While we're currently watching the Naruto Shippuden release from VIZ, the publisher is still pumping out the original series. The series is already fully available; however, there's still a demand for cheaper repacks. After all, a 16-volume boxed set collection is a little daunting by anyone's standards. The latest of these repackaging efforts has been released and today we're looking at the second installment of the uncut second season.
For those who have been keeping track of the series, this collection presents episodes 79 through 106 on six DVDs. Rather than recap the entirety of 78 episodes, I'll just proceed with this review under the assumption you know what's going on, who Naruto is, and what this show is all about.
This installment picks up with the conclusion of the climactic battle between Naruto and Gaara, and their transformed forms. This was one of the most epic confrontations the series ever saw and the finale is truly satisfying in just about every way. Meanwhile Orochimaru is still squaring off against the Third Hokage, Sarutobi. This particular battle sees Orochimaru wounded and unable to use his ninja magic, but more importantly Sarutobi bites the dust and Konoha suffers great damage. This was a turning point in the series and truly stood out as one of the show's greatest emotional moments.
From this point Naruto follows the titular hero and legendary Senin Jiraiya as they go on a quest to find Lady Tsunade. Meanwhile Orochimaru is searching for Tsunade as well and it's soon a race against time to find the legendary healing ninja. Orochimaru wants to find her in order to use her powers to heal his rather unique wound, while Jiraiya has other plans for her. Yet another epic battle takes place here and in the downtime Naruto practices his new Rasengan technique, which has quite the role to play in future episodes. The final leg of this installment's journey brings viewers back to Konoha to see what transpires with Sasuke.
In many ways this volume of Naruto is one of the best. Things were brought to a boiling point in the previous batch of episodes, and the climax hits like a shockwave with this set. The involvement of Lady Tsunade, the battle with Orochimaru, the activity we see from Itachi Uchiha, and the development of Naruto is handled in such a solid fashion. It's a shame that the next installment will launch the series into a long, painful series of filler episodes, but fans can look forward to yet another epic confrontation in the next volume. As it stands, however, this one is highly recommended.
The picture quality of this release is solid as one might expect. The full-frame image is colorful, smoothly animated, and mostly free of flaws. Some light grain is present at times, but compression and interlacing really aren't issues. As far as the sound quality is concerned the English and Japanese tracks continue to be well-balanced and entertaining to listen to. Personally I felt the Japanese selection was the better of the two dubs, but viewers may have their own tastes.
For bonus features with this installment Naruto's uncut second season box presents storyboard to screen comparisons for episodes 85 and 93 and a gallery of production art.
Naruto is one of the world's most popular anime franchises for a reason. The story is quite good, the characters are nicely developed, and the atmosphere feels unique in just about every way. It's a well-realized franchise that continues to get better (until the filler episodes hit). This installment contains some of the most dramatic moments the series has seen and the battles that take place as the storyline progresses are truly amazing. If you've been collecting this repack then take note that this volume is highly recommended.