Disguise Jutsu, horrifying deaths, and... oh my god.
Welcome to THE GREAT CRUNCHYROLL NARUTO REWATCH! I’m Kara Dennison, and I’ll be your host this week as we run through all 220 episodes of the original Naruto anime adaptation like an army of Kyles through Area 51. In last week's episodes 183-189, we left behind the Hidden Star Village and took on the Peddlers Escort Mission. This week, episodes 190-196 close out our journey to the Land of Greens and then take us on a series of one-shot and two-episode missions.
I figured after Joseph Luster nearly tapped out last week that things had to start looking up... but boy, it's been a mixed bag. Out of the frying pan that was the Hidden Greens Village and straight into the fire that was "Chubby Paradise" - probably my least favorite episode to date. And judging by this week's answers, I wasn't alone. Fortunately, that was balanced out with some fun: Hinata awesomeness, a hungry hungry house, and Tsunade being... well... peak Tsunade. Plus, we get the return of Rock Lee and Might Guy!
So, as we approach the threshhold of the final two dozen episodes, let's see what the team thought of this batch of filler!
We’ve seen some pretty nasty jutsu before, but between Jiga’s suffocating magnetized sand and Renga’s “ants under a magnifying glass” treatment, the Janin brought (and suffered) some brutal tactics. What Naruto death or attack has freaked you out the most so far… or are you too stone cold for that kind of thing?
Paul: “Death by Wooly Willy into giant sand pit” is a pretty bad way to go, but honestly the technique that freaks me out the most is the Shinigami one that the Third Hokage uses to seal Orochimaru's arms. If that Jutsu lands properly, then both the wielder and the victim are banished to an eternal hell-realm where their spirits remained locked in combat forever, and that's some messed up metaphysics.
Kevin: A lot of the more shocking deaths and techniques probably would’ve been more effective if I hadn’t seen the show before. That being said, I’d probably choose the Sound Ninja that used the gauntlets and had half his face wrapped up (okay look, the death and character design made an impression. The actual character, not so much). We didn’t see any detail, but we see his terror, we get a silhouette of what Gaara can become (if I’m remembering the episode correctly), and then he’s just gone. There’s so little fanfare that we don’t even hear about it beyond Sasuke mentioning that his opponent didn’t show up for some reason.
Joseph: I’d say it’s that Mangekyou Sharingan move Itachi used on Sasuke and others to essentially lock them in an eternal loop of reliving their own personal tragedies.
Noelle: Same like Kevin, I’ve seen the show before, so I know what’s coming. I don’t think I remember being particularly creeped out by any of the deaths, because none of them were major characters. More than the gruesome factor of character deaths, I react to the emotional weight of them so no, I haven’t really felt anything.
Danni: Getting caught by Itachi’s Mangekyou Sharingan seems like a pretty raw deal, to say the least.
Jared: Mangekyou Sharingan would definitely rank up there in terms of just pure psychological horror. Also any bug attacks. Just yuck.
David: Honestly Gaara’s entire skill set gives me the creeps, just because of how intensely it would set off any sort of claustrophobia (before crushing me to death of course).
Carolyn: I guess I just watch too much horror to really be affected like that. From a writing/storytelling standpoint, the most emotional death was the Third Hokage’s. Every character ended up dealing with his death in their own way (including Orochimaru), while also being a major point of growth for Naruto.
So, that whole Princess Fuku scenario… I’m going to save us all a bunch of time and ask if there’s anything you dislike about Naruto that didn’t make its way into this episode.
Paul: Fat-phobia? Check. Weird assumptions and gender-based hang-ups? Check. Naruto turning into a piss-sprinkler? Check. Jiraiya, even though he's not physically present, still managing to encourage Naruto’s questionable behavior? Check. With the free space in the middle, I think I've got a “bingo” here...
Kevin: Fart jokes, I guess? In looking for something, anything, good in this episode, a few of Ino’s reactions are so over the top and abrupt that I chuckled a little. But even those were humorous more due to the sudden tonal shift, and the more you remember what caused them, the less funny they become.
Joseph: It’s a bad episode through and through. I really disliked the previous arc, though, so I was fine with just letting my eyes glaze over at the screen for this one.
Noelle: I don’t even know where to begin, admittedly. I don’t think I liked a single moment of this one. It’s just... bad, and not worth a watch at all.
Danni: At least there were no dead ghost moms?
Jared: I guess there’s no Jiraiya accosting sexy jutsu Naruto, which is probably one of the few bad things this show does that it didn’t somehow include here.
David: Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the writers' room as they were checking off the list of obnoxious things to include here. Really feels purposeful at this point.
Up next is yet another “outsider infiltrates with disastrous results” episode, once again with the cast unsuspecting of a disguise in play. If you were a ninja, how could a friend or family member verify you’re you, and not an enemy ninja using a Disguise Jutsu?
Paul: My family would be able to identify the real me by inquiring about embarrassing childhood moments that – even though I'm now 37 years of age – they still bring up on the regular for some reason. My friends would be doomed, though, since they don't know the hidden meaning of the phrase “Baby Brontosaurus." They're not asking. I'm not telling.
