Wednesday, December 20, 2017

REVIEW: Naruto Shippuden The Movie Rasengan Collection

What’s better than a Naruto Shippuden movie? Four Naruto Shippuden movies. That’s what you get with the Naruto Shippuden The Movie Rasengan Collection! Across these four films, Naruto and his allies protect females we will never see again, visits places we’ve never heard of before, and use every super cool special attack we’ve ever wanted to see in HD.

I received a copy of the Naruto Shippuden The Movie Rasengan Collection courtesy of VIZ Media.
Opinions are my own.

The Movie

The first movie is about a creepy medical ninja who wants to resurrect a powerful demon that will bring about the destruction of the world. He accomplishes this by injecting temporary bursts of a chakra “prescription” into his comrades who are thus able to use different elemental powers. Besides resurrecting a super-powerful demon, their other goal involves taking out a priestess who has the power to seal the evil demon. This priestess also has visions that have been 100% correct. Her latest vision: the death of Naruto Uzumaki.

Naruto goes on a bodyguard/escort mission with Sakura, Neji, and Rock Lee to protect the priestess from the creepy prescription ninjas while also guiding her to the shrine where she will reseal the evil super demon. It’s a pretty generic anime plot, which is expected for a “The Movie” movie. There are some cool ninja fights backed by kickass rock n’ roll music, especially when Rock Lee eats a chocolate bomb. Naruto’s usually blockheadedness is, as always, hilarious in the face of serious danger. Also, for a movie where the fate of the world is at stake, I didn’t really feel like the whole world was in danger. We only cut back to the Hidden Leaf Village a couple of times. Otherwise, the stakes are only raised by the presence of badly animated CGI terracotta warriors. Hey anime making people: stop using CGI.


This one is a bit more exciting, although it is another “protect and escort a girl you’ll never see again” movie. This time the Leaf Village goes to war with Sky Ninjas! Ninjas that can fly! But instead of getting to help out with the defense force, Naruto (along with Sakura and Hinata) travel with a doctor and his apprentice to their village (for some reason, I’m not really sure.) Along the way, the doctor is revealed to be the mastermind behind the Sky Ninja attack with a plan to awaken a great evil that could destroy all of the nations.

As the title suggests, this film deals with bonds between characters and the power they bring. Naruto uses the examples of his bonds between his friends and his teachers to explain the power of friendship to their new comrades. Throughout their journey, we occasionally cut back to the Leaf Village where Shikamaru is leading an assault on the Sky Ninja’s ships. These parts are awesome and I wish this was the whole movie. We get to see lots of cool jutsu used by the supporting characters while Naruto and Sakura are off.

The Will of Fire

This is the only film in the collection without an anime damsel escort trope. It’s also the best film in the collection. Coincidence? The Will of Fire deals with a childhood friend, Hiruko, of Kakashi and Tsunade’s returning to seek revenge for essentially being left out and bullied as a child. Hiruko’s plan is to absorb the chakra from the ninjas possessing Kekkei Genkai abilities, including Gaara and Kakashi. The main conflict is not really about Hiruko (despite his plans to start a war) but rather between the Leaf Village Ninjas and the way they choose to handle the situation. When Kakashi agrees to sacrifice himself to stop Hiruko, Naruto and Sakura disobey Tsunade’s direct orders and go after him. Shikamaru, on the other hand, is sent to stop them.

It’s basically Naruto: Civil War and it’s awesome. Other Naruto films usually involve the main members of Team Kakashi. The Shipudden films are obviously light on Sasuke. Occasionally there are other “guest stars” like Sai and Rock Lee in the previous films. The Will of Fire delivers basically everyone from Hidden Leaf all going up against Naruto and Sakura before beginning to question if following orders is the right thing. Obviously, they don’t kill Naruto and Kakashi doesn’t sacrifice himself, but that doesn’t make the action any less exciting. Everyone shows off their signature jutsu styles in some all-out rumbles both against the enemy and Naruto himself. That’s really all we want in a movie: a bunch of cool people being sweet. There’s also a hilarious joke where Hiruko says “I don’t believe it” and Naruto jabs at his infamous catchphrase - that might be my favorite moment in this collection.

The Lost Tower

The final film on the collection sees Naruto thrust back in time to chase a rogue ninja who specializes in chakra-puppets. The adventure takes him to a city that is ruined in his time, but a buzzing metropolis in the past. He meets the city’s leader and uncovers a mysterious plot that requires Naruto to team up with the most unlikely of allies: his dad.

Narrative wise, Naruto Shippuden: Back to the Future is the most interesting film in this collection. The time travel storyline is intriguing as we, the audience, discover things as Naruto does… Well, maybe it takes him an extra second or two. Unfortunately, while Naruto’s interactions with his young father are fun, the absence of any other supporting characters is noted. Sakura and Sai appear only in the opening and closing scenes, with Naruto otherwise completely alone for much of the film. The presence of an anime damsel cliche is actually kind of okay this time around, her story and characterization are much better compared to the female characters in the first two films, but the otherwise small cast is kind of disappointing. It’s the best written of the four, but it’s also the least exciting.

You can click here to get your copy of Naruto Shippuden The Movie Rasengan Collection.