Tag: 2007

Mononoke

Mononoke

Mononoke anime series cover art
Mononoke

Shape, Truth, and Reason

Mononoke (モノノ怪) is not the same anime as Princess Mononoke — it’s better. This 12-episode series is based on the Monster Cat story told in Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror. So if you haven’t read my review of that series, I suggest you check it out.

This series follows an unnamed man simply known as the Medicine Seller as he wanders around feudal Japan in search of mononoke (spirits) to slay. However, slaying mononoke isn’t an easy task. Before the Medicine Seller can unsheathe his exorcism sword, he needs to know the shape, truth, and reason of the mononoke.

In order to illustrate these three pieces of information the Medicine Seller needs let’s use a familiar face, Mayoi Hachikuji from the Monogatari series (spoilers for that incoming).

The Medicine Seller's sword of exorcism from the anime series Mononoke
The Medicine Seller’s sword of exorcism

Shape refers to the physical form of the mononoke. In Mayoi’s case, although she doesn’t actually look like this, her shape would be the lost cow since that’s the type of apparition she is. Basically by figuring out the shape, the Medicine Seller knows what kind of mononoke he’s dealing with.

Truth refers to what the mononoke in question wants. Once we have the shape, it only takes a little more work to get the truth. For example, a lost cow wants to guide humans astray from their path, thus getting them lost as well.

Reason is the final piece of information the Medicine Seller needs. This refers to why the mononoke appeared in the first place. The lost cow apparition appeared because Mayoi died while on the way to her mother’s house. Since she never made it to her destination, her soul lost its way.

Zashiki-warashi

It’s going to be tough, but I’ll be attempting to give you a brief summary of each arc of Mononoke without spoiling them (other than the shape). The first arc is Zashiki-warashi. These are Japanese spirits which often take the form of small children and perform mischievous deeds.

These mononoke appear before a pregnant woman while she’s staying in a hotel room which isn’t rented out to guests under normal circumstances. And unfortunately for her, the Zashiki-warashi found in mononoke aren’t exactly as wholesome as their counterparts from actual Japanese legends.

This arc takes place over the course of two episodes.

Sea Bishop

Sea Bishop is the next arc and takes place over three episodes. In this arc, the Medicine Seller finds himself aboard a boat with a rag-tag group of other passengers. Their boat then gets caught in the sea of apparitions and everyone has to figure out why this is happening.

This arc is set up more like a murder mystery. There was no murder committed aboard the boat, but the passengers are all hiding something which could end up being the reason the ship stopped where it did.

Chiyo from the Monster Cat story in Ayakashi also makes an appearance in this arc. She even references the events of Ayakashi.

Faceless Monster

Other than the final arc, Faceless Monster was the most predictable as far as I was concerned. However, that didn’t make it any less good. This arc covers two episodes and follows a woman who seems to have fallen in love with a mononoke.

But, this woman also has a new husband who is abusive towards her. Because of this, she wishes to escape from her unhappy marriage and be with the mononoke she loves. While that actually explains a lot of the plot to this arc, it’s the final twist which really wraps everything together nicely.

I think this arc had my favorite visuals of the entire series. The outdoor backgrounds are beautiful, and I liked seeing the different masks the Faceless Monster wore.

The Faceless Monster wearing a fox mask from the anime series Mononoke
The Faceless Monster wearing a fox mask

Japanese Chimera (Nue)

The Japanese Chimera arc is two episodes long and actually reminded me a decent amount of the Monster Cat arc from Ayakashi. It’s not really the same arc, but it had a similar vibe to it — I don’t think I can explain it any better than that.

In this arc, four suitors appear at the home of a wealthy woman hoping to win her hand in marriage. To do so, they will be competing in the art of incense smelling. This is a sport(?) which I could probably dedicate an entire article to at a later date.

Anyway, the mononoke this time around is a Nue, which is Japan’s version of the Chimera from Greece. Nue don’t appear all that often in anime but if you’ve seen either Boruto or Dororo, you may be familiar with them.

Goblin Cat

Oddly enough, Goblin Cat (Monster Cat) is the final arc of Mononoke and takes place over three episodes. Although we already had a Monster Cat arc in Ayakashi — which may be why this one is translated to Goblin Cat instead — these two arcs are very different.

