The battle between Naruto and Gaara comes to a head as a legendary ninja falls in Konoha in this week's Great Naruto Rewatch
It's time once again for the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! I'm Cayla Coats, Editor in Chief of Crunchyroll News, and I'll be your host this week as we travel ever further into the hallowed halls of shonen legend in our quest to watch all of Naruto. Last week, we covered episodes 71-77, and we pick up today with episodes 78-84. Let's get into it.
This week we got a kaiju fight between Naruto and Gaara that ends in a particularly impactful moment of empathy between the two young ninja. Sadly, we lost Hiruzen, the Third Hokage, during the battle back at Konoha. But things never stay still for long in Naruto, and the search is on for the next Hokage!
Let's find out what the Crunchyroll Features team thought of this week's episodes!
Shukaku is a pretty terrifying enemy for Naruto, but the way that ”A Thousand Years of Death” injects some levity into the fight while simultaneously functioning as solid battle strategy really gets to the heart of what’s so special about this show. How did you all feel about the interplay in episode 79 between Naruto fighting Gaara and the ninja fending against invaders back in Konoha?
Kevin: For me, a lot of the war between the Leaf and Sand ended up being “oh yeah, that’s happening, too.” It’s not handled poorly by any means, but going from seeing Gaara turn into a giant monster to the third or fourth scene of the Third Hokage and Orochimaru standing still and having a battle of wills doesn’t do much to help the tension or emotion of either scene.
Danni: I loved the way it kept cutting between the one-on-one battles between Naruto/Gaara and the Third Hokage/Orochimaru. Pulling back to show the entire village resisting against the invasion really helped set this arc’s climax apart from previous ones. It wasn’t just Naruto defeating Gaara that saved the day, it was the Third Hokage’s sacrifice and everyone keeping the invaders at bay that kept the village from crumbling.
Paul: I was happy to see the Leaf Village pull together and beat the stuffing out of the invading forces from the Sand and Sound Villages. I liked the strong sense of community displayed by Leaf Village, and I was surprised with the amount of screen time that the animators dedicated to showing people helping out with repairs. It really drove home the size and scale of the crisis.
Joseph: I also loved the scenes of everyone banding together outside of the two main battles. Cutting back to the Old Man Who Wouldn't Die definitely got a little comical, especially when watching the episodes back to back, but I liked how it was handled overall. There are finally some killer Naruto moments, too, from his expert-level kancho to the transformation while fighting Gaara.
Jared: It’s one of the things that I was impressed with in the last set of episodes as well. Considering all that was happening, it’s hard to keep all of that in check and give each situation the right amount of time. With all the fights happening, it also gave it the feeling of chaos, which it definitely needed.
David: Still really can’t take the kaiju stuff very seriously, but I am a fan of showing how everyone in the village was fighting back in their own ways. That, and the level of detail in the aftermath, made it feel like a ‘war’ in a way a lot of similar stories fail to.
Carolyn: I have to agree with Kevin, I kept forgetting the Hokage and Orochimaru were fighting in the middle of all the Gaara stuff.
Kara: It was actually kind of neat. I forgot about the Hokage fighting Orochimaru as others said. But when they’d cut back it was like “Oh, hey, this is going on!” and it was more a pleasant surprise/reminder than anything else.
Noelle: I thought it was handled pretty alright, all things considering. Of course, I’m more invested in some fights than others (Gaara vs Naruto) but reminders that there’s a fight going on that’s more than just those two was fairly helpful. Still funny at parts though.
I really admire Naruto’s ability to turn his own trauma and past pain into empathy. Even after everything he’s done, Naruto still reaches out to Gaara to tell him he understands how he feels. And yet his determination to protect his friends is unyielding.
Now we’re getting into the really sad stuff. Hiruzen’s final act of sealing Orochimaru’s arms was pretty amazing, especially with the disarmingly kind parting words he left his former pupil. How effective did you all find this scene?
