Naruto: Naruto Unleashed 4:2

Tsunade, anxious over the question of whether to acquiesce to Orochimaru’s bargain or not (and equally torn over whether to become the next Hokage), here becomes centripetal in the early parts of this volume, just as she had in the later parts of the previous one.

Held ransom over the memory of her dead relatives – who Orochimaru promised to revive with his forbidden juutsu – she goes out to meet him alone, spiking Jiraiya’s drink and abandoning her loyal servant Kitsune; seeming submissive to his betterment at any price.

As she prepares to heal Orochimaru’s hands, affording the Sannin the ability to cast juutsu again, however, Kabuto, not long ago sent to assassinate her assistant, returns, having thought it unwise with Jiraiya’s unexpected presence, to put an end to Tsunade’s betrayal. Apparent to him, as a medical corps member with experience of healing juutsu, was the fact that Tsunade’s chakra was only made to look as though it was going to heal Orochimaru.

In turn this of course initiates a fight between the three, with Tsunade hoping to finally kill Orochimaru, wary of his promise to leave the Hidden Leaf Village alone, whether she was Hokage or not, and Orochimaru still harbouring the desire to be healed, even if he has to force Tsunade’s hand in order to achieve it. Naruto and the others not far behind as well however, what follows is a long fight between the two groups of ninja.

The quality of the animation varies, but watching it again I’m not quite so critical as I was the first time around. Everything else – the interruptions for the requisite displays of sentiment and the dialogue – will be standard fare for those who’ve seen most or all of the series up until this point, and is similar to other shounen, with most moves or tactics called out by name and explained at some length the first time round. This has never really bothered me, but those who dislike it should beware. After that, and other than in detailing it, the fight pretty much speaks for itself, but builds on the use of juutsu and summoning that the series is known for, and is the longest fight so far, lasting just over a half of this volume.

The final set of episodes are more intimate, playing on the concerns of individual characters or doing away with external threat in favour of more humorous proceedings. These contribute less to the overall series than how you might think about individual characters, but are still worth watching.The same can’t be said for the last three episodes though, which follow a small story about a ninja running in a race with a rival nation with Naruto and the others come into the equation as protection.

Like the previous volume this one survives on the strength of its better episodes, which are greater in number and should guide the viewer’s lasting impression, making it easy to ignore this impass. Compared to the previous volume however, it does certainly have more of these ancilary moments or episodes, so not enjoying the fight that makes up its bulk would essentially ruin it, which is just one reason why I feel it isn’t quite as good as the last.

In Summary

Another largely succesful volume but one focused much more on action, leaving emotion and genuine character development to a minimum. It still manages to be more rounded, over the course of the entire volume, than most series though, and won’t disappoint most fans.

7 / 10