MIzuki is back with a vengeance—and a new look!
With another week comes another batch of episodes in THE GREAT CRUNCHYROLL NARUTO REWATCH. I'm David Lynn and I'm here to guide you through the rougher waters as we truly begin our deep dive into the seas of filler in the back half of original Naruto.
This time around we're finishing off our journey through the Land of Rice Paddies to see how Naruto and Sakura help out the desparate Fuuma clan. Right after that we transition into a full arc, including a return of the show's very first villain, Mizuki! Orochimaru is always up to no good, but did his antics entertain this time around? Let's find out!
The end of the Land of the Rice Paddies arc comes with a number of twists and turns. Did that story do anything for you as it wrapped up here?
Joseph: This ended up being an decent little side story. I enjoyed seeing more moments where Sakura finds the need to shine, and this combined with later episodes in this set start to flesh out her abilities and potential a bit more. With that said, I find myself already forgetting about the conclusion of this saga and its beefed-up villain thanks to the one that immediately followed and also ended with a beefed-up villain!
Kevin: The final fight was much more captivating that I thought it was going to be. Instead of just a monster of the week fight it showed off some of the great choreography that the franchise is known for, and the final scene with the Fuma siblings made basically no logical sense, but was beautifully shot.
Paul: Overall, I thought the Land of Rice Paddies arc was more competent than the Land of Tea arc as far as filler story-lines go, but it didn't leave much of an impression on me aside from a few body horror moments. My biggest issue is that the writers didn't leave Naruto and company any decent clues to follow, so even though tracking down and rescuing Sasuke is still a driving goal, it feels like they're just spinning their wheels.
Danni: Not really. Nothing in this arc was at all very compelling. We never learned much of anything about the Fuma clan, it was still all up to Naruto to save the day, and the final villain was incredibly underwhelming. There was potential in having the final battle be against the fused corpses of Arashi and his captives, but it was all undercut by giving him a cartoonishly evil personality for no reason. Hopefully Sakura’s training under Tsunade will pay off in future arcs.
Noelle: It wasn’t bad, but it still doesn’t stand up to the canonical content. In terms of filler though, it’s pretty okay. I liked that they tried to pad some of the routes that Kishimoto ignores, such as Sakura’s further development. If a filler tries to add stuff, I can’t complain too much.
Jared: It was acceptable. Not great, but not bad. We get Sakura something to do finally which will hopefully be good and it at least adds to Orochimaru being a jerk, but at the same time, is the Fuma clan going to be remembered at all? Probably not, but that’s to be expected.
Carolyn: I’m also of the camp that this arc was pretty boring and not very compelling. I am also hoping for Sakura to get a truly meaningful arc but everything she gets to do is just centered around Sasuke. Sakura deserves better!
The interim between the two arcs this week came with some relatively peaceful times, showing us what the characters do when there isn’t a crisis to solve or tournament to compete in. That part of episode 142 is also adapting the final chapter of the manga before it transitioned into the “Shippuden” storyline. Did you like that small break, and would you like the show to expand upon that part of their lives more often?
Joseph: More valleys of calm would certainly be welcome in Naruto. At one point Tsunade said she feels like everything was just starting to cool down right when another situation popped up, essentially describing the pacing of a long-running series to the audience. I’d like to see more if only to connect to some of the side characters and see what Choji’s eating at any given moment.
Kevin: Honestly, I would’ve been completely fine taking several episodes just to expand on what the characters do on a regular basis. If we’re going to have entire seasons of filler, then why not have a Lee episode, an Ino episode and so on, just showcasing what their normal day is like?
Paul: While I enjoy getting a broader view of what daily life is like both inside and outside the Ninja Villages, the manner in which this material is presented can be a bit confusing. For example, although I knew that ninja society has police forces (such as the Anbu Black Ops), I'd never really thought about there being a ninja maximum security prison, and now I'm wondering about how different Villages deal with crime, punishment, and rehabilitation.
Danni: My favorite part of shonen anime is whenever we get to see how these crazy powerful fighters function in their daily lives. Dragon Ball Super and Diamond is Unbreakable are two of my favorite examples of this. So, yeah, I appreciated it, and if I had it my way we’d get a full arc dedicated to Guy and Kakashi furniture shopping at IKEA.
Noelle: I’m all for characters in their daily lives. While I certainly live for the plot, knowing that these characters have things to do in the day to day that doesn’t solely revolve around magical combat fleshes them out. It’s a lot more relatable connecting to characters that have mundane stuff to do too.
Jared: I love when we get breaks like this and the show turns into a slice of life for a tiny bit. Especially since there will be all of this filler to go through, why not do more episodes like that. Although, I’m bummed we didn’t get to see Gaara attempting to teach the youngins at the school as that would have probably been good.
Carolyn: I guess it didn’t feel like much of a valley to me. I felt like they were stretching out the few fights and confrontations they did have over multiple episodes when we probably could have wrapped them up much faster.
Other filler arcs have had loose connections to the main story, but this one brings back the original villain from episode 1, Mizuki. On top of that, he gets a ton of development and backstory alongside Iruka. Do you find Mizuki or Iruka more interesting after watching this?
