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.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Naruto Shippuden (Season One)

I enjoyed the first Naruto series well enough. I watched the first 135 episodes and then skipped all of the filler junk at the end and went straight into Naruto Shippuden. Damn, did I make a good decision. Of course, Naruto Shippuden has a lot of filler too (like One Piece, Dragonball Z, Bleach, Inuyasha, etc.), but not eighty straight episodes of filler. Not yet anyway. 

The first season of NS contains 32 episodes and is thankfully filler-free. It also gets right to the action.

It's been two and a half years since Naruto set off to train with Master Jiraiya. In that time Gaara has become the Fifth Kazekage and just about everyone else has become either a Jonin or Chunin. 

Despite getting trained by one of the legendary three Sannin and having more chakra than just about any of the Jonin or Chunin, Naruto still remains a lowly Genin. However, Naruto won't have time to try to take the Chunin exam again after returning to the village with the Akatsuki on the move and the deadline for Orochimaru's body switch with Sasuke hovering over the horizon. 

Naruto's reintroduction to the village and everyone in it is pretty cool. It's nice to see what's happened to everyone since Naruto has been gone. It's also cool to see that Sakura finally became useful during Naruto's absence. A lot of female characters in shounen anime are typically weak and used as nothing more than damsels in distress or just something pretty to look at. So if you are a more feminist type then chances are you won't like a lot of shounen anime, but there are moments in certain anime that often take you by surprise. The first season of NS provides a welcome surprise. 

Sakura flat-out kicked some ass in the first season. Her and Granny Chiyo rocked the joint. No doubt about it. So anyone (me included) who had been knocking Sakura for not having a bigger role or stronger powers can finally shut up a bit. Although it's really the fault of the writers for not knowing how to properly handle their female characters. So take note of this because there's no telling how often this will happen in the later seasons. For this one brief moment in the first season of NS Sakura was the bomb.

The main reason we got to see Sakura in action was because of the Akatsuki making its move. Now if you don't know what they are then I'd advise you to watch the first 135 episodes (or so) of Naruto. But, long story short, they are a group of bad guys that are after the Jinchuuriki. The Jinchuuriki are the poor and unfortunate bastards like Naruto and Gaara that are cursed with having one of the nine tailed beasts implanted in their bodies. Gaara has the one-tailed while Naruto has the nine-tailed. 

Uchiha Itachi and the shark dude (you'll know him when you see him) are just two of Akatsuki and they were they only ones introduced in the first series. Two more are introduced right off the bat in NS and they are Sasori and Deidara. 

That particular evil duo are out to take Gaara of the Sand (even though Deidara is really the one that fights Gaara) while Naruto and Sakura test their new abilities against their old team seven leader Hatake Kakashi. Surprisingly, Gaara loses his battle and gets taken by the Akatsuki. Having passed their test with flying colors, Naruto and Sakura join Kakashi's team as equals instead of students this time around and one of their very first missions is the rescue of Gaara from the Akatsuki. They must do so quickly, too. If the Akatsuki can manage to extract the tailed beast from the Jinchuuriki then the Jinchuuriki will die. Gaara's life is quite literally hanging in by a thread. 

You can't count out Team Kakashi, though. Or Team Guy. 

Once they arrive on the scene we get some serious kick-ass action. 

The best fight of all the first season is the one between Sakura, Granny Chiyo, and Sasori. Believe it.  

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