Kevin: It is legitimately difficult to explain how impactful the Third Hokage’s death is, both in terms of the show’s narrative and audience expectations. For most viewers, I suspect that they thought Sarutobi was going to be a minor authoritative character for the entire show. Instead, he got a deeply emotional fight against both his predecessors and pupil ending in a minor victory that cost him his life in exchange for crippling but not killing the main villain.
Danni: Extremely effective. I can easily see this being the big turning point in the show with the Hidden Leaf Village’s peaceful age ending at the assassination of their leader. I imagine it also puts into perspective for Naruto the kind of responsibility he needs to accomplish his goal of becoming Hokage.
Paul: I'm a sucker for martial arts stories where the kind-hearted master can't bring themselves to go full-force against their evil pupil, so the bit with the Third Hokage picturing Orochimaru as he used to be when they were both younger and more innocent really hit me in the feels. Unfortunately, I accidentally spoiled the reveal about Orochimaru's arms getting sealed and the Third Hokage dying when I was looking for some unrelated info on Wikipedia, and I'm afraid that knowledge lessened the impact…
Joseph: Even though I kind of joked on their struggle in the previous answer, the ending really tied it up with some emotional impact. I also appreciated the flashback to his past training Orochimaru that came into play after the fact.
Jared: It was really good. After all that had happened in that fight and all the reveals, the Third Hokage still trying to see the good in Orochimaru was real emotional and effective. Plus with this really seeming like a huge tonal shift for what’s to come next, it had to be that effective to push that forward.
David: I’ve seen this show before and I still couldn’t believe he died so early! It definitely hit hard when I realized this was it for him (the realization that ~80 episodes still felt ‘early’ also hit hard for a completely different reason).
Carolyn: Empathy always hits me hard. So, on both counts, Naruto and the Hokage, it was inspiring and hard to watch.
Kara: I think the back-and-forth between the two fights, now that I have that to think about, really shows that… actually, yeah, maybe Naruto does have what it takes to become Hokage. We’re starting to crack open what it means to have that degree of responsibility, which I think a lot of people within the show believe is just a matter of being a Super Good Ninja. But interposing Naruto’s willingness to connect with Gaara with the Hokage’s genuine kindness was very telling. There are some emotional skills you can’t just trin into people.
Noelle: I’ve seen the show before, so knowing that the Third was going to die wasn’t that surprising. Still, he was set up as an overwatching figure that was supposed to stay around for quite some time, so considering how long the series is, that he dies so early on is surprising. Still, it sets into motion that things change, peace isn’t forever. Underneath all that, empathy being the driving factor behind resolve and transformation is something I adore.
How did you all think the funeral was handled? Personally, I was blown away by the restraint shown by the staff in having a few moments of near silence with no music while Naruto gets dressed and goes to meet up with Sakura and Sasuke.
Kevin: Naruto silently sitting on his bed, then getting up and getting dressed to meet up with Sasuke and Sakura to go to the service is one of the images that still sticks in my mind when I think of Naruto.
Danni: It got a little bit heavy handed with the bit about the rain, but I’ll let it slide. It was definitely a lot more restrained than I expected, which I loved. The silence really punctuated the loneliness of someone you love passing on and the resulting triumph that coming from the support of the entire village.
Paul: I understand the symbolism of why funerals are always in the rain, but that particular artistic flourish didn't work for me. What did work was the shell-shocked expressions on the faces of all of the funeral-goers, and the quiet moment you mention where Naruto has to drag himself out of bed and get on with the business of living. That part felt very genuine.
Joseph: The rain is one thing, and is pretty generic on its own, but when the sun comes out and shines on the framed photo. Oh boy. Other than those standard symbolic practices, it was handled with care.
Jared: Having that rain shower happen during the funeral was a bit on the nose, but I think everything else they did with it being this incredibly somber moment in the show worked. It really puts over just how the Third Hokage and everyone else who died in the invasion reverberated throughout the entire village and forced it to a stand still.
