Naruto became an instant hit when it was first published in 1999, and when it was released as an anime series in 2002. Naruto became favourites for many people throughout the globe and its name was well-known even for those who does not watch anime or read manga.
However, the popularity of the anime series began to decline after the rescue Sasuke arc, where the anime began showing fillers, which lasted about 85 episodes. Many fans, especially the manga readers, became upset and stopped watching the series completely. Rumors after rumors were spread across the Internet as to when the fillers would end, and finally on the 15th of February this year, the filler ended and the second part of Naruto begain to air under the title “Naruto Shippuuden” (translated as Naruto Hurricane Chronicles).
The first 1 hour special, consisting of episode 1 and 2, took off rather well. The first 8 minutes or so teased the viewers on the reunion between Team 7 and Sasuke, which actually takes place rather long away from the start of Shippuuden. Non-manga readers would be wondering who the heck that pale kid that was shown for a few seconds as Sakura rushed out to meet Sasuke.
The starting of Naruto part 2 in the manga was the most exciting arc on Naruto since the Chuunin exam and Konoha invasion arc in part 1, so I was really looking forward to Shippuuden. I won’t say that I am disappointed, because its actually following the manga quite closely with some fillers at appropriate places, such as during the Kakashi vs Naruto & Sakura and Team Gai vs clones.
There are, however, a couple of complains I have for Shippuuden. The first being the animation standard of Shippuuden. The quality of animation seems to have dropped slightly since before the fillers in part 1 and the characters looked rather pale (and in Gaara’s case, he’s more pale than usual).
The second problem is the slow pacing. However, this can’t really be avoided as the pacing in the manga was also pretty slow. Personally, I don’t really mind that much, but it can get frustrating especially for non-manga readers.
One of the earlier highlights of part 2 for Naruto manga was the showdown between Gaara and Akatsuki’s Deidara. Many became instant Gaara fans in the manga due this battle, and thankfully, I think they did a great job in the anime. Although… I was expecting Deidara to have a girlish voice instead of a deep one 😀
One of the feelings I got while watching Gaara vs Deidara was that the whole scene felt more like an epic battle in a movie than just a normal episode on TV. But that could be because I had my speakers turn on real loud…
The main focus of Shippuuden for now is on Akatsuki. The mysterious organization have finally begun to make their move after waiting for all those years, and are targeting the Jinchuuriki, those who had the tailed beasts known as Bijuus sealed in them.
Being the Jinchuuriki of Shukaku, the one-tailed beast, Gaara became a target of Akatsuki. Naruto himself is also a target, being the bearer of Kyuubi. However, he is supposed to be the last target for Akatsuki as Kyuubi is the 9-tailed demon fox and must be sealed last by the organization.
Shippuuden tries to add more humor to the series by adding bits of fillers here and there. Not bad, considering some of them actually made me laugh. I never thought that Neji would ever be part of a joke in Naruto, but maybe that’s why it was so funny.
For those who had skipped Naruto since the fillers, I recommend that you pick Shippuuden up again. For those who had never watched Naruto before, you should really watch from the very beginning – just skip the fillers when they arrive and jump straight to Shippuuden after that. The 85 episode fillers were a complete waste of time.
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