Naruto: Shippūden (ナルト- 疾風伝) is the sequel series to the 2002 shōnen, martial arts anime, Naruto. It aired from 2007 to 2017 with 500+ episodes and was produced by studio Pierrot. Taking place about two and a half years after Naruto leaves the village for hard-core ninja training, Shippūden continues the grand adventure of blondie-brat’s epic quest to save Sasuke Uchiha from the wicked forces of Orochimaru, while battling other baddies along the way.
I finished Naruto back in December or January and took a small break from the anime so I could catch up with the original manga. While I’ve still got a few more volumes to go, my curiosity got the better of me and I went ahead and began Shippūden. Approximately six episodes in and I can already tell that I’m going to fucking love this series much more than Naruto.
There was nothing wrong with Naruto, except for the vast number of fillers, some of which were kick-ass while the others were kind of weak and cringey. My biggest irk with it was how whiney Naruto could be at times. Although, I can admit that at certain points throughout the series, I began to appreciate his yelling and shouting because he had so many other endearing things going for him that I couldn’t help but admire the punk. He’s a sneaky little bastard in that regard. Even so, with Shippūden, since the kiddoes are older and teenagers now, they have a more mature vibe and a truer understanding of how much darkness lies in the world around them. Being able to watch how these things shall impact them and the decisions they shall make as they grow towards adulthood is an element I look forward to with wholehearted glee.
In the first six episodes, we get to see Naruto return to Konoha and reunite with Sakura and Kakashi-sensei. Gāra is now a Hokage of his village and has attracted the prime attention of a certain Red Cloud gang (shit, I love Akatsuki so much). Sasuke is still missing-in-action. Jiraiya is still an ero-baka. Tsunade is still fucking terrifying as always, but in the best ways. So, nothing too much of consequence has happened.
Upon returning, Tsunade gives Naruto and Sakura a test to see how much they have grown during their training, particularly as a team unit. A tossback to the very first episodes of the original 2002 serial occurs with the duo having to steal bells from Kakashi. There was so much about this whole segment that I adored to bits. Firstly, the emotional aspect as the trio would bittersweetly recall the missing presence of Sasuke every so often during the challenge. Secondly, Kakashi realises he has to put away the book if he doesn’t want to get pulverised, which was beautifully entertaining. Thirdly, experiencing Sakura as a mini-Tsunade and understanding that she may finally not be a useless waste-of-space (and thus making Naruto recognise that his bullshitery shall cost him more than a bitch-slapping). Lastly, the execution of this challenge happening side-by-side with Gāra’s village being attacked by members of the Akatsuki.
Even though it stretched out a segment that could easily have been completed in two or three episodes to a six-part event, I liked how these episodes showed the evolution of serials’ writing. The foreshadowing and the subtle hints at what is to come is tied into the battles in a way that was missing in Naruto. It helps to cement the fact that the characters are now older and that means that the violence and the manipulation of wit that will go into surviving will be that much more intense and mature. I mean, the parallels of Kakashi being outwitted to Gāra being out-manoeuvred was really a lot of fun and great indication of the battles headed my way (I know about a few of them and I AM EXCITE!).
If there is anything that I’m anticipating with Shippūden, it’s that it doesn’t tone down the violence too terribly much. I know there were some graphic sequences of death and mayhem in the manga that were changed around a bit and subdued in the first anime and it made me sad. While I understood the need for it between the targeted audience and the way the show deviated from the source material somewhat, it still made my anti-frown turn upside down. I also hope they do the Pain arc justice. It’s my most-anticipated fight (I read it in the manga years ago and basically lost my shit with love) and I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be badass. Anything less than that would be a grave disrespect. Additionally, I’m looking forward to the appearance of my favourite Naruto villain of all-time, whom I won’t mention at this moment. But trust me, the fanhumaning shenanigans shall ensue once they arrive.
All in all, my first impressions of Shippūden have been pretty superb so far. The cheesiness is still gooey and fresh, which I do love quite a bit, let’s be real. Kakashi-sensei is still a hot dweeb of a specimen. Certain Akatsuki members that have been shown so far have filled me with thrilling excitement at the Hell that they shall be creating soon. There’s not much to complain about, honestly. I haven’t seen past the six-episode mark yet because I had finals and had to fight the temptation to just marathon the living fuck out of this thing in the midst of suffocating final projects and daunting examinations. However, now that finals are over (finally), it’s all fair game from here, bro.
For anyone who’s interested in checking them out, here is my First Impressions of Naruto, Character Spotlight for Rock Lee & Guy Sensei, and review of the Land of Waves Arc. I shall be sharing more reviews of the other arcs, but from the manga perspective. Stay tuned for ‘em.