It’s quite tragic but nothing I can put down in writing could ever properly detail my confusing relationship with “Naruto”. As a young man I used to love “Naruto” more than anything in the world. There was once I time when I would live, breath and eat the series. “Naruto” I actually hold in reverence, whether or not it is believed that I do thanks to the way I see it now is up to the person reading the review but I can assure you that I’ve never lived a day where I havn’t thought about the rambunctious Ninja and his pals.
It was the first ever Anime I knowingly watched. A friend from school put me onto it and within a single episode I was captured by the charm of the “punky” main character. Watching the Anime than lead me to begin reading the Manga, reading the Manga than lead me onto playing the video games, and experiencing the franchise as a whole lead me onto the path of a career to do with Japanese Pop Culture so, as you can see, “Naruto” means a great deal to me regardless of whether or not I still enjoy the series.
Thanks to our friends over at Madman Entertainment, us at SnapThirty were given a couple of tickets for the special screening weekend of the film here in Australia. To be able to experience a piece of “Naruto” media entitled “The Last” with some of the people that made the series so popular, the fans, was extremely exciting…unfortunately that may have been the most enjoyable part of this film.
I’m going to do my best to detail as much of the story as I can without actually saying anything about the story because, with a movie like this, anything I don’t think about writing about could potentially be a huge spoiler so bare with me, I’ll be trying my best to NOT wreck this film for you. “The Last: Naruto The Movie” takes place two years after the events of “4th Shinobi War” during a time of apparent peace. Like any “Naruto” movie, the tranquility is enjoyed for too long before some sort of world-ending threat rears it’s ugly head.
The worst part about a powerful antagonist appearing in this movie is that it really puts a dampen on the growing relationship between Naruto and Hinata that the movie is centred around. Finally the two characters people have been shipping for what seems like the entire length of the series are about to make some serious progress with their mutual love for each other. Unfortunately a white-haired home-wrecker decides that right now is the perfect time to exact revenge for a race of moon Ninja we’d never even heard about until now.
Trying to kidnap Hinata but failing thanks to the efforts of our galant hero Naruto, Toneri (the bad guy) sets his eyes on Hinata’s little sister Hanabi. After she’s taken, the heads of the Ninja world somehow come to the conclusion that Toneri is using her Byakugan powers to bring the moon closer to Earth which will, once they get close enough, destroy both galactic bodies. Naruto, Sakura, Sai, Hinata and Shikamaru are then sent to track her down and, once again, save the world. Why they were the only Ninja sent to find young Hanabi still doesn’t make sense to me seeing as her inclusion in the equation literally means life or death.
“The Last: Naruto The Movie” truly is a story about Naruto and Hinata’s love that is wrapped in an ill-explained and ultimately convoluted story about Ninjas from the moon. Being part of an actual audience allowed me to gauge first-hand the general thoughts on the film and, for the most part, they were one and the same as mine.
For most of the movie, reactions like “Huh!?” and “What the hell!?” flooded the cinema. While there were some genuine laughs and cheers, there were also some genuinely confused people who walked out of the screening questioning why Masashi Kishimoto, who wrote this movie, did so in such an odd way.
There were far too many story inconsistencies for me to overlook and a lot of what happened throughout wasn’t explained well enough for anyone to get a true grasp on. Much of what drove the story forward came in the form of a striking “coincidence” that was laid on a little too thick for it to have any positive effect. Once again, going into any more detail would ruin the story so I’ll refrain for delving deeper for now.
What I DID like about the movie was, well…actually a lot of things. Despite the fact that the story of Toneri left me uninspired, it was the story of Naruto and Hinata’s love that at least had me smiling by the end of the movie, and I think I can say the same for the rest of the audience who “wooed” when they finally had their first kiss.
Watching through this film actually allowed me to see how much these two characters have grown over the years, especially when it flashes back to a time when Hinata could barely speak to Naruto and Naruto could barely interact with anyone who wasn’t Konohamaru. To see actual realistic growth in two Shonen characters is so rare in this day and age but I’m glad that, out of anyone, it was these two that developed the most.
“The Last: Naruto The Movie” featured, without a doubt, some of the very best visuals to come out of a Shonen film. The subtle blend of CGI animation and traditional animation made each movement seem fluid without seeming like it was drastically different from the style of animation present in the series. Employed by Studio Pierrot were a whole bunch of cinematic techniques usually seen in live-action productions but that made the film as a whole so much more enjoyable to watch.
Sweeping shots, tracking shots, quick zooms and panoramic views occupied most of the film and gave the environments a real sense of realism. Unfortunately I’m not quite a fan of the gothic cathedral-style castle that Toneri calls home only because I believe it clashes way too hard with the obviously Japanese setting of the “Naruto” series as a whole but I can still appreciate when an environment is well put together and the castle just happened to be so.
For the most part, you felt like you were watching “Naruto” and that is really all you want from a “Naruto” movie. Event though the animation quality is leagues ahead of the series and there are certain places you usually wouldn’t see in the Anime or Manga, it still has an overtly “Naruto” feel that just can’t be explained but I know comes from the way the movie looks.
Backing up those sweet visuals is a very fitting soundtrack populated by mostly scene setting orchestral sounds. A great deal of what you hear either sweeps or booms with the events of a scene which, lined up as perfectly as they were, makes for some thrilling scene-setting. On occasion, the sounds of an electrifying guitar riff made fight scenes even more awesome than the animation could possibly do on its own.
The most exciting track out of the entire score of the movie was Naruto’s old theme song from back before “Shippuden” which played during the final fight with Toneri. It sent tingles up my spine and gave me a grin from ear-to-ear that I just couldn’t shake…until I was brought back down to Earth by character dialogue reminding me of what exactly it is that I’m watching. All the Japanese voice artists make a return as their respective roles and they do just as well, if not even better, than they did in the series.
Production-wise, “The Last: Naruto The Movie” was perfect. Audiences were delivered a movie that not only looked good but sounded good, unfortunately the story is what let this film down the most. Kishimoto went with such an extravagant plotline that clearly wasn’t thought out as much as it should have been or, at least, wasn’t explained as well as it could have been.
The movie itself as whole isn’t that bad. It is watchable and, to a certain degree, it’s pretty easy to enjoy when you disregard everything you have even the slightest confusion about because the questions you have will not be answered and if you expect them to be than the end of the movie will hit you even harder once you realise you’re going to be left in the dark.
The way I see it; most people who only enjoyed “Naruto” before the start of “Shippuden” will not not like this movie very much. The people who loved the series all the way up until the final episode/chapter will absolutely love this film and rightfully so. No fan of the franchise is better than the other but I do believe there’s a clear divide. Will I be buying this once it gets a home video release? Most likely, yes. Does that makes this a perfect movie? Not in the slightest, but it’s still one that ANY fan of “Naruto” should watch.