The filler wasn’t supposed to go on for this long. A black hole of 48 straight episodes, 18 hours of pure nothingness; it would be funny if I didn’t love Naruto as much as I do, but as it stands this is a damn travesty. And the frightening thing is, an end to this utter farce is still no where in sight.
So this is basically how every filler arc has gone so far; Tsunade hands Naruto a stupid task under the premise that it’s actually a really important mission, Naruto complains but does it anyway; meets up with random Konoha genin- this time, it just so happens to be Kiba. Two or three Kage Bunshin no Jutsu’s later and mission complete. Throw in some completely redundant character development for Kiba and his pet hound Akamaru along the way and repeat the formula ad nauseam, but next time with Rock Lee, or Hinta, or Neji.
The sad thing is that a lot of what makes Naruto so much fun is still present here. The art direction (no matter how blatant the limitations on animation are right now) is as electric, colourful and bouncy as it always was and Toshio Masuda’s soundtrack never falls to enthral, compel and excite me. I still love seeing the characters pull off their unique ninjitsu moves and kick ass- but honestly, I’m in dire need of a story now, a real story, where when characters get hurt, they stay hurt. A story where Naruto (the character) isn’t such a third wheel- it’s hard to imagine that just one year ago, we were amidst Sasuke’s defection to the dark side.
Ahh well, at least I got to see the slick ANBU elites in this episode, even if they were reduced to abducting a (nin-)dog. How the great have fallen, eh?