Animated Movies

The Last: Naruto The Movie Review

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All right readers, for your benefit, I chose this version of the poster, which eliminates a certain picture that would likely be a pretty big spoiler. Now, you can skip this review without a worry! Once you have finished the manga or finished the anime (Which would be impossible at the moment) feel free to check out this review! I’ll probably be avoiding spoilers for the most part, but some may need to be mentioned at some point. We shall see…..I also typically do not include “The Movie” in the title, but seeing as how this is the final one in the main series, I suppose that I may as well. This film certainly lived up to the hype and it is quite possibly the second best Naruto film to date. I highly recommend checking it out and I’m glad that I got to support it by watching it in theaters last week.

It has been quite a while since the battle to decide the fate of the multiverse. Roughly 2 years I believe. The villages are at peace and war seems to be a thing of the past. Most of the heroes have let themselves go as their new designs are cringeworthy, but this leaves them unprepared for what is about to happen next. After being friend zoned by Naruto (Unintentionally, but still…) Hinata heads home only to discover that her sister has been kidnapped and she’s next. Naruto notices that the villains are heading off with Hinata and quickly dismantles them in a way that would make Vegeta proud. Toneri, the villain behind this, announces that he shall have Hinata as well and heads off. Naruto, Hinata, Shikamaru, Sakura, and Sai give chase and they must find his base as quickly as possible. That’s because…the Moon is going to crash on the planet and wipe out the human race. Naruto can’t let that happen!

Let’s get one of the big things out of the way from the get go…this film has a large romance part to it. You could definitely call this an action romance and you wouldn’t be wrong as the romance is as integral to the plot as the action part. You can imagine that I feigned surprise at this from the first trailer. This simply wasn’t the Naruto that I knew! It’s handled pretty well. They don’t randomly start making out and the film doesn’t give us any cheap fanservice shenanigans. No, it’s all played in a rather classy fashion. One of the big drawbacks about having fanservice is that it does make Naruto act way out of character for good chunks of the film. Since when he has ever cared for romance barring the occasional Sakura reference? Naruto’s more into having fun and brawling and this incarnation of Naruto loses that to an extent. I do think that adding the romance subplot is something that shouldn’t have been done, but it happened and I’ll just have to get used to it. Now that it’s official, it shouldn’t be too bad in the way that I don’t mind Minato/Kushina or Vegeta/Bulma. That being said, Naruto’s personality better now change for the worse in the upcoming Boruto (No, it’s not an asylum parody) film!

Next up, let’s talk about Naruto’s portrayal as a whole. Aside from the whole romance thing, he looks pretty good. The main reason why I liked him so much in this film is that he really wasn’t messing around. When the village was attacked by the enemy, Naruto quickly threw himself into the action. A lesser film would have had him be defeated rather easily, but this film went the logical route and Naruto wrecked them pretty easily. Naruto is the hero who saved the universe and there should not be a single being who can stand up to him at this point. Seriously, Naruto should easily outrank everyone in speed as well as strength. To help make things a little more fair, Naruto doesn’t use his Chakra mode or Nine Tailed Fox until the very end, but I’m glad that Naruto was still winning with ease.

He’s surprisingly brutal as he takes off someone’s leg with one of his attacks and splits many people in half. There is a twist though so Naruto is still the good ole hero that we once knew. This is a time where I probably would not have indeed either way though as he was helping a friend and was not so much aiming to kill as he was just making sure to recover her. (I don’t want to take a shot at Mario, but he does let Peach get kidnapped a whole lot…) The only part of the film where Naruto looks pretty bad is when he gets depressed after being rejected. Again, we can blame this on the romance part as this should have never happened. It was the most out of character thing for Naruto to do and it was pretty sad. Beyond that, this was a good portrayal of Naruto, the hero.

Hinata is finally trying to express her feelings for Naruto, but it’s a tough road since many have already beat her to the punch. She tries to put this to the side as the heroes head in to save her sister, but she finds this difficult. She continues to try and knit a scarf throughout the film and we learn why it is so important thanks to the beginning flashbacks. (Where Naruto looked underpowered…but I’ll accept that for now) She does make some really frustrating decisions like deciding to go with Toneri to find her sister though and this made her hard to root for at times. She really didn’t plan this out and her plan was doomed from the start. I also like to think that she could have beaten the minions at the beginning, but I suppose that they aren’t pushovers, Naruto just makes them look that way. We have to remember that Naruto is so much stronger than the rest of the villagers that teaming up, I doubt that could defeat him at this point. Hinata is still a likable character, but as far as heroines go, I prefer Sakura. Hinata’s future could be looking up though since she’s trying to come out of her shell more and more. I believe that the ending should have helped out with that in a big way. (There is an after credits scene so you should stick around)

Toneri wants to destroy the Earth and he has a good reason for it. Someone told him to do this! Unfortunately, he wants Hinata to be his pride and that’s where he goes downhill. He actually thought that she was making him a scarf, which is pretty naive. He’s also very full of himself. As a character, he’s certainly not great, but as a villain he definitely works. His final form is like something out of Gurren Lagann and he puts up a tremendous fight. He’s like a mini, guy version of Kaguya! His voice was also nice and menacing. He didn’t have a really big final form like you would expect, but this one was streamlined, which makes it all worth it. He could have been better if not for the ole romance part of his personality, but he was a cool way to end Naruto’s long array of battles.

