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A long review of Naruto
Naruto Unleashed - Series 1 Volume 1 (DVD)
Member Name: Donnabroom
Naruto Unleashed - Series 1 Volume 1 (DVD)
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Naruto Unleashed Complete Series Ones Box Set:
I'm a big fan of Anime (Japanese animation) and although Naruto is technically a children's Anime series it's probably one of my favourites! There are nine series of Naruto Unleashed and then another series takes over called Naruto Shippuden. This review covers the DVD box set of series one of Naruto Unleashed. (This is dubbed - many people swear the original Japanese version with subtitles is better than the dubbed version but I am too lazy to watch so much TV with subtitles).
Naruto Unleashed tells the story of a young boy who lives in a ninja village and his journey from a troubled young man shunned by the whole village to a fully fledged ninja. The story takes you through Naruto's training, his friendships and his eventually his realisation of his true destiny.
The author and artist behind Naruto is Masashi Kishimoto. He was born in Okayama in Japan on November 8th 1974. While Masashi Kishimoto was in college he entered in a competition in the weekly magazine "Shonen Jump" and won with a one off Manga called "Karakuri".
Once he had finished college he created the first version of Naruto in 1997. Two years later in 1999 Naruto was serialised in Shonen Jump and became a huge success. The TV show was first shown in 2002 on TV Tokyo. Naruto is now the number one ninja Manga in Japan and is loved throughout the world.
There is quite a cast of characters in Naruto so I thought I would give a little description of the characters that are important in series one.
> Naruto Uzumaki:
As a baby not only did Naruto loose both his parents during an attack on the village by a nine-tailed fox spirit but he that same spirit sealed within him. It was the only way the fourth Hokage, (the Hokage is the leader of the village), could save the village from total destruction.
The people who can remember the attack and know how the demon fox was defeated are scared of Naruto, some of them fear that the fox spirit will take Naruto over and some believe he is the fox spirit. Despite the adults of the village being forbidden to speak of the incident the children of the village pick up on this fear and so he is shunned and alone. Naruto does not know about the fox spirit within so he does not understand why he is shunned.
To get the attention he so craves Naruto acts up and is always getting in to some trouble or messing up in his ninja studies. He is quite hyper active but as the series progresses his character develops as we learn about his past and the true extent of his talents and his relationship with the spirit locked within him.
Naruto really wants to become a ninja, not just any ninja but the greatest ninja of all time. He believes that if he succeeds and becomes the next Hokage that people will have to respect him and stop treating him so badly.
I love the depth the author has given Naruto and I love watching him grow and change. I quickly grew to love Naruto and this is credit to the skill with which he was crafted.
> Iruka Sensei:
Iruka is one of Naruto's teachers and at the start he seems to be just the same as the rest of village with regards to his attitude to Naruto. Quickly we learn of Iruka's past and see his real feelings for Naruto come to the service.
Iruka is a compassionate and caring person and he pops up throughout the various series of Naruto and he is an easy character to like.
> The Third Hokage:
The Third Hokage is really old, before the attack by the fox spirit 12 years before the start
of the first series he had already resigned from leading the village handing the reigns to the Fourth Hokage but he had to lead once more after the Fourth Hokage was killed in the battle.
The Third Hokage is wise but instead of being the traditional "sage" character his wisdom is often delivered with compassion or humour. We often get to hear his thoughts and he seems to speak only when it is needed.
You always get the impression that the Third Hokage is really tired and desperate to finally retire for good and hand the village over to someone deserving.
Konohamaru is the Third Hokage's Grandson and is a particularly funny character. He is known by everyone in the village, they always call him "honourable grandson", but he has a lot in common with emotionally tortured Naruto. Konohamaru also uses misbehaviour to get noticed, he is a lot younger than Naruto and he is a used as a way to bring the younger villagers into the story.
