No need to be so hard on yourself. You can do it, Shikamaru and Naruto believe it!
Welcome back to the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! I'm Carolyn Burke, 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 106 - 112, where we slogged through the conclusion the Land Of Tea arc and watched Sasuke abandon his team in favor of Orochimaru (boo, Sasuke, boo) even while Sakura poured her heart out to try to get him to change his mind and stay.
We continue our rewatch this week with Episodes 113 - 119 in which Naruto, Shikamaru, and the rest of the gang attempt to recover Sasuke from the clutches of evil while simultaneously further discovering each other's (and their own) individual jutsu and fighting styles, along with their uniquely important roles on the battlefield. And there's no better time for it, either. Because this go-around, these kids could very well be in the most danger they've ever had to face. Will they step up and survive, or crumble under the pressure?
We've got character development, spiders, and a stunningly fancy underground bathroom coming at ya this week! We'll dig into a few of our own introspective revelations and find out what each Crunchyroll Features team member brings to the table. We'll dig into our favorite jutsus, as well as singling out our favorite comedic Naruto moments.
Let's check in with the Crunchyroll Features team and see what they thought about this week's batch of episodes.
Shikamaru acknowledges that Choji thinks he is the weakest link. Others agree with this line of thinking, but Shikamaru seems to see Choji's worth. What do you think Shikamaru would see in you that your teammates might miss?
Paul: I'm 33% social anxiety, 33% depression, and 33% Impostor Syndrome, so I don't really know what Shikamaru would see in me that I don't already see in myself. If sent on an important ninja mission, such as rescuing Sasuke from the clutches of a gang of super-powered weirdos, my first response would probably be to hide in a ditch and let the Earth reclaim me.
Kevin: That I view myself as a pawn. As long as the leader has something for me to do, I will never give up and will follow any whatever order they give me, even if I don't necessarily understand the reasoning.
Joseph: That's a tough question. I guess he might see that I'm really stubborn and won't back down from something once I've committed to it, which means I'm really likely to end up like Choji whether it has to do with this fight in particular or snatching the last chip from the bottom of the bag.
David: That I'm most motivated and do my best work when given specific directives and goals.
Noelle: This is a little tricky to answer, to tell the truth. If I had to think about it, I like to think I have good analytical skills, and I am very determined when I put my mind to something.
Jared: I guess that I can be stubborn and not give up despite things looking bad, so that might work for him.
Kara: This is a very clever way to get writers to say something nice about themselves. Also probably why it's so hard for most of us! He'd probably notice that I will risk wasting my time to salvage at least a tiny victory from the jaws of defeat... though "defeat" in my line of work is a lot more to do with missing files than actual death.
Danni: This is literally the hardest question anyone has ever asked me.
Neji is stepping up and showing he can keep a calm head and strategize in the middle of danger. Shikamaru is definitely noticing and rewards Neji with a leadership position because of it. What do you think about the dynamics of the students, how they interact with each when the chips are down? Would you have made the same decision or would you have appointed someone else?
Paul: I appreciate how all of the members of rival teams from Hidden Leaf Village pull together during this crisis, and I'm glad that they accept Shikamaru's planning without a bunch of egos getting in the way. It was especially gratifying to see that Neji has internalized the lessons he learned from being defeated by Naruto during the Chunin Exams. If I were put in Shikamaru's leadership position, it would be Hide in a Ditch City, 24/7, 365, though.
Kevin: Honestly, I more think that Shikamaru appointed Neji as vice-leader because he was the obvious best choice. Both Naruto and Kiba are too hot-headed to think in tense situations, let alone lead, and Choji had already been left behind. As for the Genin interactions, I like that they are actually somewhat nuanced and call on each person's history with the others. Shikamaru has more inherent trust in Choji's abilities than anyone else, while Naruto believes in Neji because of their fight in the Chunin Exam.
Joseph: It seems obvious since Neji is considered a genius, but I really love the introspection that came about with each individual student in these episodes. For Neji, who we've mostly seen as someone who falls right into the genius role, he actually seems somewhat burdened by it. He's surprised that people see someone as average as him as a genius. I just thought that was interesting. Shikamaru made wise decisions all around.
