Remember, no laughter allowed!
Welcome to THE GREAT CRUNCHYROLL NARUTO REWATCH! I’m Joseph Luster, back in record time, and I’ll be your host this week as we barrel on through all 220 episodes of the original Naruto anime adaptation. In last week's episodes 176-182, we spent most of our time in the Hidden Star Village, but that arc comes to a swift end this week. Even more filler lies beyond, though, including the start of the Peddlers Escort Mission arc in episodes 183-189.
As you may be able to tell by the tone of some of these questions, I'm feeling a little deflated at this point. The filler can be overwhelming at times, but at least we have the occasional one-off to brighten our week. In this case, the highlight for me was most definitely the gag episode in which Naruto has to avoid laughing during a funeral despite every possible attempt to get him to crack. It might be the series' most successful attempt at straight-up comedy to date.
The rest of the batch was mostly disappointing, but there were a few ups to go along with the downs. As Crunchyroll user OrichalcosTwin1 said in last week's comments, "I enjoyed the Hidden Star Village filler, though as you're about to find out this week, I feel it could've concluded sooner and stuck around longer than it should've." I couldn't agree more. Let's find out what everyone else thought!
Do you love Sumaru's Mom's Ghost and her two-hit multi-target attacks? Did the finale of the Star Guard arc surprise you in any way, or was its ending written in the stars from the beginning?
Paul: It was good that the main resolution to the Star Village story involved the children and the other villagers rebelling against Akahoshi after he went Full Crazy-Eyes and freely confessed his evil plans to everyone within earshot, but for the ultimate confrontation, it should have been Sumaru receiving his mother's spiritual energy to deliver the final blow. This arc was Sumaru's story, and tacking Naruto onto the end like that feels like a missed opportunity.
David: Agreed. Ending a village’s internal political strife by punching the bad guy is one thing, but letting Naruto do it instead of the character most closely affected by the whole thing is pretty lame.
Jared: I basically laughed when Sumaru’s mom gave her power to Naruto instead of Sumaru. Way to bury the kid both figuratively and literally. Other than that, the arc ended basically how I expected with Akahoshi getting his comeuppance and being real dumb.
Kevin: The ending was predictable, aside from the stuff that made no sense. Of course the star was going to be destroyed, that way no one can try to bring it up as a power source later. Also, apparently ghosts exist in Naruto. I guess Orochimaru could’ve had a shortcut in creating the Reanimation Jutsu.
Danni: The whole thing just fell way off the rails, honestly. I’m so tired of evil villains in this show maniacally cackling about how evil they are while trying to kill a bunch of children.
Kara: I realized right as we were closing out that the Village Hidden in the Stars was literally just Naruto’s excuse to have fairies, after which point I kind of gave up on it making sense at all.
Noelle: It’s a very typical villain cliché, but I can’t say it doesn’t work. Some of that fantasy stuff sure did happen though.
Carolyn: It was definitely… weird. I have to agree with the above, that giving Naruto the power was a very odd choice. It also just feels like really weird and awkward writing. I know we’re in the land of filler, but this series is backflipping over the shark at this point.
It took putting Akamaru in great peril to make me realize nothing can ever happen to Kiba's sweet pee-spraying baby. Which Naruto characters would you defend with your life at this point?
Paul: The easy answer is Rock Lee, who is much more of a good boy than Akamaru. It's weird that Akamaru can have a full-on “An American Werewolf in Leaf Village” episode in which he severely injures numerous shinobi, including his own master, and yet he's allowed to continue his ninja-dog training like nothing happened. I figured they'd pull a trick where Akamaru wasn't infected and there was some other werewolf running around, but nope. Straight up Cujo.
David: Over the course of all this filler I’ve gotten even more attached to Neji and Tenten. Maybe I should go back and rewatch some episodes of that Rock Lee spinoff…
Jared: ROCK LEE.
Kevin: Anime, if you ever try to hurt my ninja son Rock Lee ever again, the Five Great Nations are going to become the Five Great Craters.
Danni: ROCK LEE DEFENSE FORCE, ASSEMBLE! [sfx: Kamen Rider transformation noises]
Kara: Rock Lee, as the rest of the room says. And Hinata. Dear God, I can’t wait ‘til 50% of her lines aren’t “Naruto-kun…” She deserves better than she gets in pretty much any part of her life.
Noelle: As with everyone else, Rock Lee protection squad unite.
Carolyn: Hahaha, did we ever expect anything less than a giant chorus of people loudly cheering on good boy Rock Lee?
The Hidden Leaf Legend episode about Onbu made me think about all the aspects of the Naruto world of which we're not aware yet. From legends to history and beyond, what are you most curious about, and what would you like to see expanded upon in future episodes?
Paul: There should be an episode where Naruto and the other young ninja of Leaf Village get sent on a snipe hunt mission by Tsunade in search of the legendary tsuchinoko, only for Kakashi, Might Guy, and the other Jonin to prank the heck out of them. Then they actually find a real tsuchinoko during the third act, and it grows angry over them invading its territory, and hijinks ensue.
David: I was and am still interested in essentially anything that doesn’t have to do with ninjas. How does the rest of the world operate on a day-to-day basis, and how much, if at all, are they even aware of these ninja villages that seem to constantly be at war with each other?
Jared: I’m kind of surprised there hasn’t been more backstory on the early Hokage, unless that’s being saved for later in Shippuden. Outside of that, I think it’d be good just to dive into character backstories or just go full slice-of-life at some points.
Kevin: Honestly, I’m most curious about jutsu creation. We’ll get at least some insight into that later in Shippuden, but even then I’d still like to know a lot more.
Danni: I just wanna know why everyone in the Hidden Leaf Village loves the SEGA Dreamcast so dang much.
Kara: Considering weird ninja magic is essentially part of day-to-day life, I want to know what their escapist entertainment is like. What the heck do you read action comics about when you’re already halfway to a superhero? I’m guessing they have, like, Archiemaru or something where the escapism comes in the form of severe normality.
Noelle: Even knowing some of the stuff that comes later, there’s a lot of things that aren’t really that expanded upon. The discrepancy between technology and how that clashes or interacts with ninjutsu is one, and how ninja society seems to be something both out in the open but not something that everyone can do is another. We might get to why ninjutsu happens later, but what of the people who aren’t ninja, in a world so heavily slated toward magical powers and how those with magic seem to rule society?
Carolyn: We see villages with normal, non-ninja people fairly regularly, but we have no idea how they live. How do the government and ninja work together? Do they work together or do the ninja sort of work on their own laws/volition? Maybe that’s been answered, but I certainly don’t remember it.
As episode 186 reminds us, there's nothing more powerful than a forbidden laugh. Can you recall any particularly gut-busting "church laugh" moments in your life where you really lost it when you shouldn't have?
Paul: One time my sister got busted for accidentally cracking up during Christmas dinner because the decorative plates we were about to eat off of had a drawing of a little hobo Frosty the Snowman, complete with patches on his snow-suit. I guess the contrast of cloth patches on a suit made out of snow was too much for her, and she burst out laughing during what was supposed to be a solemn moment. She got grounded, and the Legend of the Hobo Snowman went down in Chapman family history.
David: I don’t remember the details but I do recall actually being sent to the principal in elementary school for being unable to control my laughter one day.
Jared: I can’t remember the specifics, but I’m pretty sure mine was an actual church laugh moment. Something must’ve made me have the giggles or I was just in a mood but I did that when I was going to church at the time and got in a bit of trouble for it.
Kevin: I was watching Dororo, and one episode in particular had a guest animator who apparently is known for his… unique art style. Hyakkimaru “running” (ice skating) uphill between trees forced me to pause the video so that I could stop hysterically laughing.
Danni: I have a rather subdued laugh usually, so I can’t think of any moments where laughing got me in trouble. However, a childhood spent watching a lot of America’s Funniest Home Videos has led to an adulthood full of instinctively laughing when people hurt themselves pratfalling.
Kara: I was on a bus in Cardiff a few years ago and there was a guy who refused to sit down or hang on or anything. The driver braked and the dude went sliding comically. A few people snickered but I busted out laughing way too big and He Did Not Appreciate That. I got off at the next stop to avoid having my head punched down my own neck. (As an aside, I’ve gotta express my appreciation for Naruto basing an entire episode around the concept of the Giggle Loop from Coupling.)
Noelle: Admittedly, I’m not the kind of person that bursts out laughing, even if emotions show on my face. My friends saying particularly wild things in public will always get me laughing, though.
Carolyn: Actual laugh or defensive laugh? I worked as a ride operator at an amusement park as a teen and some kids tried to run on the ride AS IT WAS MOVING. I had to use the emergency shutdown and started laughing like a maniac. The kids' parents were very angry at me for that, but some co-workers and other customers assured them it was a nervous laugh, which it was. They could have gotten very, very hurt and I didn’t know how to react to that.
As for an actual “wow that was funny” laugh … well, this story is a bit mean but it got to me hard. Outside my apartment one day, I saw a kid that was about 11-13 riding a bike and just toppled over and started laughing immediately. It was the way the bike fell. Usually, you imagine some wobbling, the handlebars going back and forth as they lose control or something. This was literally straight up to straight down in one immediate motion. It caught me by surprise. Also, the kid was fine.
That Brings Us to the Land of Gree— you know what? Forget these veggie peddlers, we're way beyond the point of no return in Filler Purgatory. I hardly remember what it was like when Naruto was good, and the writing is at an all time low for most of this batch. Could you ever recommend this show past episode 140 or so, and has this changed the way you feel about it as a whole?
Paul: I'm a completionist, so if I'm going to recommend something, I'm going to recommend all of it. You don't get to skip the boring or mediocre bits if you want to claim you've experienced a work of entertainment. The filler hasn't broken my spirit yet, and there are individual parts of it that I find compelling, although I admit nothing we've seen here compares to Naruto at its apex moments.
David: I’d just recommend skipping all of it, but if you’re gonna watch any of it, the second best thing is probably to skip the arcs and watch some of the one-off episodes instead. The best part about the filler has been the focus on some side characters who didn’t get much time before, and the mostly silly single-episode adventures get you that without having to sit through nonsense stories that just make you wish you were watching the actual story instead.
Jared: I might not necessarily recommend watching all of the filler, but maybe some of the better parts if they wanted to check that stuff out. People will watch what they watch and I’m not their dad, but I don’t think it’s necessarily all terrible like some people will lead you to believe. It certainly hasn’t changed my overall opinion of the show, it just makes me want to get back to the actual story. Although, if you want a test of endurance, then yeah, people should watch all the filler.
Kevin: The only way I can realistically recommend Naruto after Filler Purgatory started was if I was trying to talk about all of the interesting character interactions that come from unique team combinations. Unfortunately, even the filler arcs have turned into the same few teams on a loop, and the plots aren’t nearly interesting enough to carry 100 episodes. So in all honesty, unless you just want to full Naruto experience of waiting forever to get to Shippuden or REALLY want to know everything that happens, even if it’s filler, no, I can’t recommend watching past episode 140.
Danni: I refused to listen to anyone telling me to skip certain arcs of Dragon Ball since they were filler. I said that if I’m gonna watch it, I’m gonna watch all of it. That being said, I really wish I could just skip ahead to Shippuden right now.
Kara: This week of episodes has just been a hot mess. Not gonna lie. I’d been coasting because at least I could joke about them. But between this weird double-bluff veggie ninja story and the episode about Naruto adopting the kind of mascot character they’d add to a cartoon adaptation of a live-action 80s sitcom, I’m feeling anywhere from weak to done.
Noelle: I skipped over most of the filler in my original run of Naruto, and I’d say-- yeah, I’d still rather do that. Nothing here worth noting.
Carolyn: I don’t think I would recommend Naruto, as a whole or just cutting off the filler parts. There have been shows I couldn’t get into and people will say to wait for season 3 or 4. I just don’t understand highly recommending something that has so much not-good in it.
Finally, let's wrap up with the HIGHS and LOWS for this week.
Paul: My high point was everyone trying to make Naruto laugh, especially with how the humor-assassins would take one look at him and decide that anyone with such a foolish face would be an easy mark. I appreciate the low-grade shade that reminds us that Naruto is kind of a maroon. My low-point was the end of the Onbu episode, which concludes like a mash-up of the Tribbles episode of Star Trek and Gremlins. That joke didn't so much land as belly-flop.
David: High point was the preview for next week’s first episode - I’m excited to see Hinata getting to handle a fight on her own; hope that’s as neat as it looks. Low point was the ending of the star village arc for the same reasons I said in the first question.
Jared: High point for this week would probably be the end of the funeral episode with the ridiculous reveal, fake out, and then reveal of the dad being alive. It was probably one step away from going full “IT’S ME AUSTIN” in terms of that. Also, Shino just getting up in Naruto's face like NEVER TELL ANYONE ABOUT THIS PLEASE. Low point would probably be basically everything else. Land of Greens is just not great and the other episodes were pretty much just there. Glad we finally get to meet Boruto though, even if I thought he came later on in the series.
High - The plan to take down the first of the enemy ninja in the Land of Greens. Sure, it’s a pretty short moment and not too difficult to figure out (he’s using his weapons as dowsing rods, so break the weapons and lure him to a place without water), but this is Filler Purgatory, and characters not being completely dumb is enough to be one of the better moments of the week.
Low - The Onbu episode. I like getting some worldbuilding, but like I said in my High, I also like characters not being excessively dumb, and practically every decision in the Onbu episode was some level of dumb.
Danni: High point was the entire funeral episode. It was such a solid comedic concept and the payoffs all landed perfectly. It’s exactly the kind of stupid I want out of all this filler. Honorable mention to the Onba episode, which was maybe a tier below but still some good dumb fun. Low point would have to be watching another arc end with a villain maniacally cackling while trying to murder a bunch of children with a crossbow. Low LOW point was when that one kid’s dead mom became a ninja ghost who just kind of held Naruto in the air like a limp cat.
Kara: High point was honestly Magnet Ninja. Like seriously that’s one of the most resourceful Jutsu sets I’ve seen: just grab those headband nerds by the headband. Secondary high point was the puns in the funeral episode that didn’t get translated in the subtitles (as a former subtitle editor, though, I don’t blame them for not trying). Low point was the wrap-up of the Village Hidden in the Seelie Court.
Noelle: High point, the funeral episode and how everything in it works pretty well. I wouldn’t say it’s all my kind of humor, but it’s functionally fairly solid. No complaints there. Low point… we’re just not going to address how fantasy elements in the afterlife are a thing now? No? Okay, I guess.
Carolyn: The uniforms and Naruto’s not-amused reaction to them were pretty great for me. The low point? I guess the weird ghost stuff. The last Scooby-Doo ghost episode was silly, but it also knew it was silly. They sort of took this seriously and that’s quite bizarre.
Ramen: 11 bowls, 1 cup
Total So Far:
Ramen: 182 bowls, 13 cups
Here’s our upcoming schedule:
-Next week, KARA DENNISON returns to guide us through the end of the Peddlers Escort Mission!
-On August 2nd, NOELLE OGAWA shows us the formation of the Konoha 11!
-Finally, the mighty DANIEL DOCKERY returns to explore the mystery of Yakumo!
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 183-189? 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!