Konohamaru brings a lot of humour to the programme with his hilarious schemes to sneak up on Naruto or his Grandfather in order to become the next Hokage. These schemes are so typically childish even though most children don't grow up in a ninja village. Masashi Kishimoto must have such a wonderful sense of fun and an amazing understanding of children to portray in such a believable way.
> Sakura Haruno:
Sakura's character always reminds me of Hermione from Harry Potter; she is so brainy and knows everything in theory but sometimes she struggles with reality of being a ninja. She believes she is unattractive and that she has a huge forehead which makes her have a lot of issues with her self confidence.
Sometime Sakura annoys the hell out of me she spends a good deal of the time fawning over Sasuke or continuing a silly, childish rivalry with one of her school mates. I feel Sakura is quite a shallow character and although she does develop as the story progresses I get the impression that Kishimoto is better at writing, (and drawing), boys than girls.
> Sasuke Uchiha
Sasuke is my favourite character. He is broody and carries a great burden on his shoulders. Like Naruto he has lost (almost) all his family in a great tragedy, has an ambition that he feels he must achieve and has a great destiny that he unaware of.
Sasuke is a good looking boy and most of the girls at ninja school have crushes on him but either he is completely oblivious to their attention or he really just doesn't care.
There are twenty six episodes in series one, each episode ends with a pre-view of the next episode and begins with a recap of the last. This can get really annoying and my other half always jokes that you get away with watching just every other episode!
Series one beautifully introduces the characters and the stories in a way that never feels "set-up" or forced. By that I mean the story flows perfectly and when the past is discussed or someone is introduced it always fits with the story and feels natural.
Series One mostly covers the introduction of the characters and the history leading up to the beginning of the story. As well as this though it covers the first part of the ninja training, (this training can be quite extreme at times and the episodes covering the training are some of my favourites), and Naruto's first missions as a ninja. We get to see the workings of a ninja village, (albeit a fictional one), and learn the actual physical workings of the ninja body.
I don't really want to go into more detail so I don't spoil the story for anyone who wants to watch!
The artwork is fantastic and although it is cartoony and quite basic in style the detail added in each scene is lovely and each and every frame is a joy to watch.
The DVD has a few special features, I don't think these are that good on the whole but I will do my best to describe them anyway.
> Textless Opening and Ending:
This shows the opening and closing scenes without credits allowing you to view them in all their glory. This is a nice feature as the opening/closing scenes are quite beautiful in their own right. They also change frequently over the various series of Naruto unleashed. The closing scene on the first disc of special features is my absolute favourite and shows a younger looking Naruto, Sasuke an Sakura with an almost soft focus effect with a beautiful song and lovely scenery.
> Naruto from Manga to Anime:
This shows a series of animated scenes and the original drawings. It's a little bit slow to be honest and broken up by a title screen in between each clip. It's interesting to watch once but doesn't really add a great deal to the box set as a whole.
Does what it says on the tin; trailers for Naruto and other Manga publications.
As I've previously mentioned the special features are a bit weak and I would have liked to see more on the culture of Ninjas and animal spirits and I would definitely like to have seen something from Masashi Kishimoto.
Below is the boring bit:
DVD Region 2
Running Time: 596 Minutes (aprox.) over 6 Discs
Published by Manga
Some interesting links:
Manga website: www.manga.com
Naruto Wiki: naruto.wikia.com
Tokyo Toys (A great website selling loads of really cool Naruto Merchandise): tokyotoys.com
Both Amazon and Play.com sell the series one box set for £12.19 which I think is great value for the amount of entertainment you will get from it.
The whole concept of animal spirits is an important part of Japanese culture and one which fascinates me so I love learning about the fox that inhabits Naruto. Masashi Kishimoto manages to pay homage to Japanese culture while still making the story feel modern and fresh. I think he is an insanely talented author and artist.
I have read some of the books as well, (in English), and the TV show is very, very similar which is great as it would be terrible if any of Kishimoto's wit and humour.
For children and all fans of Anime I can't recommend this series enough. It's something I en.oy immensely and can watch over and over.
Summary: A popuar anime show