Lesley Aeschliman

Anime Review: Naruto Shippuden Set 23

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Naruto Shippuden Set 23 includes episodes 284-296 of the series on two DVDs. Audio options include the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Naruto Shippuden Set 23

Naruto Shippuden Set 23

Publisher: VIZ Media
Format: DVD
Release Date: July 28, 2015

Set 23 starts out following the canon storyline from the manga about the Fourth Great Ninja War. The first episode in the set has a strong focus on Sai and how he’s not sure whether or not he can actually perform a seal variation on his Super Beast Scroll, since it requires the ability to control emotional energy. Considering that he was taught in the Foundation not to feel emotions, this is an obvious struggle for him. But this was a great episode for showing character development and growth for Sai. To be honest, I thought this was the strongest episode in the set.

The next episode focuses on Maki, a member of the alliance from the Hidden Sand Village. She encounters a reanimated version of her mentor, Pakura, which causes emotional turmoil for Maki. But because Maki and Pakura were both new characters, a lot of time had to be spent building up their backstory. It was decent for what it was, but it didn’t quite have the emotional punch that it could’ve had, since the audience hadn’t known these characters for very long.

The next two episodes are a flashback showing how Tsunade met A and how Tsunade helped him out years ago. It was decent backstory, but it was a little frustrating to have this interrupt the action of the main story. This is followed by two episodes that help to progress one of the battlefronts in the Fourth Great Ninja War.

But then we get the seven part “Power” story. After watching it, I almost wonder if this was originally meant to be a script for a Naruto Shippuden film but ended up being used to create more filler episodes for the series instead. The story shares a lot of the traits that the movies do, such as not truly fitting into the timeline anywhere and having elements that conflict with what’s already been established in the series. Also, there were no recaps for the previous episodes. The storytelling also followed the formula that seems to have been developed for most of the movies in the Naruto franchise. The animation in these episodes also looked on the rushed side, especially when it came to the main characters that we know from the show. I have to admit that I really didn’t enjoy “Power” all that much, because for the most part, it didn’t really seem to fit in with what was going on. The only link it seemed to have to the canon material had to do with Kabuto and his experimentation with the reanimation jutsu. It was disappointing that the episodes for “Power” ended up being the bulk of the content included in this set.

The final episode on the set brings the viewer back to the main storyline, but it starts out with a bit of recap to refresh the viewer’s memory of what has happened in the Fourth Great Ninja War up to this point. At least the episode does begin to progress one of the battles at another battlefront.

Unfortunately, Naruto Shippuden Set 23 wasn’t as strong as it could have been. The biggest issue is how bogged down it got by the “Power” filler story. There are a small handful of decent episodes, but it’s just not quite enough to make up for “Power.”

“Power” had the weakest animation in the set, while the animation for the rest of the episodes looked rather average. The animation in the other episodes wasn’t bad, but there was nothing to make it really stand out, either.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, there are five bonus features. First are the storyboards for a section of Episode 291, “Power – Episode 2.” Next is a return of the art gallery, which includes six pages of line art of the new characters that were introduced in “Power.” Next, there are “clean” versions of the opening and both endings that appeared on the episodes in this set.  There are three versions of the clean openings and endings included: a version without any text, a version with English subtitles, and a version with Romaji subtitles. There are also English credits, along with trailers for other properties that VIZ Media was promoting at the time this set was released.

Naruto Shippuden Set 23 is only really worth it for the five episodes that actually advance the canon storyline for the manga. The flashback episodes of Tsunade were decent, but they really aren’t necessary for advancing the story. I just can’t truly recommend the “Power” filler story, which makes up the bulk of the material included in this set.

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