Team 7 continues their journey through the Land of Waves, meeting strong allies and stronger enemies!
Welcome to the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! I'm Kara Dennison, and I'll be your host this week as we make our way through all 220 episodes of the original Naruto. Last week, we covered episodes 1-7, and we continue this week with episodes 8-14.
This week, Team 7 pushes through on a bodyguard mission that is way above their pay grade. Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke, and Kakashi-sensei deal with a town living in fear, a ninja who's as pretty as he is deadly, and another who just refuses to die. And the new Genin continue their training with their toughest challenge to date: Chakra-assisted tree-climbing!
Before we discuss these episodes, let's check out some questions and comments you had from our last installment!
Several people asked if we would be doing a Dattebayo/Believe It count.
Kevin: As the person actually doing the counts, I am totally willing to add another to the list. Admittedly, this one would be a bit more difficult, since I would need to actually pay attention to find all of the instances, instead of just noticing when there are multiple Narutos or a bowl of ramen on screen, made more difficult by the subs seeming to be inconsistent with how the phrase is translated. Someone who actually speaks Japanese might be a better choice since they’ll catch it more easily. Regardless of who though, if we’re adding it, the earlier the better so that the counter can go back and get the count for all previous weeks.
We were also asked about doing reaction videos rather than write-ups. We'd love to do this! Unfortunately, the spread of our Features team across several time zones combined with how long it would take to assemble and edit videos like this means that we couldn't move at the speed we currently are! We hope you enjoy the write-ups as we go!
Remember, you can leave us questions in the comments for the next set of episodes, and we'll answer them together in the next update!
Now, let's see what the Crunchyroll Features team thought of this week's episodes!
We’re into our second week of viewing. Has anything happened to change your early-stage feelings about the series last week? On the flip-side, has anything happened to cement early feelings?
Joseph: Despite the fact that this leg of the series introduces the whole “spend the first 10 minutes recapping what happened during the last 10 minutes of the previous episode,” Naruto is surprisingly fast-paced. In many ways it reshapes my previous feelings about this being a total shonen crawl, because Naruto and the team do manage to learn quite a bit in under a dozen eps.
Paul: It's still too early for me to offer any specific criticisms about the show or its qualities. Naruto is still a shouty shonen protagonist, Sasuke is still the broody support character with the tragic backstory, and Sakura is, well, still the generic love interest. I hope she doesn't get left behind in terms of development and cool character moments. On the flip side, Naruto and Sasuke teaming up against Zabuza does cement my opinion that the fight scenes are pretty cool.
Peter: I forgot how fantastic the early dynamic amongst Team 7 was, especially how Sakura was every bit the little piece of shit Naruto and Sasuke were. I’m actually afraid of new plot developments now since I can’t recall exactly how long this equilibrium lasted before… Well… Maybe that’s why One Piece and Black Clover make me feel so nostalgic, both have similar character chemistry but have stretched it out for their entire runs.
Danni: This batch of episodes established some of the characterization that felt absent from the initial episodes. I like that we’re already seeing a friendly rivalry develop between Sasuke and Naruto rather than an antagonistic one. I’m looking forward to seeing that relationship grow.
Carolyn: There were still many moments when I felt quite bored. I can’t say why exactly, but the show doesn’t fully capture my attention. That being said, I was glad to see a lot less Sexy Jutsu and for the most part less pining over Sasuke. It’s starting to become more of what I seemed to remember. I’m very impressed with how driven Naruto is and how much he dedicates himself to his goals. He’s a much better-written character than I realized the first time I watched the series.
Jared: There was less of a pull on emotional storytelling in these episodes, although Inari’s backstory was a wild roller coaster. That continued the trend of this series really knowing when to make story bits impactful. I also liked Naruto and Sasuke’s rivalry becoming more friendly than the two of them being jerks to each other.
Noelle: These episodes are mostly refreshers for me, but it was nice to see Naruto and Sasuke’s rivalry really start to form, instead of the short initial bursts we got in the first few episodes. Now it really feels like there’s more of a competition. On the flip side, well, it is still a shonen show, and all that comes with that.
