Reach for the stars!
Welcome to THE GREAT CRUNCHYROLL NARUTO REWATCH! I’m Jared Clemons and I’ll be your host this week as we barrel on through all 220 episodes of the original Naruto anime adaptation. Last week in episodes 169-175, we got perhaps the best arc out of the filler thus far when we learned about Anko’s backstory and her history with Orochimaru. This week, it’s time to learn about how the postal service works and how dangerous meteorites can be in episodes 176-182.
I really enjoy the idea behind showcasing how regular jobs are handled within Naruto, like we’ve seen with the Chef Ninja and now the Delivery Ninja. It’s the right kind of goofy that you need when you’re as knee deep in filler as we currently are. We then transition out of that into another arc that takes us into the Hidden Star Village where they have quite a few secrets and a way to make their ninja incredibly powerful, but at a steep price. This arc was surprisingly grounded and I’m almost surprised we didn’t get something like aliens being behind the power of the meteorite. I think at this point, the filler could go completely off the rails and I wouldn’t be too shocked.
Before we see if Naruto and his pals can get to the bottom of what’s going on in the Hidden Star Village, let’s find out what the rest of the Crunchyroll Features team had to say about this week’s slate of episodes!
Jiraiya makes his return and we are also introduced to another regular job ninja in the Delivery Ninja. If you could have a one-off episode devoted to a random job that is now made for ninjas, what job would you choose?
Paul: Judging by how hardcore the ninja postal service is, I have to imagine that ninja tax collectors would be even more hardcore. Can you imagine trying to collect taxes from villages populated entirely by professional shinobi, who know every stealth and evasion trick in the book, not to mention having access to Genjutsu that could make you think a pile of leaves was a fresh stack of bills?
Danni: I want to see ninja athletes. Not really for any particular sport, I just want to see what kind of professional sports they’d come up with to utilize jutsu and what rules they’d have to put in place to regulate it. Kind of like how The Legend of Korra turned bending into its own sport.
Joseph: Ninja garbage men.
Carolyn: Kiba’s dog walking service. Shino’s flea circus. Ooh, ooh, Tsunade runs a gambling ring, Sasuke’s famous disappearing act with Naruto as a carnival barker, Jiraiya runs a burlesque show. Basically, Naruto goes to Vegas. This is a filler episode, after all.
David: Honestly I’d like to see the opposite - someone doing a completely mundane job that doesn’t require being a ninja at all, and when Naruto and friends try to help them with their ninja skills, they manage to make things worse every time and learn that not all problems need to be solved with jutsu.
Kara: Funny, I just went into a monologue on this on Twitter. I want to see the shop where villages go to get their ninja headbands. They probably have a three-ring binder of laminated pages of available symbols, which are all getting slowly used up so at some point you’re either gonna have to be the Village Hidden in the Dolphins or the Village Hidden in the Tribal Butterfly Design Things. Also I bet they have novelty ones for bachelor/ette parties.
Noelle: One thing I’d want to see is a general supply shop. The villages act like small cities, but where do they get food from, and how is all of that transported? Who protects the transports? Stuff that aids the day to day going more smoothly is something I’d like to see explored.
Kevin: I would want to know about something mundane but necessary for the main cast, like how paper bombs are made or the process of creating ninja tools, or some kind of jutsu research and creation facility if we’re allowed to go away from the silliness of ninja postmen. For something less educational and more insane and fun, maybe a ninja carnival where all of the attractions and employees are just using jutsu in really creative ways?
Speaking of Jiraiya, he comes and goes very quickly as he’s still too tied up with other missions to train Naruto. Has his absence been felt throughout a lot of these arcs or had you forgotten about him until this episode?
Paul: Jiraiya is the worst recurring character with the worst throwaway episodes, and I wouldn't notice the difference if they replaced him with a wet sack of compost wearing a kabuki wig. I'm still waiting for Jiraiya to demonstrate sufficient redeeming qualities to make up for him being a huge creep. At this point, I'm not holding my breath.
Danni: I like Jiraiya whenever he gets serious about something, but he’s the absolute worst whenever there’s any downtime. Considering most filler is downtime, I can’t say I miss him. It’s more that I miss having plot worth him getting serious about.