David: Cliches aside, I’m mostly glad the show is willing to dedicate basically a whole episode to mourning. A testament to how great the pacing has been thus far. Also, did anyone else notice Kiba brought Akamaru to the funeral? What a well behaved boy.
Carolyn: Silence is always a great addition to scenes like this. We depend on music as an audience to tell us how to feel and react. Silence leaves us feeling whatever we feel and that makes it more uncomfortable, which is what you need for a scene like this. I also appreciate that the characters were even given time to grieve. So many shows where deaths happen left and right tend to have the characters just move on like it’s normal or they are desensitized. “It’s all just part of this ninja gig!” It’s nice to see death acknowledged in an emotional and realistic manner.
Kara: I also noticed Akamaru at the funeral. That was lovely. And yeah, I thought that whole scene was handled nicely. I don’t mind anime funerals being a bit on the nose symbolically, because they sort of are what they are.
Noelle: I could go without seeing another funeral in the rain for the rest of my life. That being said, that the BGM completely cuts out, showing just how hollow everyone feels- that’s really good right there. The entire episode showcases just how important the Third was, and we needed that.
How did you feel about the arguably precarious balancing act of Itachi’s fight with Kakashi and the Jiraiya/Naruto research road trip shenanigans?
Kevin: Much like with the Sand-Leaf War, the two stories work fine on their own, but cutting from one to the other stops either from building up drama or comedy. I would’ve preferred if Naruto left the village, then follow Sasuke’s story to the jonin and then to the fight with Itachi and Kisame, then cut back to Naruto and Jiraiya, showing the Akatsuki following them, with both stories meeting up again when Sasuke confronts Itachi.
Danni: I honestly didn’t feel like the cuts between the two were particularly jarring. Maybe I’ve been watching anime long enough to not really notice the dissonance between super serious fights intercut with someone being a creep.
Paul: Just like I wasn't sold on Orochimaru before, I'm not quite sold on Itachi yet. He seems way too powerful and way too arch, and his official introduction front-loads too much info with too little time to digest it. They'd have been better served with more foreshadowing and a slower reveal, since through Sasuke's memories we only see Itachi as a homicidal psychopath that murders his entire family for no real reason. Meanwhile, Jiraiya continues to be the worst, although that bit where his giant frog summon had a pair of huge swords strapped to its back was pretty keen.
Joseph: Like Danni, I didn’t really find it jarring at all. Both stories are different, but I’ve come to expect those tonal changes. With that said, the introduction to Itachi and the Akatsuki is huge. I really dug the fight between Itachi and Kakashi, even if they could have depicted the hellish world in a cooler and less garish way. Some people would pay good money to be stabbed with swords for 72 hours straight.
Jared: I think with just watching this show so far, it’s not surprising they were able to juxtapose these two stories with each other. For me, what was surprising coming out of this part was just how fast the show gets right back into it after the funeral scene and everything. Pretty much immediately we have a new villain group set up and Itachi making his grand return which they certainly put over big with how he wrecks Kakashi.
David: The juxtaposition between Naruto’s normal antics and Itachi causing chaos by simply existing didn’t feel off in itself. However, it made Sasuke’s concern for Naruto’s safety feel really silly until Itachi finally got to him. Sasuke fearing the worst immediately cuts to Naruto and Jiraiya being silly enough times that I never actually felt like Naruto was in danger, but maybe on some level that was the point.
Carolyn: I guess I kind of saw it as a foreshadowing or “calm before the storm” type thing. Look at these two goons who don’t even know what dangers lie ahead.
Kara: It’s kind of wild, but it’s kind of what I’ve come to expect from Naruto. Over here, people are straight up killing each other with their minds; over there, people are being dweebs. I do think it’s interesting that we’re now getting two completely rounds of back story in very different ways: Sasuke’s very sobering childhood vs. Jiraiya being the one who got tied to the post during training.
Noelle: It’s a bit of mood whiplash, I won’t lie. Mostly because Itachi’s been built up as an extremely ominous character, and cutting that in with joke moments… well, that sure is a choice alright.