Sure, the shape, truth, and reason are all essentially the same, but even if you already know it all from Ayakashi, you won’t enjoy this arc any less.

This time around, the story seems to be set in a later time period, probably the 1920’s rather than some time time in the 1800’s. Because of this change in time period, the majority of the arc takes place in a “modern” setting, aboard a passenger train.

Also Chiyo makes an appearance in this arc as well, though she has no memories of the other arcs. This could mean this arc takes place in an alternate timeline.

Conclusion

Overall I give Mononoke a 9/10, which I believe is one point higher than what I rated the Monster Cat story of Ayakashi. This series really just takes everything that made the Monster Cat story so good and improves upon it by turning it into 12 episodes.

As for the OP/ED, I definitely liked the OP for Ayakashi more than the one for Mononoke. However, I think the EDs for the two series are tied.

And, as one last fun fact, the Medicine Seller is voiced by Takahiro Sakurai, the same guy who voices Meme Oshino from Monogatari and Arataka Reigen from Mob Psycho 100. All three characters interact with spirits in some way: fighting, balancing, or faking respectively.

If you enjoyed this review, click the like button ❤ down below and follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any future content. You can also join my Discord server if you’d like to discuss anime, such as Mononoke, with members of the community.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about how you too can become a supporter of this blog and the benefits you’ll receive for doing so, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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Manabi Straight!

Manabi Straight!

Manabi Straight! anime series cover art
Manabi Straight!

Overview

Manabi Straight! (Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight! / がくえんゆーとぴあ まなびストレート!) is a slice of life anime set at a girls’ high school in the year 2035. And, before I get into the details of this series, let me tell you that it actually made me laugh out loud. This is a good watch.

This series is also an original anime created by ufotable in 2007. You may know of that studio from both Fate/stay night: UBW and Fate/Zero, or the currently airing Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.

So first let’s go over the setting, 2035. As is the case with many movies and series set in the future, Manabi Straight! misses the mark on what the future is going to look like. And, no, I’m not saying that the fact that the character Manabi having a hoverboard is too unrealistic, I’m saying that aside from her hoverboard we’ve already surpassed most of the technology in the series.

The only two pieces of futuristic technology in the series are a single hoverboard and a few holographic computer screens. Other than that, everything else is still essentially technology that was around in 2007 when the series was created.

That said, the fact that the series is set in 2035 really has nothing to do with the series. In any scene that doesn’t include one of the two futuristic technologies, it’s quite easy to forget that this series isn’t simply set back in 2007. Everything is so “normal” that the future setting is barely noticeable.

However, there is one plot point for which the time period is somewhat important, the declining birthrate. In this future, birthrates have declined to the point at which the school Manabi and her friends attend is struggling to stay afloat. This doesn’t have to be set in the future, Love Live! has essentially the same concept, but it works.

As for the general plot at large, the series follows Manabi and her friends in the Seioh High School student council as they do student council things such as plan a school fair. You may know by now that I hate school fair episodes in anime, but this is more about working towards the school fair, not the school fair itself.

But, anyway, the main draw to the series, as is always the case with slice of life anime, is the character interactions. A good slice of life anime needs good characters who interact with each other in entertaining ways, and Manabi Straight! delivers.

Characters

Manami “Manabi” Amamiya is the main character of the series. She’s the new girl at Seioh High School and makes a splash on her very first day. Despite only just transferring, she’s voted in as the student council president (mainly because nobody else wants the job).

Her personality is larger than life, as any good protagonist’s is. She loves to have fun and doesn’t take anything too seriously because she’s certain it will all work out in the end. But that doesn’t mean she’s a slacker. Even if she doesn’t take things seriously, she still works hard for what she loves.

Manabi also drop kicks a teacher on at least one occasion, so you know she’s a pretty good character.

Mika “Mikan” Inamori is the student council treasurer. Of the five main girls, she was the only one in the student council from the start of the series. In fact, she was the only student council member at the start because, as previously mentioned, nobody wanted to be in the student council.

She’s a nice, fairly outgoing girl, but she isn’t all that entertaining on her own. Instead, it’s the combination of Mikan and Manabi that’s the most fun to watch. These two seem to feed off one another, and while they don’t do anything too extreme, it’s the normalcy of their gags that’s funny.

