Naruto and friends head off on a mission to a brand new land!
Welcome to the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! I'm David Lynn, 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 92-98, which brought an end to the epic fight between the powerful Sannin. This week we take a detour in the Land of Tea with episodes 99-105.
After wrapping up Tsunade's inaguration as the new Hokage, we get a small breather from the heavy arcs and plot developments of the last few weeks. This comes in the form of our first full-fledged filler arc, which entails Team 7 going on an escort mission to ensure an important race in the Land of Tea goes off without a hitch. Hitches, of course, happen anyway—perhaps both in the story and the execution.
Let's see what the Crunchyroll Features team thought of this week's episodes!
These episodes begin by wrapping up Tsunade’s arc, with her finally becoming Hokage. How do you feel about how the show portrays Konohamaru simultaneously processing his grandfather’s death and Tsunade taking his place?
Paul: The most interesting part of that conflict was how Tsunade resolved it by completely ignoring Konohamaru's antics. In his grief, Konohamaru's sulking in a booby-trapped room among his beloved grandfather's memorabilia and Tsunade just walks in like she owns the place (because she does), grabs a medical textbook, and leaves. Tsunade is straight gangster, and but she still gives Konohamaru room to grieve without coddling his selfish behavior.
Joseph: I thought they gave that just the right amount of time to transition, especially for Konohamaru. He needed those moments, but it didn’t need to be more than an episode. Tsunade gets better and better each week.
Jared: I think it works in the way that Konohamaru is a kid and truly thinks everyone’s just going to forget about the Third Hokage now that a new one is being instilled. He doesn’t know how to process that kind of grief and just evokes it in the only way he knows how. Tsunade coming through and just not caring about any of his traps though was pretty good.
Kara: I agree, Tsunade handled it really well. Then again, she would have been in that position at one point herself, so she either knew via hindsight or example what Konohamaru most needed then. I do like getting to see how Konohamaru has grown, and just how many people including himself are really registering with Sarutobi’s passing that “Hokage” means more than “Cool Best Ninja.”
Kevin: Honestly, I wish that they focused more on it. A new Hokage is a huge change for the village, and Konohamaru is one of the audience’s closest ties to the Third Hokage, so seeing more people’s reactions to Tsunade and dedicating more time to showing Konohamaru coming to accept her might’ve made for a stronger and more resonant transition.
Noelle: I think it was handled fairly well. Like everyone has said, Konohamaru is a kid dealing with a tangible kind of grief for the first time, and everyone processes grief differently. There is no easy bandage to put over that, so Tsunade pushing her way past all that to establish her place felt pretty necessary.
Carolyn: I love Tsunade and it’s great she is so strong and sure of herself… but is it necessary to establish her control to a grieving child? She’s been there, I would have liked to see her comfort him.
Danni: I appreciated how her letting him sulk for a bit was just her way of attempting to procrastinate and how her committing to helping Lee any way she can amounted to her actually embracing the title of Hokage. Also, the scene of her walking through all the traps was pretty freaking cool.
Before our first big batch of filler begins, fan-favorite Rock Lee gets some more focus. In particular, it seems like his moxie has struck a chord with Tsunade, and things are finally looking up for him. Is the pacing of this subplot working for you?
Paul: I'm still reeling from the tonal whiplash of jumping from “Lee, have the extremely dangerous, potentially deadly surgery!” to “let's all prank Kakashi until he takes off his mask”. That didn't work for me at all, especially since Lee's recovery is an order of magnitude more emotionally compelling than whatever shenanigans Team 7 is engaging in.
Joseph: While I just said Konohamaru’s transition and grieving had just the right amount of coverage, I felt the complete opposite about this. Not that they should have spread it out, but it almost felt like they tossed it in this section haphazardly. What should have had a bigger impact felt overshadowed by what came before it and downplayed as a result of what followed. Still, loved that backstory between him and Guy.
Jared: In the moment, I was very much into this and seeing where it was going to go, but it basically just getting dropped to go into filler city just sucked the wind right out of me. I don’t know if this is just a spot where the anime had caught up to the manga and they needed to buy time, but to have this serious episode and then to immediately go into some bizarre attempts at comedy just felt completely out of place.
