Ninja on Ice!
I finally got to watch a new anime! Yay! Anyway, it's Naruto the Movie, the first theatrical release of this wildly popular Ninja-themed anime. I can't really consider myself a Naruto fan, though I have to say I do like the series. I don't find myself collecting the loads of paraphernalia now available (like ninja headbands, shuriken keychains and whatnot), but I do own a VCD set of over 100 episodes of the show. However, I haven't gone past episode 20 yet- just hadn't had the time or the mood to watch. Oh well. Story of my life.
Anyhoo, luckily anime movies are generally placed in a limbo place when it comes in relation to the running series- which means that movies are either totally separate entities from the TV show continuity, or can be placed anywhere. In Naruto the Movie, we have the core characters onstage: fearless never-say-die Naruto, cool-headed Sasuke, winsome Sakura and their teacher Kakashi. As the story goes, Naruto and his team are assigned to escort a star actress named Yukie as she goes on location to the isolated Snow Country in order to shoot the final scenes of her latest film. Naruto is of course totally infatuated with the star, who turns out to be far different from her onscreen persona. In short, she's a bit of a bitch and a brat. But what can a ninja do but carry out their mission? But as they enter the frozen wastes of the ever-cold Snow Country, they soon find themselves locked in a struggle between rebels and the evil ruler, Dotou. Soon it's jutsu versus jutsu as Naruto and pals strive to save the Ice Princess and her country!
Naruto the Movie is a surprisingly watchable feature. The story is pretty simple, and a bit predictable of course, but it's nicely executed thanks to really lovely and colorful visuals, nice animation and some pretty awesome ninja magic action. I'm really more of a hands-on person- I prefer fighting hand to hand instead of with giant magical beasts and super energy blasts, but the special attacks and jutsus were so well-animated here, I was having a ball.
In the end, what makes this pretty cool is seeing the characters kick butt, and have Underdog Naruto eventually get his just desserts at the end of the movie. At about an hour and a half, this movie doesn't wear out it's welcome, with a good amount of action, some drama and a few laughs. Naruto fans of course have eaten this up, but anyone who wants a good action anime movie can do a lot worse than watch this ninja flick. Get it at your local anime dealers in the Metro.