Naruto (Ep. 20-67)| Anime| “My love for exams in anime justified.”

Hey guys, how’s it going? Rahul here coming in with a brand new blog. I hope everyone is having a great, safe, and healthy week. So, let’s begin.

Story:

This arc of Naruto deals with the Chenin exams. The exam spans over 4 sets of tests ranging from the written exam, survival exam, individual fights, and finally a display of their best power. At the same time, the Hidden Leaf village’s main rival; Orochimaru has resurfaced with plans of his own. Not only to take down the Hidden Leaf Village but to also take Sasuke under his wing. With onset of a war between the Hidden Sand Village and Hidden Leaf Village, the results of the Chenin exams seem to be far fetched.

Review:

After hearing countless times that this is one of the best arcs in Naruto, I obviously went into this with high expectations. And I have a lot of mixed opinions about what I saw because while there were a majority of amazing moments, the arc had its fair share of let downs as well. I do blame my unnecessarily extra critique to the fact that I was over hyped. But, for the most part, I had a great time and these episodes definitely hooked on to the story now.

Firstly talking about the written exams. This was an absolute treat to watch as it not only gets you excited to see what the other exams have in store for you but it also gives you more hope in Naruto who has been slowly developing into someone greater. From his announcement before the exam that he would defeat everyone in the room all the way till the fact that he didn’t write a single word in the exam had me on the edge of my seat because I didn’t know what to expect. Seeing everyone use their powers to trick the proctors into believing they weren’t cheating was a good and fun way to start the exam before they really began to move onto a more serious note. The way Naruto showed his determination to become the Hokage even if he was forced to be a Genin made me have a huge grin on my face and that’s what really separated this anime from others. It is moments likes these that really allow you to get emotionally invested into the show so that you can appreciate all the characters hard work and determination and further feel motivated to see more everyday. A lot of anime lack in that aspect where they overhype the exam from the very beginning and as episodes go on, the hype dies down leading to a dip in your excitement levels as well. Naruto perfectly displayed a steady progression of excitement for the exams starting off with this joyous and light-hearted written exam all the way till the last exam of display of powers.

Coming to the survival exam portion of the Chenin exams. This was also another great part of the exam because we not only get to see a great fight scene but we also get some progress into the main plot of Naruto. With the introduction of Orochimaru, we only get a sneak peek into what to expect from this man’s power. Considering how afraid the other higher level ninjas were you can only expect that whatever fights are to be encountered with this man in the future will be fights to behold. Sakura finally had her display of strength by standing her ground to protect Naruto and Sasuke which was quite heartwarming. Another fantastic display of power was by Naruto when a little bit more of the Nine Tails chakra leaks out allowing him to protect Sasuke. The whole scene where he protects Sasuke (who is frozen stiff out of fear) from the snake and then makes the comment “Hey. Are you hurt? Scaredy cat.” Had me screaming out of excitement. The exam further only amplified what to expect from the top ninjas of this exam through a small display of what their powers hold in the future. The story also progresses into Orochimaru growing fond of Sasuke and this gives us the basis of the future story line.

In the next segment of the Chunin exams, we have the individual fights which is really where I have mixed opinions. Because on one side of the fights we have some really great and interesting fights that might even be compared to some of the best in the anime universe but on the other side we have fights that were so boring that I was struggling to even give my full attention. Firstly, the fight between Sakura and Ino may have been a display of strength derived from many years of a rival-friendship relationship. However, in my opinion, the back story of both these characters was slow, dragged on, and ultimately boring. The fight was nothing special either. Although we finally both these characters fight seriously, I do feel like they both didn’t have much to offer in the first place which resulted in an episode of boring back story and an episode of boring action. Next, in the fight between Naruto vs Akamaru, the fight was another let down. It was obvious that Akamaru was the more powerful person in this specific battle but to see Naruto win simply because of his cunningness and will power felt like a big let down. I do agree that Naruto did show us a pretty smart move by making a clone of Akamaru’s dog but I feel that it was a waste to display what Naruto is capable of. Of course, this is covered up in Naruto’s next fight but at the moment it didn’t have me excited at all. Coming to the highlights of this part of the exam; the Sasuke vs Yoroi fight was a good display of Sasuke’s abilities with the Sharingan. Copying Lee’s moves mixed in with his own kick because of his inability to draw out the Sharingan’s power was a good way to show us that the “number one rookie” deserves his title. Another great match was the fight between Neji and Hinata, or how I would like to call it, the battle of Byakugan. This fight may have been totally one sided but seeing Hinata’s fighting spirit grow through Naruto’s chants was a great watch. Seeing Neji’s genius moves and aggressive actions also shows us his abilities as a powerful opponent for what the next part of their exam had in store. And coming to the highlight of this part of the exam, the Lee vs Gaara fight. This match was an absolute spectacle. I know how iconic the “ankle weights removed” scene is and I was blown away by how amazing it was. Every moment of this fight had me at awe and had me glued to the screen. Even at the very end of the fight, seeing Lee stand totally unconscious was a scene to behold.

Finally, in the last portion of the Chunin exams we first get to witness a months worth of training before the next individual fights. Here we get introduced to Jiraiya and even though they haven’t told us much, we know to expect that this guy is someone special. Watching Naruto learnt the Toad summoning jitsu was absolutely awesome and the whole scene where he was faced with death and forced to extract nine tails chakra by himself was a great example of what to expect from future fights. By summoning the chief toad, we also learn that Naruto’s power can be compared to that of the ex-4th Hokage who also was the master of the chief toad. Jiraiya also added a nice humorous element to the anime by being everyone’s favourites “Pervy-sage”. Further, as Sasuke leaves the hospital, he goes into deep training with Kakashi for the upcoming matches. In the background, preparation are being made by the Village Hidden in the Sand for attack and the plot is developing at a rapid rate. Fast forwards to the actual matches, the first match we get to see is Naruto vs Neji which again, was an absolute spectacle. Seeing Naruto get completely beat up by Neji’s genius, this match was not just a display of power but also a display of morals. Seeing Naruto control the Nine Tails chakra so well showed us proof of development and keeps the audience excited as to what to expect from future developments as well. The fight between Gaara and Sasuke was also no less than amazing as we get to see the fruits of Sasuke’s training through his new movie: Chidori that he learnt from Kakashi. And this transitions into the beginning of the battle between the Villages of Sand and Leaves which will be in the next arc. This final segment of the exam may have been short lived but might actually be the best out of all the exams.

I wanted to take a special mention to Shikamaru. Although in the anime community, he has a lot of importance now, I do feel that in these episodes of the anime that he is greatly underrepresented. The way he always has everyone’s back always gets me happy. He was always there to protect Sakura, Naruto, and Sasuke and was also there whenever Naruto was in the hospital. He is a silent side character hero that deserves recognition as a genius fighter. His fighting technique is representative of his attitude yet his love for friends is unmatched. Moving on, the anime still had plenty of unnecessary blank scenes which still surprises me as being weird. The opening song was amazing and is probably one of my favourite anime songs. Overall, these episodes were quite awesome.

Rating:

I would give these episodes of the anime 4/5 stars.

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