Nicole: Team 7 is really starting to come together. Naruto and Sasuke each have their desire to improve and be the best they can possibly be, but they won’t dare lose to one another! I wish Sakura did more though; yes, her control of chakra is exceptional, but I’d like to see her kick some ass too, please. Meanwhile, Kakashi remains my favorite character and I wonder if that’ll change as we watch the entire series.
David: I’m glad that there is some thematic meat to this arc. Naruto’s story is still relatively basic for the genre, but the dynamics of the bridge builder Tazuna trying to help his community while fighting against the much more privileged shipping magnate Gato are genuinely interesting. Zabuza and Haku are the main combatants but they are sympathetic, essentially also being tragically used by the real villain Gato. I wish Naruto and company were more closely tied to the conflict, but as it stands I’m impressed.
So we finished out the fight with Zabuza… and now we’re in the middle of the fight with Zabuza and Haku! What’s your take on the action in this batch of episodes?
Joseph: The first round of the Zabuza fight ends with what is probably the most exciting moment of the series so far: Naruto and Sasuke’s double-team trick attack that involves Naruto disguising himself as a massive shuriken to mount a sneak attack from behind. The physics implications alone send the mind reeling. I love this and some of the other key action beats, but I just have one beef: this early on, the move is too brilliant for Naruto. I just can’t even fathom that he came up with it knowing what we know about him at this point. It still kicks ass, though!
Paul: What pleases me about the action sequences is not just the presentation of far-out effects from the Jutsus, but also the little bits of business such as Naruto and Sasuke sharing a smirk when their Shadow Shuriken plan comes together. That reversal of expectations – from success to failure back to success again – is a dramatic structure that Naruto does well.
Kevin: In general, I quite liked the action. The end of Team 7 versus Zabuza showed off teamwork and ingenuity, Naruto versus Gato’s goons evolved the “Shadow Clones transformed into Shuriken” concept, and Sasuke versus Haku showed off 1-handed signs and Kekkei Genkai. The last one doesn’t necessarily have the most exciting action, but it develops the ninjutsu system nicely.
Peter: I’m once again awestruck how easy Kishimoto made this adaptation. They pull so many dynamic layouts straight from the pages of the manga. Sasuke’s windmill shuriken reveal was every bit as peak goth as I remember. With a lot of Shippuden and Boruto’s action more clear in my mind, it’s really awesome how many details have carried throughout the series. Also I totally forgot how bad Haku seems to eat it every time he actually gets hit. Two blows to the face and each time you get this lovingly animated neck snap and flop over.
Carolyn: I actually noticed a lot of thought processes going on that I found very interesting. Were those there last week and I just missed them? I enjoyed hearing Sasuke put pieces together to figure out what the course of action might be in the face of danger. Or Kakashi figuring out the fakeout death. I like that we get to see a little bit of the brains behind the brawn.
Danni: It felt a bit more slow-paced this time, like every move required a set of reactions followed by a complete explanation of what just happened. That aside, I appreciate all the trickery that’s been going into the current battles. It engages me to a point where I’m watching every battle trying to predict the moves right along with them.
Jared: These fights definitely ramped up the danger aspect compared to the first set of episodes. The teamwork shown from Naruto and Sasuke in the first Zabuza fight was great. I thought it was interesting that even though we’re still relatively early on, Haku’s jutsu was stuff that had never been seen before by even people like Kakashi, which I’d have figured would come later. Naruto and Sasuke both did get their moments of looking cool, so maybe Sakura will get hers soon? Hopefully?
Noelle: Really, the shuriken bit from the first fight was pretty great. Yes, it was cool but what I most enjoyed about it was that it shows that Naruto’s still learning. He may be stubborn, but he’s pretty adaptable too! That makes the small victories that come with it feel a lot more earned. As for the second fight, it is dragging a bit.