Kara: I love how Lee’s determination got Tsunade back on track. It gives a chance to, again, really dig into what being Hokage actually means. There’s a lot of caring and a lot of hard work, and I’ll be interested to see how the job makes her grow as a character, too. I really do wish there had been more focus on it, though. It was compelling but truncated, and then we go to cod lips and seriously what.
Kevin: In more of a vacuum, I would probably say yes. Having too much of Lee’s story all at once would quickly becoming a lot more depressing and melancholic than the show tends to be. However, spacing out his subplot with the main three trying to see Kakashi’s face and the ensuing shenanigans just causes continuous emotional whiplash as we go from a horse pooping to Lee trying to come to terms with whether to take a coin flip on dying.
Noelle: In general, I’m enjoying what subjects Lee’s subplot is approaching. He is a genuinely good kid and a character that deserves more, so I wouldn’t object to seeing more of him. However, in contrast to everything else, his portions are much more serious, which makes the plot-points surrounding this dire issue to feel all the more awkward. Don’t juggle two supremely contrasting tones, it never works out well.
Carolyn: I agree with Joseph, here. I love Rock Lee and I’m glad he’s back. But he’s been gone a while and it feels sort of out of place.
Danni: As much as I love Rock Lee, this whole subplot ain’t doing it for me. It was already extremely reckless of Guy to let Lee go as far in the battle against Gaara as he did, but he’s going even further telling him to have the operation that could easily kill him. Also, I know it won’t, and I feel like everyone watching it knows it won’t, so it feels like empty tension. I would much prefer to see Lee work his way back to the top again.
When I was younger, I recall the “unmasking Kakashi” episode to be a pretty popular and amusing change of pace. This time around, I’m not so sure it really fits in. Did it work for you?
Paul: It didn't work for me at all, partly because of where it falls in the overall storyline, partly because it had a few bizarrely well-crafted animation cuts (which they proceeded to recycle repeatedly), and partly because I have zero desire to see a cartoon horse enthusiastically pooping right in the middle of the camera frame (not once, but twice). The “Let's Unmask Kakashi-sensei!” episode should have come way earlier, i.e. before the Chunin Exams.
Joseph: This might have done it for me when it aired back in 2004, but I didn’t have the patience for it this time. My reaction to pretty much all the filler this week has me a little worried about future installments of REWATCH, so I need to steel myself and get ready for the true avalanche!
Jared: Not at all. Coming from Rock Lee’s big episode to this was deflating. I was so ready to keep going with that story and then to see this was the next episode killed any momentum I had to keep watching episodes one night. I suppose it sort of works as a way to transition you into a completely different tone, but it isn’t great.
Kara: I love gag anime a lot, and I am perfectly happy with funny, goofy episodes, but I just… what? Why. It doesn’t help that I called the punchline ten seconds in.
Kevin: I am in the exact same place, and it really doesn’t work now that I’m looking at it with a more critical eye. If it were just silly filler as the Genin try to uncover Kakashi’s face, then it would be harmless fun. Throwing in ninjas from Kakashi’s past didn’t really work, and neither did putting Lee’s subplot between comedy segments.
Noelle: As a kid, I really enjoyed this episode. It was funny, and team hijinks are always a good time. At the same point, this is right by Lee’s incredibly heavy episode so—really? You’re putting it right here? This is where filler starts to kick in and yeah, it’s not such a good start to it. Put this episode anywhere else, and it would have worked out okay but just not here.
Carolyn: The episode wasn’t totally necessary and the punchline WAS predictable, but I thought Kakashi’s sly, “Pretty cool, huh?” was hilarious.
Danni: It was a welcome reprieve from the Lee subplot for me. It definitely felt out of place, though. It would’ve fit in better within the first dozen or so episodes. Regardless, I thought it was pretty funny. After all the angst, it was nice getting to see Sasuke be a bit childish.