Joseph: I liked Jiraiya in the manga and I think he gets better, but as it is now he just makes for even worse filler episodes than usual. I’ll also never not be grossed out every time he’s turned on by Naruto’s Sexy Jutsu.
Carolyn: Yeah, I didn’t really notice he was gone and I don’t really care for him being back. He basically just stole from Naruto and disappeared last time around.
David: No, I didn’t think about him until he showed up again. In the series proper the adults tend to show up for important things, so it made sense for him to not be around for all this filler, and I don’t think he needed to show up in this capacity either.
Kara: For me, Jiraiya’s like the “little girl with the curl” in the old nursery rhyme. When he’s good, he’s very very good; when he’s bad, he’s an irredeemable pervert. That's how the rhyme went, right? It’s a shame, because I really like the older generation in this show for the most part and I really want to like him without having to hand-wave a bunch of gross stuff.
Noelle: I think Jiraya is best when he’s actually doing something, and we can see some of his power. When he’s not in the spotlight, he’s just hanging around, and isn’t too missed.
Kevin: As someone who really likes Jiraiya and is eagerly awaiting the start of Shippuden… the vast majority of the time I completely forget that that’s why Naruto’s still in the village and not out training. Generally once or twice a week, I’ll remember Jiraiya is supposedly off on various missions, then go back to wondering why no one remembers that they can walk on water, so they don’t need to use boats.
We dive into a lengthy arc after that with a trip to the Hidden Star Village. A fallen meteorite grants great power to those who train beside it, but that has dire consequences as we learn later on. What are your initial thoughts on this story in comparison to the other filler stories we’ve had thus far?
Paul: The Hidden Star Village arc has been pretty solid as filler arcs go, not only because of the central dilemma (the meteorite boosts Chakra, but slowly kills the people who train with it), but also because of the internal political conflicts within the Hidden Star Village and the ethical quandary faced by Naruto, Neji, and company. They're required to complete their mission, even though their employer is a complete heel, and that’s not a type of pressure that they've faced before.
Danni: It’s not a bad arc, but I haven’t found it near as interesting as some of the better filler arcs we’ve been through. The most interesting aspect has been them having to come to terms with the fact that they’re essentially mercenaries who have been hired by the bad guy. They still have to complete the mission for him. Though I feel like once he literally tried to murder Naruto, the Leaf shinobi should’ve taken that as a severance of contract if not a full blown declaration of war.
Joseph: I like some aspects of this arc, but overall it just reinforces the feeling that Naruto used to be a highlight of my week but has since turned into a mostly mediocre Saturday morning cartoon. It’s like I’m stuck in a time loop and each trip through is only slightly different.
Carolyn: I mean, it does seem somewhat meatier than past filler arcs, like the Ramen-making. And it actually does have a bit more of a story than the weird Scooby-Doo arc (as much as I liked that one) but in the end it is just filler and doesn’t quite capture the same interest as the earlier Naruto-focused episodes.
David: It feels weird because if it weren’t filler, the meteorite probably would have been really important lore information, but here it just seems like nonsense. Maybe there will be a twist, but generally I prefer filler that doesn’t try to seem more important than it is.
Kara: This would be throwaway for me except it goes straight for my morbid fascination with this ninja culture of absolutely destroying yourself to be Best Ninja Possible. Most of all I think it’s interesting to see a place where people draw the line. Hacking your Hayflick Limit or ripping out your own spine is fine, but we draw the line at running yourself ragged with meteor chakra.
Noelle: I definitely agree with everyone else; it has a lot of potential, but in the end, it’s filler and won’t be brought up again. What is chakra and is chakra universal or just set to the ninja world is something that I’d really like to find out more of, but alas…
Kevin: Honestly, I’m actually more invested in this arc than the vast majority of the rest of the filler. Sure, I know that the star will break or something, rendering it impossible to use later (it wouldn’t be filler, otherwise!), but for me this arc is working pretty well as a self-contained narrative about a group of people using whatever means necessary to survive and become the next respected hidden village.
Naruto meets an individual with similar aspirations as him in Sumaru. They both are stubborn and want to become the leader of their respective villages. How did you feel about Sumaru’s arc with regards to him and what eventually happens with the reunion with his mother?
