A great battle ends, and a new adventure begins.
Hello, everyone! Noelle here, and I'm your host for this week's batch of episodes as we all tackle the original run of Naruto! During last week's harrowing stretch, we got started on the fateful match of Naruto vs Sasuke, and the wild moments that came with that. It's the showdown we've all been waiting for, and the general consensus seems to be that it didn't disappoint.
While this time we finish up this great battle, we also transition into the first of the massive stretch of filler, this time in the mysterious Land of Rice Paddies with the all-new Fuuma clan. Sasuke may have left, but Naruto and Sakura are determined to seek him out once again.
Let's get started!
Naruto’s been able to convince a lot of people to see his side of things, but in the end, he can’t persuade Sasuke to return. How does it feel to see Naruto fail at what he set out for, especially for something so important?
Kevin: For me, the more important point is actually the aftermath. Yes Naruto failed, and it was even at something extremely important to the main cast, but no one just moved past the mission. Shikamaru legitimately considered retiring from being a ninja, Sakura is realizing just how weak she is compared to everyone else. Even in Shippuden, several years and at least dozens of episodes later, Naruto keeping his promise to Sakura is one of the driving plot points for at least an arc.
Kara: I kind of suspected it. From a writing standpoint I like it: seeing Naruto’s friendship and determination fall flat sets some new stakes (and fortunately, it just makes him more determined). If he wants to be Hokage someday, he’s going to have to deal with all sorts of people and situations, and a lot of them are going to test his devotion to his own “Way of the Ninja.” From a fan standpoint, it’s sad; from a writer standpoint, it was a very good choice and is going to end up being very rewarding.
David: It would be unconvincing for him to eventually achieve his goal and not fail at points along the way; in that sense, this is one of the best ways to get that across. I think it’s also worth noting how Sasuke also “failed” by not killing Naruto like he believes Itachi would want him to do, though that situation is even more complicated so it’s arguable how similar those situations are.
Paul: I expected Naruto to fail to convince Sasuke, since his failure is necessary to the drama, but even so some part of me wanted to see him succeed. It feels tragic, in the classical Greek sense of the word.
Joseph: It was a really tragic ending to an awesome arc, but I love the way it paves the road for the future of the story. Like Kevin said, the aftermath and the bounceback make it all the more effective.
Jared: Sometimes you have to fail in order to succeed later on. If this was just Naruto being able to achieve whatever he wanted, that wouldn’t make for a good story. It makes me excited to see how he bounces back overall and how he learns from this.
Carolyn: Overall, I appreciate that Sasuke didn’t go back with him. I feel like him going back would be the obvious, expected route to take.
Danni: I don’t know. I kind of feel like he did win, in a sense. While he didn’t manage to bring him back, his fight with Sasuke affected Sasuke’s heart enough to have him reject Itachi’s way of finding power. Sasuke didn’t fall completely into the darkness, and that’s why Naruto will be able to win him back later, I imagine.
We go into the start of a massive stretch of filler after a truly dynamic fight. After such a high-stakes clash, is the tone of the filler too different? Or did you need a break after all the seriousness?
Kevin: Honestly, the break is pretty welcome. Sure, it gets significantly lighter a bit too quickly, but some levity is nice after “I intend to kill you to unlock greater power so that I can kill my brother, the person who murdered my entire family.” Sasuke versus Naruto was the emotional climax of Naruto, and keeping up the more serious atmosphere might’ve been possible, but the longer it went on the more exhausted the audience would get.
Kara: I’m so scared to say anything because I just looked at our viewing schedule and this filler goes on for approximately 87 years. I’ll say that at the time of this writing and speaking for right now, I’m okay with the filler. I reserve the right to become increasingly less okay with it as it goes on.
David: For now they’ve kept it close enough to the tone of the main story while also keeping things light, so I’m still enjoying myself. Ask me again in a few weeks.
