Naruto Shippuuden 170 – 171 Breakdown: Fillers? Maybe we should start calling them “empties” instead…
Hello everyone and welcome to another weekly Naruto anime breakdown.
This week, we have a bit of an oddity in the form of an hour special filler episode, which has landed, almost absurdly, right in between what could be considered the most important moments of the currently running Pein arc. As if that alone wasn’t strange enough, the filler also takes place in part one of Naruto, before the three year time-skip, which means it has little or no relevance to the current feel or placement of the story as it stands right now.
All things aside, I guess we have to deal with it regardless. The question is, is this filler entertaining, or is it just as empty as so many other episodes of its kind that have come before?
To start things off, this special takes place just before the final rounds of the Chunin exam in Konoha, where all the remaining Gennin that have made it through the hotly contested preliminaries are training hard to prepare for the trial that awaits them.
Naruto himself is working hard on his summoning technique with Jiraiya, in an attempt to gain more control of his Kyuubi chakra as well as an additional advantage for the final round. However, after yet another unsuccessful attempt at the technique that yields little more than a tadpole for his efforts, Naruto finally passes out from chakra exhaustion. The last words he hears Jiraiya speak, are about how the older man had hoped that the Yondaime’s Legacy would have helped Naruto in the final round.
And so begins our story, as Naruto sets off in an attempt to find out what the Yondaime’s legacy truly is and how it will help him succeed. Of course, with no-one to give him the answers he is looking for, an upstart Maito Gai decides to intervene and send Naruto on a new adventure, one which quickly sucks up Sakura and Team 11 into the fray as well.
Now, this story summary may sound all good and fine to Naruto purists, who are itching for every breath of their favorite anime that they can suck into their all too inviting lungs, but that doesn’t prevent this episode from feeling somewhat cheap in the end.
I wonder if anyone in the village thinks it is odd that we have a 16-year-old Naruto jumping around in a poster on the wall, when Naruto himself is only 12 in this part of the story. <_<
As one could guess, simply by reading the title of this episode, the emphasis of the story is heavily weighed on the theme of the Fourth Hokage as a whole and the in-episode advertising for the new upcoming movie, which features our favorite blond Hokage, is not the only link made between the two featured media. In fact, this entire filler just feels like an overdeveloped form of advertising to increase hype for the new movie release, which in itself dampens the enjoyment somewhat.
I will admit, however, that the episode was not completely without its charms. I did laugh quite a few times, on more than one occasion, so it was not lacking in humor despite how shallow it may have been. However, those fleeting moments of joy were more often than not, the result of the crazy antics of Gai and Naruto, as opposed to any richness or depth to the writing or the story itself. As a whole, this double episode felt very empty and meaningless, and although the nostalgia of seeing the old team 7 was there, it did little to fill the gaps.
The animation itself was what one would expect. Not particularly impressive, but not bad either. The colour panels and music did their job to make this episode come to life, so I guess one cannot really complain.
One of the biggest problems, however, is that the themes of friendship and teamwork that are so relentlessly portrayed in this arc, as Team 7 and Team 11 have to work together to pass each trial that has been set of for them, are all lessons that have been stressed to us all too many times before in the past. They carry very little weight in value in the episode as a whole and the way they are administered this time around almost feels a little immature, as if directed purely at a far younger audience than this anime would normally adhere to.
We are used to seeing meaningful messages carry across in moments of sadness or desperation, such as during Naruto’s battle with Gaara, when he puts his life on the line for those he cares about. It was those moments that carried the true heart and feeling of this anime across to its viewers and made it feel special, while right now, it simply feels like it is being spoon-fed to us and forced down our throats.
That may work for kindergartners, but older watchers of the series may not be so easily impressed by it.
Pterodactyls do go “skreee” right? I couldn’t think of any other sound they would make. <_<
In the end, Naruto and his team eventually succeed in passing the trials that Gai had set up for them, with teamwork, knowledge and understanding, and as a reward for their efforts, they are presented with a message.
“There are no shortcuts to what is essential to be a ninja.”
The meaning is clear and obvious, and that is that true strength cannot simply be discovered like some sort of object that can simply be collected, it has to be earned through hard work and perseverance. It doesn’t simply exist, it has to be created. Of course, some of these core philosophies are those of which Gai himself lives by.
I suppose when one thinks back on what the Yondaime’s legacy could have been, we could say that it was the Will of Fire, passed on from each generation to the next and that it is through that will that bonds all those in Konoha together, that true strength is found. However, I personally believe that Jiraiya’s words had a more specific meaning than that and I also believe that it was in Naruto that those words were truly focused.
The question is, what do you think?
In the end, I guess charm and humor saved this episode from failure, and instead turned it into a tolerable filler that some may very well enjoy. In either case, that’s it from me this week. I hope you enjoyed the breakdown and the episode. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to purge myself of all things filler, which may involve last nights dinner as well.
In the meantime, you can all have a look at last weeks caption contest winners.
Top Five Caption Posts:
5th) Holycow185: Some people say that more than a handful is too much. Some people are retarded.
4th) Pein0Avenue: *Please refer to the long comment in the previous breakdown that is too long to post here.* <_<
3rd) Pein0Avenue: Reason 198776298492739 to hate Sakura – Sakura: “Don’t worry my healing will reduce the swelling.”
2nd) Supertrek89: I can locate Naruto’s position by consulting this topographical map of Konoha Mountains.
Well done to everyone who entered. The entries were very good last week, so it was difficult to choose the top five, but they were all very enjoyable to read.
Here is this week’s screen.
Other than that, it seems things will be going back to normal next week, where the last moments of the Pein arc will finally get underway.
Here is a preview for anyone interested.
See you all next time! ^ ^