Tuesday 2 February 2010

Naruto Unleashed Special Review Article of Mega Awesome

At E14, we're all about two things. Innovation, and making our own lives as easy as possible on ourselves. Now, receiving not one or two but THREE boxsets of Naruto Unleashed within a short space of time presented problems for us, as nobody in the E14 office watches Naruto Unleashed. So, it was agreed that I, Rob Wade, would be the one to take on this project. This presented a problem, but purely on a format basis. Thus, this solution has been devised. I would talk about all three sets individually in terms of plot, but rate them together as a series.

This way, those new to Naruto get an overview of the series, and enthusiasts can follow the plot and work out whether they already own this set or not.

Naruto Uzumaki is a young boy who has the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox sealed within him. Twelve years before the start of the series, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox attacked the ninja village Konohagakure, slaughtering many people. In response, the leader of Konohagakure and its ninja military – the Fourth Hokage – sacrificed his life to seal the demon inside Naruto when he was a newborn. Years later, Naruto is tricked by the renegade ninja Mizuki into stealing a forbidden scroll, but is stopped by his teacher, Iruka Umino. When Iruka almost dies while protecting Naruto, Naruto defeats Mizuki using the power from the scroll. That encounter makes Naruto realize he was the container of the demon fox.

The main story follows Naruto and his friends' personal growth. Oh, and Naruto himself has a power that allows him to clone himself. Awesome, right?

Naruto Unleashed: Series 7 Part 2
Hayato Date
Available Now - RRP £24.99

Naruto, Ino and Shino are on a mission to the Sea Country and find themselves face to face with a sea monster whilst protecting a boat carrying gold. In the melee Naruto becomes separated and is left to recover with the help of a mysterious girl...

The group discovers the sea monster's lair and this in turn leads them to go to the forbidden island to confront Orochmaru and his minions. Can they uncover the truth behind Naruto's mysterious savior and a sea monster plaguing the village?

Another mission finds Naruto, Lee, Neji, and Tenten journeying to the Land of Stars, where a meteorite with incredible powers has been stolen! Naruto and the others begin to suspect it was an inside job when they learn that the ninja who stole the star used a special ninjutsu known only to the Star Village.

Naruto Unleashed: Series 8 Part 1
Hayato Date
Available now - RRP £24.99

When Akamaru begins to act strangely, Tsunade has him quarantined. But when Kiba overhears that Akamaru may have to be killed, he decides to take things into his own hands. How far will Kiba go to protect his best friend, even when Akamaru is willing to harm even him?

Meanwhile Naruto trains in the forest, where a mysterious creature latches onto his back. This legendary creature cannot be removed until it becomes an adult, but that's only the beginning of Naruto's problems.

Naruto along with Choji and Hinata are sent out to the Land of Greens to protect a group of merchants, one of whom turns out to be a princess! Hinata is threatened by an evil ninja and is forced to Choose between saving the princess or the boy she loves. Who will she choose?!

Naruto Unleashed: Series 8 Part 2
Hayato Date
Available now, RRP £24.99

Gai finds himself trapped in a prison constructed of practice dummies. Yagura appears on the outside and reveals that he may not be who he appears to be. He is an enemy from Gai's past who has come seeking revenge for an act committed long ago. Naruto, Neji, Tenten and Lee show up to save Gai. Its not going to be easy Especially when the imposters start commanding the practice dummies! Can Lee defeat all the dummies and save Gai?

The Hidden Leaf Village then comes under serious threat when important blueprints of the village are stolen! Naruto, Shikamaru and the others have their hands full finding and removing the massive numbers of paper bombs placed throughout the village.

Can they save the Hidden Leaf Village from utter demolition?

If you're a Naruto fan, you'll find plenty here to keep you busy. Each boxset comes with plenty of episodes, in both the original Japanese and dubbed English versions. A nice touch, I'm sure you'll agree, as most Japanese cartoons make do only with the dubbed version, which is mostly horrendous. The episodes are a decent length and the pacing is just right for a series of this size.

However, I can't really recommend these boxsets to the amateur viewer, if only because as a newbie to the Naruto franchise, I found that this series just didn't draw me in. There doesn't seem to be enough attempt to explain the story to the new viewer. Obviously, it's understandable considering that the show is on its seventh series by the beginning of these sets, but at the same time it does present difficulties for those who've never watched an episode.

At the same time, this show isn't bad by any means. The attempts have obviously been made to make the heroes' powers somewhat distinguishable, in the same way that previous Japanese shows have managed (obviously with pocket monsters and using cards instead of attacks etc)> Naruto's power of cloning himself is particularly innovative, and is used to great effect in the battle scenes. There is SOME attempt at backstory telling as well, but it does rely heavily on prior knowledge of characters' histories, so it doesn't really help as much as one might hope.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating :
Violence : Some, fantasy.
Sex/Nudity : Dude, it's a cartoon.
Swearing : See above.
Summary: This is a difficult one. As a first-time viewing, I have to admit that I wasn't drawn into this show, and I don't think it'd be the kind of thing that I would go to the trouble of catching up on, so from that perspective it gets a 6/10 as it's not an unpleasant experience to watch, and I didn't feel like I'd wasted my life by the end. If you're into Naruto Unleashed, you can probably add between two and three points to that, as it's probably awesome as DVD sets go.