David: It's an astute decision, and in combination with his choices and reasoning in the previous set of episodes, Shikamaru is finally proving there actually was something worth admiring in him. So much development all at once for these characters makes it kind of wash over me, but overall I'm enjoying how the show manages to wring these characters for all they're worth.
Noelle: It's a logical choice, and I think it makes a fair amount of sense. Neji has clearly learned from his mistakes, and has the ability to keep a cool head during a crisis situation. For kids as young as them, that's not an ability many people have. Being able to recognize that during a pinch was a solid call.
Jared: Neji makes the most sense to be the de facto second in command. He's supposed to be a genius and despite his loss to Naruto in the Chunin Exams, I don't think that's necessarily knocked that moniker away from him. Naruto has probably had more experience recently in circumstances like they're in, but his tactical prowess and ability to make calm and collected decisions is questionable at times which would knock him down a bit. So yeah, it was the right call to make.
Kara: This goes back to why I thought Shikamaru was a shoo-in for Chunin rank. Everyone's aware of each other's strengths and weaknesses, but Shikamaru doesn't have the baggage of ego or anything to prove to go with it. Considering I tend to be a lot more like Naruto when it comes to being fighty and having something to prove, I would probably not in the heat of the moment have made the same decision. And I would have been wrong.
Danni: I think Neji was the most obvious choice for the role. His ability to remain calm under pressure is pretty comparable to Shikamaru's, especially in the wake of the lessons he learned from fighting Naruto. I have a lot more respect for him now after that fight than before. Also, I'm glad Choji got some time in the spotlight finally.
Neji seemed to have some very close calls in this episode. Do you feel like stakes are being raised? Are these ninjas-in-training in more danger than when we first started watching? How do you think they're handling that?
Paul: I keep seeing pictures of most of the main cast as grown-ups in various social media posts related to Boruto, so I know that no matter how thickly they lay on the "this kid just died heroically for the sake of his friends" paint, none of them are actually in mortal danger. Plot armor aside, seeing Neji and Choji get beaten to within an inch of their life still evokes a strong emotional reaction from me. Aside from that, I think the show has done a good job amping up the drama.
Kevin: They're definitely in more danger than early on, simply by not expecting any backup and not having a Jonin around to save them. If they are outclassed, it's up to them to figure out how to not die. As for how they're handling it, in some ways I wish they were more frazzled. Everyone is just taking it in stride that they may die, and two of them have already finished their fights near death at best. Even if they've been on a bunch of missions before, this is the first time we've seen them as just Genin with a Chunin leader. Seeing a bit more psychological strain of realizing how high the stakes are would be a nice bit of realism.
Joseph: I kind of wish Choji and Neji's fights didn't end so similarly. Obviously, the emotions within were different, and Choji's was particularly poignant, but they both survived by the skin of their teeth and were more or less presumed dead in the same way.
David: It's weird, because I very much love how Choji's little arc was handled and felt like the emotion at the end was earned. On the other hand, Neji's is also good but it feels like the show is trying way too hard to convince us he might actually die here. It never feels like it would actually happen, at least this early with so much left unexplored, but the scenes where he's on the brink feel like they last forever. So, it's a mixed bag.
Noelle: As a kid, I was more concerned, but as an adult, I know the drill. Shows like these rarely commit to killing off their characters, and I remember Neji being decently popular at the time. It's too risky a move to kill people off. While I do think that comparatively, the stakes are absolutely being raised, with kids going out on a life-threatening mission, I know it's not going to end that badly. Bad, but not the worst possible outcome.
Jared: The stakes are much much higher for most of these characters since we haven't really seen them in this kind of danger before. Everyone outside of Naruto hasn't had to deal with these kinds of enemies yet within the context of what the show has presented us. So, it makes sense that even someone like Neji is struggling with a much tougher opponent compared to what he's used to. Although it was kind of odd how they seemed to structure both Choji and Neji's fights to be very similar with how they'd get the upper hand, their enemy would recapture momentum, here's a second form, and then both were spent by the end of it.
