It has been a while since I last caught up with Naruto – still its a series I treasure deep within my heart, but these ever enduring “filler dark ages” are even dwindling the concrete enthusiasm I once felt for master Rock Lee and his “spring time of youth”. True to Naruto’s emphasis on fighting spirit, I will never give up on this show, I won’t read ahead and spoil myself with the manga – instead my fandom is on auto-pilot, navigating the blue seas with Monkey D. Luffy. Only god knows when the fillers will end – but my guess, for what another fanboys desperation is worth – is episode 208, the next true increment if the series is seperated by the anime-standard of 26 episodes per season. Fingers crossed, anyway – its been a year already and I’m starting to feel like I imagined characters like Orochimaru, Itachi and even that damn angsty bastard Sasuke.
As far as the quality of this particular filler arc goes – it’s not too bad. Despite a typical lack of tension thanks to the nagging knowledge that deep down we know Naruto is in no real danger and that Konoha won’t be blown up, in small doses it’s still fun and ever so slightly exciting. It’s nice that the chemistry between the various characters still works; them playing off each others ecentric quirks is shallow but entertaining. In other words, I can’t help but enjoy Hinata’s shy affection for Naruto exposed again and again by his dim witted and innocent brauva. It’s great that ANBU are popping up now and again too; their aggressive and cold presence, though fleeting, rekindles my smouldering faith in the darker side of Naruto and reminds me of how once upon a time, this was actually burning brightly as a quite brilliant action series. I long for those days again.