Which means, there won’t be any karaoke versions of it ever.
  Kokoro wo sotto, Hiraite gyutto, Hiki yosetara,
  Todoku yo kitto, Tsutau yo motto sa, Aaaa….
This song is actually a rock kinda song, with you know a lot of that heavy sounds of electrical guitar, bass and drums. In addition, you need that screaming voice to sing it too. Well, you know me, what happens when I try to do so. Sounds more like I’m screaming for help rather than singing. Listeners may just think I’m a mad fool. Maybe I am.
  Iki isoide, Shiborittote,
  Motsureru ashi dakedo mae yori zutto sou tooku e
Lyrics wise, this song is relatively easy to remember. After the first verse and the chorus, the whole song repeats itself again from the beginning.
  Ubaitotte, Tsukandatte,
  Kimi ja nai nara, Imi wa nai no sa
Till then, I’ll be practising screaming and singing along with the singers themselves (Warning: a safety zone of 100 km radius is needed when I’m singing this song. Closer than that, any irreversible damage is highly at your own risk). I still can’t believe that there isn’t a karaoke version of this!
 Dakara haruka kanata…


October 14, 2005

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just bad timing. Somehow the episodes I seem to watch on Naruto are those episodes where there’re flashbacks of certain characters. Telling of how something came about or how it ended up like this. To me, such episodes are not only boring but draggy as well. But with such a long running series and good reviews I read from here and there, I shouldn’t put of this one to soon just yet.
%d bloggers like this: