One of the things that often happen with popular anime, particularly of the shonen (boys) action variety is that they end up with lots of movies. These are usually not considered canon, and often have a self-contained story that has no bearing on the series’ main plot. The wildly popular Naruto franchise already had 3 movies before becoming Naruto Shippuden, and this is the second movie of that series… so technically it’s movie 5, but also movie 2. Anyway, let’s dig in and see how it goes.
Naruto’s home, the Hidden Leaf Village, is suddenly attacked by flying ninja from the Land of the Sky, an enemy nation thought to have been defeated. Naruto, along with his friends Sakura and Hinata, escort the doctor Shinno and his apprentice Amaru back to their village. At the same time, a squad made of some of the other popular characters, like Kakashi and Shikamaru, begin their counterattack against the sky ninja. And in addition, Sasuke, Naruto’s friend/rival who left their group to work for one of their enemies, is in pursuit of the doctor for his master. All of this eventually comes to a head in a deranged climax… or should I say climaxes, since there seems to three of them, one after another.
If my story summary leaves you confused as to who I’m talking about, then you’ve spot the first, albeit minor, flaw that most movies of this kind have. Yes, I’m a fan of the series, and as such, I know these characters. Sadly, if you know nothing about this franchise, then you will be confused for the duration. This is not helped by the flaws of the story itself. The main villain’s plan is so overloaded and convoluted that it’s kind of shocking that no one pointed out how much simpler he could have made it. Compounding the issue is that some of the side plots seem superfluous, and the biggest flaw being how little the character of Sasuke contributes to the overall story, with the exception of helping out during the climax. Considering how hyped his involvement is (not only on the cover and posters, but all over the advertising that’s in the special features), you’d think he’d matter more.
Thankfully, the film is somewhat saved by both high quality production value (the animation, music and voice acting in both languages are outstanding), and its climaxes hitting the right emotional notes. Like the titular Naruto himself, this film does better as an expression of gutsiness and emotion than it does as a logical thing.
After being burned in the past by anime Blu-Ray releases that had little in the way of special features, I’m happy to report that this one features lots of them, including trailers, TV spots, production art, and footage of the film set to one of the series’ openings.
Naruto fans should find something to like, although it’s not the best movie the franchise has put out. As for others, I’d recommend either first watching the series, or having a friend who is also a fan help explain things as you watch this one.
[learn_more caption=”Review Results”][one_half]Pros:
- Great production values
- Good climaxes
- Lots of special features[/custom_list][/one_half]
- Plot’s a bit convoluted, with a few side-stories feeling pointless
- Definitely not the place to start if you’re not already a fan
To see where this review score falls in our scoring range, please read our review scale guidelines.[/learn_more]