Paul: Since I haven't read the original manga and I haven't seen the Naruto TV anime before, I didn't know we were entering a filler arc. In terms of pacing and content, the Land of Rice Paddies seems far superior to the Land of Tea. It may not be canonical, but there's lots of Ninjutsu weirdness and betrayal going on, and that feels like a natural extension of the main story-line rather than a digression.
Joseph: So far I am actually loving this first filler story. Land of Tea was rough, but I dig the character designs here and it’s just enough of a continuation of the story to matter to me, even if a lot of it is illusory.
Jared: I think you need to essentially have this kind of tonal change after an emotionally exhausting encounter like Naruto vs. Sasuke is. It helps too that the transition into this new arc wasn’t as rough as the Land of Tea one was.
Carolyn: I don’t mind the shift from serious to silly, but I can’t really get into the new people. I think after such a big arc featuring the main characters, we need some time with Naruto and Sakura just kinda chilling.
Danni: I like that Jiraiya seems poised to take Sakura under her wing as well now, but it doesn’t seem like she’s getting much actual development in spite of it. I’d really like to see that change.
Before this, Orochimaru’s schemes were more subtle, tending to be a mastermind behind large happenings. Here, we see that his manipulations also heavily affect the villages and land surrounding him. Is this a welcome change?
Kevin: I’d say it manages to be welcome and unwelcome at the same time. It’s welcome because it shows just how much influence Orochimaru really has. If he wants to, he can bend entire countries to his will. It’s unwelcome because by showing that he actually is causing that much change opens up plot holes like how the Leaf can’t find him, when entire clans work for him.
Kara: That’s actually a good point about plot holes. I hadn’t considered that at first. At the same time, I’m always interested to see more outside of our one or two standard settings, because this alternate ninja universe is so wild to me. Anything that lets us see a bit more of what’s going on, how these different situations affect people who aren’t directly involved, is pretty neat. It does give a feeling that All Roads Lead to Orochimaru, though.
David: “Countries” in this context seem extremely small, to the point Konoha is basically just one big city, so I don’t see it as too big an issue that Orochimaru could spread his influence and still be on the loose. He probably has a whole chain of underground tiled showers for every occasion.
Paul: Orochimaru feels more like the genuine article when his machinations warp the entire social and political structure of a small country. To me, Orochimaru will always be the “Dirtbag Jeff” of the Naruto universe, but seeing entire populations made miserable on his behalf at least makes him seem like a more capable villain.
Joseph: If only this land had some kind of police force! The fact that Orochimaru can run so rampant with so many powerful ninja around seems ridiculous when you think too hard about it, so it’s much more fun to just think of him as a standard big ol’ baddie and sit back and observe how sick his actions are in the way they affect others.
Jared: I don’t know if it’s necessarily a change or just more to the fact that villains who have a network like Orochimaru has, tend to be manipulative jerks who push people into awkward situations in order to appease them. Plus it’s a way to show off what he’s been doing outside of just sitting in his chair chatting with Kabuto.
Carolyn: Orochimaru has been shown to be incredibly manipulative. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he could operate on a large scale in plain sight. I actually like that narrative.
Danni: Yeah, like others said before, you’d think if he’s this well known for destabilizing ninja clans and starting new villages, no one would have been surprised when he showed up out of the blue.
The fillers this time focuses on the Fuuma clan, and their desire to restore their clan to glory. Do you sympathize with their plight? Why or why not?
Kevin: Maybe if we had a little more backstory about the clan showing them when they were prosperous and then their descent into criminal activity and then being tricked by Orochimaru, I would sympathize with them more, but they honestly just seem like pawns in a larger game and as a result are more of an afterthought as Naruto and Sakura try to find Sasuke.
Kara: New villages always take a little time for me to adjust to. We kind of throw all our chips in with Leaf, so when we come to new places, we get a sort of surface-level idea of what’s going on in the first few episodes elsewhere. Also I’m so hesitant to trust anyone or anything in this setting because you never know who’s wearing a mask, who’s a double/triple agent, who’s a resurrected corpse, who’s using substitution/disguise jutsu, etc. Having Sasame as our link to the greater story is a help, though. I like her, and (even counting her attempted double-cross) she seems very straightforward in what she wants to accomplish.
