Anime Reporter gears up for Naruto Shippuden Collection 18, (episodes 219-231), another bout of ninja-themed anime action.
Needless to say, being the eighteenth collection of the second series, there are going to be quite a few spoilers here for anyone who isn’t pretty familiar with Naruto so… be warned.
Okay, now that the obligatory spoiler alert is out of the way, let’s press on! Remember collection 17 (reviewed here)? It was pretty excellent, right? It really set the scene and left nothing standing in the way of the next big arc, the Fourth Great Ninja War!
Or so it would seem. Collection 18 continues only briefly on from the last batch, with a foreboding premonition of Naruto’s future and a great deal of hushed conversation regarding the upcoming conflict. All of this is in the original manga and is all part of the story arc. Naruto receives word that he is to be sent to a distant and remote island for a special mission, though in reality, the Hokage and Raikage have their own reasons for wanting him out of the way. This is also entirely true to the source manga. Where it deviates is in taking nine out the thirteen episodes of the collection (and a few into the next collection) focusing on Naruto’s very drawn out voyage and all of the inevitable conflicts and misadventures along the way. Fans of both the manga and the anime will know precisely what this means: filler arc. While these episodes are as entertaining as any other, they really don’t move the overall plot forward which can understandably be a little tedious for long time fans who really just want to see Naruto taking his frustrations out on Akatsuki. There is minimal build up for the looming war and references to the Land of Fire and how it’s perceived by people from smaller, less powerful countries.
Naruto’s voyage sees him accompanied by Guy sensei and Yamato who are both fine characters in their own right, if not exactly intimate friends with Naruto. This makes for some excellent battles and episodes but fairly little in the way of character growth. Some highlights along the collection include an (obligatory for filler arcs) episode devoted to Rock Lee’s training, a mysterious island full of gigantic, vicious creatures, an episode about Naruto’s shadow clones going on strike and, of course, pirates.
While some fans will be disappointed that the next great story arc is put on hold for another collection, there’s no doubt that some viewers will just be happy that Naruto didn’t spend yet another season hunting after Sasuke.
The animation for the collection is absolutely superb. Naruto is one of anime’s current longstanding series and it’s plain to see that the quality and style of the animation has improved drastically over the years. Some scenes in these episodes are as masterfully rendered as anything from the latest Naruto movie.
All in all, this collection is an entertaining, if fairly dragged out look at some bonus Naruto adventures. It does grate slightly that the first three episodes of the collection are filled with an undeniable sense of urgency, only for the remaining episodes to adopt a lax war-schmar, we’ll get there when we get there attitude.
Naruto Shippuden Collection 18 is available on DVD from 21st July 2014 from Manga Entertainment. For more information, check out the Manga UK website, their Facebook page and, of course, stick around Anime Reporter for more reviews and updates.
Character Development: 4.5
68% – “Strong Filler” – Naruto Shippuden Collection 18 does an admirable job of providing some quality Naruto-shaped entertainment, but nonetheless feels like a break in between instalments of the “real” show. High quality filler, but undeniably filler.