I like ninjas. Heck, I was around when the original ninja craze hit America’s shores in the late 1970’s. So I want to like Naruto, and did like most of the pre-filler original. But Shippuden is another story. Naruto has now become big business. How cheaply can we make an episode of Shippuden? How much actual animation and even dialogue are required?
Unfortunately you have but to tune into the average 2nd season episode of Shippuden to find out. You could call Shippuden the “pan” show. When you do not want to go through the expense of actual animation, but a static shot is too cheap looking, use a slow pan. I mean really slow. Shippuden is all about posing and panning. As for dialogue, even the translators noted that the line density is the lightest in all of Naruto history.
The original moved faster. Even the filler episodes, some of which were dreadful, moved along. They had story structure; an exposition, climax and denouement. Shippuden has sadly become a season long scene. 26 episodes that only encompassed; the briefest glimpse of old characters that made the Naruto universe so rich, two major fight scenes and boatloads of panning down identical hallways.
Honestly, each episode is barely 21 minutes long – including the intro recap, opening and closing credits, flashbacks during the episode and the next show’s preview. Sometimes I find myself watching the episode at 2X speed — and still finding some pans too long!
Additionally, one of the thing that made so many people including myself fans of Naruto was the in-depth look into ninja lore. The weapons, the techniques and the seals. What happened to all that? Where is the ninja in Shippuden? The fight scenes ante has been upped to the point at which they are now huge supernatural battles that have little to do with “ninja” skills.
The animation quality has really gone down, probably a cost saving, profit boosting measure. You can only do it this obviously in a show with the kind of popularity Naruto still enjoys. However it is catching up with fans tired of investing a lot of time and getting less and less back per episode.
Finally, the characters are becoming less likeable, and less easy on the eyes. Maybe it is the drawing quality or perhaps the character design itself, but the characters are less and less visually pleasing. I find it harder and harder to get behind Naruto’s obsession with saving Sasuke, a character who we have spent little time with for about 6 seasons. Sasuke is bad now. Get over it.
You may agree but be afraid to discuss some of these points with rabid Naruto fans who will like anything put out under that name. Well take solace in the fact that we here at Fortress Takes may also see it your way.
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