Nicole: That shuriken moment was totally brilliant, and the smirk both Sasuke and Naruto share as it catches Zabuza off-guard is gold! They worked seamlessly as a team, and this seems to be just the beginning of this beautiful teamwork. Getting to see their different styles is refreshing; Sasuke seems to do things in order, whereas Naruto is more of a experimental type of ninja. Sakura… well, we’ve yet to really see her in action, so can’t really say much about her. But getting to see how they work, how they think and how they’re learning as they go is pretty neat!
David: Unlike the first batch of episodes, where the action seemed like it had potential but was held back by stilted animation for the most part, the fights here are all fluid and impressive. The Naruto-shuriken gambit is incredibly cool, but even the more basic hand-to-hand combat between Sasuke and Haku is just a joy to watch. They have magic powers, but the fights still manage to avoid the ‘floaty’ feeling shows with magic-infused combat sometimes fall into - hits always feel like they have a real weight to them.
We also get a second viewpoint on the situation in the Land of Waves via Inari and his family’s history. How do we feel about that storyline?
Joseph: Episode 10 introduces one of my favorite low-key shonen tropes: the “jaded child who no longer believes in heroes”! I like the way this one plays out. Tazuna seems kind of shady when the squad first runs into him, but the story he presents about Inari and his family is really heartfelt, and cements this bridge as something worth fighting for.
Paul: I know I'm not supposed to want to drop-kick the small child who has been repeatedly traumatized by bullying, poverty, and the murder of his adoptive father, but if they wanted Inari to be sympathetic, they shouldn't have given him that awful hat. It looks like at any moment he's going to try to sell me crypto-currency or hector me about how the workplace wage-gap is a myth.
Kevin: The backstory was well constructed and made the characters’ motivations understandable, I just wish that I cared about Inari nearly as much as I do his dead foster dad. Did we really need a second kid for Naruto to impart wisdom on because the kid’s going down the same path as him? Wasn’t Konohamaru enough?
Peter: I’m sure everyone on the team who watched MHA before Naruto is starting to make some connections with Inari. Mostly I am, and always have been, fascinated with the world that Kishimoto has created. I heard he grew up in a military town, but I’m curious about what personal experiences led to him developing this world with such a laser focus on how the prejudiced and violence of adults pass down to their children.
Carolyn: This universe is not gentle to orphaned children, that’s for sure. It’s kind of sad how often they are treated badly for literally being traumatized. Also, screw that kid for throwing the puppy in the water.
Danni: Listen, I’m on board for any storyline where a monopolistic corporate a-hole is the bad guy.
Jared: I sure wasn’t expecting Inari’s backstory to feature attempted dog murder and then death by crucifixion and stabbing. Or the fact that this was going to be about class warfare. If anything though, maybe Inari will help bring the bucket hat back into style.
Noelle: Inari comes as the second of ‘kids that Naruto relates to’, and it’s slightly different than Konohamaru. I admit I don’t really care deeply for Inari, even though I certainly feel bad for him because his dad’s murder is a lot more brutal than I remember. It’s also a lot more ‘greedy businessmen are bad’ than I remember, I was definitely more focused on ninja action than the ‘existing power structures will backstab you’ part as a kid.
Nicole: So when are they gonna punch Gato? When is Gato gonna get his? I didn’t remember the Land of Waves being in such a dire situation. And I certainly didn’t remember Inari’s dad getting publicly executed! Yeah, Gato needs to go, ASAP.
David: The hero of the people being literally crucified by the unrelenting capitalist overlord was a little on the nose, but considering the entire theming of the arc already surprised me with its thoughtfulness, I’m not really complaining.
We’re also seeing lots of new moves! What’s been your favorite new Jutsu?
Joseph: My favorite Jutsu would have to be the way Naruto and Sasuke used the transformation move, which is something I’m sure was on a lot of minds during this batch. Beyond Jutsu, though, I gotta give a shout-out to some of the new concepts Kishimoto cooked up. I love the idea of tracker ninja and the notion of having to recover or destroy bodies before their ninja secrets can be revealed.
Paul: I don't know if it counts as a Jutsu specifically, but Kakashi using his Sharingan to copy (and surpass) his enemies' techniques was pretty dope, if only for the imagery of dueling water dragons.
