Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Naruto (Season Four)

When we left off, Naruto and Gaara were involved in an epic battle while the Third Hokage and Orochimaru were being forced to relive the same exact two minute scene for eight straight episodes. Well, the beginning of the fourth season finds that arc coming to a close with the death of the Third Hokage, the escape of a now-handicapped Orochimaru, and the inevitable stalemate between Naruto and Gaara.

The Village Hidden in the Leaves mourns for the loss of the Third Hokage and all of the others who were felled in Orochimaru's attack, but the chaos is not over just yet. Orochimaru may have made a temporary retreat, but a group known as the Akatsuki (of which Orochimaru used to be a part) is just starting to make its move. In this group is a man named Uchiha Itachi and he is the older brother of the douchebag Sasuke. Together with a guy who looks oddly like a shark, Itachi journeys to the Village Hidden in the Leaves with the sole purpose of capturing Naruto and the Nine Tailed-Fox that dwells within him.

While in town Itachi puts a serious hurting on both Sasuke and Kakashi Sensei before departing to do evil deeds elsewhere. Jiraiya and Naruto leave the Village Hidden in the Leaves in search of the legendary Sannin, medical specialist, and poor gambler Lady Tsunade with the hopes that she will be able to save Sasuke, Kakashi, and even the hobbled Rock Lee. Of course, the Village Hidden in the Leaves chooses to name Tsunade as the Fifth Hokage so finding her is even more important than ever.

Of course, Orochimaru is still out there and he just happens to be looking for Tsunade, too. He thinks that, even though he had part of his freaking soul sucked out through his arms, she will be able to create some sort of special jutsu to heal him of that particular ailment. Because, well, you know, band aids probably just won't do in that particular situation. 

Inevitably, Orochimaru, Tsunade, and Jiraiya all cross paths and get into a big fight while summoning all sorts of giant beasts and whatnot. It's an epic battle that ends in a stalemate, but Tsunade ends up siding with the good guys so that in itself is a victory. 

This summary is the bulk of the fourth season (episodes 79-104), but there are a few things I have left out. Episodes 97 and 101-104 are all filler episodes. 97 and 101 aren't too bad if you just want a few laughs, but they are too oddly placed within the series. The Race in the Land of Tea episodes (episodes 101-104 as well as 105-106 from season five) are a little bit too time consuming for me, but that isn't exactly my biggest grievance.

When the real storyline resumes on episode 107 we have the long-awaited clash between Naruto and Sasuke and Sasuke's subsequent turn to the dark side. That's some serious shit, folks. The fillers concluding the fourth season and starting the fifth season feel way out of sorts with the direction the series seems to be headed and are nowhere near as engaging. 

However, the dilution of this series is only beginning. After the series reaches its real conclusion on episode 135, the series continues by pumping out 84 consecutive filler episodes. Episodes 136-220 are all filler. 

I am really not looking forward to that at all. 

I think I'll just skip that stuff once I reach 135 and go straight into Naruto: Shippuden. However, this season was pretty darn good. Just too filler-y. 

P.S. - Sakura continues to be a useless character. Only in the fillers does she seem to do anything worthwhile. 

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