Posts Tagged ‘Naruto’

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*Naruto Back on Netflix

September 23, 2008

I know this has been a major concern of those who’ve been wanting to watch Naruto and use their favorite movie rental program to do it.

Well, good news.

Naruto is back on Netflix with 32 discs available to rent.  If they’re sticking to 4 episodes a disc, then up to episode 128 is available.  I think these are still the English only dubs (Japanese is always better) but when comparing both there could be a worse dub as far as voices go.  I think the only problem with this dub is some lines which work all right in Japanese sound pretty much stupid in English.

So if the show is putting you off in English, get on the net and find yourself a Japanese version and see if that isn’t vast improvement for you.  If you like the show in English, Netflix can accomodate.  Hooray to having Naruto back, nonetheless!

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*Ajikan! One Reason to Love J-Rock

September 2, 2008

For most of us in the English-speaking world, our first introduction to J-Rock/Pop is via anime opening and closing songs. Occasionally you might stumble across a few artists other ways (found Shiina Ringo and Gackt via youtube, and Ellegarden and Bump of Chicken thanks to a Pillows tribute album), but I’m not ashamed, nor should we be, to say we found an artist because of anime. (I think FLCL is enough said).

I plan to review my other favorite J-Rock/Pop artists in the future–some being mentioned above–but lately I’ve had nothing short of a rabbid infatuation with Asian Kung-Fu Generation (Ajikan or AFKG for short, depending on which language you speak). My first introduction to Ajikan was with Naruto and Haruka Kanata, the second opening song. I had it in my anime list on my iPod and liked the song, but thought nothing much more of the band. At the time I was more obsessed with the Pillows and Bump of Chicken (well, still am).

After hearing the full version of Haruka Kanata some time later, I fell in love with the style and vocals and needed more Ajikan. (I was also looking for more Orange Range at the time, Ajikan won out–not that I don’t still love Orange Range). Ajikan is a bit well-known in the anime world, currently for After Dark, the seventh opening for Bleach. Ajikan’s music can also be found on other anime, such as Fullmetal Alchemist, the fourth opening Rewrite, the theme song for Tekkon Kinkreet Aru Machi no Gunjou, and of course as mentioned Naruto.

But don’t think anime is all they’re good for.

The albums I’ve been listening to currently (as I like to take a few at a time) are:
Feedback File
Kimi Tsunagi Five M
Sol-Fa

Feedback File (2006) is probably my favorite of the list. It’s a mix of studio and live–the live portions being what really sold me on this album–though a great album overall. My favorite song on this album and current Ajikan favorite overall has to be Re:Re: I’ve heard it live and studio, and I have to say, get it live, it’s loads better. Sometimes you’ll get artists who sound good studio, but terrible live, this is definitely not the case with Ajikan. Often you’ll find they’re better live.

From Kimi Tsunagi Five M (2003) and Sol-Fa (2004) I’m loving the songs No Name and Yoru no Mukou. But it’s not like those are the only good ones. Ajikan just makes your listening time fun (and the commute by car or train less annoying).

Something else I admire about Ajikan is the fabulous album art. They recently did the Nano-Mugen festival album compilation art (and you can easily tell it was their art). And by the way, if you’re in Japan, you may want to check out the Nano-Mugen festivals in the future if you haven’t been going. This year (July) they had Third Eye Blind, Stereophonics, our boys Ajikan, Ellegarden, Phantom Planet and Art-School to name a few. This year it was held at Yokohama Arena.

So Ajikan comes highly, highly recommended. If I were going to name American bands to compare, I’d have to say Weezer meets Jimmy Eat World meets Stone Temple Pilots with a little bit of A Perfect Circle thrown in. I’d probably put it one or two notches above the Pillows in a “hard rock” scale, so not head banging, but not super light either.

And if anyone knows where you can get some sweet Ajikan shirts, bags, etc., please post a comment and leave a trail. I’m frequenting ebay, but none too successful as of late.

