From Naruto's first successful Rasengan to Tsunade conquering her fear of blood!
It's that time, y'all. It's time for the GREAT CRUNCHYROLL NARUTO REWATCH! I'm Nicole Mejias, and I'll be your host this week as we make our way through all 220 episodes of the original Naruto. Last week, we tackled episodes 85-91, introducing us into the arc of Tsunade's path to becoming the next Hokage. This week, we've got episodes 92-98 on the docket, so let's get to it!
Last week we started to learn more about Tsunade, the woman who may become the next Hokage. This batch of episode leads us through her decision and the conflicts that arise from it, with a heavy focus on the three legendary ninja: Jiraiya, Orochimaru, and Tsunade. Naruto is sort of just along for the ride here, but we get to see the birth of his signature ability: The Rasengan! Kabuto also makes some serious impressions here, and at the end of the episodes, the Leaf Village finds themselves with a new leader. We also start to learn a bit more about the fate of Rock Lee after the disastrous results of the Chunin Exam, and things don't look very good for him.
Let's see what the Crunchyroll Features team thought of this week's slew of episodes!
These episodes deal heavily with Tsunade's struggle to decide whether to accept the title of Hokage or not. How do you feel about Tsunade as a character after this resolution of her introduction arc?
Kevin: Based on her arc and characterization, I have no doubt that she will care about the Village, however I’m not convinced that she’s actually a good choice for Hokage. It seems more like no one outside of the Sannin are famous enough to be recommended for the position.
David: She’s definitely one of my favorites at this point. Regarding her arc so far, I’m glad the story let her have a moment where she stands up and assumes responsibility, without going back and pretending she doesn’t have any of her character flaws anymore. Change is a slow process.
Paul: Tsunade gets some heroic moments and we learn enough about her past and the traumas that she's overcome to get a good idea about her character, but I'm still not sure how she'll cope as the Fifth Hokage, as the position doesn't seem to fit her personality very well. I'd like to see more about her perspective as a field medic. What would it be like to be a super-powered doctor in a world crawling with deadly ninja?
Noelle: I think Tsunade’s pretty great! It’s not easy to step up and take charge, and it’s definitely not easy to push past long-existing traumas, but she manages to do just that. It’s also not something shown as easy, which I appreciate. I think it might take her some getting used to, but I think somewhere down the line, she can be a good leader.
Joseph: I still think it’s wild to have a medic ninja with a fear of blood but I dig Tsunade. She has some real struggles to cope with and I like that she had to see firsthand the threats her people are up against to make her big decision.
Jared: I liked her more as these episodes went on compared to last week. Like others here, I’m curious to see how she is able to handle the responsibilities of being the Hokage. Especially with regards to all the turmoil the village is dealing with and having to rebuild from what happened.
Kara: Definitely still liking Tsunade, but I love the extra context here. The English major in me also loved how her overcoming her fear coincided with her healing herself. Very nice. And again, I am cool with a Hokage who’s willing to throw down against a kid.
Danni: I think she’ll contrast well with what we saw of the Third Hokage. I dig her a lot right now, especially since she got over her fear of blood. It was a nice dose of irony, but it kept becoming an excuse to have her cower in the corner, which honestly sucked a lot considering she’s like the strongest woman in the world.
Naruto succeeds in using the Rasengan here! What's your opinion on Naruto's growth throughout the series? He seems to get the most 'on-screen' training, but sometimes still seems outclassed by everyone somehow. What do you think about the successful execution of the Rasengan?
Kevin: The Rasengan is the first time we’ve seen Naruto truly struggle with training, and even when he pulled it off this first time, it was a spur of the moment inspiration, rather than definitely mastering the technique ahead of time. As for Naruto’s growth thus far, I’m a sucker for Shounen training so I’ve had a good time with it. He doesn’t really change as a character, but I like the worldbuilding and expanding magic system that comes from more in-depth training arcs.
David: Watching Naruto grow is genuinely satisfying, largely because it almost never feels like he is granted said growth simply because the story calls for it. He’s a good kid who is constantly working hard to achieve his goals. His quick thinking on successfully performing the Rasengan makes perfect sense given how he usually works out problems, and the aftermath of its effects on his body proves he has ways to go yet.
Paul: We've seen Naruto grow in terms of his Chakra-manipulation and Ninjutsu skills, but my favorite moments have been the ones that emphasize Naruto's growth as a character, such as when he steps back and lets Sakura have her moment with the newly-revived Sasuke. There's a heavy focus on Naruto's sense of empathy, which is more interesting in my opinion than his combat prowess. Regarding training, going forward I'd like to see Naruto develop a completely original Jutsu rather than just putting a creative spin on an existing technique.
