Push-ups and foxes and pervs, oh my!
Welcome back to the GREAT CRUNCHYROLL NARUTO REWATCH! I'm Carolyn, 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 43-49, and we continue this week with episodes 50-56.
Let's be honest, I like me some good pathos. While the exams are definitely one of my favorite arcs in this series, I can't help but be drawn into the aftermath of the one-on-one tournaments. Especially poor Rock Lee's physical devastation that he's still somehow determined to overcome. The gut-wrenching stuff is the stuff that really gets me. Anyway, enough of that.
Let's get on with what really matters... you. Or in this case, reader WiseJake237, with a good question about Rock Lee and chakra!
Yeah, the Rock Lee vs. Gaara fight is really cool, but one thing's got me confused. If Lee can only use Taijutsu, how is he able to master the forbidden art of opening the gates that control chakra flow? Doesn't controlling chakra fall under the category of Ninjutsu?
Nate: I think the difference is that Ninjutsu molds chakra to create something, like a spell--Sasuke molds chakra to do a fire jutsu, for example, while Lee is just actively releasing chakra in his body to power it up. He's not actively using it as much as he's channeling it, but that's just my take on it.
OK, let's see how the Crunchyroll Features team is holding up after this week's episodes!
Naruto has taken to saying his signature catchphrase “Believe it!" a bit less. Do you miss it?
Kara: He still -dattebayo’s a little at the end once in a while, but yeah. I wasn’t sure if it was just me noticing it less or if Naruto really was saying it less. I don’t really miss it so much, but that could be because it achieved joke status in my circles so quickly.
Joseph: I feel like he’s doing his little vocal tic just as much as ever, they just don’t always bother giving it the “believe it” flavor in the subs.
Peter: I didn’t even notice.
Paul: I think Naruto's still doing his “-dattebayo” speech affectation about as much as usual, but he has fewer lines in this batch of episodes, because they focus more on the supporting characters.
Jared: I feel like I still heard it here and there, but it wasn’t enough to make me think it wasn’t as frequent, so I guess I really didn’t miss it much.
Danni: It’s always felt like an awkward addition, so I don’t miss it, honestly.
Kevin: Honestly, since I’m watching this subbed, I only occasionally caught the “dattebayo” anyway, so him not saying it as much really doesn’t make a difference to me.
Naruto has come face-to-face with the Nine-Tailed Fox and that thing is terrifying. How do you think this event will change/shape Naruto’s journey to becoming Hokage?
Kara: This is seriously exciting! I’ve been waiting to see how that comes into play. So far, Naruto has had to learn to exert discipline over his own impulses and personality. He’s doing a lot better than he was but, you know… Naruto is still Naruto. Now he’s going to have to do the same with something that’s a lot bigger and scarier than anything about him personally. I’m interested to see how taming the Nine-Tailed Fox helps him discipline himself.
Joseph: This is a really big event, and while I don’t know that it was handled as expertly as it could have been, the Nine-Tailed Fox is an appropriately intimidating entity. Also, tick the box, because pushing Naruto in this direction is the first cool thing Jiraiya has done.
Peter: I always thought Kishimoto steamrolled what I thought would be a huge revelation for Naruto. He discovered the reason he was ostracized as a child was he had a literal demon sealed inside him and didn’t even bother investigating it? I suppose it changes nothing but it probably wouldn’t have taken too much effort to discover who his father was after that. He kind of doesn’t even interface with it despite going kyubi several times until the finale of this stretches final episode.
Paul: Personally, I think Megumi Hayashibara's turn as Hakumen no Mono in Ushio and Tora is the scariest incarnation of a nine-tailed fox that I've seen in anime, but Tessho Genda's take in Naruto is a close second. I love that Naruto's reaction is to belligerently demand that the fox fork over some Chakra, like he's a deadbeat roommate living in Naruto's body. As for the final question, Naruto becomes Hokage? OMG! Spoilers!
Jared: I’m real curious to see just how much of a power boost this gives him initially and how that’ll help him in the final bits of the chunin exams. I also liked how he just didn’t back down from it which earlier Naruto might have done.
Danni: I expected a multi-episode stretch where Naruto literally has to fight his inner demon to earn his power, so I was pleasantly surprised to find his inner demon is just kind of a deadbeat roommate finally forking over all the rent money he owes.
Kevin: *Looks ahead to Shippuden* Uhh… I plead the Fifth on the grounds that I legitimately don’t want to spoil what happens.
David: While I too know from experience how this plays out, I wanted to point out that its placement in the story is pretty perfect as a mirror or counter of sorts to Sasuke’s own internal power issues. It’s going to be interesting to see how differently they each handle their newly discovered powers.
So … we’ve met Jiraiya and he’s really something, isn’t he? If this is your first introduction to the Pervy Sage, what are your thoughts on him so far? If you know how Jiraiya turns out, how do you feel about this introduction?
Kara: So I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before, but years ago I messed around with the old Billy vs. Snakeman game on Anime Cubed. That started out with Naruto one-offs but eventually brought in Bleach and Death Note and a lot of other stuff. So whenever I see a new character, I immediately think of their BvS counterpart—which means I only think of the comical view of them. It was really cool seeing that Jiraiya is actually kind of a badass, and but for one thing, I would 100% name him New Favorite Character.
