We exit the Land of Tea and enter a world of trouble when Sasuke defects from Hidden Leaf Village to join Orochimaru!
Welcome to the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! I'm Paul Chapman, 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 99 - 105, where Tsunade faced the first challenge to her authority as Fifth Hokage and Team 7 took a mission to the Land of Tea. We continue this week with Episodes 106 – 122 and the conclusion to the Land of Tea arc, as well as some shocking shake-ups for the youth of Hidden Leaf Village.
This batch of episodes was an emotional roller coaster, and we witnessed Naruto and Sasuke's rivalry boil over into a deadly duel, Sasuke decide to abandon Hidden Leaf Village in order to seek power from the villainous Orochimaru, and Sakura confess her love in an effort to convince Sasuke to stay! (Also, some dude won a footrace in the Land of Filler.) It was a heck of a ride.
Now, let's see what the Crunchyroll Features team thought of this week's episodes!
How do you feel about the conclusion to the Land of Tea arc? Does the fact that the local daimyo was already gathering intelligence to dethrone the wicked Wagarashi Family downplay the accomplishments of Team 7 in their efforts to help Idate win the foot race?
Kevin: Hooray, it’s done! Now back to the actual plot. Honestly, I cared so little by the end of the arc that I barely even registered that the lord did anything beyond making a counter excuse to ensure the good guys won.
Joseph: The final episode of this was probably the best one, and not just because it marked the ending of a pretty dull arc. With that said, I’m with Kevin in that I clearly didn’t think deeply enough about the resolution and how it affected the efforts of Team 7!
David: I recognized that and it didn’t bother me at all. The reason being, this last episode had an unexpected payoff for me: we finally get to see the kids overcoming an enemy and achieving their mission without something going horrifically wrong requiring the older, stronger ninjas to step in. Silver linings.
Jared: I don’t think it takes away from what Team 7 does as they were still able to outsmart and defeat a powerful foe. The lord was just a stickler for the non-rules and had to make sure that a made up deal wasn’t enacted. Even without that, I don’t think what Team 7 had done would’ve dethroned that family anyways, so it makes sense to have the lord come in and kick them to the curb for good.
Danni: Honestly I just walked away from that arc thinking it was funny they had to make Sasuke get injured so that the next arc could still pick up with him in the hospital.
Noelle: I didn’t really feel it. I understand what the arc was trying to pull off, but I still didn’t have much of an investment in it to get an emotional reaction in the first place? It wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t do too much for me.
Kara: I was kind of ambivalent about it. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t get me as jazzed to watch each day as other episodes have. And now with Danni’s comment on re-injuring Sasuke, it’s just funny.
Carolyn: I’m of the camp that was just glad to see the arc end. It was a little odd to end the whole thing with a race, that felt almost anti-climactic.
The hospital roof confrontation between Naruto and Sasuke was pretty spectacular. Were there any specific details about the fight that you found especially thrilling? How do you feel about the fight’s resolution?
Kevin: The conclusion of the fight, specifically seeing the damage that Rasengan and Chidori did to the water towers is one of the images that I remember whenever I think about Naruto. As for the fight, I found that it was amazing on paper, and okay in practice. The choreography seemed a bit off, like trying to translate the manga panels to animation revealed some continuity errors or something, but when the fight was good, it was great.
Joseph: This is such a pivotal fight, and I loved all the raw emotion conveyed through it. Beyond the battle itself, that moment when Sasuke feels victorious only to see how the Rasengan would have basically torn his body asunder is *chef’s kiss*.
David: I agree with Kevin about the fight itself. Watching Sasuke somehow hold his own against a whole bunch of shadow clones is cool, and I’m always down for the hand-to-hand combat in this series, but the execution was messy. The conclusion, of course, is wonderful and incredibly important, and the good moments are great, so it’s not like I’m down on the whole thing.
Jared: The fight does a good job of showcasing just how much powerful both Sasuke and Naruto have gotten in the past 100 episodes, especially by the end. I think it also did a good job of showing Sasuke’s jealousy coming through fully as the fight continued. Having it be interrupted and leaving it unresolved isn’t bad, since you know they’ll have some huge fight sometime in the near future.
Danni: The visual execution left a little to be desired, but I liked seeing Sasuke’s taijutsu prowess up against Naruto’s barrage of shadow clones. The tension between the two was portrayed really well, and the conclusion with the water tower was the icing on the cake. I can’t wait to see these two have it out for real.
