Another year, another Naruto movie on DVD. This time it’s based on Shippuden though, so everyone is a little older and a little wiser (well not really wiser…)
Shonen movies are always stuck in that loop of wanting to be ‘the big movie’ version of a show, and then having to reset to point zero at the end. Let’s see how the newest Naruto movie does.
Our newest Naruto movie comes in the ever more popular eco case, and has a spiffy cardstock slipcover. The slipcover is a nice quality cardstock, and is exactly the same as the cover, minus two differences. The front of the slipcover tells you the inside has a booklet, and the back lists the booklet under special features. Other than that, exactly the same. I quite like the picture used on the front. It’s a nicely drawn image of Naruto, and leaves the front rather clean. The Shippuden logo has also been slightly modified for this release, with a focus on the color red. The back has a symbol from the movie with screenshots inside, along with a short description of the film.
The case itself I’m not quite as pleased with. As I mentioned it’s an eco case, but the hub holds the disc far more stiffly than in previous eco cases. It takes a decent bit of force to get the disc out (and back in.) You feel like you might rip through the paper cover, so it can be a bit annoying to get the disc out. The case also has a very strong smell of glass cleaner. The positives of the artwork outweigh the negatives of this particular eco case, and if it annoys you more than it did me, you can always swap it into a new case.
The menu is quite nice. It has some animation, but never get’s annoying. Everything is very easy to find. Naruto fans will recognize the menu music relatively quickly and likely smile when they hear it. The only complaint is that the trailers aren’t listed in any way, so you just play them all at once. All the menus past the main menu are static and silent. It’s a nice menu, although I’m a little surprised that they didn’t create a menu that was more similar to the menu from the TV series, since those DVDs just started.
Naruto Shippuden the Movie uses a version of a fantasy plot that many franchises end up using at one time or another: The main character finds out he will die, it is destiny (and even meshes in a terracotta/stone army for people who like seeing that plot device used.) In many cases (and I don’t think it’ll spoil anything to say Naruto survives…) we know the main character will survive. In these cases, it’s about what happens that causes the impossible survival to happen. But that is the ending, and I won’t spoil that. The movie opens with this death moment, we see it, and we see some of the funeral after. Then the movie properly begins. A mighty evil is being set free, and will bring with it the norm: A thousand years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes… the dead rising from the graves! Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats, living together. MASS HYSTERIA! (Thanks Ghostbusters!)
So our hearty crew, Naruto, Sakura, Neji, and Rock Lee, head off to guard the one person who can stop the big bad from returning. The movie goes rather light on the story, and instead chooses to focus on having many character moments, and a few big action scenes. The character moments often end hilariously (oh Naruto, 70 pounds of pots and pans won’t protect you from destiny!) The action scenes focus on some of the more popular moves the characters have (Naruto used Rasengan more times than I think he used up until Shippuden started), with a heavy focus on Rock Lee. After movie three and the Shippuden movie, I think it’s obvious the movie production crew loves Rock Lee, and it’s hard not to with how the Shippuden movie uses him.
I quite enjoyed the movie, even if it was a bit slow to start. Naruto fans will have a ball with this one. If you are a Naruto fan who enjoys when the series gets comical, you’ll probably like this one even more.
The video quality in the movie is generally good. The source jumps around a bit. It goes anywhere from ultra nice, to it’s ok, to good enough far more than a relatively modern production should. I’m not sure if this was artistic intent, or just the DVD not being made as well as it could have, but it doesn’t cause to many problems. The video is anamorphic widescreen encoded at 480p. It looks good, but not great, and I don’t see the issues sticking out for many people unless they are looking for them.
As for the audio… Viz, Viz, Viz… what am I going to do with you… Once again Viz has made the odd choice of having four audio tracks, 2.0 (at 224k) and 5.1 (384k) for each language. The 5.1 tracks are muted and not that good, and I wouldn’t recommend them (although they aren’t nearly as bad as the 5.1 tracks on the Bleach disc I reviewed awhile back.) The 2.0 tracks are good though. They aren’t perfect, but there is no real issues with them (although one wonders if having extra bandwidth go to audio tracks might explain why the video isn’t great.) As is tradition with Viz releases, there is no sign/song subtitle track.
