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.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Naruto (Season Five)

It was episode 100 when I stopped watching Naruto back in 2007. I can't remember why I stopped watching, but it is certainly odd that I did. Excluding the filler episode 101 and the filler Land of Tea arc that bridges the end of season four to the beginning of season five, this part of Naruto is the best part. The brief fight between Sasuke and Naruto, Sasuke's subsequent turn toward evil, and then the epic chase to prevent Sasuke from falling into Orochimaru's hands is the perfect way to end the series. 

That's why I find it all the more mind-boggling that the anime continued for a full 85 episodes after what was rightfully the end of the first part of Naruto in the manga. Episodes 131-135 are apart of the sixth season according to Crunchyroll, but I am going to ignore that distinction because I have opted to skip episodes 136-220. If you want to watch all of that filler than have at it. I personally don't have time for that. 

Once the Land of Tea arc (a mercifully short albeit pointless filler arc) ends we finally get to the meat of this entire story. While I have thought of Sasuke as a bit of an overrated douchebag (certainly nowhere near as cool as Vegeta), I won't deny that Sasuke is one of the more interesting characters in the series and his descension from grace is a major turning point. 

While I personally found Gaara's and Orochimaru's background stories a bit uninteresting, I will say that I thought the complete opposite of Sasuke's background. It has been hinted at in prior episodes, but we finally get to see the full story about Itachi's betrayal from Sasuke's perspective. The fact that he is reflecting on his past while fighting his best friend (presumably to the death) makes it all the more fitting. I know it seems like you could make a drinking game out of how many times Naruto has flashbacks the ones about Sasuke are actually quite worth it and add a little extra something to the "breaking of bond," as Sasuke might refer to it.  

While watching the flashbacks about Itachi, I couldn't help but feel like things were a bit off and that my chain was being jerked around a bit. Could there be a little bit more than meets the eye or what?

Of course, I am getting ahead of things. 
When Sasuke chooses to leave the village to seek out Orochimaru's training, the Fifth Hokage calls the newly-appointed jonin Shikamaru to enlist a team to track him down. Shikamaru chooses Kiba, Choji, Neji, and Naruto (of course) to accompany him on this mission. 

Accompanying Sasuke are four of Orochimaru's goons (aptly called the Sound Ninja Four) and they would be tough for battle-hardened jonin to bring down. Unfortunately, with the village's most powerful ninja away on other missions, Shikamaru and his crew of inexperienced genin are hopelessly outmatched. 

Or are they?

It was good to see Naruto actually act within the confines of a group of different people and learn to follow orders as a soldier instead of a student. It was especially even more rewarding to see Shikamaru be the one to give those orders even if he is the one who has the least drive of just about all of the Naruto characters. 

If you like fights between dudes with superpowers that last for episodes on end then this is where it's at, folks. The inevitable fight between Naruto and Sasuke to end the series (wishful thinking on my part, but hey, fuck filler) was the icing on the cake. 

However, the single crowning moment in all of Naruto-dom is the drunken Rock Lee fight. You'll know it when you see it. 

I've already skipped episodes 136-220 in favor of going straight into Naruto: Shippuden and I feel like I haven't missed a thing. Skip the filler, folks. You can always go back an watch it later when you are bored if you really want. 

Did I mention that the fight between Naruto and Sasuke is fucking awesome? Because it is. While I really do like to make fun of people who like this show a bit too much I can definitely say it is good. I won't watch it ten times over like some folks, but it's still pretty good. Second State Sasuke (that purple thing pictured above) is pretty freaky and kind of looks like a woman. I think that's my only real con about that big fight. But I guess it's only natural he looks like a woman considering how often he acts like a self-righteous little bitch. 

Good stuff. 

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