Naruto Shippuden Collection 33 (Episodes 416-430) (Cert 12)
2 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 353 minutes approx.
Regular readers of this site (both of you) should already know the formula for my reviews for Naruto Shippuden during the current and much disrupted Fourth Great Ninja War story arc – moan about how much of the content is filler whilst trying to make the canon material sound enticing enough to avoid deterring anyone from buying this latest release.
It’s not easy and by looks of things there won’t be any respite from this any time soon either, so we’ll take the general gist of the downside of this collection as read, the downside, if you have a volatile aversion to filler episodes that is, being that only six of the fifteen chapters on offer here are directly related to the main arc.
That said, many of the fillers are what I call “congruent filler” in that have a lead in from the canon episodes or carry a connection to them via one of the featured characters or a particular scenario, mostly resulting in a flashback adjunct rather than the unrelated fare that only adds further memory loss for fans of where we are in the main storyline.
So, we’ll start with the developments in the Ninja War. When we left it at the end of the last volume, Obito had finally seen the light and broken free of the influence of Madara, ending their relationship with a brutal blade the stomach. With his old teammate Kakashi by his side, Obito extracts some of the tailed-beasts’ chakra from Madara to aid in the healing of Naruto.
Meanwhile Orichimaru and his group, who also have seen the error of their ways, make a shock discovery when they find Sasuke, having been unable to sense his chakra. It seems that Madara’s quest for the ultimate power has caused many an evil foe to rethink their stance and join the fight for good, but Madara still has at least one ally willing to aid him in his fight against the ninja coalition.
With the main protagonists being healed, it is left to the old guard to hold off Madara as he inches closer to executing the Infinite Tsukuyomi. Step forward Might Guy, the subject of a flashback mini-arc detailing his childhood training under his overly optimistic but demanding father, striking Madara with his ultimate attack the Inner Eight Gates Formation. But is he successful or has Madara become too powerful?
The biggest development to occur within this adventure is one that appears to come out of leftfield, carrying with it a slight touch of deus ex machina by its sudden addition to the plot, unless one is better versed in the Naruto mythology than I am. In their current stasis while being healed, Naruto and Sasuke slip into the alternate dimensions inside themselves, greeted by Hagoromo Ōtsutsuki, the Sage of Six Paths.
You’d be forgiven for not remembering Ōtsutsuki as, research shows, his first very brief appearance was back in episode 329. He sticks around a lot longer this time as he has some very important information to share with Naruto and Sasuke. The groundwork for this revelation is not something I personally recall seeing before this but I will say that it is a true game changer that deserves a better build up to feel more significant.
Unfortunately, the coverage of the Ninja War arc is temporarily halted once again just as it reaches fever pitch, ending on a typically frustrating but devastating cliffhanger that will have ardent fans biting their fingernails right down to their knuckles. However, there is a fortuitous side to this particular catastrophe which allows the writers to deftly used this as means to create a segue way into the individual filler chapters.
In taking this opportunity, the first two double episode spin-offs turn the spotlight onto two lesser-explored characters – Tenten and Killer Bee. Both awaken in the alternate universe last seen in the Road To Ninja movie in which many of the cast have conflicting personalities – e.g.: Hinata is a trashy delinquent, Sasuke is a lothario and in Tenten’s story, Naruto is called Menma and is sullen and insular whilst in Bee’s tale, he is himself.
The previous fillers earlier in this set shine a further light on the early days of the history between Kakashi and Obito, and a rare sidestep featuring Naruto as he teaches young Konohamaru how to create a Rasengan. Along with the aforementioned Might Guy story, the focus here is mostly on humour which is much needed after the often gory and dark events of the main arc and the Obito saga.
As ever, patience and tolerance is asked of the fans who may not have read the original manga by Masashi Kishimoto thus don’t know what will happen next, as much as it does for the fans who have been waiting to see the Ninja War brought to life in animated form. It is annoying but like I said in the opening paragraph of this review it is nothing new and is something we have to grin and bear.
With the canon episodes scattered about in this two-disc collection, only three run sequentially meaning a lot of interruption. Ordinarily I would advocate that filer hates use the skip button but some episodes carry some overlap at the beginning and end of them so be warned if this applies to you.
But if you’ve stuck with Naruto Shippuden for this long then nothing is going to faze you and to be fair, filler or not, there is a lot of entertaining episodes in this set. The Ninja War might only be limited to six episodes but plenty of ground is covered in moving the story forward and delivering exciting and dramatic battle scenes.
The next set looks to be all filler so for now, this release of Naruto Shippuden whets the appetite for resuming the main story only with a bitter aftertaste of knowing of the wait that is to come.
Disc 2 only:
Rating – ***
Man In Black