Naruto-Volume 3: The Forest of Chakra (2002)
Trailer-M.A.S.K., Ulysses 31, Beast Wars
|Year Of Production||2002|
|Running Time||95:30 (Case: 100)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (47:47)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Steven Jay Blum
Kou Hei Mushi
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
The saga of Naruto continues as the squad of junior ninjas continue their mission to protect a bridge builder. Check out our review of Naruto: Uncut, Volume 1, here or volume 2 here for a bit more back-story.
As was the case with the previous volumes in the series, both the English dub and subtitles are quite good. There are a handful of discrepancies in interpretation between the two, although these are fairly minor and none really alter the story.
The four episodes on this disc continue the story arc that seemed to resolve itself at the end of the last volume, but then again no good story has an easy end! Each is packed with a heavy dose of plot and action, the quality of both set Naruto well ahead of its rivals.
After determining that their last foe, Zabuza, is probably not dead, Kakashi assigns his three students a difficult training exercise to prepare them for more action. The task is to simply climb a tree each - without using their hands! Meanwhile, both Kakashi and Zabuza recover from their last encounter and Zabuza's sidekick Haku is further introduced.
The squad are living with the family of the bridge builder they are assigned to protect. They learn how the evil shipping magnate Gato, who has hired Zabuza to eliminate the bridge builder, murdered the step-father of the bridge builder's grandson and, in doing so, shattered the hopes of the small island nation.
As Naruto and Sasuke master their tree climbing training task (something Sakura managed to do a couple of episodes earlier), we learn the back-story of Haku. When Kakashi finally agrees that the two young ninja are proficient at the task, they are assigned bodyguard duties during the day... just in time to see the return of Zabuza!
After sleeping in and missing Zabuza's arrival, Naruto defends the bridge builder's family while his companions defend the bridge. On the bridge, Haku proves to be a bigger adversary than expected when he reveals his secret weapon - Crystal Ice Mirrors!
The video quality is very good.
The video is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
The image is fairly crisp throughout. There is no noticeable grain or low level noise at any point. The colours are very bold.
There are no noticeable MPEG compression artefacts or film artefacts. The image is interlaced, but the nature of the animation (many still frames with fairly constrained movement) is such that it is not particularly noticeable during playback.
The English subtitles are yellow with a black border and provide a direct translation from the original Japanese dialogue. They are both easy to read and timed well to the Japanese audio.
This is a RSDL disc. The layer change occurs between episodes at 47:47.
English and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224 Kbps) audio tracks are available.
Both the Japanese and English dialogue appear in good sync for a cartoon. Both tracks are perfectly clear and easy to understand.
There is modest usage of the surround channels throughout the episodes, mainly by the music. The subwoofer picks up a small amount of bottom end, particularly around the combat scenes. The audio is good for a 2.0 soundtrack, but certainly does not compete with most 5.1 tracks.
Music is used in quite a bold fashion in Naruto, particularly traditional Japanese pipes, drums and chants. The music is well presented in the mix and crystal clear.
|Surround Channel Use|
Finally, a Naruto disc with modest extras. This swag is OK, certainly better than the last two releases, but there is still plenty of room for improvement
Basic character profiles for Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke, Kakashi and Zabuza.
8 production art diagrams illustrating the fundamental features of several characters.
8 static storyboards from the first episode of Naruto along with clips from the episode that the storyboards represent. This feature is a bit of a fizzer as the storyboards are of poor resolution and hard to make out.
Trailers for other Madman cartoon titles are presented (although the Beast Wars Season 3 one is really just a guy talking the show up rather than a trailer), along with the grating piracy trailer that many have grown to despise (at least it doesn't precede the feature). The trailers provided are for: M.A.S.K. Vol 1, Ulysses 31 Complete Collection and Beast Wars Season 3.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Naruto is available in two formats in Region 1, though neither are quite the same as the Region 4 release.
The "cut" episodes (up to the 28th episode, at the time of writing) are individually available on bare bones discs in Region 1, four episodes per disc and no special features. These are undeniably the least preferable way to buy Naruto.
There is also two "uncut" packages available in Region 1 that feature both the cut and uncut versions of each episode. Each package contains 13 episodes (1-13 and 14-26) spread over 3 discs. This edition is presented in a reasonably stylish embossed shiny foil package and booklet featuring storyboards from the episodes (though they are more or less the same storyboards found on this disc). Content-wise this edition is quite comparable to the Region 4 version (and is priced around the same mark as 3 discs of the Region 4 release), only with nicer packaging and addition of the "cut" episodes for the curious. The Madman trailers are not present on the Region 1 release. These Region 1 "uncut" boxes are the version of choice for anyone happy to import, although the biggest difference is cosmetic.
Neither Region 1 release features the character profiles found locally, but that's not really enough to push the Region 4 release ahead.
This is a great selection of Naruto episodes, though story-heavy rather than action-packed. It is easily one of the most enjoyable cartoons to have made its way to our screens in a long while. This is a great replacement for Dragon Ball Z and will particularly appeal to upper primary boys.
The technical presentation is very good. The extras are good, but not very substantial.
|DVD||LG V8824W, using S-Video output|
|Display||LG 80cm 4x3 CRT. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|