Reviews: Naruto Shippūden Collection 2 (DVD)

While Naruto may have been a fleeting pleasure tailored specifically for that before school, Cheez TV (for those of us old enough to remember Cheez TV!), heavy lidded, pre-pubescent audience, the good people of Madman have brought the next instalment to our wanting shores.  Naruto Shippūden continues the story of Naruto and his friends, only now he’s all grown up … slightly.

The characters, having had their ground work in the original series, are older; the colour palette has matured into natural, realistic tones; the music rumbles atmospherically between stirring chants and oriental instrumentation; and the themes have been noticeably washed with a darker ink. As Anime go, Naruto Shippūden is an interesting combination of Ninja Scroll and Dragonball Z. In other words: awesome.

In terms of content, Naruto Shippūden Collection 2 hits the nail on the head. With thirteen episodes over two DVDs it starts with action, develops story and character, introduces some very interesting plot arcs (especially that of a granny and her sociopathic grandson  both using puppets in battle) and possesses one of the most original fight sequences divided over three separate groups. And it accomplishes all this with several moments of poignant emotion and frivolous humour. Of course, due to the episodic nature of anime as a whole, it suffers from repetition in dialogue and explanation, but these are familiar and small prices to pay.

Considering that the world of Naruto Shippūden is vast, stretching over several differing lands, encompassing a deep history, built over a complex and rich mythology, what this collection offers is light on story. In this case, story is something that constantly develops over the course of the entire series. However, this is not to say that plot is absent. Naruto Shippūden Collection 2 is plotted quite well with escalating conflict, slow reveals of historical background, and a good balance of action with dialogue. If anything, having the story as a continual progression works exceptionally well in the DVD format as it leaves you wanting more.

In the end, what distinguishes Naruto Shippūden from other anime, and what makes Naruto Shippūden Collection 2 a worthwhile day’s watching, are the thematic arcs. Putting aside the prerequisite never-give-up message stapled to the protagonist’s every action, Naruto Shippūden makes the conscious effort to foreground the terrible impact of war.  There is something very disturbing about watching a villain attempt to eviscerate and poison his enemies, while seeing that same villain as a child lose his parents to war, make puppets of his parents as a substitute for their love and security, then turn himself into a living puppet so to not feel human pain. Therefore, while Naruto Shippūden Collection 2 has all the usual anime trappings, there is always more going on beneath the surface.

Visually, the animation is very clean, with little blur or error. Sound quality is good, with distinct voices, clear effects and no lag. However, steer clear of the English dubbing. It was not meant to be heard in English – and the voices, as a result, are off the mark. Not only does the Japanese language give the animation the necessary authenticity, but the requisite subtitles are more concise and robust than the English audio translation.

For those of you with a love for Special Features, be prepared for disappointment. Including only a gallery of production stills and a suite of trailers, this DVD is conspicuously light in extras. And with the production stills feeling tacked on and the trailers tantamount to advertising I would hesitate to say that Naruto Shippūden Collection 2 has any Special Features in the first place.

That being said, if you want interesting characterisation, smooth animation, moody music, and general Naruto inspired mayhem, Naruto Shippūden Collection 2 is the collection for you.

3.5/5

review by Dan Baker

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3 Responses to “Reviews: Naruto Shippūden Collection 2 (DVD)”
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