And, finally, what were your highs and lows for this stretch of episodes?
High - This week had some great moments (Gamabunta transforming into the Nine-Tailed Fox, Naruto headbutting Gaara, the conclusion of Sarutobi and Orochimaru’s fight), yet somehow still easily the best moment of the week was the near-silent scene of Naruto getting ready for the Hokage’s funeral service.
Low - Itachi murdering the Uchiha clan. I won’t say much for fear of spoilers, I’ll just tell first time watchers that basically everything involving the Uchihas and Sharingan will be fleshed out later with a lot more detail.
Honorable Mention: We are Fighting Dreamers! Da da da, dat-da, da da da. Fighting Dreamers…
Danni: The technically correct answer is the leadup to the Hokage’s funeral, but I have to go with the funniest out of context scene in the entirety of Naruto where Sasuke finds out the man who murdered his entire clan is back in town because some idiot barged in the room shouting about it. Low point is Fighting Dreamers. I miss Asian Kung-fu Generation.
Paul: My high point was the pay-off for all of the mirror imagery in the fight between Naruto and Gaara, culminating in the insert shot of the leaf on top of the sand. I really dug that. My low point was the ham-handed way that they try to promote Itachi as the new top villain. The bit with Orochimaru talking about how scary and bad-ass Itachi is didn't work for me, especially since he'd just lost the use of his arms and his Chakra, so I'd think he'd have other stuff on his mind than how Itachi fills him with diaper-wetting terror.
Joseph: My high was Naruto being an EXTREMELY GOOD BOY in these episodes. For the low, there wasn’t much, but it did stick out to me that Naruto counts Sasuke among the people who have befriended him and whisked him away from the type of path Gaara went down. Did Sasuke ever really accept Naruto for who he is? I guess to a certain degree he tolerated him, but I don't know that I'd lump in with all the positive influences in his life.
Jared: I think my high point that’s outside of what happens at the funeral, is the end of Naruto/Gaara when they face off in-between the big blade in the ground and there are two shots that you see their faces meet in the middle which I absolutely loved. Low point, which isn’t really low, was the poor dude who barged in yelling HEY Y'ALL DID YOU HEAR ITACHI IS BACK and somehow didn’t see Sasuke standing there. Buddy, you’ve got to read the room.
David: High point for me was Jiraiya’s memories of training with Orochimaru and Tsunade. I’m a sucker for cyclical storytelling like that. Low point was Jiraiya’s usual antics. Guess it evens out in the end?
Carolyn: My favorite moment was actually Big Daddy Toad’s reaction to learning Naruto helped out Baby Toad. Low point, yeah, I guess just Jiraiya again.
Kara: High point is literally any flashback to younger Third Hokage (except for the line about him sneaking around being invisible with Jiraiya, eesh) because I’m enjoying learning more about him. Close second was Exposition-maru coming in and telling Sasuke everything.
Low point was the show not letting my enjoy Jiraiya by reminding me he actually is the perv Naruto claims he is.
Noelle: High point, the Naruto-Gaara fight and their mirror imagery, I still love that dearly to this day. There’s some genuinely good imagery going on right there! Low point would be, sadly, Itachi’s intro, because it feels kind of clumsy, with them building him up too much. It’s a shame, because Itachi is my favorite character in this whole series, but his intro isn’t that strong.
"I'm gonna be Hokage!" count: 3 (26 total)
Bowls of ramen consumed: 3 bowls (33 bowls, 3 cups total)
Shadow Clones created: 23 + 1 uncountable scene (297 total)
And that's it for this week! You are welcome to join us for this rewatch, anytime, especially if you haven't already watched the original Naruto!
Here's our upcoming schedule:
-Next week, 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.
-April 26th will see DAVID LYNN guiding us through the Land of Waves arc in episodes 99-105.
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 85-92 Drop it in the comments and you might find your answer in next week's installment!
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