Kevin: Until this episode, I would’ve thought that a sparring match would be pretty definitive evidence in a world where practically every named character can fight and knows magical martial arts. But apparently everyone decided to leave their brains at home for a few episodes.
Joseph: They’d probably just ask what my favorite Nightmare on Elm Street movie is and if I ever gave the same answer twice they’d know it’s not really me.
Noelle: Beyond some personal information that I rarely disclose, getting me to start monologuing about doujin and the discrepancy between US self-pub and JP/KR self-pub is a good way to start.
Danni: They’d play either of the Love Live! Sunshine!! ending themes for me and if I did not immediately start crying, they would Hurricane Leaf Kick my doppleganger to death.
Jared: Probably something similar to Danni’s with it being a Sunshine!! question or asking if Garou: Mark of the Wolves has one of the pettiest stories in all of video games.
David: Just start asking me about my hyper-specific opinions on the Fate franchise as a whole, and you’ll know it’s me when it goes on far longer than you were hoping.
Carolyn: If they asked which Stephen King books I own and the imposter actually knew all of them without pulling up a Google doc, they are lying. Also probably anything involving Buffy.
And we’re back to another ghost episode… so yeah, we’re to the point when recycling concepts is much more the rule than the exception, and there’s not long left for that to change. To that end, is there a filler episode whose concept you’d like to see revisited, and how would you improve on it?
Paul: As others have already mentioned, I'd like to see more exploration of the shinobi-inspired offshoots of ordinary jobs, like the ninja chefs and the ninja postal delivery service. In the former case, a straightforward cooking contest without the kidnapping angle would work, and in the latter case, anything that didn't involve Jiraiya's erotic literature preventing a war between rival nations would be a step up. I'd also love an entire episode that's just everyone taking their pets and summons to the ninja veterinarian for check-ups.
Kevin: Two options: One, Naruto as a mentor, maybe in charge of Konohamaru’s group, maybe not, but take the episode to show that he’s changed a little and has a bit more patience now. Two, back to the idea of the Ninja Chefs and Ninja Postmen. Just take normal jobs, slap Ninja on the front, and make a fun episode from it. It may not make any sense, but at least it could be entertaining.
Joseph: I’d love to see literally anyone else but the main crew we’ve been following. Show me what Gamabunta is up to in the land of the big frogs or something.
Noelle: Honestly, thirding the ‘normal jobs, but with ninja’ idea. We get a good enough grasp on the world, not down to the details, but enough that we can have a general idea of how things work. I’m the type of person that likes looking at small details, so show me the gears of this world, and how people function on the day to day (with ninja superpowers).
Danni: Anything involving Might Guy, honestly. I’ve said it multiple times and it’s because I believe it: give me a day-in-the-life episode of Guy and Kakashi as roommates. I want to see them fight over who has to do the dishes.
Jared: Definitely weird ninja jobs that haven’t been discussed yet or maybe something as simple as a non-Naruto focused episode where we just get a look at other characters doing either their routine or how they handle things when Naruto isn’t around.
David: More food episodes, this time without the baggage of an actual “threat”. I just want to see our cast cooking up food in ridiculous magic ninja ways!
Carolyn: My favorite filler episodes so far have been the Scooby-Doo ghost and the live-burial death cult. I’d be happy to explore the actual psychology and lore of the death cult.
We finish out with two episodes of Rock Lee goodness, this time with Lee and Guy beating the snot out of each other via chakra WiFi. Several of us expressed (understandable) concern about Guy’s mentoring style during the Chunin Exam. How do we feel about the sensei/student interaction a couple dozen episodes from the end?
Paul: I like the idea of Rock Lee and Might Guy clashing by proxy through Chakra-controlled practice dummies, and I enjoy how that situation resolves, but I'm ambivalent about Guy's tutoring style and Lee's ambitions. Even though they explicitly address the idea of over-training, and even though Lee ends up on crutches again this episode, I don't feel that Lee has internalized any lessons about not absolutely destroying himself on his quest to achieve ninja mastery through Taijutsu. I’d like to see him fight smarter, not harder.
Kevin: Honestly, Guy and Lee’s relationship may be one of the more complicated in the series. Sure, it’s as simple as “Lee follows after Guy like a puppy,” but that means that Lee is always driving himself far beyond his natural limits, and Guy encourages him pretty much the whole way, until Lee’s body gives out. It’s a self-destructive relationship for Lee, and Guy is enabling it while also genuinely trying to be a supportive figure, to the point that he gets Lee to accept a potentially lethal surgery by telling him that if Lee dies, they’ll die together. There’s a lot of darkness hiding behind the shining teeth and can-do attitudes. As for how I feel about it, I honestly would need to sit down and think for a while, and even then I’m not sure I could come up with a definitive answer.
Joseph: The whole ‘you die, I die’ thing still bugs me. I like where Guy is coming from but these filler episodes don’t do much to convince me he’s the best teacher ever. He may be the most supportive teacher ever, but it’s to a fault. Rock Lee is still great but honestly he’s too good for this show at this point.