Naruto The Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom
Hayato Date
Available now - RRP £17.99

A spoiled prince from the Moon Country (which is located on Crescent Moon Island, on a southern sea) is traveling the world and is to be escorted back to his home island by Naruto, Kakashi, Sakura and Lee. The Prince ends up purchasing a circus; Team Kakashi then has the duty of protecting both the Prince and his new purchase. Upon arriving in the Moon Country, they discover that there has been a coup, and that they are now enemies of the state!

For those of you who've never seen a Japanese cartoon-based movie based on a successful cartoon franchise (Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh! etc), the premise is usually pretty straightforward. The main characters from said franchise get placed into an unusual situation separate from the main canon (in this case mid-way through Series 8 of Naruto Unleashed) and must use all their wits and powers in order to solve a problem that is placed in front of them. In this case, the escort of the rich prince becomes a significantly more dangerous mission when the ninjas arrive to cause trouble for the party.

If you have seen one of these movies before, you'll find that this is a largely generic example of this type of film. The plot has some typical clichés, for instance the spoiled brat child who becomes significantly less of a douchebag after a period of intense bravery and hardship on his part. The character of Naruto is played upon as a hot-headed teenager, and the two characters play off well against each other during the first half-hour, until the resolution of that particular scene was so sickly it gave me diabetes.

This movie, however, has its positives. The action and fight scenes are particularly exciting, if brief, and the plot is well paced for a cartoon movie. Also, for a cheesy Japanese cartoon movie, the messages in this film are somewhat uplifting while at the same time not overbearing or blatant (well, at least not annoyingly so).

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating :
Violence : Some, cartoon.
Sex/Nudity : None whatsoever.
Swearing : None whatsoever.
Summary: An enjoyable enough, albeit generic, Japanese cartoon movie. The plot is probably absolutely awesome by Naruto standards, but for someone new to the franchise, only really a thirty second intro gives you any idea what the franchise is about. Definitely for enthusiasts more than anyone else. 6/10

In a terrifying tale of the American Dream gone wrong, four friends find themselves trapped in their hometown. A reinvention of the George A. Romero classic, The Crazies is directed by Breck Eisner and is based on a screenplay by Ray Wright and Scott Kosar (The Amityville Horror, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre). David Dutton is sheriff in a picture-perfect American town with happy, law-abiding citizens. But one night, one of them comes to a school baseball game with a loaded shotgun, ready to kill. Another man burns down his house after locking his wife and young son in a closet inside. Something is infecting the citizens of Ogden Marsh...with insanity. Forced to band together, an ordinary night becomes a struggle for survival as they try to get out of town alive.

As one of the brightest and most talented comedians of his generation, Dave Chappelle smashed his way into the television mainstream with his Comedy Central series Chappelle's Show. In fact, when Season One of the show was released on DVD in America, it became the best-selling TV show of all time, overtaking even Season One of The Simpsons. Best Medicine has released the 2-disc DVD set Chappelle's Show - Season One this week!

The show's premiere season had proved nothing less than a sensation with US TV viewers, and these twelve uncensored episodes with their mix of sketches and pop-culture parodies defiantly showcase Chappelle's scant respect for middle-American values by confronting head on subject such as sex, drugs and particularly race relations with America.

Drawing both media outrage and acclaim in equal measure Chappelle's Show breathed new life into the TV-sketch show format, made Dave Chappelle a star, and proved that a comedian breaking new ground could be just as street smart and hip as any rap artist or rock star.

Thanks to our friends at Best Medicine, we've got three copies of Chappelle's Show - Season One to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to chappelleshowgiveaway@rocketmail.com with your name and postal address before midday on Tuesday 9th February (UK time). The first three names drawn out of the electronic hat will win free copy!

1 comment:

  1. This should probably be filed under the guilty pleasure section Rob, for Anime appreciation is rather lampooned, much like admiting to like pro-wrestling.

    But for those who do enjoy it, it sounds like Naruto is probably the holy grail of shows. What with that many series and spin offs movies, I could consider this to be Japan's answer to Blue Peter, which is probably why the citizens of Japan's arts and crafts are a whole sight better than our sticky back plastic creations. Thats right as a child, I had Chucklevision to watch, Japanese kids (and adults) HAVE THIS and other Anime...

    I severely hope that you now express your feelings Rob by using a giant flashing background, massive facial expressions and fist pumping intensity.