David: I totally agree with the sentiment that it would be easier to get into these kinds of stories if we knew more about the “before” of these families and lands. Hard to care too much about fighting for the status quo when we don’t really know what the status quo was.
Paul: I get where the Fuuma Clan are coming from, but I don't exactly sympathize. As Jiraiya of all people points out, in this world a ninja is “one who endures”, so even though the Fuuma Clan's power and influence may have dwindled, that's no reason for them to work for Orochimaru, who will indubitably only manipulate them, experiment on them, and then cast them aside when they are no longer useful.
Joseph: I didn’t really sympathize with their plight, but I did enjoy their character designs. They were much more interesting than any characters in the Land of Tea, especially Kagero, who I absolutely loved.
Jared: There’s probably a slight bit of sympathy towards them given that we know how Orochimaru can just be and put people into bad situations, although given how their plight is just kind of dumped on you, it doesn’t make you feel entirely sympathetic. Still, this is more of an investment than the Land of Tea arc gives.
Carolyn: As noted, I didn’t really get into their story, I think just the timing of it is off for me. But I do appreciate that Orochimaru has a lot of negative influence that could impact just about anyone who comes in contact with him. I understand where they’re coming from.
Danni: Not really? We know next to nothing about them or the land they served in. Literally all we know about them is Orochimaru messed with them a bit.
Sakura has been in the background for quite some time, and this arc is trying to push her into the forefront. How do you think this is being handled?
Kevin: So far, not very well. Yes, she understands better that she is weak compared to her teammates and that she may be bringing them down. Okay… GO DO SOMETHING. Instead of just sitting around thinking about how useless you are, actually go and learn new jutsu or train or just generally do something to be less useless!
Kara: Okay, just an aside, did Sakura’s face and tone when she said she was going to heal Sasame’s shoulder seem kinda creepy to anyone else? I don’t think it was deliberate, but I swear she looked more like she was going to take a bite out of Sasame’s neck for a second there. That aside, I appreciate what this arc is trying to do, but it’s taking its sweet time to do it. Sakura is smart. We were reminded of this over and over in the early episodes. She is extremely capable and has a good heart and all the other stuff she needs to now start doing things. I feel like right now her role is Person Who Told Naruto To Look After Sasuke and like. I wanna see a bit more than that.
David: What I mainly enjoy is that they are seeding her interest in medicine here. I hope they continue setting up future developments in small ways like that.
Paul: From what little I've seen of this arc, Sakura hasn't been treated very well. After she was left behind in the mission to retrieve Sasuke, I want to see Sakura take the same sort of bold, decisive, heroic actions that her male peers are allowed to pursue. That hasn't happened yet.
Joseph: I think it’s great that she’s being forced into more situations here, but the hilarious side effect is them illustrating just how disconnected she’s been. She’s all THIS IS JIRAIYA? And FROGS TALK? GROSS! Like, alright, hi, welcome back to class, Sakura.
Jared: It’s strange because it feels like the show just doesn’t know what to do with her as I thought we’d already been through Sakura having a moral dilemma of whether she thinks she’s capable or not. Granted, it’s not like she’s gotten to do much of anything in the last, what forty or so episodes? It’s like the show wants you to think she’s just been sitting at home dreaming about Sasuke since the end of the Chunin Exams and that’s it.
Carolyn: Honestly, I still feel like she is being given the short end of the stick. She’s saying she needs to be better like Naruto. To pull her own weight as if she is a failure. I feel like it’s more bad female character writing than Sakura’s established personality being at fault. She’s been proven to be one of the hardest workers in the series.
Danni: Quite poorly. Even when she saves Naruto it’s not really of her own doing. Someone else had to come in and say “Hey use this” for her to be able to do anything. It’s a real letdown, honestly.
Lastly, what are your highs and lows of this week’s batch of episodes?