Paul: I need to reserve judgment on this until I see how the arc concludes. A traditional ending would have Sumaru triumph over Akahoshi, implying that Sumaru will grow up to be a great leader for Hidden Star Village one day. I'm not sure that they're going in that direction. I wasn't expecting them to kill off Natsuhi...assuming she's actually dead, that is. If that detail sticks, the conclusion could be surprisingly dark.
Danni: Same as Paul said I can’t really speak to his arc given that it hasn’t finished yet. I would also like to see him and the rest of the children defeat Akahoshi of their own volition.
Joseph: I gotta echo Paul and Danni here. Sumaru is fine, but I’m not holding out hope for his eventual rule of this rinky dink village. I like the concept behind his people in general, but I got a little beat down by an arc that could have been two or three episodes tops.
Carolyn: It’s a little odd that he didn’t realize she was his mother without basically being told that. That sort of removes some of the emotion from that story.
David: “Look at this character Naruto just met, they’re a lot like Naruto!” happens in literally all of these longer filler arcs, and it rings more hollow each time.
Kara: I like the parallels when Naruto can bring his experiences to these new and different people. He’s had to work through a lot and is finding success against the odds (or at least the assumed odds), and I think when it’s played right, it’s a good reminder that he actually does have the chops to be Hokage because he remembers the human element. I didn’t see as much of that this time, so past the “Ohoho, wanna be the Ho(shi)kage” it didn’t do much for me this time.
Noelle: Parallels are interesting, but they really need some meat to actually work. I think Sumaru has potential, but I’ll need to see his arc in full to allow for a proper judgment.
Kevin: While I praise the arc in general, Sumaru is the part where I just tune things out and go back to looking at my phone. He’s not bad, per se, but everyone’s seen the “character brainwashed by the obvious bad guy who’s actually a good person, just on the wrong side of things” before, and outside of that trope, Sumaru’s basically another character that’s like Naruto, which we’ve seen at least a half dozen times at this point. His reunion with his mother is probably the most interesting part of his arc, because there’s some lingering resentment that they need to work through, instead of just immediately being on the same side because they’re family.
Near the end of this week’s run of episodes, we see a split with regards to how to proceed with the mission. Naruto wants to bring Akahoshi to justice for what he’s done while Neji believes they should leave that matter to the Star Village. Given what we’ve seen in other filler arcs over the last couple of weeks and with what happens at the end of our final episode, should they have been more gung ho with confronting Akahoshi or was Neji in the right to hold Naruto and Lee back?
Paul: This was the most interesting conflict in the arc. The Leaf Village shinobi have been charged with a single task: retrieving the stolen star. Everything else outside of the purview of their mission, and their conduct – no matter how righteous – could reflect poorly on their village and damage its social standing. Since peace among the ninja villages is so fragile, a loss of reputation could have dire consequences. Naruto and company are caught between a rock and a hard place, and I love it.
Danni: Honestly, they’re both right. Naruto is correct in that the just thing to do would be to stop Akahoshi, and Neji is right in recognizing that shinobi are hired guns and not vigilantes. It’s an interesting conflict that Naruto has always danced around from the start, and I have full confidence that Naruto’s view will ultimately win out and this conflict will never become a factor ever again.
Joseph: This is definitely an interesting dilemma, and I’d like to see more of it in these missions. I agree that both sides are right, but it’s going to come down to what’s more important to Naruto. I suspect he’ll land on the side of confrontation, reputation be damned.
Carolyn: I’m a Gemini so I see both sides and will agonize over this answer for 30 years. Neji is definitely right in a way, it’s not exactly their place. But Naruto isn’t wrong, either. Morals are morals.
David: Neji is completely right, but this isn’t the kind of story that will give the pragmatic character his due.
Kara: I think that first begs the question of what is valued higher: justice overall, or faithfulness to your village and assignment. Considering previous episodes, it seems their lives will be most affected by their adherence to the latter. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but there it is.
Noelle: It’s tricky, because they both bring up good points. While there’s no doubt that Akahoshi deserves to face some justice, the Leaf Village is not the world police; they don’t have full jurisdiction over what happens outside their territory. In the end, the Star Village ultimately has the right to the final say. It’s a tough call.