Kara: The stakes are higher for sure. But to revisit what Paul said, I'm not sure how I feel about the dramatic "death" scenes. Even if we didn't have Boruto now telling us who grows up and has kids and stuff, I don't think I like those scenes playing out only for a "just kidding" later. I love seeing the characters grow and realize what they value in what they think are their last moments, but now every time I see a sad death scene and hear that flute music I'm just gonna be like "Ah, it's fine, they'll wake up in the hospital."
Danni: Listen, it's a shonen anime. Is anyone really ever dead in a shonen anime?
Spiderwebs! We've seen some interesting jutsu on this show, but spiderwebs seems icky and sticky enough. What did you think of this scene? Has your favorite jutsu changed since we started rewatching the show?
Paul: As far as Ninjutsu go, "Literally Spider-Man" is pretty powerful. I'm not terribly arachnophobic, but between the sound effects and the visuals of Kidomaru spitting up his silk, I got pretty grossed out, although it made for a thrilling fight. My favorite Jutsu so far is still Kakashi's Sharingan-enhanced Jutsu copying skills.
Kevin: I'm not very arachnophobic, but throughout the first half of Neji's fight, I was continuously thinking "that's WAY too many spiders!" As for a favorite jutsu, if we're including all jutsu from all disciplines I really like he Eight Inner Gates. Something that theoretically everyone can obtain and which has an inherent progression system that lets you throttle the power. If we are restricted to ninjutsu, then probably the Shadow Clone jutsu because of all of the utility that we'll find out about later.
Joseph: Gosh, I can't even think of my favorite jutsu right now. There've been so many, but I guess I still prefer the earlier bugs to these bugs. I was kind of bored by the Neji fight, to be honest, and I didn't see the sudden appearance of a giant spider as much of a threat. I actually thought it might have just been an illusion at first.
David: I don't think anything can faze me after Shino's brand of bug jutsu, that's Peak Yikes.
Noelle: I love spiders! Spiders are cute! So no, there's no creep-out factor for me. I still think Gaara's sand is still a fave of mine though.
Jared: I'm so glad I'm not Neji when he had so many spiders raining down on him as I would've just noped the heck out of there immediately.
Kara: I thought the spiderwebs would be my biggest "Nope," but Kidomaru just horking up golden arrows like some sort of weird Mary Poppins carpetbag thing got me worse.
Danni: It's gotten weird. I honestly can't understand why that guy had six arms and the ability to secrete spiderwebs. That can't just be a chakra thing, right? Seriously, they're really glossing over the fact that guy somehow has six arms.
Shikamaru saying it would be dumb to rush into confrontation and being cut off by Naruto's "Hey jerk!" is completely hilarious. What are some other comedic beats you've been a fan of? Do you think putting these one-liners in the middle of intense scenes works? Or does it ruin the flow of a battle arc?
Paul: I'm still a fan of Naruto getting caught in a snare trap, freeing himself, then getting caught again immediately in another snare trap, and I suspect we haven't seen the last of the dreaded One Thousand Years of Death attack. The moments of levity (even in high-stakes situations) are nice because they give the audience breathing room. I personally don't want my shonen shows to be dark and depressing all of the time.
Kevin: Naruto including both funny and touching moments in the middle of tense situations is one of the parts of the franchise that I really like. The timing isn't always perfect, but it stops the show from staying too dark for long, or adding extra context to give weight to the situation. It becomes a problem when that weight takes an entire mini-arc in the middle of something much more important, but for one-liners or short flashback scenes, it's generally pretty effective.
Joseph: Naruto's comedy is at its best when it's mixed in with the action. When an entire episode relies on it, it totally falls flat, but I love moments like this. They're what makes Naruto Naruto! I wish I could remember more specific comedic beats throughout the series but I'm old and we're over 100 episodes in.
David: Comedy is important to keeping the tone of a show like this in check. It's especially important here exactly because of moments like the one mentioned; Naruto himself is a hothead and frequently bad at reading the room, but that part of his personality absolutely has to land for the big story beats to work, too. In that sense, I don't just like the jokes, but find them vital to the show's success.
Noelle: I think it works just fine. The issue with a lot of comedy in action scenes is that it detracts from the situation at hand, lowering the tension. Most of the time, that's usually not a good thing. In this case, you need comedy because the scenes are so serious- being overly serious hurts a show equally so. While the jokes can be hit or miss, that they exist I don't think is much of an issue.