Manabi and Mikan from the anime series Manabi Straight!
Manabi and Mikan

Mei Etou is the third, and technically final, member of the Seioh student council. She’s a serious, no-nonsense kind of girl who always puts 100% of her effort into anything she does. Mei is also a tsundere tech wizard.

Mutsuki “Mu-chi” Uehara isn’t officially a member of the student council, but she constantly helps out because she’s friends with the three girls who are. She also seems to help out the other various clubs and organizations around the school, and is a member of the softball team.

Mu-chi is the tomboy of the group and is occasionally at odds with Mei due to their differing characters. While Mei attempts to give off a “proper” aura, Mu-chi doesn’t really care what people think of her.

Momoha “Momo” Odori is the final of the five main girls and, like Mu-chi, isn’t actually an official member of the student council. However, unlike Mu-chi, Momo doesn’t actually ever do student council work to help out. Instead, she views the student council room simply as a place to hang out and talk to her friends.

Momo also carries around a video camera and constantly records everything that happens with the student council. There was also a “big” reveal about her at the end of the series, and while I expected something would be revealed, I was wrong about what it was.

Conclusion

Overall, Manabi Straight! is a 7/10. It’s not constantly funny, but when it is, it made me actually laugh. One such example is when Mei’s plan to get signatures on a petition is just a pyramid scheme. However, this series has its fair share of drawbacks too.

I think the one thing I disliked about this series the most were the colors. Not every anime needs to be full of bright and vibrant colors like Endro~!, but there were a lot of times in this series where I found myself thinking that all the colors are a bit too dark and dull.

Also, I didn’t think the OP was all that good, but at least the ED was different and had a decent song. I haven’t actually linked to OP/EDs in a while in these series reviews because a good number of them tend to get taken down, but here’s the Manabi Straight! ED for anyone interested.

There’s an OVA episode as well which is considered episode 6.5. I didn’t watch this episode until after the rest of the series, but it actually does fit into the series where it’s placed so you can watch it after episode 6 and it won’t really even feel like a special, just another episode. The OVA was also a 7/10 and I won’t be doing a separate review for it.

If you enjoyed this review of Manabi Straight! be sure to click the like button ❤ down below. Also follow me over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any future content. I tweet out every time a new post goes live, so it’s the best way to stay up to date.

Finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN, who requested this series review, for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month. To learn more about becoming a supporter of this blog, check out Patreon.com/DoubleSama.

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Lucky☆Star

Lucky☆Star

Lucky☆Star anime cover art featuring Konata, Kagami, Tsukasa, and Miyuki
Lucky☆Star Cover Art

Overview

Lucky☆Star is my most recently dropped anime. Out of the 24 episodes I dropped it partway through episode 8 because I just couldn’t bring myself to care about anything that was happening in it.

It’s a slice of life comedy about four girls in school (apparently they’re all 17 and in high school although you wouldn’t guess that from their looks). If you’ve ever seen the anime Yuru Yuri, Lucky☆Star is basically the same thing, but much, much worse.

While watching Yuru Yuri, I was thoroughly entertained, but Lucky☆Star is so boring I couldn’t deal with it any more.

For example, there are many points at which a character says something (that isn’t funny), then there’s a pause for a few seconds, and then another character responds with something equally as not funny or changes the subject entirely. It’s slow and they don’t know how to properly set up jokes.

I think part of the issue is that the manga is a 4-panel and so it really would work better as an anime short than a full length series. Every minute or so, the topic of discussion changes to something I equally don’t care about. If it was just a three-minute episode, I wouldn’t mind as much.

Also, at the end of each episode is a segment called Lucky Channel, which doesn’t really have much to do with the rest of the series and even has different characters. This could have been what they put the credits over, but it’s not. There’s a full credit run afterwards.

Characters

Konata Izumi is the best of the four main characters, and appears to be the fan favorite, but even she tends to be a predictable character. We know she’s going to mention food, say something to annoy Kagami, and mention games or anime. This alone wouldn’t be bad, but nothing she says is really ever relevant.

Kagami Hiiragi is the tsundere character which you can tell because of her twin tails, something that’s pointed out by Konata. She’s tends to be, or at least is seen as, aggressive which contrasts with the personality of her sister. She typically argues with Konata.

Tsukasa Hiiragi is the twin sister of Kagami and tends to be quiet and polite. That sentence basically sums up her entire existence so there isn’t much more to say about her.

Miyuki Takara is by far the worst character. Sure, Tsukasa is basically a talking piece of background, but Miyuki is even more boring. Literally every time Miyuki opens her mouth I was immediately bored and started looking at my phone for entertainment instead.

Her entire character is there so the other girls, usually Konata, can ask her some question nobody cares about, and then she monologues a response as if she were a dictionary. She’s kind of like the characterization of a “fact of the week,” but if the fact was general knowledge or something so obscure nobody cares.

Konata Izumi from the anime Lucky☆Star
Konata Izumi

Conclusion

Lucky☆Star is a 3/10 and finishing the series wasn’t worth my time. Maybe one day I’ll put it on in the background while I’m doing other things so I can say I “watched” the whole thing, but it’ll basically just be background noise.

While I don’t like this anime, there is one thing it has going for it, and that’s references. I can’t say I’ve noticed any other anime referencing Lucky☆Star, although I’m sure Yuru Yuri has, but what I mean is that this series includes a lot of references to others.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya appears to be the most referenced anime in this series, but in the few episodes I watched I also noticed a Cromartie High School reference, and an Initial D reference (which was the best one). If references to other series is better than your series’ original content, that should tell you something.

The OP for Lucky☆Star is available here.

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Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit anime cover art featuring main and supporting characters
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit Cover Art

Overview

Moribito is the story of Balsa, a lone traveling spearwoman, who is contracted to protect the prince of the Imperial Family. The assassination of the prince was ordered by the Emperor himself because the prince has a water spirit inside of him and it is believed if the spirit were to die, then the drought that has been plaguing the land will end.

Balsa happens to be in the Imperial capital at the time and is contracted by the prince’s mother to take him with her on her travels and protect him from the Emperor’s assassins. She agrees to protect the prince because she is on a journey to save eight lives as penance for eight lives which were taken that she feels responsible for.


Characters

Balsa, the protagonist of the series, is a highly skilled warrior who uses a spear. She’s originally from a faraway land, but traveled to the empire as a child with a guardian of her own. Although she is a master warrior, she tends not to wield her spear with the intent to kill, but rather incapacitate her opponents.

Chagum is the second prince of the empire. He has a water spirit, or demon, inside of him which the empire believes needs to be killed in order to prevent a drought. Over the course of his journey with Balsa, he learns about the world and life in general from her and becomes attached to her over time.

Two of the supporting characters are Tanda and Torogai. Tanda is a doctor and essentially a shaman in training under Torogai, an old shaman woman who lives in the mountains. These two often help Balsa when she comes to them with injuries sustained from fights. Torogai is also able to communicate with the spirit world.

The final characters I’ll mention are Touya and Saya, two orphans who become acquaintances with Balsa after they hide her in their hut. These two don’t really do anything else important that I can remember, but they’re around.

Balsa fighting off some assassins (from the anime Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit)
Balsa

Conclusion

Moribito is basically the correct way to write a story based on a traveling spearwoman. When compared to Koihime Musou, it’s obvious that this is the better of the two. They also both came out in 2007 so the difference in quality isn’t due to one of these anime being newer than the other.

That said, I ended up giving Moribito a 5/10 although it probably deserves a 6. However, it’s been so long since I’ve watched it that we’ll just trust the me of the past and stick with the 5.

Despite this rating I did enjoy the series, especially when it delved into Balsa’s past and her reasons for not fighting to kill. There were also some other parts of the anime which dealt with her intent to kill, or lack thereof, which I found to be the best parts, but I won’t spoil that subject any further.

The OP for Moribito is available here.

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Naruto: Shippuden

Naruto: Shippuden

Naruto: Shippuden anime cover art featuring Itachi Uchiha
Naruto: Shippuden Cover Art

Overview

Well it’s finally time to take a look at one of my favorite anime, Naruto: Shippuden, and this is going to be a long one. This is the second series in what I’ll call the Naruto Trilogy which includes Naruto, Naruto: Shippuden, and Boruto: Naruto Next Generations.

The way I see it, the 220 episodes of the original series was the just prequel and the 500 episodes which make up Shippuden is the real story. While the Naruto series as a whole gets a lot of hate, it does actually include some of the best fighting scenes in shounen anime. I won’t be going through some of the basics of the series so if you’re looking for that then check out my review of the original series here.

Shippuden takes place a couple of years after the end of the original series with Naruto and Jiraiya’s return to the Leaf Village. The rogue ninja organization known as the Akatsuki has begun to make their move on the various lands and their goal is to capture all of the tailed beasts and use them to rule the world so there will be no more war.

There are also two new members of Team 7 introduced who I won’t talk about too much, but these are Sai, Sasuke’s replacement, and Captain Yamato, Kakashi’s replacement.

From here on out I’ll do a summary style review in which I’ll talk about things in chronological(ish) order so that does mean there will be spoilers, but let’s face it, anyone who cares about watching through Shippuden either already has or already knows what happens.

**Spoilers Ahead**

Pain’s Akatsuki

The first portion of the series is about the Akatsuki, lead by Pain, capturing all of the tailed beasts. This starts with the capture of Gaara, jinchuriki of the One Tail. This arc is the start of my girl Sakura‘s redemption. We all know Sakura was the most useless member of Team 7, and she always will  be unfortunately, but she actually begins to have a purpose in Shippuden and she will be a key feature of this review.

Ok, so now that I mentioned the very beginning of the series, let’s fast forward to around episode 175. Pain attacks the hidden leave village in order to capture Naruto and the Nine Tails; and when I say Pain, I mean Pain and Konan. Technically only two members of the Akatsuki vs. the entire Leaf Village (other than Naruto) and the Leaf Village loses.

Then Naruto comes back and we get the infamous Naruto vs. Pain fight which has an extremely exaggerated art style, potentially as a way to show the sheer power of the fight between the two. Ignoring the art style and animation, the fight against pain is where many people believe the series should have ended, and generally I agree other than all of the amazing things we get scattered throughout the next 325 episodes.

Oh, also Pain kills Jiraiya (spoilers). Pain, along with Konan and Yahiko, were originally students of Jiraiya who he took in when they were orphaned by the second shinobi war. After the war, these three formed the Akatsuki as an organization to end war.

It’s also worth mentioning that Pain has eyes known as the Rinnegan, essentially the final form of visual jutsu which the Sage of Six Paths had. Because of this, Pain is able to use the Six Paths technique to control six proxy bodies each with their own specialized jutsu.

So Pain is defeated by Naruto, sort of. Really he just kills himself and brings back everyone in the leaf village who died during his assault. This leaves a strange void because we had learned that Pain is actually just a pseudonym for Nagato Uzumaki, that’s right, Naruto’s relative, but this apparently doesn’t matter and has no effect on the series whatsoever.

Jiraiya from the anime Naruto: Shippuden
Jiraiya during his fight against the Six Paths of Pain in the Hidden Rain Village

Madara’s Akatsuki

Now that Pain is out of the way, Tobi, a pseudo-member of the Akatsuki up until this point, reveals himself as Madara Uchiha, one of the founding members of the leaf village who fought against the first Hokage.

Not only does he reveal himself as Madara, but he also decides to declare war on the entire ninja world, which forces the five large nations to band together to form an alliance.

We also learn that Pain was just the pawn of Madara and the real reason for gathering all of the tailed beast was so that Madara could become the jinchuriki of the ten tails and use a jutsu to put everyone in the world into a dream-like state.

Back to Sakura for a second, she’s now a fully fledged medical ninja who is actually useful and the leader of the medical corp for the Allied Shinobi Forces.

Obito’s Akatsuki?

Plot twist, that Madara I was just talking about wasn’t actually Madara, it was Obito Uchiha. We learn this when the actual Madara is resurrected during the 4th Shinobi war which is goes on for about 200+ episodes.

But who’s Obito Uchiha?

He’s Kakashi’s old teammate who everyone thought died during the third shinobi war. It’s his sharingan that Kakashi has in his left eye. But why would Obito want to destroy the world and put everyone into a dream? Because the girl he had a crush on died, of course.

Potential best-girl Rin was implanted with the Three Tails and rather than taking it back to the Leaf Village where it could go on a rampage and destroy everything, she opted to take her own life by using Kakashi as the weapon. As Kakashi uses his Chidori to attack the ninja chasing them, Rin jumps in front of him and is pierced through the chest by Kakashi’s hand.

If Rin had only survived longer, she probably would have been my favorite character over Sakura, but instead she’s just runner-up best-girl.

Kakashi Hatake kills Rin Nohara from the anime Naruto: Shippuden
Kakashi Hatake kills Rin Nohara

Madara’s Akatsuki again?

What’s this? Another plot twist? It turns out that while Pain was Obito’s pawn, Obito was also Madara’s pawn. However, Madara’s goal is the same as Obito’s, but without his crush being killed by Kakashi.

Black Zetsu’s Akatsuki?

The plot twists yet again, Black Zetsu, a character nobody really cared about before actually kills Madara with ease after the Allied Shinobi Force failed to. Turns out that Madara wasn’t actually the creator of Black Zetsu like he thought, he was actually the pawn of Black Zetsu. The list of pawns keeps growing!

Kaguya’s Akatsuki, final answer

About a minute later we get the “final” plot twist which is that there’s an alien lady named Kaguya, who is the creator of all chakra, and everything that has happened since her sealing in the distant past was set up by Black Zetsu to bring her back. Kaguya has two Byakugan eyes and one Sharinnegan.

In the end, it takes the three main members of Team 7 (Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura) to take down Kaguya. Yes, Sakura helped because she’s a team player.

Kakashi Hatake vs. Obito Uchiha from the anime Naruto: Shippuden
Kakashi Hatake vs. Obito Uchiha

The Adventures of Sasuke

For most of Shippuden, Sasuke is off doing his own thing. He’s considered a rogue ninja with no village affiliation.

As we know from the original Naruto series, Sasuke’s driving force is his desire to kill his older brother, Itachi, who became a member of the Akatsuki after killing the rest of the Uchiha clan. Well, Sasuke finally succeeds in killing Itachi and in the end gains the Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan from it.

However, before he kills his brother he creates a squad of his own called Hebi. After the death of Itachi he changes the name of the squad to Taka. However, I’ll be referring to this squad as the Goon Squad.

The Goon Squad is led by Sasuke, but the other members are Suigetsu, one of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Mist, Jugo, a member of the clan the curse mark originated from, and Karin, a member of the Uzumaki clan like Naruto and Nagato. Sasuke met all of these members while working with Orochimaru, who he killed by the way.

So after Sasuke kills Itachi, he learns from Obito that Itachi was actually faithful to the Hidden Leaf Village the whole time and he actually massacred the Uchiha clan in order to preserve peace in the village. Sasuke, now angry with the Leaf Village for treating his heroic brother as a criminal decides to join the Akatsuki and destroy the Leaf.

Sasuke attacks the Five-Kage Summit, injuring the Raikage, and Killing Danzou, the then sixth Hokage. The fact that Sasuke could defeat Orochimaru, Itachi, and Danzou shows just how powerful he’s become.

Eventually, during the fourth shinobi war, specifically after the real Madara is revived, Sasuke decides that he’s going to help stop the world from being destroyed because it’s what Itachi would have wanted. Also by this point Sasuke has revived Orochimaru, who then joined the Goon Squad, and forced him to reanimate the four dead Hokage.

The Final Battle

Now the reason I mentioned Sasuke’s adventures is because after the defeat of Kaguya by the original members of Team 7, Sasuke decides that he wants to become Hokage and so must fight Naruto to the death. I haven’t mentioned our titular character much so far, but all you need to know is that by this point Naruto is very strong as well.

Naruto is now a Toad Sage, the jinchuriki of not only the Nine Tails, but portions of all the other eight tailed beasts, and he gained half of the power of the Sage of Six Paths. Sasuke, on the other hand, has an Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan in one eye and a Sharinnegan in the other due to receiving the other half of the Sage of Six Paths’ power.

Along with the fight between Kakashi and Obito, this final fight between Naruto and Sasuke is one of the best in the series. The fight ends in a draw with each of them losing an arm, but honestly I think Sasuke could have killed Naruto if he really wanted to.

Naruto Uzumaki vs. Sasuke Uchiha from the anime Naruto: Shippuden
Naruto Uzumaki vs. Sasuke Uchiha

Eyes, Eyes, Eyes

Something you may notice while watching Shippuden is that the show is no longer really about Naruto’s adventures like the original series was. Instead, the driving force behind much of the plot is the stealing of eyes. Sounds strange, huh? Well let’s break it down.

In the original series we’re introduced to two different eye jutsu, the Sharingan and the Byakugan. The Byakugan is technically considered to be stronger than the Sharingan, but it doesn’t matter much because the Hyuga clan places a seal on their members which seals their eyes after they die so they can’t be stolen. Although we do meet one non Hyuga clan member with a Byakugan in Shippuden, like how Kakashi has a Sharingan.

Anyway, the Sharingan is a visual jutsu which has many different levels to it. There is the regular Sharingan which has between one and three tomoe which signifies how complete it is. Once the Sharingan is in its complete form, it can then be upgraded to a Mangekyo Sharingan by witnessing an extremely traumatic event, which is also how it first materializes.

So for Sasuke, his Sharingan was triggered when Itachi massacred the Uchiha clan, and then he awakened the Mangekyo Sharingan when Itachi died. These Mangekyo Sharingan are the real prizes that people want to steal because each person’s Mangekyo Sharingan has a special ability and a unique pattern to match.

Itachi could use Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi, Sasuke can use Amaterasu and another ability which allows him to freely control the Amaterasu flames, Shisui’s eyes had a mind-control type ability, and Obito/Kakashi are able to use Kamui to open up other dimensions. So because of these powerful abilities, the Mangekyo Sharingan eyes are highly prized and many people want to steal them for themselves.

However, the Sharingan can “go even further beyond” in the words of Goku from the Dragon Ball series. The Mangekyo Sharingan wear out with use and eventually blind the user. By the time Itachi died he couldn’t even recognize Sasuke’s face, but there is a fix for this, the Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan. This ability is gained by implanting the Mangekyo from one person into another who is compatible. Sasuke gains this ability by implanting Itachi’s eyes.

But that’s not all! The Rinnegan is also technically an upgraded version of the Sharingan which is activated if someone who has the Eternal Mangekyo also has DNA from the Senju clan, of which the first Hokage was a member.

So as an Uzumaki, how did Nagato get the Rinnegan? Well those were actually Madara’s eyes and were implanted into Nagato by Obito for safe keeping. Madara was able to awaken his Rinnegan at the end of his natural life by implanting some of the first Hokage’s DNA into his body.

Sasuke awakens an upgraded version of the Rinnegan, known as the Sharinnegan, in one eye by gaining half of the Sage of Six Paths’ chakra.

Because of how powerful these visual jutsu are, we constantly see people stealing the eyes of others throughout the Shippuden series. Danzou has an entire arm of implanted Sharingan and after he stole one of Shisui’s eyes, Shisui gave the other to Itachi before killing himself. You may also recall from the original series that Orochimaru wanted Sasuke for his eyes.

Conclusion

So after all of this, what should you take away? Naruto Shippuden is a really good anime and you should watch it. Sure, there’s a lot of filler mixed in there too, but if you’re really against filler then you can always use a viewing guide to avoid it.

You may have also noticed some of DoubleSama’s patented unpopular anime opinions such as that I actually like Sakura and Sasuke unlike most of the anime community.

Sakura is the hopeless romantic who turns into a real character. She’s the primary medical ninja for the Leaf Village and she can fight too. She also has pink hair so that’s a plus.

Sasuke I like for different reasons. Give a character a katana and lightning abilities and I’m bound to think they’re awesome. I’ve said before that I love a good anime sword fight and it’s no surprise I like lightning abilities considering Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon was my first best-girl.

Overall I give Naruto: Shippuden an 8/10. It vastly improves on the original series and continues to grow the characters we already came to know and love.

Finally, since this was an extra long review, it only makes sense that I would put an extra long video at the end to compliment it. Instead of just one OP from Shippuden, here is a video with all of the Shippuden OPs. I won’t say they’re all good, but most of them are and it’s a nice way to kill 30 minutes of your time.

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