The Naruto Shippuden anime continues its DVD release here in the UK with “Box Set” 23, containing episodes 284-296. Episodes 284 to 289 contain, unsurprisingly, filler set during the Fourth Shinobi World War, as Kakashi and his team continue to struggle against the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist and Tsunade and A exchange backstories while thinking of Naruto and B, who are making their way to the battlefield. The Tsunade stuff is rather plain and Naruto-by-the-numbers, but at least Kakashi vs. the Ninja Swordsmen is entertaining, battle based filler. After this is a six-episode self-contained filler arc simply called “Power” that celebrated 500 total episodes of Naruto. The arc takes place just after the Five Kage Summit and before the Fourth Shinobi World War and sees Yamato, Sai, Sakura and Naruto sent on a mission to investigate a massacre at Tonika Village, which turns out to be by Kabuto and his reanimated ninja, though there is more to it than that in the end. I have to say it’s a little odd to choose reanimated ninja given we’re taking a break from the long arc that’s based around this concept, but hey-ho, it does allow a few favourite villains to appear in this mini-arc celebration.
I will say that as far as filler arcs go, Power is one of the better. Without spoiling too much, it features well animated, large scale battles and plenty of fun character moments, as well as rather predictable Naruto sweet innocent (and often child) characters and a few dull filler-only villains. Then, finally, we return to adapting the manga storyline… for the last episode of the set. Naruto finally arrives on the battlefield and has with him the answer of how to deal with the White Zetsu clones, and then we see Gaara and the Third Tsuchikage Onoki do battle with some of the revived Kage, including Gaara coming face-to-face with the father who mistreated him so badly.
The simply titled “Moshimo” by Daisuke is the opening theme for the whole set (hooray! Less things for me to look up!) and the closing theme “MOTHER” by MUCC is retained in all but the final episode, which has “Sayonara Memories” by 7!! (That’s the band’s name, I’m not really excited about the number 7. I don’t hate it, it’s alright, but not double exclamation mark worthy…).
I took over the Naruto Shippuden coverage for the site just as the big final (and very long and twisty) arc began, so I was spoiled by several sets of manga adaptation, which anyone who watches the show knows is a rare thing. So it came as no surprise that when I sat down to re-watch these episodes I found myself sighing deeply, knowing there won’t be much I can talk about for this set. I was going to say that given the last set ends on a canon storyline note that you could skip this “box” entirely and not miss out on anything, but of course they stuck that one episode that begins to adapt the manga again right at the end. If you’re okay with that one episode only existing as a recap, then you can still skip this set without loosing any plot from box 22.
The filler, both during the period their adapting and the mini-arc set just before it, does offer some good action, but also a lot of dull Naruto sob stories that end with glimmers of hope that we are all too familiar with by now. If you buy this set purely for more Naruto action then you won’t be disappointed, but if you brought it to see the continuation of the Fourth Shinobi World War then I’m afraid one 20-odd minute episode is all you’re going to get.