Jared: It's interesting because moments like that absolutely work as this brief instance of comic relief, without it taking away from the seriousness of the situation. Sometimes the show can get a bit overboard when it's trying to do comedy for a whole episode and that doesn't work, but when it's utilized in situations like here where we know Naruto would totally do something like this, it can help as a nice little breather in between everything being super tense.
Kara: When it's good, it's very very good. When they go for a completely wacky episode/set of episodes it's A Lot, but when they sprinkle the humor in amidst the action it's just excellent. I'm still a fan of Naruto showing up triumphantly during the second stage of the Chunin Exam forgetting the password just as predicted. More recently, I love the little song he sings as he swoops over Tayuya's head in this last set of episodes.
Danni: If nothing else, it's a clear and concise summary of his entire character. I can 100% believe someone who shouts "Hey jerk!" in that situation is also someone who makes a diversion attack only to completely negate the purpose of the diversion by shouting "Above you!" before attacking from above. Also, my favorite comedic beat is still Sasuke finding out Itachi is back because some grunt runs into the room shouting about Itachi. It probably wasn't supposed to be funny, but it still makes me laugh.
And, of course, what were your high and low points for the week?
Paul: My high point was Akimichi Choji stomping a mudhole in Jirobo, because Choji's my favorite supporting lad and this is his first real moment in the spotlight. My low point was Orochimaru's arms going fully necrotic. They really leaned into the body horror elements in these episodes. I'm not super squeamish, but I wasn't mentally prepared for that.
High - Choji's fight. As the fat kid who was never picked first for any sport (and only not picked last because I would literally stand in front of someone running at me to stop them), Choji's entire backstory and moment of triumph really struck a chord with me, both when I was a kid and even now. Low - The start of Tayuya and Shikamaru's fight. Naruto, don't just stand there, run away so she can't stop you! Shikamaru, why did you wait so long to try to Shadow Possess Tayuya? Tayuya, why did you take so long to react to literally everything that happened in that moment? I'm sure that it was just a quick cutaway in the manga, but if it was it didn't translate to animation well.
Joseph: High: I really enjoyed Choji's fight, and the end to it--regardless of how permanent it really ends up being--was beautiful. Low: My dude Orochimaru is living in a series of interconnected caves. Forget the ninja closed-circuit TV, I'm more baffled by the fact that he had someone come in and grout and tile a custom shower for his bony ass.
David: Agreed on Choji's fight being the best part this week. Similarly, though, my low point was the Neji fight in general, because it felt like the same sort of fight but with a lot less punch.
Noelle: High point: Choji getting some screentime and owning it. He needed his time in the limelight. Low point: I'm enjoying the Neji fight a lot less than I used to, which is a shame.
Jared: My high point would probably be like everyone else so far in seeing Choji finally get his moment to shine. Orochimaru's lavish underground bunker was hilarious given how furnished it looked with a very nice bathroom, a technologically sound lab, and then a random prison in there as well. Low point might be just how the Neji fight was a bit too similar to the Choji fight in terms of structure which led it to not feel as impactful.
Kara: Ordering the same as everyone else at this table. Choji's fight was intense and definitely the high point of the week. It was cool seeing what he could do beyond Fat Kid from Hook no Jutsu. Low point is just knowing how weird it's gonna feel watching any dramatic alleged death scene going forward and wondering if they're just gonna be fine in five minutes.
Danni: High point is a tie between Choji's final punch and Neji showing off he has the coolest fighting style in the entire show. There wasn't really a singular low point for me, just a feeling of sluggishness in every episode that dragged down this whole batch of episodes for me. They just felt too slow.
Bowls of Ramen: 0 bowls
“I'm Gonna be Hokage!”: 0
Shadow Clones Created: 9 + 1 uncountable scene
Total so far:
Bowls of Ramen: 42 bowls, 3 cups
“I'm Gonna be Hokage!”: 52
Shadow Clones Created: 352
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 17th, we'll visit the Valley of the End with JARED CLEMONS.
- May 24th, NICOLE MEJIAS plays referee for Naruto vs. Sasuke, Round 2!
-May 31st, NOELLE OGAWA will start us off on a journey back into the land of filler.
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 113-119? 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!
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