Naruto Shippuden returns with Box Set 26 and continues the see-saw effect of filler vs canon content within. If you read my review of the previous set then you’ll know that I wasn’t over the moon by the fast return to “filler-town” as I put it. While this set might not be a complete return to form as far as quality canon storylines it’s definitely a noticeable improvement.
“The Fourth Great Ninja War intensifies as the Allied Forces face the might of the Reanimated Jinchuriki, who have been equipped with both the Rinnegan and Sharingan. Naruto tries to convince the Four Tails that he’ll free him and the other Tailed Beasts from Madara’s control. While listening to Naruto, the Nine Tails goes through a surprising change. Meanwhile, Sasuke has obtained new information found at one of Orochimaru’s old hideouts that may turn the tide of the entire war! Will the unity of the Allied Forces hold under combined fury of the Reanimated Jinchuriki and their mysterious commander?” – Manga UK
So the Fourth Great Ninja War continues on with no clear end in sight making it possibly one of the most stretched and dragged out adaptations of any anime in history. This set is interesting though in that we’re finally getting to see some resolution and make some all-important story progression split across three separate lines. Naruto along with Killer B, Kakashi and Guy take on the masked Madara, who it turns out is not actually the real Madara, who unleashes reanimated past Jincuriki. So begins a series of episodes where Naruto and the Nine-Tails must overcome their differences and work together. Sasuke and the reanimated Itachi take on Kabuto who has been reanimating various ninja behind the scenes. We also get to see a bit of his backstory and how both he and Itachi were used for the sake of the Hidden Leaf Village. Finally, we see the five Kage’s take on the real Madara who due to being reanimated is, of course, immortal and comes with a huge chakra boost thanks to Kabuto.
While this set may contain noticeably less filler and features a rather awesome sounding synopsis I wasn’t that impressed with it. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, I did, but I felt a little underwhelmed. I loved these storylines in the manga and I don’t think this is a poor adaptation, far from it, I think that the filler in the lead up to this has really affected the impact. The constant see-saw effect with filler and canon story is really starting to affect the consistency of the larger story. I hope going forward that the filler because it’s not going away, can be better tied into the main story. As a standalone set of episodes though, this set features some awesome storylines and great action scenes. Now that the story is making some headway though I’m looking forward to future sets.
Visually Naruto Shippuden continues to impress even as a DVD-only release. Fight scenes look impressive throughout and characters such as Kabuto and Madara looks fantastic. This release features both English and Japanese audio tracks; again I’m sure by now you’ll know which you prefer. It wouldn’t be Naruto without a great selection of awesome opening and ending themes and this release is no different. “Niwaka Ame ni mo Makezu” by NICO Touches the Walls (a personal favourite) is again our opening theme up to episode 332 and is then replaced from episode 333 with “Tsuki no Ōkisa” by Nogizaka46. “Yume o Idaite ~Hajimari no Crissroads~” by Rake is our ending theme up to episode 332 until it’s replaced by “Black Night Town” by Akihisa Kondō from episode 333.
Extras can be found on disc two and include storyboards, a production gallery and a selection of trailers. We can confirm that these extras are present on-disc as we were provided with correctly authored discs this time around.
While I may have appeared to be largely negative in this review Naruto Shippuden Box Set 26 is definitely a welcome and much-needed change. The storylines on offer are interesting and feature some great action. I just hope that Naruto Shippuden can keep up the consistency going forward and not drop the ball and return to filler-town.