As for the dub, in general, everything is exactly the same as it was in my review of Naruto Shippuden: Volume 1. The voices are what you expect for Naruto after so many years of dubbing the show: everyone does great. We also get a few familiar voices stepping in for movie specific characters (with many dub fans no doubt happy at what I think is the first Naruto casting of Vic Mignogna, with his name misspelled in the credits to boot.) I think I need to point out Brian Donovan specifically though. His Rock Lee comes out so energetic I always find myself wanting to hear more of it (I’ve been known to flip over to the English track when I’m watching Naruto in Japanese if Rock Lee shows up.) A great dub that will have Naruto fans pleased.
We get some decent extras this time around, not great mind you, but decent. To start off with, I need to mention that based on where you look (slipcover, back of the case, or the booklet), each one has a different list of extras, and none of the three are correct to what is on the disc (and to be clear neither “16:9 video”, nor “5.1 audio” is an extra Viz…) As for the extras themselves, we start off with a nice physical booklet, which is apparently a reproduction of the Japanese movie booklet in English. It has some interviews, a few basic character descriptions, and is a nice little bonus. Although I should warn, don’t open this until you’ve seen the movie, even if you don’t read the details, it spoils the movies via a series of screenshots and short descriptions. We also get six minutes of various unsubtitled Japanese trailers, commercials, etc. The other video extra we get are clean versions of the ‘movie’ intro and outtro to Shippuden. To help advertise the movie, Shippuden changed the intro and outtro to have footage from the film. Both of these are on the disc, but without subtitles. There is also a decent sized line art gallery of movie specific characters (about 30 pages). Not a large collection of extras, but more than I expected (and more than is promised from the slipcover…. or the back of the case…. of the booklet…. and… wait a second… more than the extras menu itself says you are getting if you consider that the six minutes of trailers is simply labeled as ‘Original Japanese Movie Trailer’…)
I do need to mention that while this movie has decent extras, it is significantly less than previous Naruto movies, which often had quite a bit of behind the scenes material relating to the dub. I’m not knocking the score because of this, but for their flagship title’s fourth movie, you’d think Viz would give this the big two disc fancy treatment like they did the others.
Naruto Shippuden the Movie is a fun little tale for Naruto fans. If you only know of the movie as “the one where Naruto is destined to die” (like I did), you may be expecting something a lot more stereotypically gloomy and dramatic. While the movie does have some of that, I found it to be very entertaining, partially because it spends much of its time going with comedy or high octane action (although the first thirty minutes are a bit slow.) And as someone who hasn’t kept up with the modern happenings of the Naruto world as much as others, I appreciated that it focused on characters I know from the pre-Shippuden era. This is a good one Naruto fans… BELIEVE IT! (Almost made it through the whole review without saying it…)
Show: B+ (It starts off a bit slow, but is an entertaining Naruto tale, even if it has nothing to do with the ‘bigger picture’ of the Naruto universe.)
Packaging: B (I liked the slipcover and the case art itself, but the case is a bit hard to get the disc out of, and frankly… it smells.)
Video Quality: B (The video isn’t bad, but it isn’t great. I expect more from a relatively modern production)
Audio Quality: B- (2.0 tracks are good enough, but the 5.1 tracks are junky to be honest. Might bump it up to a B if you are willing to ignore the 5.1 tracks.)
English Dub: A (Another good one from Mary Elizabeth McGlynn and the Naruto crew.)
Extras: C+ (A nice booklet, some trailers, lineart, and the special intro and outtro. Not bad, especially when you consider the first TV volume had nothing.)
Overall (not an average): B+ (An enjoyable film on a decent disc. Some of the problems are, at this point, the norm for Viz DVDs. For Naruto fans it’s obviously a must buy. For Naruto fans who have fallen behind, I’d say check it out. For everyone else, it might be worth a look to see why so many people love that scrappy little ninja kid.)
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NARUTO© 2002 MASASHI KISHIMOTO. Licensed by Viz Media. All Rights Reserved.