The Crunchyroll Features team bugs out over the Hokage fights this week!
It's time again for the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! It's me, Carolyn Burke, and I'll be your host this week as we continue watching all 220 episodes of the original Naruto. Last week, we covered episodes 64-70, and we continue this week with episodes 71-77. Let's get started!
This batch gave us a lot of tragic backstory as we got a closer look at Gaara's sad origins and the possible reasons for some of his odd behaviors. Quite an emotional turn after all the fighting we saw last week. Of course, there were still plenty of scuffles to go around. We also got to see the Third Hokage in epic action and had tons of fun with a bugs versus puppets showdown.
Let's find out what the Crunchyroll Features team thought of this week's episodes!
So, the obvious elephant in the room is Gaara. He's ... not OK. But it struck me that he's very much suffering from mental illness, probably depression/PTSD and possibly some kind of personality disorder, from a very young age. He even reaches out for help, acknowledging his lack of understanding of pain and empathy, only to have that backfire greatly. How do you feel about Gaara's villainy before and after this backstory revelation?
Paul: Although I feel pity for Gaara's horrific, abusive upbringing, I think the metaphors of his mistreatment break down a bit when you realize that the everyday citizens of Sand Village (as compared to the assassins sent by Gaara's father) have legitimate reasons to fear him. As a child, Gaara can't control his powers and when distressed he injures and kills people at random because he can't distinguish friend from foe. I feel sorry for Gaara, but if I lived in Sand Village I would also stay the hell away from him for my own safety and the safety of my family.
Joseph: I dig Gaara's backstory, and while I agree the people of the Sand Village had good reason to fear him, it doesn't delegitimize it. If anything it makes it slightly more tragic.
Danni: Yeah I don't quite gel with the mental illness reading either for the same reasons as Paul. I was however very impressed by his backstory. I had already guessed that he'd had a caretaker try to assassinate him a while ago, but it was still very heartbreaking to watch it play out.
Kara: I mean, what happened very much affected him, and unsurprisingly so. If the last words of my one friend in the world were "Everyone hates you including me," I'd be messed up, too. I don't know how (or if) I'd class his reaction mental illness-wise, though. But yeah, it's a double-edged thing. I don't think people were wrong to fear him, but it sure did suck. I also think it's kind of neat how they peppered in things like him talking to the sand during his fight with Sasuke... which before was just weird, and now is something else entirely.
Jared: Like the others have said, it kind of goes both ways. The regular people of the Sand Village had enough reason to fear him since he could get out of control with his powers. That being said, Gaara was surrounded by some exceptionally crappy people. Which makes the whole reveal of why he's become who he is today make more sense as no one was willing to offer him any help. I certainly feel more for his character than when he was initially introduced as the murder death kill kid.
David: Gaara's story is basically "what if Naruto didn't have Iruka and also the Hokage wanted him dead," so I think it's ultimately more about the negative consequences of children left neglected and abused instead of mental illness. Still very tragic though.
Noelle: It's tragic, but it's a dual thing—unlike Naruto who can't touch the nine-tails at all, Gaara's powers are constantly active and he has no control over them. He is legitimately dangerous and people fear him for a reason. That being said, that nobody, not even his own family, has attempted to reach out to him genuinely makes my heart hurt a lot.
Similarly, what did you think about Naruto's realization about how close he could have come to following in Gaara's footsteps? I genuinely appreciate Naruto's ability to look on the bright side of everything and persevere in the face of terrible adversity.
Paul: I appreciate the parallels and I hope that this story-line eventually leads to Gaara's redemption, but I do wish Naruto didn't take so long to find his courage. Sakura defended Sasuke without hesitation armed with nothing but a kunai, after all.
Joseph: I'm with Paul on this one. I like where they're going with the connection between the two, but at this point, Naruto needs to start acting more impulsively in these life or death situations. This batch of episodes has already been not-Naruto-centric enough as it is!
Danni: I love it. Naruto's ability to relate to his enemies might be the most endearing thing about him to me. The conflict between him and Gaara is actually reminding me a lot of a recurring lesson in Mob Psycho 100 about how much our lives are shaped by those around us, so those blessed with good companions should be thankful for them and try to reach out to those without.
Kara: Naruto's a lot better than I am. I've been in a few "there but for the grace of God" situations myself, where I can see someone else has the same baggage as me but lacked the support system I had to survive the situation intact. I think we've all been there, just not with demon foxes and sand moms, you know? I've gotta admire Naruto for counting his blessings positively instead of just sitting there going, "Yikes."
Jared: As Danni said, it's real interesting seeing this play out with how Mob Psycho 100 is doing something very similar. I like that Naruto is able to recognize this and get why Gaara is the way he is since he just as easily could have turned out the same. It totally works with who he is. Although it was kind of funny seeing clips from the first few episodes and thinking "oh those episodes don't seem like they were that far back", except it was 70+ episodes ago.