Noelle: Naruto really deserved this moment. Some shonen it really feels like protagonists get their powers out of nowhere, either too easily or merely when the plot calls for it, but Naruto actively struggles. The show devoted quite a bit of time to showing how the Rasengan is complicated, hard to master, and not very intuitive. As such, when Naruto finally gets it, that’s purely satisfying.
Joseph: I know Naruto’s inner powers give him a massive advantage over almost all his opponents, but I love how genuinely hard working he is. He’s gone from being annoying to imo a total sweetpea over the course of 98 episodes and I think they’ve done a great job carrying out both his training and personal growth.
Jared: I really enjoyed seeing him go through all of the training to finally figure out a way to make this technique his own. You could see the struggle he had to go through to get to that point, and when it finally pays off, it’s wonderful. He’s definitely undergone a lot of growth throughout the series which has been enjoyable to watch, such as giving Sakura and Sasuke a moment when he wakes up. It was a rather mature moment from him which isn’t what you expect from the beginning of the series.
Kara: Creativity with jutsus, both making them work in the first place and how they’re used, is something I’ve been enjoying consistently about Naruto. I also haven’t been giving this kid nearly enough credit for his lateral thinking skills. Yeah, he keeps on cranking out Shadow Clone Jutsu, but it’s his favorite and one he can do in his sleep, so it makes a lot of good sense for him to recontextualize difficult techniques from a familiar starting point. I kind of want to show these training sequences to my teacher friends; I think they’d appreciate them.
Danni: I was amused by how they managed to walk the line between having him master this near-impossible to master technique in two weeks without having him master it the RIGHT way so he can still be the underdog. I’m glad he has some more tricks up his sleeve now with the summoning and the Rasengan. I like him a lot as a protagonist and can’t wait to see him start using his newfound abilities in *checks schedule* the weeks and weeks of upcoming filler.
Kabuto makes a lot of waves in these episodes, showing off his particular strengths. How do you feel about Kabuto here? I remember when I first watched this that I found Kabuto a lot cooler than I think I do now.
Kevin: *Insert laughter with growing insanity* Oh Kabuto, you started out as a simple henchman. So far, he seems like a legitimate threat, at the level of a Jonin and combat skills on par if not above Tsunade while also being such an unknown that he was able to take the Chunin exam with the main cast. Later on… well, we’ll get to that eventually.
David: I’m honestly kind of frustrated he is so powerful that he can stand up to a Sannin like Tsunade, and the only real explanation for that so far is basically “well he works for Orochimaru, so…”. Hopefully this gets explored more in the future.
Paul: Kabuto is such a gigantic dork. He's like the kid in a tabletop game of Risk who grabs Australia and turtles up, turning the entire game into an inevitable nine hour slug-fest. I'll be happy when someone finally gives him the shinobi equivalent of an Atomic Wedgie.
Noelle: I do love my antagonists, so ruthless Kabuto ranks much higher to me than friendly Kabuto. Like Kevin says, it’s best to just judge him at the moment, and so far, he’s pretty okay. I’m not that impressed overall, for him being able to do hard damage on Tsunade seems a little bit much, but I guess they had to establish him as a threat.
Joseph: Kabuto is kind of corny. I did like him being recognized as the battle against Orochimaru began, but I could take or leave him at this point.
Jared: The way they’ve been able to position him as this guy who looks out for Naruto to now wanting to murder him has been very good, because it made his eventual turn that much better. I don’t know how much I buy him being as accomplished as he seems, but I guess him being recognized by Orochimaru is a good endorsement. Although, I still feel like I’m waiting for him to do another double cross at some point.
Kara: I’ve watched enough giant robot anime to know what happens to right hands. I’d like to be able to take time to appreciate him, but I just keep wondering when he’s gonna get killed, betrayed, used as a meat shield, sacrificed for some greater purpose, replaced, demoted…
Danni: The more evil and cool they try to make Kabuto the more he comes across as a lame tryhard. I feel like I’ve heard at least in passing heard of or seen every single character in Naruto EXCEPT him, which probably means he isn’t all that important.
Let's address a somewhat unfortunate problem: the way Tsunade gets depicted and looked at in this show. I noticed it a lot more than I did when I watched this originally, and I was curious if you think the focus on boob jokes and such harms Tsunade's character, especially since she's the new Hokage?
