For as much hot air gets blown around about the differences in Japanese and Western culture - - with academics trying to present the contrast in high-minded terms - - we savvy observers know it all comes down to two very precise things. And, would you believe, those two things are actually the very focus of this episode ROCK LEE & HIS NINJA PALS!
- Japan is a place where the threat of the “pervert” - - either the one lurking around the corner or the one you may accidentally become - - is all-but-omnipresent.
- Japan is a place where kancho - - the act of surprisingly sticking a thumb, or a couple thumbs, up somebody’s unsuspecting anus - - is considered to be as common and harmless as the noogie.
Like a ninja deceptively presenting himself to enemies as a bumbler who doesn’t know ninjitsu, this show lulls us into a false sense of tranquility and then sneaks up from behind to drive all sorts of profound social commentary up into the very base of our psyche!
Those who thought STEINS GATE brought anything profound to the table have clearly fallen for the intellectual’s shell game. The emperor has now snuck into our atrium, wearing a jester’s laughable garb, to thumb his nose at all those who dismissed him so snippily.
All said, this episode wasn’t actually as funny as the previous ones have been. I’d say that’s maybe a case of it drawing in more characters from the rest of the NARUTO cannon and perhaps indulging in more in-jokes just for those in the know. Which is fine - - you can’t fault a spin-off for calling back to its parent show, after all.
However, I do find it amusing that Guy Sensei really seems like the sort of mentor character who was retconed into NARUTO long after Rock Lee was introduced - - most likely on a month where the book was pressed for ideas. He’s not necessarily a bad character, actually, just one who seems just rather thinly-sketched.
Is that about how it shook out?