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.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Naruto Shippuden (Seasons Two & Three)

Oddly enough, I recall seeing quite a bit of season two on television before. It was probably before I knew what Naruto Shippuden even was because I recall not remembering what the fuck was going on. Why is Naruto a bigass fox? Why is he fighting Orochimaru? Who is this Yamato dude? Who is Sai? Why are they meeting on a bridge anyway? Where's Sasuke? 

None of it made any sense to me. I felt like I did after Super Bowl XLVIII minus the intense feelings of rage and depression. Just confusion. Intense confusion. My confusion was certainly understandable and after about eight episodes I stopped watching because I hate it when I spoil stuff for myself when I have no idea what's going on. And some shit was already kind of spoiled for me just by watching those episodes. Just googling anything about Naruto Shippuden is freaking dangerous and finding these pics to accompany this post was nerve-wracking. 

I'm fairly OCD about my watching habits. If I miss an episode or two of some show I will stop watching, period. This is true of live action shows like NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS, The Walking Dead, The Mentalist, Deadliest Catch, etc, but it's even more true of anime. Until I can watch all of those motherfuckers in order from first to last then they might as well have been cancelled after the last episode I watched. Even if that means waiting years and spending lots of money on blu-ray or DVD releases. It really all depends on how much I care about the show. 

Thank God for streaming. 

The second season of Naruto Shippuden takes place in the aftermath of Sakura's battle with Sasori and Gaara's subsequent resurrection. Before dying Sasori had declared that he had a subordinate working under Orochimaru as a spy and that in ten days Sasori was supposed to meet up with said subordinate. 

However, Kakashi is hospitalized after overexerting himself using his Mangekyo Sharingan and won't be able to accompany his team on this newest mission. Considering Kakashi's new(?) ability is something that you have to get by killing your best friend (according to something Itachi said anyway), I'd greatly like to know how and when he came across this technique. That curiosity aside for the moment, an ANBU Black Ops member given the codename of Yamato is appointed as the substitute for Kakashi until Kakashi can get better. 

Now I'd like to make a quick aside and rant about the ANBU Black Ops. If you've seen the show then you know that they are generally useless. I mean, this group is supposed to be elite and do all kinds of fantastic and mysterious shit, but they always get their asses handed to them. Always. I know this is shounen anime, but can't the writers make these fuckers at least a little bit less pussy-like? Just because you need some extra characters getting their asses kicked to pad out the plot a bit doesn't mean you can't at least make them somewhat menacing. Wearing mouse masks and cloaks doesn't equate to menacing. 

The ANBU Black Ops are a joke as of season three of Naruto Shippuden and I have yet to see anything to change my mind about them. I suppose Yamato might be the exception to this rule. He's actually pretty cool. Of course, he didn't get cool until he put down his incredibly intimidating and mysterious ANBU Black Ops mouse mask and began acting like a normal person. So maybe he's not that much of an exception, after all. 

Sai's introduction to the series happened at the end of the first season, but his importance isn't really revealed until the second. If you don't like Sai (and I guarantee you that you won't at first) then just give him time. Sure, he's deceitful, too pale, and dresses a bit too androgynous for my taste, but he will surprise you. He's a master troll. When Sasuke defected from the Leaf Village and became a pupil ot Orochimaru, Sai was more or less chosen to be Sasuke's replacement in Team Kakashi. Just how is something you better find out for yourself. And whether or not he's a "true member' is also something you'll have to find out, too. 

Once Team Kakashi makes it to the Tenchi Bridge then the shit hits the fan. Sasori's spy is actually Orochimaru's disciple Kabuto and if history has taught you anything then it's that Orochimaru isn't very far behind when you see Kabuto.

Yamato's brilliant Sasori disguise is seen through and things quickly get out of hand as Naruto and Orochimaru begin to exchange blows. Once Naruto loses control and awakens his fourth tail all kinds of shit gets destroyed. I pity the guy who has to do bridge, road, and lawn maintenance. Actually, I'd like to know if that same company is currently hiring. That'd be some steady employment with some serious hours guaranteed. Probably overtime and free ramen, too. I like ramen. 

Of course, Yamato has a special ability for moments when Naruto loses his shit so all hope is not lost. 

Once the brutal battle is put on hiatus a chase ensues as Team Kakashi follows the evil pricks to their hideout. At said hideout is Sasuke and we finally get to catch a glimpse of some of the evil shit he can do now. 

Season three picks up after Naruto's failure to retrieve Sasuke. By all rights everyone in Team Kakashi should have been slaughtered but Orochimaru stopped Sasuke's attack because he wants Team Kakashi to eliminate more of the Akatsuki members. Well, you know what they say about the enemy of my enemy, right? It's that same kind of thing although it does feel a little too convenient when used here. Not quite deus ex machina because the reasoning makes sense, but it still feels kinda cop out-ish. 

With Kakashi out of the hospital Naruto begins training that will hopefully make him a lot stronger in a very short amount of time without having to rely so much on the nine tails. The goal is to create a new jutsu that will kick some serious ass. Specifically, Sasuke's and Orochimaru's asses. 

Unfortunately, this training is interrupted when filler rears its ugly head. Episodes 57-71 are all filler. Well, the final few minutes of episode 71 aren't, but that's kind of nitpicking. That bit just introduces two more members of the Akatsuki that you'll get to meet fully in the first episode of season four.

I watched a few episodes of the filler and then skipped to the final minutes of episode 71, but you can do whatever the hell you want. Based on what little bit I saw of the filler, I guess it might have been interesting if only for the canon story that followed. The details of the Land of Fire and the Guardian Shinobi Twelve are expanded on a little bit. Another character named Sora is introduced and Naruto feels a certain kinship with him and all that. Again, do with the filler as you please. Although I hope you don't like Sora too much since he is a filler character. 

I personally don't regret skipping the filler, but I still feel a little pissed even though I know the episodes really don't matter. But I've got a lot to watch and don't want to spend all year reviewing older seasons of Naruto Shippuden. Or One Piece for that matter. 

Onto season four now. 

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