Kevin: I definitely noticed it as a kid. It’s not great, but mostly only lasts a few seconds at a time and then she reestablishes either how much ass she kicks without even trying or reminds everyone that she is the one in charge. I’m not sure if it hurts her character or not, but it definitely doesn’t help. Luckily, she at least has more characterization that being just a boob, gambling and drinking gag on loop.
David: I don’t mind the drinking and gambling; those seem like real character flaws tied closely to her trauma and commitment issues. The constant focus on her looks from basically every other character is a problem though, one that unfortunately extends to how the show treats its entire female cast. It wouldn’t be as bad if, say, it was just a quirk of Shikamaru’s, but when everyone in the whole show does it to some extent or another, there’s clearly a more fundamental issue at play.
Paul: Maybe I've been poisoned by decades of anime fan-service, but I found the stuff surrounding Tsunade to be rather restrained at first. She spends most of her introductory episodes wearing that huge jacket, so the camera doesn't really have much opportunity to leer at her body, although when the jacket comes off we get a Powergirl scenario, where I swear they draw Tsunade's breasts larger in every subsequent cut just to see what they can get away with. It also took them something like 10 episodes for someone to face-plant into her cleavage, so...progress?
Noelle: Unfortunately, this isn’t a Tsunade-only problem—Kishimoto really isn’t that great at writing women overall. This is just one example of that larger problem. As for her specifically, I’m not going to pretend it’s good. Framing things like this is an author’s choice, and a deliberate one. That being said, as uncomfortable as it is, it’s not as bad as some fanservice other series pulls. That doesn’t mean it’s good though, I’d rather Tsunade not be framed like this at all, but this is what we get.
Joseph: I, too, have anime poison, because I didn’t think much of it. I also remember that aspect from when the series first aired and it seems pretty tame as far as not including too much nonsense fan-service goes.
Jared: I said this last week that I’m not surprised that they’d write her kind of poorly after what we’ve already seen with Sakura. I guess it could be worse and be something like Jiraiya just perving after her all the time, but trying to build her up as getting over her trauma to finally taking the position of Hokage, to then having Konohamaru face plant into her cleavage is not great.
Kara: I don’t think I’m un-poisoned but I must have an unpleasantly high threshold. Nothing about Tsunade’s depiction bothered me up until Konohamaru motorboated her, and then I just kinda died inside.
Danni: I’m honestly surprised by how few boob jokes there’ve been. The only one I can recall is when Konohomaru bumps into her and just starts motorboating. What really sticks out to me though is all the guys being jerks about her age. Like, a hot woman in her 50s who can kill me with one hit? That’s the IDEAL woman.
So, these episodes leave us with some bad news in terms of resolution: Rock Lee's ninja career seems to be over. I know people are pretty partial to Rock Lee, and I remember being pretty upset when he got so hurt during the exams. What are your thoughts about Lee's future? (Feel free to talk about how great of a character Lee is!)
Kevin: Tsunade, if you ever talk to my ninja son like that ever again, you’ll wish you had stayed in that tourist town. Seriously though, that revelation was so well choreographed (especially Lee’s reaction) that I remembered almost the exact wording, even years after previously seeing the scene. It makes going back to the Third Exam Preliminaries even tougher to watch, since throughout Lee’s fight against Gaara, we see the failure struggle against impossible odds and know that not only will he fail, but even after seeing him raise to continue fighting while unconscious, the damage he inflicted on himself created what is basically a coin flip whether he can pursue his dream or die trying.
David: I know there’s been a lot of arguably more important things going on, but this continuous stretching of Lee’s suffering is almost getting to be too much really. His fight was fifty episodes ago, and he’s constantly working on getting better, yet every time we check in on him things just look worse. But really this comes from a place of caring—stop teasing us, if he’s gonna get better, I wanna see him get better already!
Paul: Lee is a lovely good boy, and I'm surprised that they've kept him out of commission for as long as they have, but if Sasuke can survive two brushes with death without permanent repercussions on his health, then I have to believe that Lee will pull through somehow, too. The state of his injuries weeks later makes me angry at Might Guy for allowing Lee to push his body past the breaking point, though.
Noelle: Give Lee a break! I didn’t really pay much attention to him during my first viewing years back but Lee really does deserve better. He does nothing but try hard, and has gotten this far on the power of hard work alone. Seeing geniuses get by with relative ease but Lee getting the short end of the stick hurts. Do I think this is going to be a permanent thing? No, I doubt it, but the fact that he has to deal with this in the first place—give this boy a vacation.
Joseph: Definitely a heart-breaker, but I have confidence that Kishimoto won’t relegate such a good character to the sidelines. Right? RIGHT?