Noelle: It’s honestly very complicated, because there is no clean-cut answer. The truth is that Lee does have to work twice as hard to stand up to his peers, because he naturally doesn’t have the talents that they do. Having someone who wholeheartedly supports him is pretty alluring, no matter how you look at it. At the same time, Guy is 100% enabling Lee to go past his limits in an unhealthy way, and that doesn’t really change here.
Danni: Ever since Lee miraculously recovered from his surgery in time to come to Naruto’s aid in the Sasuke Retrieval arc, I’ve kind of just accepted that subplot is entirely meaningless. Plus, at this point in the plot desert they’re clearly rehashing every single concept they’ve had so who cares?
Jared: Guy can be bad about allowing Lee to push past his limits in ways that he really shouldn’t, but at the same time, I think Lee would do that anyways as you’d really have to nail that into him that he shouldn’t. That’s pretty much what we saw here again. As some of the other’s have said, Guy is very supportive, but there’s a line between being supportive and being toxically supportive.
David: Unfortunately given Lee’s insistence, I really doubt there’s a realistic other option aside from someone convincing him that maybe he just isn’t meant to be a combat ninja, which maybe actually is the right answer?
Carolyn: Guy didn’t make Lee the way he is. Lee already had this tenacity and work ethic, Guy just helps it along by being supportive. And I still maintain that Jiraiya has done literally nothing for Naruto. So, as far as I’m concerned, Guy is far from the worst Sensei. Plus, Lee’s injuries don’t typically come from his training but in actual fights with abnormally powerful foes. You could also argue that the fact that he can actually walk and fight again at all is due to his drive, which Guy definitely helps to foster. I think their relationship is fine.
It’s probably a given what half of this answer will be, but for the sake of symmetry, what are your HIGH and LOW points of the week?
Paul: My high point is Tsunade attaching a pair of dummy arms to her overcoat so she can secretly drink sake when she’s supposed to be working, with an honorable mention going to the “ghost” episode which is actually about Naruto, Hinata, and Kiba encountering a “House Hunter” Mimic from Dungeons & Dragons. My low point is everything from the Princess Fuku episode. Fat people deserve to be romantic leads without being the butt of an endless series of lazy jokes.
High – Tsunade entire setup before she sends out Tenten, Neji and Naruto to help Guy. She has fake arms to make it look like she’s actually doing work as she sneaks a cup of sake, and when she needs to make a team, she literally just has cards of the available genin and tries to form something half way workable for the few that are around.
Low – I mean, is anyone NOT going to say the Princess Fuku episode? It was a 23 minute long fat joke that got maybe a chuckle out of me due to severe tonal shifts.
Joseph: My high was the living house episode. Look, sorry, I’m a simple man who’s a huge sucker for living houses. The low would have to be everything from the Greens arc. I’m just so tired of the bad Saturday morning action cartoon DiC side of Naruto. Don’t tease me with action and fights when it’s all so contrived, poorly animated, and laughably motivated.
Noelle: High point, the haunted house episode. As fun as actual supernatural stuff is, finding out that something is totally ridiculous instead is just as fun. Low point, if I ever have to think of the Princess Fuku episode again, it’ll be too soon.
Danni: My high point was easily when Hinata straight up killed a guy by burying him alive in his own jutsu without even batting an eye. She’s low-key cold-blooded when the chips are down. As for my low point, obviously it’s the Princess Fuku episode, even if it did give me lots of randomly inserted English and an evergreen line about not discriminating based on color.
Jared: High points would be Hinata getting a good bit of time to be super rad, the weird headshots Tsunade had of Lee, Tenten, Neji, and Naruto when she was doing her fake arms bit, Lee just randomly seeing a dojo challenge and thinking that’s a brilliant idea, flesh castle, and that ska ending. Low points would obviously be the Princess Fuku episode, end of the Land of Greens arc, and seeing multiple themes repeated that we’ve already seen in the filler.
David: Totally agree on the high point being Hinata being completely awesome this week (I put it down as something I was highly looking forward to last week and it didn’t disappoint.) The low point is of course Princess Fuku, but it probably deserves an award for being the lowest point of this entire run so far.
Carolyn: Yeah, how could the low be anything but that episode. Most specifically for me, Naruto being totally shocked that two people he considers heavy being in love as if that couldn’t possibly happen. And also … how old is Ino? Because … uh … High point: Rock Lee lives by his own rules! That’s not how medical science works, my dude. That line was hilarious.
Ramen: 3 bowls
Clones: 22 + 1 uncountable scene
Total so far:
Ramen: 185 bowls, 13 cups
Here’s our upcoming schedule:
-Next week, NOELLE OGAWA shows us the formation of the Konoha 11!
-On August 9, DANIEL DOCKERY returns to explore the mystery of Yakumo!
-Finally, NICOLE MEJIAS guides us through the end of the Gantetsu Escort Mission!
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 190-196? 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!
Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and interviewer with bylines at VRV, We Are Cult, Fanbyte, and many more. She is also the co-founder of Altrix Books and co-creator of the OEL light novel series Owl's Flower. Kara blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos.