Naruto: Shippuden Episode #401 Anime Review

Naruto: Shippuden Episode #401 Anime Review

Naruto Shippuden Episode 401

Lee and Shira face off in great form!

What They Say:
Lee challenges Shira to a battle between taijutsu users!

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The second part of the Chunin Exam spent a good bit of its time with Lee the last episode as things got serious for him with the action component of it. It wasn’t bad to be sure, but it suffered from the problem of just being all too familiar as Lee’s struggles are very well documented in the Naruto world. Even more so because of his spin-off series. With a good bit of original material still ahead of us, it’s no surprise that many fans get into a particular mindset in order to cope with it. While a good number simply abandon the series for the duration, the rest of us work our way through it. Luckily, so far at least, the material has been decent and not insulting as a lot of the original material can be. And that can help minimize the pain when you get down to it, especially since we ended up with this material just as things had reached a really high level in the fight against Madara.

Lee’s fight against Shira is what sets the opening here and it’s one that, while not to the level of mainline episodes, definitely holds its own in terms of style and impact with the animation overall. Making fights like this, which are essentially meaningless in the big picture, engaging and fun is not easy. But Lee has enough history to make it connect well enough for viewers even if Shira is one that you can easily dismiss overall. Providing a chance for Lee to step up here and fight, and to inspire, definitely is one of the things that makes him a standout character – if you can get past his personality and design. So seeing the way he’s made an impact of Shira, with a few helpful words from Gaara previously, works well in making both characters stand out well enough here as they go at it as two taijutsu warriors.

While we do get some additional material for Lee as he remembers some of what he’s been taught by Guy, it’s just the quiet in the middle to get us prepared for the back half. And it’s worthwhile because the back half has some really strong action sequences. It may not carry any emotional weight or investment for me, but it’s impressive watching Lee and Shira going at it as both of them are on the same page about the why of the fight and it’s without malice or anger, but rather about proving themselves not to just each other but to themselves as well. It’s a solid piece in this regard that ends about as you’d expect and you basically like everyone involved, though again not in any significant or meaningful way.

In Summary:
The bulk of the episode is focused on the good fight and match here between Lee and Shira and it’s one that works well on just about all levels. The quality of it definitely works and for fans of Lee, it’s one of those early defining kind of fights that helps to cement his character a little bit more, even though he’s largely moved past this point in his life in a big way in the present day part of the series. We do get a little bit of additional material about some of the overall threat that’s out there towards the end, but that’s almost just tacked on for the moment to ensure folks have a reason to tune in next time with something to look forward to. For an original episode, this is pretty much the kind you hope for but don’t get often.

Grade: B-

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Apple TV via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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Naruto: Shippuden Episode #401 Anime Review