Jared: Rock Lee is still the best boy in this entire dang series and I really hope we get to see his triumphant return. If it goes that route, it won’t be easy, but that boy can totally do it with how mentally tough he is. Plus, if that’s where it does go, I’m expecting some pro wrestling style injury return hype videos.
Kara: I can’t believe they’d bring a badass medical ninja to town, make her Hokage, and then have her not be able to help my best boy. I’m with Paul—as much as I appreciate Might Guy sticking to the sports anime hardcore training aesthetic, I’m not pleased with him letting Lee mess himself up to this degree. He knows Lee will fight ‘til he’s burger unless someone stops him, and sometimes that’s not a good thing. This is largely, if not entirely, on Guy.
Danni: Like I said before, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Rock Lee.
And, as always, what are the high and low points in this week’s set of episodes?
Kevin: High point - Up until the end of the final episode, I was going to give it to the Sannin fight, since we finally see full-fledged ninja fighting all out, but we also know that none of them are at full strength and so know that this isn’t even as crazy as it can get. Lee getting notified by the top medical ninja that he should give up his dream takes the top spot though. It was absolutely heart rending to hear, even knowing full well that it was coming and how it resolves. Low point - Shikamaru and his dad. It was a short moment, but really guys? Women are basically just around to give the men a reason to do good things, and even the sharpest edged one will show a soft side to the one she loves? Mister Nara, please update your morals a bit.
David: High point is Naruto inheriting the First Hokage’s necklace. After all of her backstory, that moment more than anything else is proof of both Naruto’s perseverance and growth as well as Tsunade’s renewed faith in both herself and the future. Low point is basically the entire “Naruto kidnapping” episode, not because I think it was entirely pointless or bad, but because it really didn’t need to be a whole episode and the pacing of this show is otherwise much better than that.
Paul: My high point is a tie between Gamatatsu, the adorably inept Frog Summon with the sunny disposition, and Katsuyu, the gigantic Slug Summon with the gentle voice and extremely respectful manner of speech. I love both of those characters. My low point is a tie between Jiraiya giving himself heatstroke in an attempt to be a perv at the mixed bathing hot springs and Shikamaru's continued low-grade misogyny. Tsunade is the Fifth Hokage, and you will treat her with respect, young man!
Noelle: High points, the Sannin fight, from giant kaiju battles to everyone going one on one. Tsunade riding Gamabunta’s sword and slamming at into Manda’s mouth was something I loved as a kid and I sure do love that now! Tsunade throwing hands is also completely delightful. Low point, Shikamaru’s not so subtle misogyny. Really, Shikamaru? Really?
Joseph: High point: Gamatatsu is my new favorite Naruto character. Low point: The C-grade hot spring episode I almost completely tuned out during.
Jared: Naruto catching Kabuto’s knife in between his fingers was the most hardcore and metal thing he’s done in this entire series and it was AWESOME. Low points would be the hot spring episode which was just there and Shikamaru’s monologue about women.
Kara: High point is absolutely Tsunade making Orochimaru into her own personal punching bag, especially when she was just whipping him around by the tongue. Close second is good boy Gamatatsu having a lovely first day out. Low point was the show bringing Jiraiya’s perv aspect right back into play after that awesome fight. I’d nearly forgotten about it, but here we are.
Danni: Low point goes to Shikamaru and his dad. For real, guys? You’re both pretty cool, but there’s no excuse for misogyny. High point was easily watching Tsunade just beat the everloving crap out of Orochimaru for like 5 minutes.
"I'm gonna be Hokage!" count: 16
Bowls of ramen consumed: 2 bowls
Shadow Clones created: 17 + 1 uncountable scene
Total so far:
"I'm gonna be Hokage!" count: 48
Bowls of ramen consumed: 35 bowls + 3 cups
Shadow Clones created: 314
And that's everything for this week! Remember that you're always welcome to join us for this rewatch, especially if you haven't watched the original Naruto! Watch Naruto today!
Here's our upcoming schedule:
- April 26th will have DAVID LYNN take us to the Land of Waves in episodes 99-105.
- May 3rd features PAUL CHAPMAN, who will walk us through the inevitable Naruto vs Sasuke in episodes 106-112.
- May 10th, JOSEPH LUSTER will give us the deets on the Sound Four.
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 92-98? 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!
Nicole is a features and a social video script writer for Crunchyroll. Known for punching dudes in Yakuza games on her Twitch channel while professing her love for Majima. She also has a blog, Figuratively Speaking. Follow her on Twitter: @ellyberries
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