You know, right before I watched Nagato tell Naruto his past full of utter despair and forced hatred, "watching a lighthearted filler story taking place before the final round of the Chunin Exam" wasn't exactly what I (and likely 99.9% of the other Naruto viewers) had in mind. But the producers figured that since the fourth Naruto Shippuden movie
was about to be shown in Japan's theatres, they figured why not capitalize on that box office money bandwagon and randomly insert a two-part filler story that sort of
relates to the motion picture? Yeah, the move is just about as shameless as they come, especially when a poster for said film is seen in the episode not even two minutes in.
But you know what? These episodes were such a fun nostalgic trip for this Naruto fan that its existence of being a 50-minute movie advertisement doesn't really matter.
Oh Sasuke, you have no idea how much of a pain you'll be in the near future...
Because the recent film is centered around some time travel that sends Naruto to the past to meet the Fourth Hokage, it only seems appropriate that this story revolves a bit on Naruto's dear old dad. Right before the final round of the Chunin Exam, Naruto hears Jiraiya wondering if Naruto has inherited the "Fourth Hokage's legacy" leading the 12-year old version of our favorite ninja to scout around the village to see what the hell that phrase means. One thing leads to another leading to the members of Team 7 (sans Sasuke mostly) and Team 10 to go on a quest, thinking the reward is a jutsu awesome enough to win the tournament.
For me it was like meeting with old friends from high school...namely because the original Naruto anime was one of my few friends in high school
Of course, that isn't the case and it was all really some training from Guy and Kakashi with an end message that taking shortcuts is a no-no for ninjas. Yeah, surprising right? But in all honestly, that's fine. We all pretty much knew this two-parter would have no impact on the story (especially one taken place hundreds of episodes ago), so why even watch it you ask? Well my dear readers, it is simply because even though the destination was pointless, the ride itself was a blast from the past. Only in the pre-teen days of our Leaf Ninja can such obstacles like a giant spider, sleeping gas machine with a Scooby Doo way to switch it off, and an 'effin talking parrot even exist. Between all the constant melodrama that cuts out most of the side characters that the Shippuden storyline has had in bulk for quite some time, a lighthearted intermission like this is basically a much needed breath of fresh air.
Enjoy this happy grin while you can folks 'cause you'll see very few of it once you move on to episode 172
And even though the quest itself had little in the way of thrills or genuine surprises, it was great to just see how far the cast of this long-running anime/manga has changed since the time skip. It was a time when Sasuke was just emo, and not an ignorant assh***. A time when Naruto was called the #1 knuckle-head ninja for a reason and can eat plenty of ramen with friends like Choji without any despair in his mind. A time where we're all reminded of a time when Guy, fishnet-boobylady
, Kakashi, Team 10, and the rest got screen time without any "long time no see." And even though the episodes were shot in widescreen, thankfully the soundtrack was filled with all the great tunes from the original Naruto anime (which I still think is better than the music in Shippuden) that was a nice touch.
But even without all the nostalgic charm from this special, it was still a fun side story that's better than most of the 80 episodes of garbage filler at the end of the original Naruto anime combined. So, yeah, I'm sure most of the Naruto fans likely skipped these episodes for being a shameless advertisement for a movie. But for this Naruto fan who did brave the trip, it was a fun ride that was both nostalgic and surprisingly not that bad.
Now if you'll excuse me, I got some DVDs from the original Naruto series that deserve some rewatching...