David: I've said it before, but things like this really do a lot of work in selling Naruto's slow growth toward being a believable leader figure, making his ultimate goal of becoming the Hokage thematically fitting instead of just kind of nebulous. I always seem to like it when it comes up.
Noelle: I love the parallels, because it does ring true. Both of them internalized their pain in a different way, but what would have happened if Iruka wasn't around? People tend to give back to the world what the world gives them, and if Naruto didn't have a positive mindset or a support system, he definitely would've ended up way worse.
Do you agree with Gaara's assessment that Sasuke is hard, cold, and hate-filled? He's pretty angsty, but I'd have to go with no, myself.
Paul: I think Gaara's correct in his assessment. Sasuke is driven by revenge and he's often contemptuous of others and overwhelmed by self-loathing, which are traits that I hope he will eventually leave behind. It's really just a matter of degree. If Sasuke's a six on the "hard, cold, and hate-filled" scale, then Gaara's an eleven.
Joseph: Gaara nailed it. I haven't seen much from Sasuke in these early episodes to indicate otherwise.
Danni: Oh, absolutely. He's changed bit by bit being around Sakura and Naruto, but he's still clearly driven by the desire to kill Itachi. I'm anxious to find out what downfall he suffers as a result, and I'm most disappointed by Kakashi, who seems to be encouraging it.
Kara: I can't really say Gaara's wrong. A few of our protagonists, starting with Naruto, have sort of back-burnered (but not abandoned) their specific goals in favor of learning and practicing their "Way of the Ninja"—which is a theme I love whenever it comes up. Sasuke is still stuck in his Season 1 Episode 1 motivation while others are growing and maturing. He's good at what he does, but I feel like that one-track mind is gonna get him in trouble.
Jared: I wouldn't say he's necessarily as fueled by it as Gaara is where it's basically his entire existence of living, but Sasuke can get up there with his desire for revenge. Again, I think it works because we see just how much of a parallel he has with Gaara, without the two of them being identical. Sasuke's been helped by being paired with Naruto and Sakura, but it hasn't necessarily quelled his intentions either.
David: Gaara is right but I'm not sure he really understands why. Sasuke is like an inverse Gaara—where Gaara lashes out against the world in its entirety, Sasuke is so filled with anger toward one person that he is numb to the rest of the world. As said it keeps him from really growing as a person, and from even recognizing that there are people who care about him at all. His assessment is ultimately on-point to me.
Noelle: I'd say Gaara is pretty spot-on. While Sasuke has come some ways in finding comrades, his entire motivation for being is still revenge. That eats away at you, whether you like it or not.
Let's lighten up the mood, shall we? We previously mentioned, almost unanimously, how awesome the bug jutsu is. What did you all think about the bug fight scenes and how effective they are as trackers?
Paul: I was honestly expecting something a little flashier from Ino's Chakra-devouring insect ninjutsu, but maybe it just appears a bit tame when compared to the visual lunacy of Kankuro's freaky puppet antics.
Joseph: I really enjoyed this fight, but that's a no-brainer because it had two things I love to watch: puppets and bugs. Pitting the two against one another is MUAH. I don't know that it's a totally awesome jutsu, but I like how creative Kishimoto gets with its implementation.
Danni: I never said it was awesome, only that it was powerful. I cannot stand bugs. The most terrifying thing that could ever happen to me is being swarmed by bugs. They are a near unstoppable jutsu because their existence is so terrifying.
Kara: One of my favorite things about Naruto is everyone's creativity. They learn these basic tactics and have their own styles, but it all comes down to adapting to your opponent and surroundings. I also like a fight where the zinger comes at the end: We've been focused on what's going on in front of us, meanwhile, something was planted waaaaay earlier and is just now becoming relevant. Puppet vs. bug is not a fight I thought I'd enjoy, but I admit to being wrong.
Jared: Getting devoured by bugs is like nightmare fuel for me, although that whole fight was coming up with clever ways to utilize them without it just being here's a swarm. I actually thought what was most interesting about that fight was the respect Kankuro and Shino give each other near the end where they're just impressed with the other's technique.
David: In the grand scheme of things it wasn't really an all-time highlight, but I certainly did appreciate getting a more traditional "weird tactics Naruto fight" out of this batch of otherwise huge-power battles.
Noelle: Action-wise, it isn't the greatest, but can an insect lover like me ever say no to this kind of stuff? Of course not. I had a blast.
Good segue here, I've been noticing a lot of interesting directorial decisions. I particularly liked the shot of the bugs crawling out of Shino's jacket and up his face. Any moments like this for you all?
Paul: I don't know if it counts as a directorial flourish, but I really enjoyed the torturous look of the Soul-Sealing Jutsu that the Third Hokage breaks out for his fight with Gaara. I also liked how Monkey King Enma in staff form would change not just length but also width and thickness during the fight scenes, which feels more authentic to his Journey to the West roots. That must have been a real challenge for the animators.