The Land of Tea arc gets started here, and with it we meet the headstrong Idate and resident villain Aoi as Team 7 goes on their escort mission. Idate gets a good chunk of character development here, but do you think it holds up?
Paul: While I dig that they're exploring the ninja experience through Idate's trials and tribulations, overall the Land of Tea arc doesn't work for me. It feels like a watered-down version of the Zabuza/Haku arc. There's a similar sense of the powerful tyrannizing the weak, and there are similar questions of whether the ideal state of shinobi should be treacherous or loyal, but we've done this dance before.
Joseph: Boy did my eyes glaze over during all of these episodes. I just couldn’t take any of its no-stakes narrative seriously. There’s such a wide gulf between this and the type of scenarios Kishimoto puts together in the manga.
Jared: I feel like this arc would have worked better if we weren’t coming off the heels of everyone talking about how chaotic things are in the Leaf village. All of a sudden everything just seems fine. It probably would have worked better if it was just a flashback to something before the Chunin Exams or something instead of trying to be a continuation of what’s been happening. Plus, like Paul said, it felt like a rehash of stories we’d already seen in the very beginning.
Kara: I was feeling the rehash myself. It felt very “by committee” (which it probably was, to be fair). A lot of it looked like they checked off which moments in the first 100 episodes people thought were coolest and just tried to reproduce them here. Like… oh, you lost your absolute mind when Lee dropped the weights, so you’ll love it when someone else does, too.
Kevin: As a new character with maybe two or three episodes to get his backstory out and start developing, it’s not too bad. The problem is, as we’ve seen with a few people already and we will see with MANY in the future, it’s basically just Naruto’s backstory but as a different character. Having Naruto realize once or twice “oh, this person I have a problem with is basically just going through what I’ve been through” works as a story beat, but it’s repeated way too many times.
Noelle: I remember the fillers being very hit or miss, and this reminds me exactly why. I know fillers are just there for padding and don’t actually contribute to the story but man, this is a painful reminder of that.
Carolyn: I found it all pretty boring, to be honest. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I have to say that Paul is completely right with the Haku comparison.
Danni: Overall it felt like pretty serviceable filler. Much like the unmasking episode, though, it feels pretty out of place in the current narrative. Also, why are they giving B—potentially A—ranked missions to a bunch of Genin without their leader? That seems extremely reckless.
Part of the Land of Tea story seems to be trying to play on our assumed appreciation for the Chunin Exams, even deciding that the hardboiled Ibiki is actually related to and has a fairly involved history with Idate. They even brought back Team Oboro from the forest! Are you happy with this attempt at connecting this otherwise innocuous story to the rest of the show?
Paul: I enjoyed Ibuki demonstrating the ideal qualities of a ninja from the Leaf Village (selflessness, dedication to friends and community, a willingness to correct the mistakes of others, etc.), and I appreciated the additional insight into how the written portion of the Chunin Exam uses psychological warfare to weed out potential candidates who lack those qualities, but I wish the Land of Tea arc felt less like a digression.
Joseph: With the exception of a few outliers like Idate, most of the characters here came off like the Hydrox to the usual cast’s Oreo. And yes, I realize Hydrox came first, but who in the world eats ‘em?
Jared: Giving these characters a connection to others we’ve seen seems like a way for the show to make you care about them more than if they were just randoms. Bringing back Team Oboro was more like a oh hey those guys and also just a way to not introduce new villains. Idate’s backstory was fine, even if it’s another person that Naruto sees his old self in which has already been a plot point.
Kara: Feels like weird fanfic to be honest.
Kevin: In general, I quite like trying previous characters and stories into new material, so bringing back the Rain ninjas was actually something I’m completely fine with. I just wish that they actually advanced beyond one-off villains due to having previously lost and thus trained harder, or anything to that effect.
Noelle: It’s trying to make us care more about random characters, and I can respect that. If they don’t mess too much with canonical material, they could at least play with characters that don’t matter too much in the long run. It’s semi-functional, but also, I don’t think I would miss it if they didn’t cover it.
Carolyn: I have the exact opposite reaction. I hate when a show tries to force random characters on you without making them earn it.