Kevin: High - The end of Naruto versus Sasuke, specifically the look on Sasuke’s face. There are so many conflicting emotions with his character in that scene that I’m honestly amazed anything was able to capture how much he was going through.
Low - The majority of Orochimaru’s hideout. Orochimaru himself was actually a pretty good scene, but the traps, psychological manipulation (did Naruto really never tell anyone that Sasuke used his Curse Mark, which would’ve informed Sakura that Kabuto really was lying?) and even some character actions (like Jiraiya sitting down and having a drink while on a mission) didn’t really seem to add up.
Kara: High point was predictably the end of Naruto vs. Sasuke, even with Sasuke’s weird glow-up and back-hands. I also love that this whole thing is a lot more intricate than just “Sasuke kill Naruto” — it doesn’t work without an acknowledgment of their friendship and that’s just so cool. Low point is Jiraiya back at it again takin’ money from kids and sleepin’ around. Although I will give a hand-wave/secondary high point to that scene in the alley where everyone literally drops because they realized they’re messing with the wrong dude.
David: My high is the entirety of episode 139, which had some of the tightest directing and animation I’ve seen from this show so far period. Really wasn’t expecting that out of some random set of filler episodes. My low point is all the weird ways the show kind of infantilizes Sasame when we first see her, but that luckily gets resolved relatively quickly.
Paul: My high point was the conclusion of the fight between Naruto and Sasuke, where after their ultimate techniques have collided and the resulting Chakra storm has dissipated, they exchange a sorrowful look, as if silently questioning how their lives have come to this point. My low point was when Kagero (disguised as Kabuto) re-enacts Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on herself in an effort to stop Naruto's heart. That was super gross, and I'm still recovering mentally from all the bone stuff with Kimimaro.
Joseph: I actually have to also say that, beyond the obvious choice of the end of the real story (for now), episode 139 was a highlight. It had some of the best animation of this batch and some really good comedic smears, and I love trap-loaded hideout hijinks.
The low point, I guess, would be the very start of the filler. I couldn’t tell what Jiraiya’s motivation was, and at first I thought he was just tricking Naruto and Sakura to distract them and take them somewhere away from the action. Which maybe he did? But Orochimaru is there? But it’s probably an illusion after all? I dunno, it seemed kind of awkwardly conveyed in general.
Jared: High point would definitely be the end of Naruto vs. Sasuke. Although I wouldn’t consider it a high point, the idea that Orochimaru’s hideout is this strange labyrinth of traps is probably funnier than it should be. Low point would be Jiraiya continuing to be a skeeving creep at times and also the general idea that I’m curious how this show is really going to handle having very dramatic moments moving forward. With us going into filler, all the main players kind of go into a holding pattern since we know nothing is going to happen to them. You certainly can’t tease that Naruto is going to die when it’s obvious he won’t. Maybe the rest of these episodes will surprise me, but I’m very curious about how they’ll handle this with all the filler.
Carolyn: My high and low point would be Shikamaru crying after being told his mission was a failure. Poor guy.
Danni: High point is easily the entire episode concluding the fight between Naruto and Sasuke. I got pretty emotional because of how well-executed it was. My low point would be the continuing casual misogyny of Shikamaru! Stop it, dude!!!
Ramen: 1 bowl
Clones: 90 + 1 variable scene
Total so far:
Bowls of Ramen: 45 bowls, 3 cups
“I'm Gonna be Hokage!”: 52
Shadow Clones Created: 457
That's all for this week! Everyone's welcome to join us for this rewatch, doubly so if you haven't yet watched the original Naruto! Watch Naruto today!
CATCH UP ON THE REWATCH!
Here's our upcoming schedule:
- On June 7th, DAVID LYNN will keep foraging into the land of fillers.
- On June 14th, PAUL CHAPMAN will continue on with our filler journey.
- On June 21st, KEVIN MATYI will push onward into what the fillers have to offer.
Thank you for joining us for the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! See you next time!
Have any inquiries or thoughts on Episodes 134-140? Let us know in the comments!