Joseph: The fight between Orochimaru and the Third Hokage was absolutely overflowing with top-notch directorial decisions. One shot that really stood out to me is simple at a glance, but I loved the angle chosen when the resurrected Hokages step toward the third and walk over their own coffins. Some really stylish visuals in the first three or so episodes here.
Danni: A decision that stuck out the most to me was keeping everything in the Third Hokage's perspective once the darkness jutsu had been activated. From the moment it was activated to the moment it was released we didn't see a single moment of that fight from outside his perspective.
Kara: A little thing I loved. In Gaara's flashback, when his whole situation fell apart and he realized he'd been lied to by the one person he cared about. The whole "glass shattering" motif is a common one for moments like this, yeah, but in Gaara's case it was reminiscent of when his Sand Armor shatters—that last little layer of protected he has.
Jared: The utilization of cinematic bars on Gaara seeing himself and his mom turn to sand was an interesting touch that I can't tell if it was more to make it seem more serious or set itself apart from the flashback. I also dug in Naruto's remembrance when he tries to look at his reflection and sees Gaara staring back, but headbutts what he's looking at and it returns to him with a shattered mirror and blood trickling down his face.
David: The animation in the first episode of this batch is so loose and fluid, really a joy to watch. I was very glad they finally gave a lavishly animated fight scene to a character that isn't Sasuke.
Noelle: As others have said, the Orochimaru vs Third Hokage fight really had some massively good animation direction. It's the first time we see something where we know how much power is involved, and that nails it.
And just in general, what were your highs and lows week?
Paul: The high point for me was the fight between the Third Hokage and the zombie resurrections of the First Hokage and the Second Hokage. The special effects animators really pulled out all of the stops there, and all of the elemental magic was especially impressive for something created within the constraints of TV animation. My low point was Naruto falling prey to Gaara's intimidation for so long; I like Naruto better when he takes bold, confident, heroic action, even if that means he ends up boasting or biting off more than he can chew.
Joseph: My high point was also the Hokage battle. The animation is through the roof here, and it was just a creative and exciting battle all around, befitting of its subject matter. Low point would be Gaara's transformation. It may look cool on the page when Kishimoto draws it but it looks really bad in the show, with his Boglin-lookin' ass.
Danni: The high point for me was definitely the Third Hokage's fight. The animation was fluid without being overly flashy. I enjoy flashy animation, but I really loved the simple fluidity of that fight. My low point would also have to be Gaara's transformation. Its full form looks alright, but the partial form just looks a bit goofy.
Kara: Agreeing with all of the above. The Hokage battle is so cool. For a while, we never really saw the Third Hokage as anything but the dude in charge who sometimes hands down uncomfortable news, but he is the Hokage. And one thing I've learned from anime and action movies is old dudes get old for a reason; I figured he was no slouch even now. And yeah, to echo everyone else, I could not take Gaara's transformation seriously. I need to check out the manga and see how it looked there.
Jared: The Hokage battle was real rad, especially getting to see the upper echelon of techniques and jutsu that we haven't seen before. I also enjoyed how they were able to give everything that was happening a good amount of time by switching back and forth between the Hokage battle, the hunt and eventual fight with Gaara, and what's happening in Leaf Village. It was a lot. Low point was as with everyone else, Gaara's transformed state. Hopefully, it looks more intimidating in the manga and not like a flesh blob as he does here.
David: Adding one to the pile of appreciation for the Hokage Rumble. Low point is on the other end of the episodes, the kaiju battle between Gaara and Naruto. Everything just looks and feels so silly, and at the same time the scale of everything has escalated so quickly (literally and figuratively I guess). It's just jarring really.
Noelle: Third Hokage vs Orochimaru and the zombie Hokages were just so good. I didn't enjoy it as much in the manga, surprisingly, but here it was stellar. Inversely, I really liked Gaara's slow monstrous transformation in the manga, but in the anime ... it looks cheesy, I'll say that.
"I'm gonna be Hokage!" count: 0 (23 total)
Bowls of ramen consumed: 1 bowl (30 bowls, 3 cups total)
Shadow Clones created: 16 (274 total)
And that's it for this week, folks! Feel free welcome to join us for this rewatch, any time. Especially if you haven't already watched the original Naruto!
Here's our upcoming schedule:
-Next week, on APRIL 5th CAYLA COATS takes the reigns for EPISODES 78-84 as we meet a mysterious new stranger.
-Then, on APRIL 12th NOELLE OGAWA will take a turn at the wheel for EPISODES 85-91.
-On APRIL 19th NICOLE MEJIAS will walk us through the legendary Sannin battle in EPISODES 92-98.
Thank you for joining us for the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! Have a great weekend, and we'll see you all next time!
Have a question for next week's batch of Episodes 78-84? Drop it in the comments and you might find your answer in next week's installment!
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