2009 Movie. Director: Hajime Kamegaki. 94 minutes. DVD, bilingual, $24.92. Distributor: Viz Media.
A nefarious spirit, locked away long ago, is back. Its one goal: to enslave the world. But hey, this ain’t your world. This one belongs to Naruto! And he, Sakura, Lee and Neji are sent to protect Shion, the one priestess capable of stopping this menace. But there’s just one problem. Shion is somewhat of a prophet, and if Naruto keeps this assignment, his death has been foretold. In Achilles’ fashion, our heroic ninja won’t back down. But will he die???
As I’ve said before, I was never a big fan of the original Naruto TV series. Don’t get me wrong. I recognize the typical anime comedy, the unique ninja jutsu, the morality of working as a team, and Naruto’s path to eventual greatness. But, more often than not, I just wanted to shove some Ritalin down Naruto’s throat, so that our hyperactive ninja would stop bouncing all over the place – like Tom Cruise on a couch.
But the sequence of Naruto movies is quite a different story. Focused, artfully drawn, a steady pace, a much older protagonist, Naruto Shippuden The Movie extracts everything you love about a given episode and lets it pervade 94 minutes of film. That’s right. There’s no room for superfluous jokes, horrible story arc tangents, or painfully slow scenes – everything that makes average and filler episodes so craptastic. No, this movie is as sharp and quick as a ninja-to. Pure jutsu fun all the time!
And it doesn’t hurt that Shion is a spoiled brat, creating a wonderfully comic tension between herself and Naruto as they race to save the world.
Fan or not, this is one ninja adventure worth signing up for.