Kevin: While it’s not technically a jutsu on its own I completely forgot about the “Shadow Clones turn into shuriken” combos, and I love seeing them. It’s a level of strategy that Naruto doesn’t normally employ, and I hope that there’s more stuff like it in the future.
Nate: I'm always partial to Naruto's training, in this case something super basic (for a ninja) like running vertically up a tree--the series always does a great job breaking down a technique so the characters can fully understand it, which then means that we understand it. Later, when the characters use the technique, they don't need to explain anything and can just let the action do the talking.
Peter: Naruto loves breaking its own rules. No sooner did they bother talking about hand seals than a character is introduced who can do it with 50% less hand. That said, some of the shit Sasuke pulls later on with seals is some of the most awesome fight choreography in anime. Also Kakashi’s use of sharingan is really bizarre at this point. I’m really curious what Kishimoto’s original plans for the doujutsu were before developing it (or not) later on.
Danni: Does the sharingan count as a jutsu? I hope so, because that’s my favorite. It’s the shinobi equivalent of the kid at recess going “I just learned all your moves and can deflect all of them now.” It’s way too OP. I love it.
Carolyn: So. Many. Clones. I don’t think it counts as jutsu but I am a definite fan of the pretend death needles.
Jared: Haku’s hidden jutsu of ice mirrors is rad from the sense of a technique that could seem as if there’s no means of beating it, but also you could have a nice side business by having a portable house of mirrors.
Noelle: It’s not really a jutsu, but I still love the sharingan. I also completely forgot about the shuriken transformation so that was great to see it again!
Nicole: That would have to be that one scene of Zabuza doing the Water Style Water Dragon Jutsu and Kakashi copying all of it like it was nothing. It was so cool to see all the hand signs in motion like that for the first time!
David: Haku’s ice mirrors genuinely frightened me as a child - I was completely convinced Sasuke was just going to die there back then. It’s still very cool now. Getting a hint of the more high-powered fights watching Zabuza and Kakashi go at it is also neat but I’m more impressed by the smaller powers I think.
And of course, to close things out, what’s everyone’s personal high and low points of episodes 8-14?
Joseph: I think I’ve made my high point clear enough: LIVING. SHURIKEN! As for the lows, Sakura is still getting the short shrift. Naruto and Sasuke are constantly growing, yet she remains far from the spotlight. There’s one moment where she approaches Tazuna and says she’s in charge of guarding him while Naruto and Sasuke continue to practice climbing trees. I don’t really see how she can help; shouldn’t she be back there training, as well? At this point she seems like an afterthought that’s used more as a wedge to place between two characters who don’t really require any additional tension.
Paul: Low point–Inari's mom being menaced by a pair of leering, sword-licking samurai goons. High point–Naruto delivering a righteous head-kicking to said goons. Sometimes the baddies just need to get roundhouse kicked into next Tuesday.
Kevin: High Point- Naruto asking Sakura for tree climbing help. First, I’m a sucker for shonen training, so seeing the main characters get a week to practice a new skill is great on its own, especially since we see the start of Naruto and Sasuke being actual rivals. Even better though, the show builds on the previous idea of teamwork being more important than anything else by having Naruto realize that he can improve more quickly by asking a teammate for help instead of (in this case almost literally) running into a wall.
Low Point- Sasuke in the Ice Mirrors. I know that he’s being pinned in and this is the first time that one of the kids is seriously in danger, but it’s also a problem that can be solved by covering your head and running in literally any direction to get out. Worst case scenario, you have a needle somewhere vital that it stopping you from bleeding out due to the needle being in the way.
Peter: Once again my highs and lows are mixed. I’m really loving the interactions between Team 7 but you can already feel a growing disparity between the characters that indicate it won't last. The relationship between Sakura and Naruto specifically is super rewarding. You discover they have a lot in common and she softens on him once she realizes he isn’t 100% a troublemaker. Him showing humility and asking for help is also A+ shonen stuff. Loved the “I’m not telling.”
