Since 1999, "Naruto" created by Masashi Kishimoto ("Karakuri") has been one of the most popular anime and manga series in Japan and has easily become a favorite best selling anime/manga series among fans all over the world.
For the anime series, since 2002, "Naruto" lasted until 2007 with a total of 220 episodes. The series would follow the adventures of a boy named Naruto Uzamaki, who may not be the brightest ninja from the Konoha Village but he makes it up with heart and also tremendous power as the killer beast known as the nine-tailed fox has been sealed within him.
Earlier in the series, the anime series focused on Naruto and his team members Sasuke Uchida and Sakura Haruno as they would go on adventures and learn to become a team and also honing their ninja abilities. The series would then begin to introduce other young ninjas from the village who Naruto would be paired up with and the young ninjas would take on rival clans to helping people in need. But somehow as the series continued, Sasuke Uchida would then go off on his own personal mission to stop his brother Itaki Uchida, who murdered the whole Uchida clan and his family, only leaving Sasuke alive.
Within those six years, we have seen Naruto and his friends grow as friends and also in their abilities. For Naruto, all he has wanted is to become the next Hokage (the leader of the village) when he grows older and to help his friends accomplish missions. He knows that to be a good leader, he will need to get stronger so he can protect the village once he grows older. Of course, there is so much involved in the "Naruto" anime series and what makes its special is its humor, its action but also how well the series integrates so many characters but yet features a good number of character driven episodes that makes the viewer appreciate many of the characters in the series.
"Naruto", the first series ended with the young ninja leaving to train with Jiraiya for two-and-a-half years.
Here we are now with "Naruto Shippuden" (Naruto: Hurricane Chronicles), a sequel to the "Naruto" series and with the release of the second volume featuring episodes 14-26.
In the first volume, Team Kakashi which consists of Kakashi, Naruto and Sakura are dispatched to the sand village after news that the Akatsuki (a criminal organization which includes powerful ninjas who defected from their villages and a group which include Sasuke's brother Itachi) members Deidara and Sasori have attacked the village and are after Gaara. While the three hurry to get to the sand village, Lady Tsunade sends out Team Guy to provide as support (consisting of Might Guy, Rock Lee, Neji Hyuga and Tenten).
With Gaara taken hostage by the Akatsuki, Gaara's brother Kankuro tries to save him but is stopped by Sasori of the Red Sand who literally beats Kankuro and injects him with poison, so he can suffer and die within three days. Fortunately, Team Kakashi arrives and Sakura is there to use her medic skills to stop the poison but now they must go and save Gaara with the help of one of the elders of the Sand Village, Grandma Chiyo. Who happens to also be the grandmother of Sasori.
Here is a brief spoilerless summary of the episodes 14-26 for "Naruto Shippuden Box Set 2: Season One" included on three DVD's:
* EPISODE 14 - Naruto's Growth - The Akatsuki clan sends out Kisame to stop Team Guy while Itachi is sent to stop Team Kakashi.
* EPISODE 15 - The Secret Weapon is Called... - The battle continues as the Konoha ninjas take on Kisame and Itachi.
* EPISODE 16 - The Secret of Jinchuriki - Grandmother Chiyo reveals of what happens to Naruto and Gaara if their beasts are removed from them.
* EPISODE 17 - The Death of Gaara! - Akatsuki seal Gaara's beast which could be fatal for Gaara.
* EPISODE 18 - Charge Tactic! Button Hook Entry!! - Team Guy is dispatched to destroy the barrier around the Akatsuki hideout.
* EPISODE 19 - Traps Activate! Team Guy's Enemies - What was believed to be barrier seals ends up being a trap for Team Guy.
* EPISODE 20 - Hiruko vs. Two Kunoichi! - Grandmother Chiyo briefs Sakura on Sasori and prepares her for battle.
* EPISODE 21 - Sasori's Real Face - Chiyo and Sakura vs. Sasori (who reveals his true form).
* EPISODE 22 - Chiyo's Secret Skills - Chiyo has to resort to using new puppets against Sasori in battle.
* EPISODE 23 - Father and Mother - Sasori unleashes his Iron Sand technique on Chiyo and Sakura.