Noelle: I loved it. Overall, it’s pretty short, and it could’ve gone better, but I think that what it sets up was really, really good. The two of them may be friendly, but here they were completely out to destroy each other, and that meltdown was something I enjoyed.
Kara: I think the reasons behind the fight were what got me going even more than the fight itself. We had all this time of Naruto feeling like he was stuck in Sasuke’s shadow—like literal months of that, both in-show and in the show’s pacing. Then we flip the script and Sasuke gets a taste of that, and it’s interesting to see how he takes it. Granted, he’s got that paired with a long-standing vendetta, so there are mitigating factors as to how hard he takes it. But their very different reasons beyond wanting to fight were not lost on me.
Carolyn: I think my main quibble was with the way they prompted the fight in the first place. There didn’t seem to be much of a valid reason for Naruto and Sasuke to end up there. But once they got going, I thought it worked out fine.
In the past we've criticized how Kishimoto treats his lady characters, but it's worth exploring how the physical prowess of characters like Naruto and Sasuke is contrasted against Sakura's moral fortitude and emotional strength. How do you feel about Sakura's evolution from a selfish brat into the conscience of Team 7?
Kevin: Sakura easily has the most emotional development of the three, but I really wish that she was given more to work with. Basically keep everything the same, but have her be the one to directly intervene in the fight (like Kakashi did) instead of running herself into danger and all of the emotional weight is still there, but the audience also gets to see that she is on the boys’ level, just in a different way.
Joseph: Yeah, it might have been better to have her stop them rather than run out as a potential casualty of the fight, but I don’t think there was any way for anyone other than a character at Kakashi’s level to successfully intervene. Sakura’s emotional moments are some of the most powerful here, though, and I love the interaction between her and Naruto when he promises to get Sasuke back. There’s a mix of sorrow, gratitude, and frustration at the fact that she can’t do it herself.
David: The scene where Sakura tries one last time to stop Sasuke from leaving is still one of my favorites in any anime. She really has gained a lot from their misadventures together, and it’s soul crushing to watch her desperately attempt to keep their dysfunctional little family together. So I guess the answer is, yeah, I am pretty on board with Sakura’s arc so far. She’s changed a lot, for the better.
Jared: I was honestly expecting her to get hit at the end when Naruto and Sasuke were going at each other with their respective attacks as she ran to stop it. She definitely is trying to keep the group together, but there’s still so much more you could do with her character, but she gets constantly pushed to the sidelines.
Danni: I’m glad to see her grow emotionally, but really all it translates into is her crying and needing someone else to step in and do what she can’t. She deserves better than just being Team 7’s den mother.
Noelle: While I do appreciate the development that Sakura has, it still isn’t really enough. For one of the protagonists, it sets her up to be sidelined once again, to cry over the boys, and that’s a real shame! She has a lot of potential here, and it’s a huge emotional burden for her to take, but instead of exploring that, Kishimoto falls flat. Sakura really does deserve better than this!
Kara: It’s another version of what I call the Super Robot Wars Effect. Games I love very much, but that have a tendency (with exceptions like Gunbuster) to cast female-piloted units almost exclusively as healers. It falls to the woman to be the “healer” for the men, which is a very traditional storytelling mechanism and not inherently awful in and of itself—I have occasionally seen it done well. But Naruto as a whole kind of has this underlying idea of like. Boy ninjas are for these things, kunoichi are for those things, which only surfaces once you’ve forgotten that it was there the last time. I have no problem with Sakura being Team 7’s conscience, since God knows they need one, but I’d prefer a more “tough love” approach.
Carolyn: I wasn’t very happy with Sakura’s pleas to Sasuke, to be honest. It felt so desperate. She’s been pining over him the entire series and now she’s just outright begging a boy to stay with her. I understand this scene is bigger than just her crush, but it was pretty disheartening to see her cry and beg just for Sasuke to call her annoying … and then thank her! Kind of emotionally manipulative, that.
Charismatic villains such as Orochimaru and Itachi often sprinkle grains of truth in their evil schemes, and Sasuke's thirst for revenge does seem incompatible with the values of the Hidden Leaf Village. What are your thoughts on Sasuke's heel turn? Are you excited to see him take on an antagonistic role?
Kevin: Without spoiling anything: I really like how they set up Sasuke as a villain, and will have many things to talk about when we get much later in the Rewatch.
