(Re) Watching Naruto Shippuden: Episodes 001 – 006

So Ive decided to (finally) catch up on Shippuden in order to avoid any story based spoilers while playing Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. I’ve seen the first thirty or so episodes before. But it was so long ago that I can only remember the rough outline events. Anyhow I have to make it to episode 176 so watching an extra twenty or thirty episodes doesnt really make that much of a difference. In theory I should have been banging through thirty or so episodes a day in order to be prepared for the games release on Friday. But due to this and that Im afraid that as of the moment (2:38 AM Wednesday morning) I have managed to get through six episodes.

Im hoping to bang through at least the Gaara arc tomorrow. Though once I get into it I figure I should be able to get up to at least the start of the Twelve Shinobi Guardians arc (mid fifties I think).

Anyhow, Ive made it through the first six episodes and they are simultaneously better and worse than I remember. In an effort to keep this relatively spoiler free I will try and avoid going into specific detail. But to be honest, its somewhat inevtiable that some details will slip out. So if you want to avoid spoilers I suggest you stop reading at this point.

The first episode or two serves as a general (re-)introduction to the major cast members, some of which show aging from the time-skip (mainly younger characters) and some of whom look exactly the same (every single one of the older characters appears to be immune to the aging that has beset their young peers). The first episode starts off in media res, we see Naruot, Sakura and an unknown ninja catch up with Sasuke. There follows some back and forthe between Naruto and Sasuke before slo-mo violence begins and we flash inside Naruto’s head where Naruto, the Nine Tails and Sasuke sass each other. The episode then cuts back to the “present” time at Konoha village. This is followed by the aforementioned introductions. The first episode or two are relatively enjoyable as we get re-introduced to old favourites and get to see how theyve changed, and occasional flashes of how theyve powered up. But its not long before we see the first signs of the Akatsuki. The evil super ninja group introduced late in the original series and the main antagonists for all of Shippuden (and all of the latter parts of the manga which Shippuden draws from). The series then begins to cut between Naruto and Sakura training in Konoha and two of the Akatsuki attacking the Hidden Village of Sand in order to do mean things Gaara (who’s now the Kazekage).

And here is where we see the big problem with the first six episodes. While the individual bits are enjoyable the way they are put together is, well, terrible. The way scenes cut from one place and situation to another, with no real rhyme or reason, throws everything out of kilter and ruins any kind of rythmn or momentum the plot is trying to generate. Even the fights themselves seem to be made up of cool little vignette’s choreographed and edited together in such a way as to rob the fight of any excitement. The pace for everything in these episodes is just shit. It renders the awesome mediocre at best and makes the entire experience feel both disjointed and interminably (almost painfully) slow. I just want the first arc to reach the Sakura vs. Sasori fight, which I recall being fucking awesome, and kick into fucking gear.

On the plus side Naruto himself is nowhere near as annoying as I recall him being in the first few episodes. It also wasnt long before my affection for characters from the first series resurfaced. Which is good as I thought I hated all of the characters. Sort of sorry about Garra’s ultimate fate at the end of this arc as he’s pretty rock and roll. I was however entirely correct about how much I fucking loathe Deidara. Even his power is totally shite.

Listening to: Counting Crows - Perfect Blue Buildings

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