* EPISODE 24 - The Third Kazekage - Sasori uses the third Kazekage puppet against Sakura and Chiyo.
* EPISODE 25 - Three Minutes Between Life and Death - The battle continues between Chiyo, Sakura versus Sasori and with Sakura using an antidote to stop the poison, she has only three minutes to defeat Sasori before the antidote wears off.
* EPISODE 26 - Puppet fight: 10 vs. 100! - Chiyo uses her "Ten Puppets of Chikamatsu" versus Sasori's "One Hundred Puppet Manipulation Jutsu".
One thing I noticed when it came to "Naruto" is that the series has had its share of well-animated and well-painted artistic backgrounds but then for some of the filler episodes, has had a decrease in quality. Fortunately, "Naruto Shippuden" looks awesome. I really like how the characters look much older and the emotions on the character's faces to the action that takes place in the Sand Village is pretty cool.
For the most part, these episodes for this box set is focused on battles, so a lot of the background scenes take place in a cave, above cliff-like areas or a hill. So, there is more focus on the characters and the fighting sequences rather than overall setting. But for the most part, the action was captured quite well and fans should be happy.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for the audio, audio is pretty much Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 Bilingual (Japanese and English). Similar to a series like "Dragon Ball Z", with "Naruto", I have always enjoyed the voice acting of the English dub series. It's well done and the voices fit the characters very well. Especially Maile Flanagan's Naruto Uzumaki. Personally, I didn't think there would be a voice actor that could capture Junko Takeuchi's Naruto vocals and sure enough, Flanagan does a great job. But I have watched the series in Japanese and English and for the most part, voice acting for both soundtracks are well-done.
Since the series is front channel driven, for those with a modern home theater receiver probably will enjoy a more immersive soundscape by selecting stereo on all channels.
Subtitles are in English.
"Naruto Shippuden Box Set 2 - Season One: Original & Uncut" comes with the following special features:
* Voice Actor Featurette: Sand vs. Leaf - Interactive Quiz Show - A video-based quiz show with the voice talents of "Naruto Shippuden" all competing (viewer needs to choose the correct answer and will be awarded points for getting 100 points). Competing are Michael Lindsay (Kankuro), Liam O'Brien (Gaara), Tara Platt (Temari), Maile Flanagan (Naruto), Kate Higgins (Sakura), Dave Wittenberg (Kakashi) and a mystery host!
* Relationship Chart: Team Guy - A text based feature showing the relationship of Team Guy: Might Guy, Rock Lee, Neji and Tenten.
* Production Art - Using your remote, you can view 16 production art images.
* Viz Media Trailers - Trailers for upcoming or current Viz Media releases.
"Naruto Shippuden Box Set 2 - Season One: Original & Uncut" comes with a slip case. It's important to note that the limited edition box set contains a mini ninja Naruto and an exclusive art card.
First, let me start out with how awesome "Naruto Shippuden" has been so far. No slowdown or any weak filler episodes, so far every episode since the first have been all action-packed and intense. "Naruto Shippuden Box Set 2 - Season One: Original & Uncut" continues that as the Konoha Leaf Village ninjas take on members of the Akatsuki.
But with this volume, Sakura fans will be happy with this latest volume as we see how much Sakura has grown up and how her training as a ninja has literally brought her power to new heights. Not only is she a medical ninja, she is now among the most powerful members with her ability to evade but also her ability of massive strength. Never before have we seen Sakura put into a situation like this. She was always the ninja that stood behind Naruto or Sasuke but no more.
To watch Sakura and Grandmother Chiyo take on Sasori, this battle was action-packed, well-planned and it doesn't end quickly, there is a good build up of episodes and the cliffhanger that you are left with at the end of volume six makes you wanting even more!
And also, it's not just Sakura that gets the spotlight in this volume, but we also get to see Team Guy in battle. Especially Might Guy as he takes on Kisame Hoshigaki and seeing Rock Lee, Neji and Tenten get into it as well. So, for the most part, it was great to see the characters all fighting in this episode and it makes you wonder when we will see Team 8 in battle.
Overall, there are quite a bit of surprises, twists and turns but for the most part, another exciting, action-packed volume of "Naruto Shippuden"! Definitely recommended!