HOW TO LISTEN:
Pandora has one album. iTunes has got none. Amazon and ebay are probably your best bets album-wise, and there are a few of the songs around the net available to preview streaming. Friends from/in Japan are helpful as well, but however you do it, give this band a go. It will be worth it.

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Naruto and Netflix?

June 18, 2008

So after I posted my Naruto review, people told me Netflix has for some reason nixed carrying the Naruto series discs. I was puzzled, as not so long ago I’d started the series that way.

My guesses (as nothing is confirmed) as to why Netflix has decided on throwing away some money:

1) People are stealing the discs and claiming they’re “lost” and it’s a hassle for Netflix to replace it. (aka, they’d probably have to buy the box set to replace one disc)
2) They’re thinking about posting it Instant View.
3) Viz Media and Netflix are having issues. This one may be the more likely case. Viz recently made a deal with Amazon Unbox to make Naruto episodes available for download (at $2 a pop, mind). But as of now no one is certain as to their disappearance on the Netflix list.

SOLUTIONS:

1) You can watch the English dub (yuck) on Cartoon Network as it goes.
2) You can buy the US release DVDs. (If you have $$$).
3) Until Netflix gets its head back on straight you can try and watch it for free around the net. Anime4Fans has links to most of the episodes. If you want slightly better quality, you probably want to do a UseNet or BitTorrent search. Dattebayo has from eps 91 and up, and probably the best fansubs around (better than the DVD subs). Another option is to just buy a Hong Kong version from ebay, which can range from $17 and up, depending. I did this after 2 discs from Netflix and the DVDs I got were acceptable.

SUGGESTION:

Netflix has a suggest a movie title in their contact us section. If they keep getting emails they’re bound to at the very least release a statement as to why they’ve chucked the series, if not put it back on again. I sent in a request.

For all this trouble is Naruto still worth it? I think if you get a Hong Kong DVD or watch it from the internet, then yes. If you’re going to download via unbox or buy the series, I’d at least try out a few from the internet before investing the money. I love Naruto, but not enough to drop all the money to own it.

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*Believe It: “Naruto” will surprise you

June 5, 2008

So you’ve seen a spiky-haired orange jumpsuit kid running around lately, and you’re wondering: is this really worthwhile anime?

narutoI was first introduced to Naruto (pronounced NAH-ROO-TOE, with accentuation being on the “NAH” part if we’re sticking to Japanese and not the “ROO,” which you’ll find a lot of English speakers doing) at Comic-Con, seeing the costumes around and some manga and art. So I ordered the first disc up from Netflix and gave it a go. I have to admit, Naruto is obnoxious to a fault, but something about the series intrigued me, so I made it through the first four episodes and was hungry for more. (At the time, 1 disc was all that was available from Netflix).

I started the show with the English dub, which wasn’t too terrible for the first four episodes, but I find “dattebayo” to be less annoying than “believe it.” Besides, I find you lose a lot with dubs, so I’m a firm believer in subs first. (Yes, reading. Get over it!)

(Dattebayo, by the way, doesn’t actually mean believe it, but upon inquiring of a few Japanese friends, the translation works. Naruto is looking for a way to show everyone he’s “cool” and is basically using a catch phrase way of speaking to show them all that. Whether or not it works…. *grin*)

From a character arc perspective, Naruto is very well written, especially if you’ve come all the way to Shippuuden and gone back. Sure, he starts out as an annoying kid, but that’s what he is and as he gains confidence in himself, he sheds annoying layers one by one.

Basically, stick with it. Naruto will grow on you.

But if you’re like me, and a bit impatient with story arcs and “filler” episodes watching it all at once may drive you nuts. So I’m here to give you some recommendations to do a little editing, or at least let you know how long you’ve got until a particular arc ends.

naruto2

The ARCS: (see http://www.narutofob.com/naruto-episodes.html as a source)
Episodes 1-5 Basically an introduction to Naruto and key players in his story.

