It’s finally come to this – the last canon arc in the original Naruto series. I took a week off last week because from here on in, we’re doing this every two weeks. This week, we’re looking at the Sasuke Retrieval Arc, which has a lot packed into it. This arc covered episodes 107 through 135.
As always, let’s get to the music:
The openings are as follows:
- Seishun Kyosokyoku by Sambomaster (episodes 107-128)
- No Boy, No Cry by Stance Punks (episodes 129-135)
The first of the openings change with the point of the story (for example, Shikamaru starts wearing the flak jacket, Kimimaro is introduced as the Sound Four team, Orochimaru’s appearance changes with his reincarnation, Rock Lee’s recovery and fighting-dance with Might Guy, the introduction of the Sand Siblings is shown). Altogether, there are five different openings.
The second opening acts as a prelude to the later arcs and shows us our first glimpse of some of the other Akatsuki members (you can distinctly recognise the shape of Sasori’s puppet Hiruko).
The endings are as follows:
- Mountain-a-Go Go-Two by Captain Straydum (episodes 107-115)
- Hajimete Kimi to Shabetta by GaGaGa SP (episodes 116-128)
- Lost Words by No Regret Life (episodes 129-135)
First of all, how is it that the only person to become a Chunin was the laziest of the bunch and was least interested? Or was it to set up the scene for later, who knows? Either way, props to Shikamaru.
Fucking Sakura thinks she can just get in the middle of Naruto and Sasuke about to use deadly Jutsu on each other. I mean, she could have literally died had Kakashi not intervened the proper way. Although if Kakashi hadn’t favoured Sasuke, the latter wouldn’t have been able to use Chidori. Well done, Kakashi. Your favouritism pretty much sealed the fate of that kid. Well done.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before the Sound Four came to whisk Sasuke away, following a love confession from Sakura (that wasn’t really a confession considering she’d been obviously fangirling over Sasuke since she was young, but I digress).
And conveniently because of the number of casualties in the previous Konoha Crush, the entire team sent to retrieve Sasuke were comprised of Genin and Shikamaru as the squad leader.
The first fight was between Chouji and Jirobo. I don’t know whether this was due to the size comparison or what (probably, to be honest), but Chouji proved his strength came from secret food pills that gave him great power (but at a cost, duh). I didn’t really remember this fight when I first watched it, and I’m still feeling the same now. It was mostly about Chouji trying to prove himself more than anything, and while that’s cool, I just wanted to see the fight.
The second fight was between Neji and Kidomaru. It was impressive to give Neji a tough fight that he could barely get away from alive, and I was surprised that he hadn’t just keeled over and died, but that’s a possibility for later I suppose. This was a fight I remembered a little better, but at the same time it didn’t stand out to me.
The third fight was between Kiba and Akamaru and Sakon/Ukon. I remembered this fight the least out of all of them, even with Kankuro’s intervention part-way through. There’s not really much I can say about this.
The fourth was between Shikamaru and Tayuya. As we don’t see a whole lot of Genjutsu in the series (it’s criminally under-utilised outside the Uchiha), it was interesting to see this battle, especially with the use of a flute rather than common Ninjutsu. I think the fact that Best Girl Temari steps in part-way through does help the case for this battle, though.
The fifth battle was the wildcard battle, initially between Naruto and Kimimaro. Naruto was a bit pathetic in this battle, solely utilising his Shadow Clones to gain the numbers advantage, while not really strategising how to deal with Kimimaro’s Kekkei Genkai. That’s to be expected, of course. The arrival of Rock Lee was a surprise, but considering that he couldn’t do anything even under the influence of Drunken Fist, it was all for nought. Enter Gaara, who also couldn’t do a whole lot (that bone work really is too much). But then Kimimaro died from his illness.
The ultimate climax of the canon section of the anime is without a doubt the Naruto vs Sasuke battle. However, I felt it would have been a lot better had the flashback scenes with Sasuke and Itachi taken place at the time of Itachi’s debut and not here, as I felt it horribly detracted from the point of the battle. If there was more emphasis on the battle itself (and making the second half of it look amazing), as well as the focus on the relationship between the two, it would have made a lot more sense. The Naruto and Sasuke relationship seemed one-note and not very deep, so it was surprising to see Sasuke feel so deeply for Naruto.
It sets up the scene for a greater, more high-stakes battle between the two later on down the line. The first half looked great, with high-quality animation. However, there came a point where the animation quality looked awful, especially when the fight really picked up, and things just started losing their quality. The fight itself was animated seamlessly and flowed really well, it’s just that a lot of details were missed in favour of this – we saw this back in the fight between Sasuke and Orochimaru, so it’s not the first time this happened.
Out of all of the fights, the most memorable for me are the last two. The first of these is mainly because any battle with Gaara is memorable for me. The second is the main piece and the ultimate climax of the current series. Just kinda wish they kept the pace up and stopped giving us Itachi-centric flashbacks.
It was a strong arc, once you got down to the main good parts. The first few fights were definite throwaways though, so you could easily skip over those if they bored you.
Overall, this arc was a great end to the main series, covering a lot of bases that will be expanded upon in Shippuden, which we’ll get to pretty much straight away, so everything’s still fre-
Wait, you mean we have 85 episodes of filler to watch too?