Joseph: This and the arc it kicks off is my favorite part of the 70 or so percent of Naruto I’ve read. Sasuke’s turn has been a long time coming, and it seems like the most logical step for the character. I can’t wait!
David: Considering literally everything he has said or done has essentially been setup for this, yeah, I’m excited for it to finally pay off.
Jared: It feels strange to think that we’re over 100 episodes in and I still kind of felt like it could’ve happened a bit later, but Sasuke turning heel was gonna happen eventually. I’m more curious to see just how he handles that new role and whether it’s just going to be him consumed with jealousy and revenge or with we start to see a new sinister side to him emerge.
Danni: I’ve been waiting for Sasuke to go full Vegeta, and am thrilled with where this is going. I especially liked that it wasn’t so much a full heel turn as it was a real conflict brewing inside him. It really did hurt him to leave Team 7 behind, I thought.
Noelle: No spoilers from me, but this had definitely been in the works for a while. It still is upsetting, but mm, it does have its payoffs.
Kara: This was absolutely coming. I came into this knowing minimal stuff about the series as a whole, but there was no way Sasuke was going to not go Dark Side on us. Heel turns are a personal fave of mine in stories (see also: Sailor Mercury in live-action Sailor Moon), so I’m excited.
Carolyn: I also love when good guys turn bad, even for a little bit. I feel like it’s somewhat more realistic than the perfect, never-faltering hero.
I was surprised when Shikamaru was the sole applicant elevated to Chunin status, but his actions as the head of the Sasuke retrieval squad demonstrate that his leadership and problem-solving skills are a cut above his peers. What qualities do you think separate the Chunin from the Genin, and who do you want to see promoted next?
Kevin: They actually touched on that back during the Chunin Exam. Shikamaru was better than everyone else because he was able to correctly evaluate the situation he was in, even during combat, and realized his own limitations. By that metric, probably Sakura or potentially Neji would be the next to be promoted.
Joseph: I suppose the exact qualities demonstrated during episode 112 are what separate the Chunin from the Genin. I love Shikamaru’s balance of extremely capable and extremely bothered to be doing anything, which in some cases is definitely a front.
David: Comparing Shikamaru to every other member of his ragtag Sasuke retrieval team, the difference in temperament and patience is very clear. I thought most of his choices when Tsunade asked him to put a squad together were bizarre and felt more like plot necessities, but when he explained their formation it went together so well I couldn’t complain. Later when they are stuck in the rock igloo, I found most of the episode to be kind of dull, then Neji explained how every action and order Shikamaru gave were part of a careful plan to figure out how to get out, and it ended up being incredibly satisfying. I remembered Shikamaru being the ‘smart tactics guy’, but I definitely wasn’t expecting to be reminded of stuff like Legend of the Galactic Heroes while watching him do his thing. As for promotions, Neji is definitely the strongest genin right now, but he can be hot-headed in his own way which is probably the main thing holding him back.
Jared: It really seems like having the ability to think under pressure is gonna separate your traditional Genin from a Chunin. Shikamaru clearly demonstrates that when the group gets trapped and also with how he’s able to come up with an opening strategy before they leave. I’m assuming at some point we’re gonna see Naruto get his promotion since he’s already done things that would put him on that kind of level in terms of fights.
Danni: Shikamaru’s level-headedness and intellect really seem to be his greatest assets as a Chunin. Obviously Chunin are in command of any Genin working underneath them, so the ability to lead and strategize is a must that few of the other Genin seem to share. I assume Naruto will be promoted next for plot reasons, but the most logical promotions I can think of are Shino and Neji.
Noelle: As you’ve said, strategy is definitely key. The exams were designed to test people on more than just combat, and Shikamaru seems to have been the only real choice that had qualifications beyond that. Leadership, for sure, but also analysis, being able to keep your cool in a drastic situation, and putting the needs of the mission over yourself. As my colleagues said, Neji seems like a good candidate, as long as he cools off a little.
Kara: Shikamaru knows what he’s doing and acts like he can’t be bothered, which is a downright diabolical combination. He had us fooled for the first several episodes, too! Along with what everyone else said, I think what he has going for him is that he’s (at least for now) the one with the least emotional baggage. Compared to people like Naruto, Sasuke, and Gaara, who are all still motivated by personal issues, Shikamaru can focus up on the task at hand and isn’t bringing anything personal into the mission. That’s valuable for a leader.