Kevin: In terms of actual mission rules and how professionals would handle the situation, Neji is almost certainly correct. Their employer was releasing them and saying that their mission was concluded, so the Leaf team should have headed back home right then. But this is Naruto, so screw the rules, we have a Nindo, a ninja way, to uphold.
Open up your flip phone and give me your highs and lows from this week’s episodes.
Paul: My high point is all of the intrigue surrounding Hidden Star Village, which was grounded in concepts such as duty, ambition, and obligation. My low point was the conclusion to the face-stealing shinobi mini-arc, which began as a serious threat but concluded as an episode of Looney Tunes. The set-up didn't match the pay-off, although I like the idea of a perfect impersonation Jutsu being used for something as mundane as dining-and-dashing.
Danni: My high point was watching the treasure hunting arc go from serious threat to goofy chase hijinks from last week to this week. I found it pretty humorous in the end. My low point was, of course, Sexy Jutsu. I’m so, so tired of it.
Joseph: My low point was pretty much everything with Jiraiya in what was yet another pointless episode that landed back at square one. Second low honors go to a totally wasted Rock Lee. My high point was the brief intrigue at the beginning of the Star Village arc, which quickly dissipated as more was revealed.
Carolyn: Neji’s growth and that entire conflict was definitely an interesting high point for me. Also, “Creeeeping.” Because Rock Lee is a very good boy. Low point is always sexy jutsu and just the weird amazement the characters always display when they realize a super-strong awesome ninja is a woman. They’ve been punched in the face by super strong women the whole series.
David: My high point and low point are both when Naruto used Rasengan to propel his boat he was on forward to catch up to the postman’s boat. High because it is such an amusing use of what is supposed to be an extremely powerful, Chakra-intensive attack, but also low because of that wastefulness. Did the writers forget these guys can literally walk on water?
Kara: My high point was Naruto’s garbage smutfic bringing peace to the land. My low point was the rest of that episode.
Noelle: The Star Village intrigue was definitely something I enjoyed, with both the concepts it introduced and the morality conundrum it pushed towards. I like it when things aren’t clean cut. Low point: Sexy Jutsu… haven’t we gotten tired of this by now?
High - The concept of the Hidden Star arc. I really like the idea of a group of people trying to become the next Hidden Village, but even more than that, I like that the previous village Kage banned star training because of how dangerous it is but the current villain brought it back because if even a handful of people master it, then their position as a powerful village is secured. It’s a bit more of a nuanced narrative than we’ve seen in previous arcs.
Low - The conclusion of the one-shot with Jiraiya and the Ninja Postmen. I get that it’s a gag, but a Nation’s Lord reading whatever genre “Make-Out Paradise” is in and deciding to not go to war as a result is not a satisfying ending. It would’ve made more sense if one of the following happened. Either a) he didn’t particularly like it, was disappointed and then Jiraiya and Naruto showed up to explain what had happened, giving him the secret documents and a promise to send the manuscript when Jiraiya finished it; or b) the Ninja Postmen accepted that there had been a mixup and swapped the documents back.
Ramen: 3 cups
Clones: 28 + 2 variable scenes + 2 uncountable scenes
Total So Far:
Ramen: 171 bowls, 12 cups
Here’s our upcoming schedule:
-Next week, JOSEPH LUSTER is back to continue the Star Guard mission!
-On July 26th, KARA DENNISON returns to guide us through the end of the Peddlers Escort Mission!
-Finally on August 2nd, NOELLE OGAWA shows us the formation of the Konoha 11!
CATCH UP ON THE REWATCH!
Thank you for joining us for the GREAT CRUNCHYROLL NARUTO REWATCH! Have a great weekend, and we'll see you all next time!
Have anything to say about our thoughts on Episodes 176-182? Let us know in the comments! Don't forget, we're also accepting questions and comments for next week, so don't be shy and feel free to ask away!
Jared Clemons is a writer and podcaster for Seasonal Anime Checkup where he can be found always wanting to talk about Love Live! Sunshine!! or whatever else he's into at the moment. He can be found on Twitter @ragbag.