Joseph: I have all the cool stuff he does later in my head, so I forgot what a dip Jiraiya was in the beginning. What a dopey introduction for a cool character. I thought Naruto already had pervy dudes in it but I guess they didn’t have the ultimate requisite perv sage yet.
Peter: I completely forgot how bad he was. I guess I didn’t think about it much back in high school when I first watched Naruto but man Jiraiya really sucks. Tsunade was the only good to come of that squad.
Paul: If I could go the rest of my life without encountering another example of the Shonen Jump “perv” character creeping on girls from the bushes, I would be able to die with no regrets, fist raised to the Heavens, Raoh from Fist of the North Star-style.
Jared: They really wanted to nail down and beat you over the head with the fact that Jiraiya is a skeevy dude and leers at women constantly. I hope what everyone’s saying that he becomes better is true because oof, that was a bad first impression.
Danni: He’s just Roshi for a new generation of Jump readers, and like Roshi the only thing about him I like is his big animal friend.
Kevin: I am part of the group that has seen the show before, and this introduction really doesn’t do Jiraiya service. He’s awesome and is actually really important to the overall backstory of the world, but this paints him as just a pervert who is experienced enough to teach Naruto, and seems to have a bit of backstory that we don’t know yet.
David: Jiraiya, as he is right now, isn’t a very likable character in my opinion. If I remember correctly, he does get more interesting and fun to watch later, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for coming out of this introduction with a bad taste in their mouths. Compare to Kakashi, who reads questionable material out in the open but isn’t quite such a creep.
Speaking of Pervy Sages, the Sexy Jutsu is back in full force. Is that killing this part of the story for you? It feels quite creepy seeing Jiraiya constantly ogling his underage student.
Kara: Yeah. That’s the one thing that stops me from naming him New Favorite Character. It doesn’t kill this part of the story, entirely, but it does shake me out of it temporarily. I understand it’s meant to be funny, but wow no. Stop. Please.
Joseph: It’s 100% clear that Jiraiya is like three bushes away from being concealed enough from the public eye to have sex with Naruto in Sexy Jutsu form. It’s a bad gag.
Paul: Blargh. I like the idea of three legendary ninja that are so strong that they basically answer to no one except themselves. It reminds me of the Seven Warlords and the Four Emperors from One Piece, and how their presence (or absence) can completely tilt the political balance and set world-shaking events in motion. I just wish it wasn't wrapped up in a package like Jiraiya as he's currently presented.
Jared: Ban sexy jutsu and ban Jiraiya doing this.
Danni: I hate the frog man.
Kevin: Can’t say I disagree. Honestly, most of the time I’m not too upset about the Sexy Jutsu, since generally, it is either on screen for a short time or Naruto is using it in a surprisingly strategic way, but the scenes with Jiraiya are where it got legitimately uncomfortable at times, as the middle-aged man gets a nosebleed from someone he explicitly knows is a 12-year-old boy who just looks female (and decidedly not 12) for the moment.
David: The only blessing here is that there is a pretty large gap between times when Sexy Jutsu rears its ugly head.
Man, Rock Lee, you guys. Given how much everyone has loved him over the past couple weeks, how are you all holding up watching his brutal, emotional journey?
Kara: ROCK LEE DESERVES BETTER. That said, I was kind of surprised to see that the show didn’t immediately reward “hard work and guts,” but instead chose to show actual consequences for using a killer move.
Joseph: It’s a bummer of an ending to Rock Lee’s battle, but I kind of love that about it. Rather than giving him a victoriously explosive finale, Kishimoto totally ripped him up and put him back further than square one. With that said, please get well soon, Lee, we love you.
Peter: Sakura’s line at the end really killed the scene for me, kind of implying neither girl has even attempted to work as hard, not just Rock Lee, but any of the boys in the cast. I really like Rock. I’m not sure if he ever really gets a narrative pay-off but both Kishimoto and Pierrot love to show off his power so in that way he gets a lot more than similar characters like Chad.
Paul: If you'll pardon the pro-wrestling reference, Rock Lee is clearly the Mick Foley of Naruto, in that everybody loves him yet his most famous matches tend to involve him getting his ass royally kicked. I don't like to see Lee suffer like this, but I also know that, on the meta-textual level, there was no way in heck he was going to beat Gaara. That's just not how these kinds of story arcs are written.
Jared: The Rock Lee comeback tour starts now. I’m even more curious to see where they go with him as the guy who tried his hardest and still came up short, so where mentally does he go from here. Even if he wasn’t able to beat Gaara, he’s still a winner in my heart.
Danni: I really, really wanted him to win, but I’m at least satisfied with how he lost. He fought to the bitter end, past the brink of consciousness. I have a sneaking suspicion his ninja days aren’t over yet.
Kevin: This is largely why I think people love Lee so much. Sure, you got to see him grow in power immensely during his fight, but he really endears himself to the audience by not giving up on his dreams, even when literally everyone is telling him that there is no hope of achieving them.
