What if it was true that Naruto had been killed so early in the Shippuden series? The Internet would go haywire with angry Naruto fans; there would be riots in the streets, governments would be unable to control the rage, and thus it would lead to the end of the world. Well perhaps that’s going a bit too far, but the first Naruto Shippuden movie comes close with the “what if he died?” scenario. Is it worth checking out?
After the depressing opening scenes of Naruto’s death and funeral, we are taken back three days before that, with the introduction of the film’s main antagonist group led by a medical ninja known as Yomi. Their target is to resurrect the demon known as Mōryō and to do this they must take his spiritual form to where his body is hidden. In order to transport the demon spirit, Yomi decides to let him use his body for the time being.
Once this is accomplished, Mōryō summons large groups of stone soldiers he calls the Ghost Army to attack the world. He also implants Yomi’s followers with special creatures that can give them huge amounts of chakra. The only person who is a threat to their plans is Shion, Priestess of the Land of Demons, who has the power to seal the demon away. The group are sent to kill the priestess by any means.
Once the Leaf Village hears about this, the remaining members of Team 7 – Naruto and Sakura – are called into action along with Rock Lee and Neji Hyuga joining as replacements. Their mission is to protect Shion and escort her to the temple where Mōryō’s body is. Once the team meets Shion, they find out that she is very cold towards her loyal soldiers and hard to escort; she’s childish towards everyone. My problem with this is that she acts this way for the majority of the movie and as a result, I felt that when she starts to change I didn’t care about her misfortunes. It’s disappointing that one of the main characters is so unlikeable.
One of the highlights of the movie is the fight between Rock Lee and one of Yomi’s followers; it’s one of the more creative and intense battles with a good build-up, as both fighters become stronger over the course of the struggle. The other action scenes are good, however some are short and dissatisfying as either the allies or enemies are weakened off screen.
Although the art was solid throughout the movie, the only thing which let it down was the CGI; a perfect example of which was The Ghost Army, which I have to say was one of the most dull, boring armies ever made. At least make the stone warriors feel more threatening, rather than just having them walk in groups.
I’m not one who usually questions what rating an anime gets, but I feel the BBFC’s 12 rating is a bit generous considering the gruesome stuff I saw in this movie. Although I agree that blood is a minor argument, at times here you see characters getting impaled right through the chest, digging through flesh or slicing open their own chest with a scalpel without hesitation. If I was 12 years old I would seriously be frightened.
On a technical point, when watching the movie in Japanese with English subtitles, you might find that there are a few missing subtitles when characters speak, and some lines of text are either joined up for no reason or spelt incorrectly; one being “rememrber”.
Extras include the original Japanese movie trailer, two special movie trailers (one which features the song Hero Come Back and the other being Michi), a Line Gallery which mainly features art work of the characters exclusive to the movie, and the Naruto Shippuden series trailer, in case you have been hiding behind a rock all this time.
With CGI and technical problems aside, the movie is at least entertaining enough to be a kind of popcorn movie for normal anime viewers. For the Naruto fans however, its a good, solid movie to add to your collection.