Joseph: It was cool to see a character come back from the beginning, even if he was yet another who has been manipulated completely by Orochimaru and the promise of power. I appreciate the connections to the main story, but if we’re going to be venturing into non-stop filler I also kind of hope we run into some villains with their own unique motivations. With that said, I dug learning more about Iruka, one of the series’ great characters who isn’t on screen enough.
Kevin: I liked most of Iruka’s development, since we get to see him work alongside Naruto and thus see just how far Naruto has come. Mizuki is much more developed now, but I didn’t particularly care for his development. I’m okay with bringing back the first villain of the show, but why not just make it a revenge quest or something of the like? They wasn’t any particular need to bring Orochimaru into the mix, outside of forcing a connection to Naruto trying to find Sasuke.
Paul: All I can say is that Mizuki is a complete jabroni. In pro-wrestling terms, he doesn't even merit “jobber” status. It's also hard to take Mizuki seriously when his back story-paints his as a complete psychopath who murders his comrades when they become a minor inconvenience, but he receives a stiffer penalty for stealing a forbidden scroll. Also, his ultimate technique is wearing a karate gi with the sleeves torn off and using an experimental drug to express his tiger fursona.
Danni: Can I say neither? Iruka didn’t do much, and we didn’t learn anything new about him. Mizuki, though...Someone at Pierrot really loves Mizuki. All of a sudden he’s super ripped and powerful and has a cool dude jean jacket with the sleeves torn off. I appreciate them trying to flesh out a backstory for a throwaway character, but I don’t think it could’ve gone much more poorly.
Noelle: I think I appreciated more the attempt than the final product. Considering how large the cast is and how many throwaway characters there are, utilizing existing characters instead of creating some from scratch gives the writers more to work with. I don’t think it necessarily worked here, but it wasn’t a bad choice.
Jared: I don’t think it really benefited either of them to be honest. Mizuki’s backstory just made him seem like a joke and yet we’re supposed to take him seriously as this big threat to everyone. I totally get why you’d bring in a minor character like this to utilize in the filler, but it didn’t really do much for me.
Carolyn: I’m kind of over the whole villain was manipulated and isn’t that bad thing. We can have real villains. It’s OK.
Connected to the previous question, would you rather there be more attempts at filler using characters we know, or do you prefer the ones that introduce us to whole new lands and people?
Joseph: Balance is important. I like having characters we know branching out to other areas and taking the time to introduce more ways of ninja life in the land. On the spectrum of filler we’ve been presented with so far, though, I much prefer what’s been handed to us in these eps than the dull Land of Tea race arc. For a specific example: There was one moment in which Tsunade’s people casually enter her office to tell her they’ve captured all the inmates but three. I would have liked to have seen some of that go down!
Kevin: Both options serve different purposes, so ideally I would want both. Maybe a filler arc where a different squad of people we already know about goes to a new land, but with Naruto or Sakura included so that we still have a connection to the main cast? That way we would get more worldbuilding while also learning more about minor characters through more in-depth interactions.
Paul: It all depends on how the characters are written. Fujin and Raijin are completely new characters here, but for me they stole the show, because they're basically One Piece characters transplanted into the Naruto universe. As long as the filler arcs focus on characters who are interesting or unique in some way, and as long as the stories are decently well-written, I don't think it matters whether the characters are new or not.
Danni: Like others have said, you need a good mix. It’s cool when they take inconsequential characters and try to give them some real material, but if you stick too close to the main story you run the risk of contradicting something the original creator had planned for later. Extended filler can really only take place as side stories, which is why people are so often disinterested in them.
Noelle: Mildly addressed this in my previous answer, but I think both is the best mix. The only issue is, that if the writers make a character completely from scratch, they have to put the work into them too. Having a completely new face means that the audience needs to find some way to get attached to them, to want to see what happens to them. As far as that’s gone, it’s been a mixed bag, but anything can be pulled off with the right team and effort behind it.
Jared: It’s best to have a mix since if you just keep going with established characters, you’re probably going to either run out of characters or just give them convoluted backstories. As long as you can make good and meaningful stories for either characters we know or ones we don’t, that’s the route they should take.
Carolyn: I think a mix of both works. But don’t introduce us to new lands if they are going to disappear forever and not actually mean anything. Also, the closer we get to the end of the series the less I’m going to want to see new people. Don’t show me someone I won’t have time to get to know. When the series wraps up, go back to basics.
Mizuki makes a surprising “evolution” of sorts here, thanks once again to Orochimaru’s blatant disregard for safety and ethics when it comes to scientific progress. If you were in charge, what would be the next wacky thing Orochimaru’s antics force Naruto and friends to contend against?
Joseph: Mizuki’s evolution made me want them to dive even deeper into the mad scientists of the ninja landscape. Give me The Island of Dr. Ninpo or something. I’d be even happier if it didn’t feel the need to be directly connected to Orochimaru, though. It could even focus on a villainous rival of sorts.
