It all started in chapter thirty four of the original “Naruto” Manga series. Before “Shippuden” was even close to being a reality, fans of the series followed the young Shinobi, Naruto, and his journey to becoming something more than a simple “nincompoop” with a bad attitude and an air of utter restlessness. It was during this stage of the little Ninja’s life that audiences were graced with an arc that, I believe, truly defines exactly what early chapters of “Naruto” were truly about.
It showed each of the Konohagakure Ninjas – alongside some others from Sunagakure and the smaller Otogakure – in situations that tested them both physically and mentally while at the same time expressing to those reading their true personalities. Most fans of the series from this time, I’m sure, would have developed their loves for certain characters during this time whether or not they actually participated in the exams. It was during this arc that we were introduced to us the idea of brains over braun, it was where we got to see the crippling defeat of Rock-Lee at the hands of Gaara, and it was where Naruto truly made a name for himself by using everything he had to defeat Neji.
The original Chunin Exam arc taught the series’ readership that, no matter who you are or what you do, you can be great so long as you not only believe in yourself but work to better yourself. It also wonderfully transitions into the next arc which takes the intensity of the series to all new heights audiences never thought were possible from such a series directed at young adults. The fact of the matter is; the Chunin Exam arc will always be seen not only as one of the greatest arcs of the series but one of the greatest Shonen arcs of that time as a whole.
Now, in 2015, despite the “Naruto” Manga finally coming to an end, the world is still graced with the weekly delivery of brand-new episodes. The latest arc, which happens to detail a story never shown in the Manga’s run, follows not Naruto himself but the friends of his that stayed and trained in the village while he went off to train with the legendary Sannin Jiraiya. By the time Naruto returns to the village at the beginning of “Shippuden”, two years have passed and his childhood “friends” have become Chunin. This must mean that, in that time, the Villages friendly with each other would have held a secondary set of Chunin Exams. This makes sense especially because Shikimaru was the only individual of the main bunch to reach the rank of Chunin before the start of “Shippuden”.
This new filler arc, also titled the “Chunin Exam Arc”, tells that exact story. This time around it is Shikimaru who is in charge of the exams and Naruto, well, he’s nowhere to be seen. That’s because he’s off learning the ways of the Sannin with Jiraiya. I, as such a huge fan of any exam arc and especially that of the Chunin Exam arc, have indeed been watching the new filler episodes in the hope that they make me feel, somewhat, the same way as the original chapters of the Chunin Exam arc did. To say the very least; for the first time in many years I’m actually enjoying the “Naruto” Anime series.
Even in saying that…I constantly find myself thinking this filler is one that isn’t entirely justified, despite how much I’m actually enjoying. Expectations developed thanks to the original arc have lead me to be a little harder on this one. That, alongside an unnecessary B-Plot and lacklustre animation quality, is making me think so much less of this filler but I can’t help but continue watching. In my eyes, it is thanks to Naruto’s lack of presence that the other characters are finally getting a chance to do something of substance but the inclusion of a whole slew of new, less-interesting Ninja are constantly keeping me on my toes, jumping back and forth between love and hate.
Having your own website and being privy to the search terms readers are using to lead to said site makes gauging the reaction of an audience all the more easier. Over the past months some of the top searches leading to SnapThirty have been regarding the new “Naruto” filler arc. Most of those searches are actually questions specifically asking when this new filler is going to end. For me, this means that many people out there don’t necessarily want to see a new Chunin Exam arc. In fact, all they want to know is when it will end so they can avoid it entirely and make sure they don’t miss any episodes of the main story.
It seems as though the team behind the filler arc are grasping at what “Naruto” used to be. They’re working to reach a point that the series hit years and years ago in a possible attempt to keep the attention of those who’ve stuck with the series and/or to reinvigorate a love for the series, once again, in the hearts and minds of those who have long forgotten it. At least, that’s generally how I’m seeing it. I’m liking what I’m seeing but I can’t help but think that I’ve seen it done better before and, well…that’s because I have. We all have.
The honest truth is that I could write about this until the Genin come home but, in the end, I wouldn’t have produced an article for you all to enjoy. Instead of continuing indefinitely I would like to pose you the question I placed in the article’s title: “Naruto Shippuden’s New Chunin Exam Arc – A Justified Filler Or Just Another Stall Tactic?”. Site statistics, while telling, are not all it takes to see just how well an audience is receiving something.
It’s definitely not enough for me to be able to confidently say that this filler arc is a total bomb. That means I need your help. You, the fan of the series that has been there the whole time, and you, the new fan of “Naruto” that has found a fresh love in a series that has spanned over a decade. It’s you I want to hear from and I beg that you use any comment section you can find to express your thoughts on this topic.
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