When the meeting between Yamato and Kabuto Yakashi, one of Sasori’s spies (and his attempt in capture him) ends in failure, Orochimaru makes his appearance to Team Kakashi. Because of all the chaos Orochimaru has caused, culminating in the abduction of Sasuke Uchiha, Naruto loses control and as his rage builds up, he starts to unleash his Nine-Tails power.
This should develop into a major fight (especially after a lack of action in the previous boxset) but to my disappointment, these first two episodes concentrate on Naruto’s difficulties in controlling his power when the fourth tail appears. But all is forgiven when a massive battle breaks out that is both enjoyable and satisfying.
If I had to sum up these thirteen episodes in one word it would have to be “bond.” Naruto and Sakura have so much determination to save Sasuke from Orochimaru’s clutches that they can’t let go of it and it shows in that when they trip over or get injured, they always get back up again. This brings about a change in the emotionless team member, Sai, as he starts to wonder what’s so special about this bond they carry and remembers that he once had one himself. He’s the character who has the most character development and his progression (including the rest of Team Kakashi) to maturity is a highlight.
As you watch the first disc, you might be wondering where Sasuke is, since he’s on the front cover. Not to worry, because it doesn’t take him long to make his appearance. (As I mentioned in my review of the first boxset, the series would have benefited from not having him show up in the prologue.)
The current plot has enough twists and turns to keep newcomers interested and veterans will be happy with the lack of fillers (although the flashback to Sai’s past was a good addition) but my gripe would have to be that when something is about to happen, you have to wait around five minutes before things get underway. If done correctly, it creates tension, but in some cases it takes forever for the action to start and as a result you can become bored enough to fast forward.
The Opening (Long Shot Party – “distance”) remains unchanged; it’s still a de light to watch and listen to. The new Closing is performed by Mezamero! Yasei and is accompanied by slides of fanart, some from main Japanese animation studios (Gonzo, Gainax) and others by Naruto fans; the song is decent but the guitar rock anthem doesn’t do enough for me.
Extras remain unchanged from the last boxset: some new production art of characters and the same old trailers.
This is definitely an intriguing arc that keeps you guessing until the end; there is enough action here that ends up being very satisfying and with great character development. Naruto Shippuden is still going strong!