This latest episode ends the relentless barrage of filler for the popular series. At least momentarily. I personally stopped downloading this show a few episodes into the start of the filler arcs. I figured it was a waste of my time. I watch Naruto because the story really has me by the balls! But when that story is told by show writers and has nothing to do with the manga canon it's a turnoff. Though I'll give them credit for turning up the fanservice in the filler arcs. But I digress!
Speaking of the manga, I don't download scanslations. Nah, I don't really care for it. I rather be holding the book in my hand when I read a manga. I don't mind waiting for it to be translated. Once a month I'll hop a train over to Barnes & Noble and just spend my day there catching up on all the books I'm into. I just get me a stack of books and plop my ass down Indian style right in the middle of the romance section. And they never kick me out for doing it!
Oh, wide screen!
The beginning of the episode(s) made me feel right at home. They wasted no time with the flashbacks. It was both familiar and annoying! Yeah, this is the Naruto I remember. They flipped the script slightly; the entire cold open takes place in the future. Far out man! (sigh)
The OP is kinda rough. I'm not really feeling it this time. The music is okay. I've always liked the 2nd OP and5th OP the most. They have yet to ever outdo those. The music is unmatched and the animation is great. I've never skipped those openings, not even once. A favorite pastime amongst fans is to see if they can guess the direction the show is going. They put a lot of clues, symbols and foreshadowing in the OPs. It's done in such a way that upon repeat viewings you'll swear they ADDED something to it. But what it really is is (hahaha, "is is") that you just didn't notice it before.
I'll give the first and sixth a nod for having catchy music. Yes, I find the first catchy.
No Sakura, the gloves come OFF when you're about to fight.
I forgot how much I enjoyed writing these summaries. I'm toadally doing this for as long as it remains that way.
The animation in this episode is alright. I can see how a lot of this will get redrawn for the DVD release. Redrawing is a phenomenon that as far as I know is exclusive to anime. As you are aware, these shows are done as cheaply as possible. That means cutting corners everywhere. One example is that unlike here, the dialog is recorded AFTER the episode's is animated. When you have a quota of one new episode per week, lip-sync is on the bottom tier of priorities.
Another cost cutting measure is using hiring cheaper studios to animate certain episodes. They might be cheap but the shows get cranked out really quickly by these studios. What you end up with is very awkward looking still poses. Or even worse, badly composited cells. It makes the characters look like cardboard cutouts.
If you watch the show on Toonami you probably haven't noticed this because after broadcast they actually go through the footage and fix the most jarring animation errors. Here's an excellent example of what I'm talking about. The original Japanese broadcast is on the right and what you get on Toonami is on the left. The guy writing the captions says he captured the Japanese shots from a DVD. Either the DVD was a bootleg copied off broadcast or the DVD seasons weren't remastered yet. Notice how really ugly and zombie looking and off-model the characters look on the right? As a fan you grow accustomed to seeing this in your fansubs. It's best not to let it bother you too much. It's uncommon for anime NOT to get redrawn for DVD. Kind of an alternate lateral example.
I mean, yeah, the stuff on Toonami is edited but it's still watchable.
Right, the summary. Well, nothing super interesting. Naruto is reunited with his friends after 2.5 years. There's the running theme of the more things change the more they stay the same. And the opposite is also conveyed. What has me interested is the next episode. Naruto and Sakura face off against Kakashi. They have to snatch his bells again like the original teamwork building session. Only this time it's no holds barred. It's going to be interesting to see if Sakura's actually become useful.
This is going to sound retarded but there's a point near the end where Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi are at a standoff. They then cut to some birds flying around and I swear to God it's like watching the arrows from Dance Dance Revolution. That happens at around 41:28.
As I write this there are about 30,000 people connected to the torrent. And it's not even been 24 hours yet. Naruto is serious business.
These episodes are available on Naruto Shippuden: Box Set 1.