Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals (which is known as Rock Lee no Seishun Full-Power Ninden in Japan) is a Naruto spin-off anime series that's based on a gag manga that features Rock Lee as the main character. In this series, all the characters appear as "super deformed" versions of themselves; this means that they are smaller and look cuter than their counterparts in the original Naruto series. Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals began airing in Japan on April 3, 2012, and as of this writing, legal subtitled streams can be seen at the Crunchyroll website.
As someone who enjoys Naruto, I was very eager to see how Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals would turn out. Overall, I enjoyed it. Not only can it appeal to fans of Naruto, but enjoyment can be found by viewers who aren't already familiar with Naruto. Most of the elements that carry over from Naruto are explained. However, the only exception I saw in the first episode had to do with the character of Might Guy. He makes some token appearances in this episode, but it's never explained that he is Rock Lee, Tenten, and Neji's teacher.
Rock Lee is not only the main character of this series, but he is also the source for much of the show's humor. Tenten is the "straight man" (or in this case, it probably should be the "straight woman") to play off of Lee. When Lee says or does something idiotic, Tenten usually hits him with a paper fan. Each time I see her do this, though, I keep expecting Temari from the Sand Village to pop up and declare that she's the only "fan girl" in the Naruto universe; as a Naruto fan, I would find this gag rather amusing.
Unfortunately, Neji isnít as developed as a character here, since he's the "straight man" in the original Naruto series, but Tenten was given that role in Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals.
There are two stories in each episode of Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals. In the first story, Rock Lee and his teammates help a girl who is being pursued by loan sharks. In the second story, Rock Lee and his team have an assignment to acquire a rare treat being sold in the Hidden Village of the Leaves for a rich client. In the first story, Lee accidentally creates a "depansification" attack, and has to avoid dog droppings several times. In the second story, Lee and Naruto end up battling each other for the final voucher for the rare treat, and the humor comes from Lee trying to imitate Naruto's ninjutsu in a ridiculous manner.
While Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals may utilize some juvenile humor, it fits with the feel that the producers of the show are going for. It's a humorous series that can be enjoyed by both Naruto fans and non-Naruto fans alike. Personally, I would recommend Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals to anime viewers who are 12 or 13 years of age and older.
|Rock Lee and His Ninja Pals||26||2012-2013||Masahiko Murata/Gorou Sessha||Studio Pierrot||Viz Media|