After sitting on my thoughts for a few days, and letting my rage subside…I think I’m finally ready to talk about my Naruto Shippuden thoughts. At its core, Shippuden has a good story buried somewhere deep in all the crap that surrounds it. Inconsistent animation, terrible filler and some of the worst pacing I’ve ever seen in a show makes for an embarrassing combination. As I sat through just about all of the current 450+ episodes that are currently available, I came to the realization that there’s just no way for this show to redeem itself. At this point, the studio has bogged it down to the point in which it can end up being borderline un-watchable, even for the most dedicated fans.
To digress, I should tell a bit about my personal experiences with both Shippuden and the original Naruto. I grew up watching the original Naruto, and it was beloved to me. However, as a kid, you don’t have the same tastes as an adult. When I came back with more critical tastes, the flaws were so blatantly obvious that it was a bit hard to sit through the whole thing. To break it down piece by piece, we’ll start with the animation. The Naruto series is one of the longest running series currently available for consumption. With this come understandable compromises. I expect the quality in animation to dip a bit…but not this much. On occasion, episodes can look like they’re drawn by a fledgling studio that hasn’t found its art direction yet. For such a beloved series, it’s embarrassing.
Speaking of embarrassing, let’s talk about the plot. I actually feel so sorry for the plot, as I can literally feel it gasping for air as it gets buried beneath all of the pointless filler and flashbacks. The writers and creators must thing that the audience is inept, and can’t pay attention. They have flashbacks upon flashback in these episodes, and sometimes they flash back to conversations they had within the SAME EPISODE. If you cut out each and every flashback that was in the show, all of the pointless ones, we’d probably be down to 250 episodes flat. It becomes insulting to the audience as the same flashbacks are repeated over and over again for the purpose of not only padding the run time, but milking the audience as they wait for the conclusion of the show.
What’s even funnier to me is that fact that the manga has been completed months ago. At this point, everyone who cares knows the ending. I feel so sorry for those that are waiting to see the big, epic conclusion all pan out on the small screen because it’s just not worth it. The show will go out with a wimper, and then fade into obscurity. Unlikable characters pepper a story that, at it’s core, should have traction. The idea of a young boy working hard in the world of ninja to become the best he can be should be endearing. The idea that friendship and bonds are what make someone powerful, and the contrast between a path of solitude and one crowded with loved ones should make sense. Unfortunately, all we get are unlikable protagonists that only serve to weigh down the main character, and then induce a flashback on all the terrible failures they’ve had in their lifetime.
On top of all this, the story’s final act is just…wow. It’s just terrible. Kishimoto, the creator, said that he had written himself into a corner, and needed to use several events and powers (we won’t spoil them here) to cover his tracks and finish up the story. It was done extremely distastefully, and in the anime, the show is dragged behind filler until its eyes are popping out, and we realize it had been dead a long, long time ago. I could go on and on about how females are written to be the embodiment of weakness, the unlikable supporting characters, the absolute fart of a villain…but I’ll take a breath and wrap it up here.
Ultimately, Naruto Shippuden has a ton of great ideas executed extremely poorly. If you MUST know what happens in the story, read the manga. The anime is too weighed down with awful story lines, terrible flashbacks, and dismal animation. It’s a shame that such a unique tale was bungled, and I’m shocked to this day that the show has such a huge following. With continuing hatred from show watchers both in Japan and in the Western countries, I can’t imagine that this show will go out with much love and friendship in its heart. Skip this one folks, we can’t recommend it.
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