Carolyn: I have been paying extra attention to the art style this week. I love the watercolor look of the backdrop and the occasional Ben-Day Dot style flashbacks. I also have been very much liking Naruto’s continued growth, being happy for Sakura’s success but still admitting his jealousy (emotionally mature in my book!) and coming to her for help. I continue to be surprised by how much depth he has when he isn’t being a punk. The low point, sadly, was still my girl Sakura. I swear I remembered her as being a stronger character but she just isn’t there, yet. She got much closer this week … when she had things to do. But then immediately followed that up by needing Sasuke’s approval before taking pride in her accomplishments.
Danni: The lowest moments in these episodes are easily the all-too frequent flashbacks. I know, they’re an easy way of filling extra time, but as a viewer I feel insulted! Please, trust your audience to have a memory span longer than that of a goldfish! That aside, I can’t tell you how psyched I got at the shadow shuriken throw Naruto and Sasuke pulled off. I live for tech like that.
Jared: This set of episode had to have at least 10-15% of them made up of flashbacks which felt like such a drag. Episode 14 is especially egregious with this since 10 minutes of it are just that for whatever reason. It didn’t help as well that the recap seemed to really nail what the series thinks of Sakura currently with that she just has the hots for Sasuke. Can Inari’s hat reminding me that I own a New Radicals CD be in between high and low moments? That said, the fights were a lot of fun, Haku proving that characters named that are cool and dangerous, and Naruto and Sasuke’s team up were all good moments.
Noelle: The fights were fun! Even though Team 7 is made up of kids and one (relatively young) adult, it’s good to see that the kids aren’t entirely outclassed. Normally you’d expect the adult enemies to steamroll them, but the team is holding their own, and adapting to new situations. It’s good, not just something stagnant. As for the low points, boy there were a lot of flashbacks! It’s standard, I know, but it felt a lot like padding, if that makes sense. Trust your viewer to remember something that happened recently! Also Sakura’s treatment, but that is well, unfortunately a genre staple…
Nicole: Low Point: Sakura not really doing anything. She is praised by Kakashi, but why hasn’t she really shown off what she can do? High Point: The overall growth of Team 7 as they trained and battled! Naruto asking Sakura for tips and then not sharing what she said with Sasuke was hilarious, but even in those moments of rivalry, they care for one another as a team.
David: High point: Again, the Naruto-shuriken strategy is incredibly satisfying to watch unfold. It is the first time it really feels like the show has not only a solid understanding of its own mechanics but also the cleverness to utilize it for cool and exciting moments. Low point: kind of cheating, but the half-episode of recap in episode 14 isn’t just boring, it is also horrendously placed. Right before that, Sasuke is trapped by Haku, everyone is in peril, and Naruto appears to save the day at the very end of the episode! There can’t be a worse way to follow that up than by riding that excitement and suspense directly into a recap of the entire show so far.
Ramen consumed so far: 2 bowls, 1 cup
"I'm gonna be Hokage!" count: 11
Number of Shadow Clones summoned: 52
And that's everything for this week! Remember that you're always welcome to join us for this rewatch, especially if you haven't watched the original Naruto!
Here's our upcoming schedule!
-Next week, on FEBRUARY 1st, we discuss EPISODES 15-21, with KEVIN MATYI hosting! Not only do we start the Chunin Exam arc, but we get our first FILLER EPISODE! THIS IS THE ONLY INSTALLMENT WE'RE ACCEPTING QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS FOR THIS WEEK!
-Then, on FEBRUARY 8th, we'll discuss EPISODES 22-28, with JARED CLEMONS as host! The Chunin Exam kicks into high gear!
-On FEBRUARY 15th, we'll discuss EPISODES 29-35, hosted by DANIEL DOCKERY as things heat up in the Forest of Death!
Thank you for joining us for the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! Have a great weekend, and we'll see you all next time!
Have any comments or questions about episodes 8-14? What about our upcoming installment, featuring episodes 15-21?
Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and interviewer with bylines at VRV, We Are Cult, and many more. She is also the co-founder of Altrix Books and co-creator of the OEL light novel series Owl's Flower. Kara blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos.