Here is our review for Naruto Shippuden: Box Set 19, which released in early July. While we wish our review could have been up closer to the set’s release, we do hope you enjoy it anyway!
More details after the break.
Naruto Shippuden’s 19th box set is here, and with it unfortunately come a plethora of new filler episodes. Although to be fair, the filler arcs in Shippuden have been a lot more entertaining than the filler episodes that the original Naruto show had to deal with! Mainly due to the Shippuden arcs actually expanding on details and stories of characters in the series that we don’t normally get to see.
That being said, the majority of the non-canon episodes in this set are kind of boring, and almost make you feel as if you’re back to watching the old Naruto show’s filler episodes. There are a few decent ones in the mix, but it’s not enough to keep you too excited throughout the whole set. Things do start to heat up again though near the end of this box set, with two fantastic canon episodes that bring us back to the main story and really set things in motion. I don’t know if I can say these two episodes make up for all the filler, but they definitely do hype you up for the next batch of episodes in the series. Box Set 20 is going to be a great one!
While on the subject of filler episodes for this set, I want to take a few moments to talk about the English dub. At this point the voice cast act as a well-oiled machine and have really taken over their characters. For a couple of the episodes though I just wasn’t really feeling it. Mainly due to some of the voice actors portraying several different characters that can be heard too soon between their cameos. While the voice actors are very talented, there is no questioning that at all, there is a bit of a distraction when you can recognize that several different characters all sound so similar. Sure, filler episodes aren’t that important and shouldn’t be taken too seriously, mind you, but in the end it just seems like lazy casting.
Aside from that, there are also a couple of painful performances thrown in to the mix. Without giving anything from the story away, just pay attention to the character named Tokiwa in one of the filler episodes. Not to take anything away from the voice actor, who is very talented in her own right, but this particular role just seemed so wooden and unnatural from her. And in the same episode, another filler character by the name of Kokuyo just doesn’t sound right at all either. Again, I know this is just filler and shouldn’t be taken so seriously, but these two characters just really stood out to me with these problems.
Moving away from filler talk, I will say that the dub gets back on track when the show gets to the canon episodes. Actually that’s not really fair to say, as the cast was very strong through the majority of the set of episodes. There were only a couple in particular that threw a couple chinks in the chain, but for the most part everyone sounds great and very passionate with their roles throughout the episodes. That goes for the Japanese cast as well, not to take anything away from them. Like the English cast, they had similar problems with some of the filler arc, but when it matters they really take their roles to heart and sound fantastic. When it comes to the canon episodes, both dubs sound completely energized and amazing, pulling you in to the story with ease.
On a sad note, Troy Baker is no longer voicing Yamato for the English dub. It’s a sad loss for fans, given Troy Baker’s uniquely talented voice. However Matthew Mercer has stepped in to the role and does a pretty damn good job at replacing Troy. While there are certain moments where the new voice stands out and you can tell it’s not the original anymore, for the most part Matthew manages to mimic Troy good enough to sound just like the original Yamato.
Keeping with the topic of audio but moving away from the subject of voice-acting, let’s talk about some of the music featured in the set. The opening song chosen for the set and featured through the whole thing is “Newsong” by Tacica. It has a bit of a folk-rock vibe to it with some surprisingly melancholy lyrics. It’s a nice song, but the lyrics don’t really match up with the silly visuals that it’s played to for the opening. While the main story starts to move forward, this opening might start to clash with what’s to come. Although we probably won’t have to worry about that since they do normally have a new opening in time for each box set.
Unlike the one solo opening, we get two ending themes in this box set. The one that’s heard for the most part throughout the box set is “Place to Try” by Totalfat. The style of this ending is very reminiscent to the older Naruto endings, and the visuals even go with the popular theme of Naruto/Sasuke and loneliness. Something we’ve seen way too frequently. Funny enough, the theme is used for the visuals in the next ending for the box set as well, which goes with the music of Hemenway’s “By My Side”. While the theme of Naruto and Sasuke mixed with a dash of loneliness has been done to death for both openings and endings, the visuals are actually pretty breathtaking and are drawn and animated gorgeously. There’s even a very vague hint at what’s to come next in the story, so pay attention!
To close the review, I’ll talk a little about the extras featured on this box set. There isn’t too much to talk about here. Just the normal basics we’ve come to know by now for the Shippuden Box Sets. Storyboard art, the English Credits, clean versions of the opening of ending sequences, and also a few trailers for other Viz Media anime series. Just the usual stuff here. Pretty basic, but fun to look through sometimes. It would be nice if they started throwing in some fun little 10 minute animations that we normally get in the extras for the Naruto movies.
All in all, this box set had both its ups and downs. When the story was good, it was great. But on the other side of that coin, when it was dull, it was painful to watch. Thankfully, for the most part it was fun to watch, and the last two episodes were awesome. They also set up some great things to come