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Naruto: Shippuden, My New Obsession

After 10 straight months of watching nothing but, I am completely caught up in the world of Naruto. I’ve started performing Fireball Jutsu’s all over my house, creating Rasengans with my long time friend and avid fan, and even bought a rather expensive and very nice Shino Aburame cosplay for my own personal enjoyment. In a word, obsessed. I can’t get enough of this show, and you already know all I’m gonna do in this post is rant and rave about Naruto: Shippuden. Keep the episodes coming, I want to see Naruto: Shippuden, episode 500.

For those of you who are familiar with Naruto, I don’t need to remind you of the original story. Naruto has lost Sasuke and needs to get

Badass, character clash, as per usual.

stronger to get him back (if he can at all). After 3 years, Naruto returns with a vengeance, a few new Rasengans up his sleeve, and a new unbreakable vow and fervor. Sakura is a bit more badass, but just as useless as before (her battle with Sasori almost leaves something to be desired, Granny Chiyo did most of the work…). The new partner, Sai, is an unlovable bastard with a strange affinity for Japanese ink drawings. Everyone else is pretty legit now in Shippuden. Gotta love my Shikamaru.

So who are the new baddies in this one? Well, you have the Akatsuki. These guys were an outer force in the original Naruto with Kisame and Itachi trying to capture Naruto. The reason? The Nine-Tailed Fox that rests within him. And the other eight tailed beasts (Bijuu) that rest inside their ninjas (Jinchuriki). Sorry for any misspellings. If they get all 9 of the tailed beasts, it’s game over for the world of ninjas. And with 10 badass Akatsuki, the most relentless fighters in all the land, it’s gonna be a fight to the death. And it doesn’t stop there.

What could this be I wonder…

Sasuke has obviously teamed up with Kabuto and Orochimaru, wielding the ways of fire, lightning, and snakes. It’s all very badass, but who (other than fangirls) really likes Sasuke? He’s a bad boy, and he’s kind of a whiny biatch about his brother. (More on that later in the series.) Anyways…

Everybody has powered up and all these new Jutsu’s are being thrown around like hotcakes. Shikamaru is a Jonin, and he’s so damn smart that he’s actually super important in the main plotline. Perfection in a can. Choji is as wonderful as always, his battle with the Sound Ninja in Naruto being one of my favorite fights of all time. Neji lookin’ like a huge master, as per usual. Not a single character has become less cool than they were in Naruto original. Rock Lee, ballin’ and breakin’ hard as well.

And there’s so much I can’t tell you that is just so good to watch! All of the emotions and the brand new soundtrack that makes this one so much more adult and dramatic than anything ever before. The fluid fight scenes and crisp animation make it an enjoyable watch with every episode. I’m learning all the hand signs as we speak.

Here’s a new twist. Does anybody remember my last post on Naruto? I watched that all dubbed. BIG MISTAKE. Maile

Epic and beautiful, all-in-one.

Flanagan ruined it, and the only redeeming qualities for me were Itachi, Shino, Shikamaru, Rock Lee, and Gaara (Liam O’Brien for life). So I watched this one subbed. And let me tell you, Junko Takeuchi is a godsend. She does an amazing job as Naruto and really creates a character that feels and hell, even goes through puberty. Try to pull that off, Male Flapagan. (Every other Japanese voice actor is amazing too. Shino’s deep voice threw me off though…)

What more can I say about this show to rave about it…

There’s a character for everyone in this show. Every character has a unique personality and fighting style that anyone can fall behind. You get what appears to be the precursor and inspiration for Avatar: The

Just for funzies.

Last Airbender with the different element affinities, and plenty of strategic battles that go off so badass like. With so many versions of Naruto and the greatest one-ups-manships of all time, Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden will disappoint no one. At all.

With incredible backstories of a bunch of new characters, great all around presentation, and a fandom that can’t be beat, Naruto: Shippuden gets a well deserved 11 out of 10, my first more than perfect score ever.

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind: My Father’s Take

Finally, here’s the long awaited post from my Dad for his Father’s Day present. Enjoy!

On the surface, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released in 1977, is a story of how three individuals’ lives become intertwined when some possible alien ship encounters are experienced. Roy, an electric company engineer in Indiana, has a growing need to understand if he is crazy or if he has really received a message from the aliens. Jillian, a single mother from the same area of Indiana and her three-year-old son have received the message too and the aliens have apparently taken a particular liking to the little boy. The final character is Frenchman Claude Lacombe who is part of an international team both reaching out to the aliens and investigating the people the aliens have affected.

It would be easy to say I like Close Encounters because it is a Steven Spielberg movie. He both wrote and directed the film, and it was early on in his career when I feel he had a great child-like sense of wonder in his storytelling (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun). I also think he was enjoying his time saying, “I really get a big budget and get paid for having fun?” I could say I like the movie for the gifted John Williams score. I could discuss the symbolism of communication like languages (French, Spanish, Indian, English), physical interaction (radar, toys, sign), and art (music, painting, sculpture) to show that even humans have a hard time so why do we think the aliens could easily get their message across. I could say I like the 70s costumes – which weren’t costumes at the time but who would have put Teri Garr in a short yellow nighty and robe with earthy clogs – brilliant!! And I do think the special effects are good with the alien ships, the clouds, the lighting, the sandstorms, etc. I guess the problem I have is with the aliens. Why are there three different kinds of aliens so vastly different from each other?

My favorite part of the movie is the hero portrayed by the everyman who has been tapped for an adventure – Roy Neary. Despite his obstacles – like his beautifully portrayed dysfunctional family, like everyone thinking he is crazy, like his own belief that he is on the edge of sanity – he faces his fears, does the right thing, and is rewarded in the end. Richard Dreyfuss, who had been acting at this point for over 10 years but hadn’t had a great deal of recognition except for his role of Curt in American Graffiti and Hooper in Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws, is fantastic in this role. He shows anger, wonder, insanity, happiness, and despair. He gets to be in the action sequences – driving in the chase, driving cross country, climbing the mountain; being interrogated by the “bad guys;” saving the girl. He deals with the mundane – his son’s math homework, kids that want to stay up late (watch for a great quote – “I told them they could only watch five commandments), a boss who doesn’t want to talk to him, and a wife who cares for him but can only take so much. And he does it all while trying to figure out his purpose in life. He gets the Oscar nod from me!

So do yourself a favor, when you don’t feel the need for extreme action or extreme thought but want to play with your mashed potatoes, play in the dirt, and watch a great actor having a great time with a great script, get lost in the wonder of Close Encounters. It is better than Goofy Golf or Pinocchio. I give it a 9.9 out of 10!