Episodes 6-19 The first major story arc. Naruto and friends are out to show off their abilities, and we get to know a little more about the 3 (Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura).

Episodes 20-67 The Chunnin exams: which is a three part and where more of the larger plot begins to be revealed. I think this is where I first became annoyed with pacing of episodes. Basically every character and their dog (literally) are going to have a one on one match a couple of times. If you like watching all the different characters go at it, you’ll be fine. If you’re like me, you’ll find the 1 1/2 speed button on your DVD player.

We also get more of an idea of a larger plot arc coming up which basically kicks off in Episode 68.

Episodes 68-80 Trouble in Konoha: the real villains come out to play and reak havok. The show takes on a different sort of persona after this when we say farewell to a major character. I was a little put out, but there’s enough going on to pull you through.

Episodes 80-109 Itachi, Tsunade, and more. Here we get the set-up for the rest of the series leading up into Shippuuden. Villains and training, villains and training. One thing you have to know about Naruto is you’re going to be in for a lot of training episodes. Get used to it, because from here on out you can count on seeing it often.

Episodes 110-135 Naruto and Sasuke. If you’ve been loving Naruto, this is the point in the series you’ve been waiting for. I’m trying to be more general not to post spoilers, but for me this was the best part of the series. Note at this point, however, an arc you’re going to want to see finish won’t happen until the end of Shippuuden. My whole point in making this post was for people like me who might have taken it easier and slower with Naruto if I’d known it’d be several eps down the line before seeing a plot arc finish.

136-220 The much dreaded “filler” episodes. (NOTE: If you don’t know what a “filler” episode is: episodes that have little or no relation to the “actual” story but involve the characters, though often not the main characters. Some describe it as the Japanese writer’s attempts to do their own episodes, which doesn’t always work out ;)). So now you’re hooked hopelessly on Naruto and you’re dying for new eps, well, welcome to about 100 tangent episodes. A lot of these, unless you’re kind of a Naruto purist, are a waste of your time.

My recommendation for filler eps

HIDDEN STAR VILLAGE: 178-183 Naruto and co. heads out to the Star Village with shinobi who have unique powers from a dangerous source. I guess I like this one for the character traits we see from Naruto.

KURENAI: 203-207 Shinobi girl has mysterious painting power. The third hokage’s past is further delved into and I just really liked the idea. I think it kind of foreshadows Shippuuden.

gaaraGAARA AND MATSURI: 216-219 Gaara is drawn out to rescue a student. I love Naruto, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of the reason I watch the show is for Gaara. He’s my favorite character, and I’m still unsure as to why–at least completely. If you’re a Gaara fan, whether small or large, this filler story is worthwhile.

And 220! Why? Because it’s the end of the show. And then you’ll be all ready for Naruto Shippuuden which is far better than Naruto.

Why bother watching Naruto in the first place? Why not just skip to the better series? Well, if you want Shippuuden to mean anything to you and to understand why Naruto is as passionate about his friendships as he is, then use my guide and get through Naruto. It’s all worth it for Shippuuden.

And finally, questions you’re likely to have (without spoilers):

1. Is Sakura always going to be useless? No, she gets tough. By Shippuuden you’ll hardly believe the bad @$$ mamba jamba was ever as weak and useless as she was in the first episodes.

2. Who is Naruto’s father? Well, you can look it up online if you’re that impatient, but it’ll come in Shippuuden.

3. Are filler episodes done in Shippuuden? (-_-) Well… if you don’t count, let’s take a look at Naruto and how we used to be, then sort of.

4. Why is the Japanese version better? Is that a rhetorical question?

5. I’m cheap and I want to watch Naruto 100% for free. Where can I do that? dattebayo.com subs Naruto, but since it’s licensed in the U.S. the Naruto eps might be off the site. They still do Shippuuden. Anime4Fans, one of my links can also show you the way. And if you’re not too cheap and prefer better quality, Netflix will send you some (it is available as of September 23, 2008).

I’ll probably do a comprehensive Shippuuden when it finishes.