Carolyn: I think part of the reason Shikamaru seems lazy and bored is simply that he’s thinking so far ahead of everyone else. He’s just sitting around waiting for everyone else to catch up with him. I think Sakura would make a great choice, given her own intellect. Naruto definitely deserves some recognition for his incredibly fast learning ability.
And finally, what are you personal high points and low points for this batch of episodes?
Kevin: High - Sasuke in the hospital. Admittedly, this high point is a bit more of a “what could have been,” but seeing Sasuke trying to come to terms with simply not being good enough, and comparing himself to Naruto, was honestly far more compelling than I thought it would be. In another world, the depression and inferiority he was feeling might’ve turned into character motivation and development later. Instead… we’ll get to that. Low - Lee’s recovery. Lee deciding whether to go into surgery or not was quite possibly the single heaviest emotional side plot in the show. Then, over the course of an episode or two, through two or three scenes, Lee says that he’ll take the chance, then next time we see him he’s with Neji, who’s congratulating him and talking about when he’ll get back to training. Welp, so much for that tension and emotional resolution.
Joseph: High - The resolution of the battle between Naruto and Sasuke and the moment Sasuke makes his own mind up to leave the village and acts upon it. Low - I don’t know, I guess the end of the Land of Tea story? Aside from that these episodes are all pretty spectacular.
David: As I said earlier, the scene between Sakura and Sasuke as he is leaving the village is one of my favorites in anything, so that’s definitely my high. I’ll also give an honorary mention to when Naruto assures a crying Sakura that everything will be OK, giving a thumbs up, which then reminds Lee of Guy, inspiring his trust indirectly as well. It’s one of those great scenes that show Naruto’s latent leadership abilities, and I didn’t get to bring it up elsewhere, so here it is. Low point is the first episode of this batch, not that it was actually bad or anything, but being the conclusion to a subpar arc just pales in comparison to everything else going on here.
Jared: High point would be finally getting see what Sasuke and Naruto could potentially do in a fight with the tease of what that fight will ultimately end up being. Sasuke’s heel turn was also good. Naruto putting on a brave face for Sakura and pushing away his own feelings was really well done. Low point was the non-surprise that Shikamaru makes his babyface team and it’s just dudes after his misogyny rant a few weeks back.
Danni: The low point for me was all the nonsense about the curse mark and its phases. The more logic and details they try to add for how it works the less sense it makes. The high point for me was most certainly Kakashi’s final words to Sasuke. I realized that we still know surprisingly little about Kakashi, despite him being one of the show’s most interesting characters. I’m looking forward to finally learning his backstory and what makes him tick. Runner up goes to Shikamaru’s encouragement of and faith in Choji. It’s nice seeing him get some respect for once. Runner runner up was Shikamaru standing up for all the curvy wife guys out there.
Noelle: High point, Naruto and Sasuke dropping the act and having a giant brawl. Short but sweet. The emotional breakdown in that portion was honestly so satisfying . Low point, I’d have to say the filler arc, because Sasuke leaving the village was really emotionally charged, and contrasted greatly from the filler.
Kara: High point is absolutely Sasuke’s Heel Turn. You know he’s all in when a bunch of strangers go, “Don’t worry, we won’t kill you, we’ll let you only kinda die, trust us, we work for Orochimaru,” and he’s like “Seems legit.” I’m excited to see where this goes. Low point was probably the Land of Tea resolution being this kind of comedy of errors thing. “Hey, that’s illegal! You’re disqualified!” “It’s not illegal, and also we knew you guys were up to no good!” Eh. Glad to see the end of the Land of Tea.
Carolyn: I mean, anything with Rock Lee is great. But Rock Lee overcoming adversity is especially sweet. I think my low point would have to be the Land of Tea conclusion or Sasuke’s reaction to Sakura trying to get him to stay.
Bowls of Ramen: 6 bowls
“I'm Gonna be Hokage!”: 0
Shadow Clones Created: 3 + 2 uncountable scenes
Total so far:
Bowls of Ramen: 42 bowls, 3 cups
“I'm Gonna be Hokage!”: 52
Shadow Clones Created: 343
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:
- Next week, on May 10th, CAROLYN BURKE will give us the deets on the Sound Four.
- May 17th, we'll visit the Valley of the End with JARED CLEMONS.
- May 24th, NICOLE MEJIAS plays referee for Naruto vs. Sasuke, Round 2!
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 106-112? 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!
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.
Do you love writing? Do you love anime? If you have an idea for a features story, pitch it to Crunchyroll Features!