Posted On October - 25 - 2009




  RELEASE DATE:   10/27/2009
  REVIEW DATE:   10/25/2009

Naruto is back and better than ever in its new series Shippuden! Set 2 ½ years after he leaves for training with Jiraiya the Pervy Sage, Naruto returns and he’s grown up quite a lot (in looks and in abilities). The dude still has the ‘tude but he’s taller and leaner while still honing his ninja techniques to become the next Hokage. He’s not the only one who’s changed. Sakura has become a healing ninja to be reckoned with but as soon as these two are reunited they fight like the little kids they used to be. Priceless. But more serious things are on the horizon. Naruto still plans to save Sasuke, but first he has to deal with the Akatsuki!

The Shippuden narrative stays pretty close to the manga by Masashi Kishimoto. Volume 2 starts with the end of Kakashi’s test. Sakura and Naruto use an unconventional strategy to beat Kakashi at the game and prove their worthiness as shinobi. A new Team Kakashi is formed and it’s almost like the old gang is back together again but this time it’s as shinobi equals. It still rankles Naruto that he has not yet made the higher level compared to Sakura and his other friends, but being back with the old team players together again has him hankering for the next mission.

At the same time big bad things are happening at the Sand Village. Deidara of the Akatsuki has turned the battle with Gaara into an aerial one. Both are aloft over the village and when Deidara can’t break Gaara’s Ultimate Defense, he targets the village instead! His clay bombs are so destructive that the blast could easily wipe out the entire village and every living thing in it! Can the young Kazekage Gaara save the village and protect himself? It is an awesome sequence and really stretches and evolves Gaara’s character and his abilities as well as proving how far he’ll go and how much he cares for the village he is now leader of. Too bad Deidara is a dastardly sort to the nth degree. He found a way to sneak attack and has done the impossible – broken through the Ultimate Defense!

With Gaara now in the hands of the Akatsuki, his brother in arms Kankuro goes after him with a squad of ninja. The traps laid out for them ends up in a massacre leaving Kankuro grief ridden and angry and more determined than ever to find his friend, even if it means going it alone against the Akatsuki! He catches up to them and has to face Sasori. His formidable puppets are useless against this super creepy villain but there’s a good reason for that. It turns out he’s facing off against the guy who invented the puppet technique!

Being allies, Sand sends an urgent message to the Leaf for help. Upon hearing the news, Team Kakashi is deployed. With them after the monsters within Gaara and Naruto, it is a huge risk for him to go, but Naruto will do anything to save his friend. His loyalty has not changed and he always will help his friends – believe it!

Naruto Shippuden is awesome! The animation is still produced by Pierrot but the quality has actually gone up on an already decently animated show. The characters are all the same but aged slightly, now youthful, bordering on adults. I love the new more mature look and the night scenes are always something to enjoy visually with the expert play on light and shadow. The action sequences are more intense with the more serious drama the Akatsuki enter with and it is ninja kick butt all the way!

Extra goodies include Shonen Jump manga, magazine and anime trailers.

Naruto Shippuden is intense ninja action!

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