Kevin: Let’s see: a mad scientist who wants to generally find ways to gain more power while also mastering every Jutsu in existance and doesn’t care about the mortality rate of anything, so nothing boring like “make the Curse Mark not kill people.” I’d probably look into how to implant Kekkei Genkai like the Sharingan and Haru’s Ice Mirrors without needing to reincarnate into a new body every three years. So in terms of something for Naruto and friends to face: a shinobi with significantly weaker variations of basically every Kekkei Genkai we’ve seen in the show thus far.
Paul: I'd try to invoke some sort of moral dilemma where Orochimaru's twisted machinations accidentally result in something positive happening. i.e. Maybe Naruto and the gang come across a small village where Orochimaru experimented on the inhabitants in an attempt to develop deadly new combat Jutsu, but his efforts failed in a way that inadvertently made the villagers happier and healthier. Orochimaru would have departed in disgust, but – unaware of his true character – the villagers presently idolize him as a hero and a savior. Naruto would have to decide whether or not to tell them the truth. I think that would be an interesting conflict.
Danni: I already proposed an arc wherein Guy and Kakashi shop at IKEA together, so let’s say all their furniture had been destroyed before in Orochimaru’s attack and now they’re in the market for snake-proof end-tables. Guy does a cool roundhouse kick to Kakashi’s new table and breaks it, revealing a secret compartment full of food pills that rival the curse mark’s power. Turns out Orochimaru has been using furniture to smuggle these pills through villages. They don’t find Orochimaru in the end, but they do get a sweet new couch for their bachelor pad.
Noelle: This is a mix, but I want to see just what makes Orochimaru such a draw to so many people. There has to be more than he’s offering to people than just power, and maybe the science experiments have to do something with that. So many people have joined his side, but what exactly is the pull here? What makes him so appealing? What is he promising people (beyond power, which gets dull after a while) that makes people so loyal? I want to see that.
Jared: I’d probably go with something with lower stakes, but also goofy. Have some of Orochimaru’s goons sabotage some local event, maybe a festival or a sport of some sort. Naruto and the gang have to make things better, but at the same time, it’s not something that’s super dangerous or incredibly life threatening since we know that won’t affect any of the main characters.
Carolyn: I do also like the idea of Orochimaru’s manipulations accidentally causing something good to happen. But then also maybe just someone who is a straight baddie? Like Orochimaru tries to offer them a deal and they’re like, “Nah, I’m just in it for the evil.”
And as usual, what were your highs and lows?
Joseph: My main high was Formation Ino-Shika-Cho! They seem like way more of a cohesive unit than Team 7. I love how their abilities complement one another and work together strategically. Also, it’s worth noting that episode 146 is artistically moody as hell. Low: Naruto stepping in to get his back stabbed in place of another happens twice in just these 7 episodes. I wish they would have skipped the first one to give the ultimate callback of the second one more weight.
Kevin: High - Iruka and Naruto fighting alongside one another, showing that despite all of the powerful forces trying to kill Naruto and the people around him, he’s still quickly becoming strong enough to stand on his own. Low - Orochimaru being a part of Mizuki’s backstory. Bringing back an old enemy is perfectly fine, potentially even interesting since it’s a great way to measure how much Naruto has changed in the past 150 episodes. Making him a part of Orochimaru’s overarching narrative just doesn’t work for me at all. His entire original motivation was stealing a scroll and leaving the village. Sure, the new information doesn’t change that, but it overcomplicates it in a way that’s never going to be followed up on due to this being a filler arc.
Paul: My high point was Kakashi summoning Pakkun into Iruka's hand. “May I offer you a tiny talking dog in this trying time?” Fujin and Raijin were a close runner up; I love those kinds of characters. My low point is how aimless overall the series has become in terms of pursuing the goal of finding Sasuke. I want to believe that Naruto really wants to rescue his friend, but it's hard to suspend my disbelief when he spends so much time goofing around on these low-level missions.
Danni: The high point for me this week was easily the direction in episode 146. Seriously, I need the name of whoever storyboarded that episode. It was some of the best Naruto has ever looked. The low point for me is the fact we had two terribly written cartoonishly evil villains in a row. A good villain doesn’t have to maniacally laugh and yell about how evil they are! Just look at Orochimaru! Sure, he isn’t amazingly written, but he doesn’t have to prove to you how evil he totally is! He just walks up like “sup?” and you think “Oh geez this guy’s bad news, huh.”
Noelle: High point, all that 146 has to offer artistically. It’s lovely to watch. Low point, looks like the fillers are shaping up to be ‘everything is Orochimaru’s fault’ and that’s not such a good sign.
Ramen: 2 bowls
Clones: 46 + 1 uncountable scene
Total so far:
Ramen: 47 bowls, 3 cups
And that wraps up this week. It's more fun to be invovled, so you're always invited to join in on our rewatch journey by checking out Naruto today!
CATCH UP ON THE REWATCH!
Here's our upcoming schedule:
- 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.
- On June 28th, JOSEPH LUSTER brings us to the Land of Birds!
Thank you for joining us for the Great Crunchyroll Naruto Rewatch! See you next time!
Have any inquiries or thoughts on Episodes 141-147? Let us know in the comments!
David is always on Twitter @navycherub where he watches too much anime and plays too many mobile games.
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