The last few episodes of Naruto Shippuden's previous collection of episodes began to turn the series' focus back into the past, with some episodes telling “untold stories” from Naruto’s history. This latest batch of episodes continues the focus on the past, and we are taken back to a much lighter period in the Naruto chronology, providing a stark contrast to recent events in the series. We revisit some familiar faces from the original Naruto Unleashed series, as well as being introduced to some new characters. You’ve guessed it, that means it's filler time again in the Leaf Village. Don't go running for the hills just yet though, it's certainly not the worst Naruto filler you'll ever witness.
Coming so hot on the heels of the last few action packed box sets this collection of episodes was always going to be anticlimactic, but the format here does the series no favours. Each episode starts in the present - the reconstruction efforts are going strong in the Leaf Village and with it comes the promise of some story progression. However, it quickly becomes clear that these moments in the present are simply there to introduce a series of flashbacks and "untold stories”. It's not just the episodes which are set in the past, as the themes on show here have been covered many times before, and done much better, in Naruto Unleashed. While it’s nice to dip back into some of the lighter themes and humour from Naruto’s past, you'd be much better served by revisiting some of the original Naruto Unleashed episodes for your old school Naruto fix. The best nostalgia hit in this set comes from the old background music, which still brings back fond memories for me.
The episodes themselves vary in quality from uninspiring to hilarious, albeit for all the wrong reasons. One of the stand out episodes of the set involves Team Seven donning some rather cute cat ears and doing nonsensical battle with some Ninja Cats - it’s a fun episode in the daftest of Naruto traditions. Another episode involves a love interest for Kakashi in the form of a foreign nation's kunoichi which, although promising, ultimatly falls apart in the rush to finish the story within a single episode. Most episodes consist of stories revolving around various mixtures of the usual teams, most of which suddenly have Naruto thrust into them. All in all you'd be hard pressed to remember most of the episodes on show here (bar some Ostritch-based episodes you'd probably rather forget) - it’s not that these episodes are bad per se, they're just eminently forgettable.
After all is said and done, this set is one for the hardcore fans and the completionists. For everyone else I'd suggest giving it a miss and picking Naruto Shippuden back up when the story starts to progress again - which should be a few episodes into the next box set.