David: Always, always a fan of when stories get you excited about a character, have them lose or fail in some way, yet manage to only leverage that to make you like them even more. Rock Lee is a huge winner in that area.
And on that note, the one-on-one battle portion of the exams was a popular arc. Is this new arc jarring? Is it a welcome change? How are you all adjusting to the post-exam arc?
Kara: I loved the battles so much, and I loved finally getting to meet a lot of these other characters. But after all that, I really am kind of ready to bring it back down to our protagonist again. Unlike the bit before the Chunin Exam, though, I feel like this period of time is letting us see the growth of the characters and letting those events take hold more permanently. Like, even Ino and Sakura are showing growth in their friendship.
Joseph: With just a couple post-battle episodes, I haven’t quite settled in yet. I’m completely fine with some downtime, though. Naruto is generally pretty good at its peaks and valleys.
Peter: I forgot they got an entire month. This is where my perception of time got really messed up because I felt like Sasuke Retrieval was right after Chunin Exams. Wasn’t even sure whether Naruto learned his super move before the last stretch. Seems like a huge amount of time considering there are supposed to be a ton of diplomats in town ready to watch the event.
Paul: After all of the intense combat of the Forest of Death and the preliminary matches, I liked that they took some time to focus on everyone training for The Final Test. I liked the idea that Naruto has been brute-forcing his away along while relying on his superhuman stamina, and I liked that the focus of his training involves Naruto learning how to manipulate his Chakra with finesse. We also get a glimpse at the bigger picture, with the various Villages plotting intrigues against one another. It's a welcome change of pace.
Jared: The way the show has been moving at such a rapid pace with the Forest of Death and all the fights, there needed to be some downtime. After coming off the highs of those last few fights, it did feel somewhat like the show slammed the brakes, but that hasn’t wavered my anticipation of the final parts of this arc.
Danni: It hasn’t been as jarring as I thought it might be. I tend to like one-on-one training arcs that really lean into a character’s strengths and weaknesses, teaching them how to make use of both. I didn’t think Naruto would ever use a summoning jutsu, so I’m eager to see him ride some big frogs in the future. Again, though, why Jiraiya???
Kevin: In short, I wish that the preliminaries hadn’t happened. Just cut out the prelims, change nothing else, and then add in the prelim fights as the first round of the main third Exam. This month of downtime is great for introducing new mentors and getting the Genin to have new abilities, but it really doesn’t work well when it comes between two sets of 1-on-1 fights with high emotional stakes.
David: Honestly, it mostly just seems weird that they would put such a huge gap in what’s essentially the middle of an exam. Imagine taking a test, you get two-thirds in, and then your professor tells everyone to go home and study some more for the last part. Bizarre.
As always, high points and low points. What you got?
Kara: High point, absolutely where we left off, with Naruto finally confronting the Nine-Tailed Fox. Close second being my perfect son Rock Lee still trying to train even while in multiple casts. Low point is any and all Sexy Jutsus, and this probably won’t change.
Joseph: Low point: Jiraiya’s introduction and almost every scene he’s in here. High point: Naruto’s attempts to use summoning jutsu resulting in increasingly less tiny frog children.
Peter: Low point was Jiraiya. High point Naruto confronting his inner demon. Pretty straightforward this time.
Paul: High point: Choji Akimichi finally getting to eat some BBQ, which is a welcome reward after he got completely punked in his preliminary match. Low point: Jiraiya.
Jared: Low point was all the sexy jutsu and Jiraiya being Jiraiya. High point would be Rock Lee continuing to be the best even when he’s hurt and Naruto finally facing off against the Nine-Tailed Fox.
Danni: High point was seeing everyone acknowledge Rock Lee even in his defeat. I don’t really have a low point this time around ha ha just kidding it’s Jiraiya.
Kevin: High Point: I know that it started in last week’s episodes, but I will always love Lee’s fight, and I absolutely adore the Eight Inner Gates as a concept. The only thing that can content with it for top moment is Lee doing push ups outside the hospital, due to the sheer emotional weight of the scene. Low Point: Worst moment is probably the first time that Jiraiya sees Naruto’s Sexy Jutsu, for reasons discussed above. Other Point: As for another moment I want to shout out: Everything to do with Naruto’s seal and chakra control. Sure, we’ve seen him as a screw up throughout much of the series, but when he is serious about training, he can honestly learn and grow very quickly. We’re also getting the first steps of controlling the Kyubei’s chakra, which will have major impacts to the latter part of the series.
David: Agreed with this set being straightforward. High point is Rock Lee’s everything, low point is Jiraiya’s poor introduction.
"I'm gonna be Hokage!" count: 2, 21 total
Bowls of ramen consumed: 26 bowls! 28 bowls, 3 cups total
Shadow Clones: 96, 216 total
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 MARCH 15th, EPISODES 57-63 will be hosted by DANNI WILMOTH!
-Then, on MARCH 22nd, NICOLE MEJIAS will host EPISODES 64-70!
-On MARCH 29th, DANIEL DOCKERY will dive into some Hokage fights in EPISODES 71-77!
Have any thoughts on this week's episodes? Let us know in the comments! Or ask us some questions for next week's installment on episodes 57-63!
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