RELEASED BY:   VIZ MEDIA
  ASPECT RATIO:  

4:3 FULL SCREEN

  AUDIO:  

ENGLISH AND JAPANESE DD 2.0

  RUNNING TIME:   375 MIN
  RATING:   T
  RELEASE DATE:   10/14/2008
  REVIEW DATE:   10/07/2008
  REVIEWED BY:   HOLLY ELLINGWOOD



SYNOPSIS:
Naruto's pursuit of Sasuke is halted by the most fearsome of the Sound ninja: Kimimaro, a ninja with an uncompromising loyalty to Orochimaru and a hair-raising Kekkei Genkai! But the Leaf Village has sent another able-bodied ninja to assist in the fight – the newly recovered Rock Lee!

While the Leaf genin continue their battles against the Sound, Naruto finally catches up to Sasuke at the Final Valley, the legendary site at the border of the Land of Fire. There, Sasuke and Naruto must face each other in their most devastating battle yet, and Sasuke must make a terrible choice in his quest for power that could decide both their destinies!

Contains episodes 121-135 on 3 DVDs. Look at the EXTRAS section for details about the limited edition.


REVIEW:
Every time I think the show couldn’t get any better, it proves me wrong. The final battle between the Leaf genin and the Sound Ninja Four reaches new heights of thrilling and suspenseful battle in the latest arc of Naruto.

Each of the remaining Leaf genin – Shikamaru, Naruto, and Kiba must face one of the terrible Sound Ninja Four. Each is failing. Each is facing certain death. That’s when the first of two things happen. The first is that Naruto, who is facing the deadliest Sound ninja of them all, the strange Kimimaro, gets help from the most unlikely source – Rock Lee! Only just recovered from his surgery, Rock Lee faces Kimimaro to allow Naruto to continue his pursuit of Sasuke, Sasuke who has emerged from the coffin a changed young man. The battle between Rock Lee and Kimimaro holds unexpected and hilarious humor when Tsunade’s special elixir has a surprising effect on Rock Lee. His drunken fist is something all fans have got to see. Despite the humor however, the fight turns deadly. Soon each of the Leaf is shown with their backs to the wall and their lives about to be lost. That is when the second thing happens which makes episode 124 my personal and absolute favorite of the entire anime series so far. The animation does a beautiful sequence of transitions of the Leaf having the cavalry come in the nick of time and the cavalry are the Sand Village Ninja! It is the return of Temari, Kankuro and Gaara!  The suspense has never been higher and the whole sequence is stupendous.

The arrival of the Sand Village ninja really ups the battles that were already wire tight with suspense. Of particular note is the fight between Gaara and Kimimaro. It reveals the unusual Sound ninja’s past with Orochimaru and Gaara’s new outlook on life. The fight itself is astonishing. The big showdown and what makes this collection of episodes within this box set truly pivotal and crucial to Naruto fans is Sasuke. Naruto catches up with his friend only to discover one awful truth after another. Sasuke has been changed, he has become a monster in many ways. He has allowed his hatred to twist himself into a creature who longs only for power, only for the strength to take his revenge on his older brother Itachi. As their very personal battle rages, flashbacks reveal Sasuke’s brotherly admiration and resentment towards Itachi when growing up. It shows how Itachi changed and why and reveals the destruction of the Uchiha clan at Itachi’s hands. It was then that Sasuke learned what he would need to do in order to gain the Mangekyo Sharingan. It is a terrible act and it involves him having to kill Naruto! These two best friends battle it out bitterly. Naruto keeps trying to save him but it tears at his heart when he is faced with the truth – that perhaps there is no saving Sasuke. Each has the monster within him awakened and the fight between them only grows ever more dangerous and deadly. In the aftermath, the choice Sasuke makes outlines what will occur for both young shinobi. But whether it will be a path to salvation or ruin remains to be seen.

The battle between these two friends is emotional, suspenseful and laden with incredible action sequences fueled by bitter feelings. It’s some of the most compelling story in the series thus far. The final episode in this impressive set of 15 episodes shows what happens in the wreckage of what was. The surviving Leaf genin return for healing and Shikamaru must battle with his sense of failure about his first mission. It is Naruto however who has one of the hardest tasks to face. He recovers from his severe injuries and apologizes to Sakura in regards to his promise to her. It sets the tone for what will be when he renews his vow. He will save Sasuke, no matter what. At least that is what they all must believe in order to continue.

The anime takes a new turn now after these gripping events. There is now a timeline and a new path which must be tread. There are only three years until Orochimaru can take over Sasuke’s body and it will only be three years until the Akatsuki come after Naruto. In that time Jiraiya has promised to make Naruto into a full fledged shinobi. Naruto had better reach that lofty goal as his life, Sasuke’s soul and the fate of the world will reside in his hands.

The latest arc also introduces a new opening song called “No Boy No Cry” by Stance Punks and a new and moving ending theme “Lost Words” sung by No Regret Life.


EXTRAS:
Bonus features include trailers of other Viz titles, a production art gallery, From Sketch to Screen:  Storyboard Comparison of Episode 128, and a sneak peek at the eleventh season box. This set also has a collectible Naruto Storyboards Sketchbook for episode 134. The book contains the complete storyboards for the episode for a total of approximately 70 pages of black and white raw artwork with the original Japanese notes. This book is exclusive to this box set. The packaging itself is a cool ice blue with pale blue/silver foil box case. The inside is a fold-out featuring full color art work of Sasuke and Naruto in their full powered transformed appearances as well as an image Gaara and Rock Lee.

The limited edition of the ninth box set comes with a detailed figure of Katsuyu. The final 6th of 6 collectible figurines featuring the summoning creatures and exclusive to the limited edition box sets of Naruto. These are hand painted figurines limited to 15,000!


IN SUMMARY:
The end of this arc has the show about to go into an all new direction. Naruto faces Sasuke for a decisive and possibly final battle.  Naruto the anime is a show that gets ever better and more exciting with each episode!

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