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DVD Review

DVD cover

Naruto Unleashed
Series 9 - The Final


Starring (voice): Chie Nakamura, Junko Takeuchi and Noriaki Sugiyama
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 19 April 2010

Konoha, the Hidden Leaf Village, is your average ninja hamlet; except for one thing... it contains Naruto Uzumaki. Unbeknownst to the children, but known to their parents, Naruto’s body contains the trapped spirit of Kyubi, a demon fox that had been defeated twelve years ago. Because of their parent’s behaviour towards Naruto, the children of the village also treat him with deferential fear. All Naruto wants is to become the best ninja that he can and win the respect of the villagers...

And so the Naruto show comes to the end of its first run of seasons with the three disc, season nine (2006-2007), DVD set which covers episodes 209 to 220. In many ways the last three stories show what was good about the show, with the interesting and at some level complex plotting, and what was bad about the show, increasingly cheap animation and a central character who, like Peter Pan, seemed to be forever stuck at the same age, engaging in the same behaviours. The lack of character development with Naruto may be fallout from the show's undeniable success, after all if it isn’t broke why fix it? I presume that it must have occurred to even the hardened producer that this could only carry on for a finite number of years, in the case of this show, before the character finally undergoes some form of developmental metamorphosis. So goodbye version one of Naruto, just in time for the new show to start.

The first story (eps 209-212) sees Naruto, Sakura and Lee being assigned to help transport a captured ninja Dropout who is being sent to the capital for trial. Aboard ship the police captain charged with his safety turns out to have a vendetta against Gantetsu. Todoroki is stopped from killing Gantetsu by Naruto, but before he can discover what the captain intended the ship is attacked by the other ninja Dropouts.

Gantetsu is really the central character of the show, initially viewed as a villain, the audience soon comes to realise that the other ninja are not trying to rescue their friend; rather they are after killing him for stealing money off them. Todoroki also discovers that Gantetsu isn’t what he seems when it is revealed that the children that he supposedly killed on the orders of his gang were, in fact, rescued by him. Through the adventure which follows Gantetsu fails to gain forgiveness, but does find a level of redemption.

Another story and another villain in search of redemption when (eps 213-216) Naruto meets a man who has supposedly lost his memory. As he cannot remember his name Naruto names him Menma. During a subsequent mission he arouses the suspicion of Naruto and his friends as his powers are stronger than they should be. Given his technique they suspect that he is a sound ninja, and possibly a bandit, though his helpful and good natured personality makes them doubt their conclusion. When bandits finally makes contact with the group, Menma helps defend the village and tells Naruto that the bandit leader means to flood the village by destroying the dam. Naruto also discovers that Menma never lost his memory just his stomach for the type of work he was doing, in his final act of contrition he destroys himself and the threat to the village.

Out of the three story arcs this is the stronger, though its impact is somewhat watered down having to follow a similarly themed story.

Naruto, the ninth season and this incarnation of the show ends with a story (eps. 217-220) about the hunt for some rogue ninjas, who have invaded the sand village seeking Gaara’s power to reinvigorate their villages ultimate weapon.

It’s a shame that the season ends with a show which is so derivative, harkening back to endless episodes which seem to exist purely to provide a fight of the week. The Naruto discs have always been big on the number of shows per set and not so great when it comes to extras, so you won’t be surprised to discover that disc one has five trailers and that’s your lot. The 4:3 picture is a little soft and, as we have come to expect with the later shows, the detail can be pretty dreadful at times. For audio options you have either an English or Japanese 2.0 track.

So not a bad way to end the season, but not great either. I was hoping that they would pull something special out of the hat, but for anyone who has seen season eight, this is pretty much more of the same stuff.


Charles Packer

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