Danni: Throwing some already established side characters into the mix at least made it feel a lot less like filler. I think I prefer it to having a weird digression full of original characters we never see or hear from ever again.
And of course, what were your highs and lows this week?
Paul: My low point was Might Guy promising to die along with Rock Lee if the surgery goes poorly. It's largely Guy's fault that his student was so badly injured in the first place, and such a suicide pact seems extremely irresponsible, since Guy still has two other students (and an entire ninja village) depending on him. My high point was Naruto using a combination of his Shadow Clone Jutsu and his Rasengan Jutsu to create an enormous whirlpool. That's the kind of outside-the-box thinking at which Naruto excels, and I enjoy seeing our hero's efforts pay off in creative ways.
Joseph: My high point was Rock Lee having the potential to one day live out his ninja dream again. The low point has to be the Land of Tea arc, which I hope ends soon. When it first started I assumed it was a two-parter, but Paul was quick to inform me it runs through—and doesn’t end in—this week’s batch. I’m doomed.
Jared: High point was Rock Lee, like usual. Although Sakura just yanking up the mast on the ship and swinging it around ruled. Low point was a lot of the Land of Tea arc. Aoi seems like the worst villain the show has introduced thus far and just feels incredibly boring. Maybe there’s a chance this arc ends on a high note next week? Hopefully?
Kara: High point was Tsunade finally sitting herself down, crunching the numbers for Lee, and then her badass pose when she declared herself Hokage. Runner-up is Naruto attempting to parse Konohamaru’s character development: “I thought not wanting to be known as the Hokage’s Grandson was like, your whole deal?” Low point was the Kakashi unmasking episode, with special low point emphasis on the pooping horse.
Kevin: High - Probably Lee’s various conversations. As everyone around him wishes him a speedy recovery, he already knows that the only way he’ll recover is with a surgery that is downright likely to kill him, and we see him go through all kinds of pain reliving that fact every time, but not lashing out or explaining the situation to them because he knows that they are just honestly wishing him the best. Low - Everything around Lee’s scenes. I didn’t particularly care for the Moya ninjas subplot, and the Kakashi face reveal thing should have been its own filler episode, instead of being lumped in with such heavy material. As much as it would have been more melancholic than the show’s normal tone, I wish that we had simply gotten an episode or two with Lee as the main character, seeing his current hardships and mental state.
Noelle: High point, Rock Lee can get back in the game! I knew that wouldn’t be a permanent thing, but it feels really good to affirm that it won’t be. Lee deserves to live out his dreams, for sure! Low point, filler. I’d like to say this filler works out for me but it really, really doesn’t.
Carolyn: Yeah, me too, high point as always is the return of Rock Lee. Low point is probably the Land of Tea arc. I was not interested in it at all.
Danni: Low point is Guy’s weird promise to kill himself if Lee dies. The high point for me was when I watched the new opening and gasped as soon as I figured out what I think it’s saying about an upcoming Sasuke development.
Bowls of Ramen: 1 bowl (4 times, but counting it as one)
"I'm Gonna be Hokage!": 4
Shadow Clones Created: 26
Total so far:
Bowls of Ramen: 36 bowls, 3 cups
"I'm Gonna be Hokage!": 52
Shadow Clones Created: 340
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! Watch Naruto today!
Here's our upcoming schedule:
- May 3rd features PAUL CHAPMAN, who will walk us through the inevitable Naruto vs Sasuke in episodes 106-112.
- May 10th, JOSEPH LUSTER will give us the deets on the Sound Four.
- May 17th we'll visit the Valley of the End with JARED CLEMONS.
CATCH UP ON THE REWATCH!
Thank you for joining us for the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! Have a great weekend, and we'll see you all next time!
Have anything to say about our thoughts on Episodes 99-105? Let us know in the comments! Don't forget, we're also accepting questions and comments for next week, so don't be shy and feel free to ask away!
If you like talking about sports anime and gratuitous fanart retweets, following David @navycherub wouldn't be the worst decision you make today.
Do you love writing? Do you love anime? If you have an idea for a features story, pitch it to Crunchyroll Features!