Fans will be disappointed that Sasuke’s role is extremely small. The audience still cheered whenever he appeared on screen, but you could tell that everyone was hoping he would fight more. He got to destroy a large meteor and then he left again, but the film missed a big chance to make him help the heroes. With his new abilities, he could have instantly warped to the moon without a problem. It would have been awesome to have seen him defeat Toneri. Ah well, maybe he’ll get to fight a little more in the next main Naruto film. It could be a while, but let’s face it, the cast of Naruto shall be back at some point!
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I need to talk about some of the friends as well since some of the other characters looked pretty bad. The Raikage is a great example of this as he decides that if destroying Naruto is the riskiest way to save the planet…so be it! That may have flied back in the day when the Raikage was a villain, but he’s supposed to be a hero right? This just looks incredibly pretty and this makes it really hard to ever like him as a character. The other Kage are also powerless to stop him, which makes them all look rather weak. Killer Bee looks good since he stands by Naruto until the very end. The other supporting characters are mostly just there and don’t get a whole lot to do. Kakashi’s new “hunch” gimmick isn’t bad and I don’t mind if he keeps that around. Seeing him fight a little bit would have been nice, but I suppose that it was too much to hope for. This isn’t your average filler film where everyone jumps in with their special attacks after all. It’s mostly about Naruto and that’s fine since this is the end of the road. Fans of the Nine Tailed Fox will be happy to see him appear, but he looks pretty bad during his fight. He has his moment at the end, but it’s still disappointing to see him struggle so much against your average rock giant. The longer that he is out, the longer that Naruto is left without him as well. Naruto would have crushed Toneri a lot sooner if it had been the two of them against him.

The character designs also deserve a mention since I really don’t like any of them. That’s right, all of the new character designs barring Toneri’s look pretty bad. I definitely can’t dig Sasuke’s new cape and most of the other characters suffer from similar fate. Some characters like Sakura, Kakashi, and Ino are basically sparred since their designs didn’t really change, but others like Kiba and Naruto’s can be tough to watch. Naruto has one moment during the ramen scene where he just looks so big and buff that you’ll have to do a double take. The animation keeps away from that angle after that, but it’ll still take you by surprise. If I can ever get used to a new design, it’ll likely be Naruto’s, but I’m still going to miss the older ones. Plus, I’ll probably just associate Naruto’s new design with the romance plot, which won’t help his case.

Beyond the designs, the fight scenes are incredible. The villains all use energy blast techniques, which is new to the Naruto franchise. (For the most part) It makes for some great visuals and the final fight is really like a DBZ battle as Naruto and Toneri are essentially flying across the planet and really knocking each other with everything that they have. Planets are sliced in half and Naruto proves that he can match Ichigo’s energy feat by blocking a planet busting laser with his hand. He’s certainly improved since the old says to be sure. Naruto still has his traditional Rasengans, (Which he uses to vaporize one of the minions) but now he tends to use the Chakra Rasengan as well as the Rasenshuriken instead. It takes up more chakra, but Naruto has an almost limitless supply of that at this point and the power increase is dramatic. Again, you may attribute it to plot hax that Naruto doesn’t think to use his Chakra Mode until the very end of the film even when it may have helped against Toneri in round 1, but no hero goes all out in the beginning. Ichigo usually does, but even he has his moments where he just feels his opponent out first. It goes without saying that the animation is top notch here. So, even when there is no fight scene taking place, the village has never looked so good. It now looks a little more like Tokyo and it has certainly become modernized. You may wonder how things could have changed so quickly in such a time frame, but these are ninja who move at lightspeed so it’s not impossible.

Oh yeah, one scene that was a little iffy involves someone taking out someone’s eyes. I think that was rather unnecessary and even Toneri doing it to one of the heroes was a bit much. The Naruto franchise has always had a thing for transplanting eyes, but I certainly could have done without it. It’s one of those things that you don’t even want to remember since that would be way too painful. Ugh…..Ugu! Well, at least it’s just one scene right?

If I had to grasp at another negative, it would be that some flashbacks happen way too many times. I’m mainly talking about the Iruka one where the moon is said to be falling down. It appeared a few times in rapid succession along with a few others. I probably would have preferred them to have only happened once, a second time if necessary. Also, the scene leads into some plot hax since Naruto can’t break out of a simple genjutsu. That’s why he has the Fox with him right? Hmmmmmm….

This is hardly your average review though so instead of dividing it into positives and negatives, I’ve scattered them throughout the review. Based on the rating, you can tell that the positives do heavily outweigh the negatives though which is a good thing. Some things will be a little odd like Naruto not healing Might Guy, but I’ll just have to accept that Naruto doesn’t want to heal everyone. It’s similar to Gurren Lagann’s ending in that sense if you think about it. Defying fate is not something that is for every hero to do. I also think that destroying the Moon when it came crashing down shouldn’t be a problem for the heroes, but let’s talk about the power levels besides that little part. (Still an inaccuracy if you ask me)

Now, where do these guys rank power level wise? Naruto and Sasuke are the only two heroes who are much stronger than they used to be, but Sasuke doesn’t get many feats so I won’t discuss him much. With his eye abilities plus his physical strength, Sasuke should still be a match for someone like an Espada, but it’s a battle with many variables. As for Naruto, I think it’s safe to say that this places him at around Tsuna’s level and he could probably give SSJ1 Goku a good fight from the Frieza arc. It’s still a little much to say that he could defeat someone like Cell or SSJ2 Goku, but he’s certainly moved up. Keep in mind that Naruto doesn’t have his strongest form anymore so if you imagine how strong that one would be with his current stats, the possibilities certainly grow! I don’t believe that Toneri is as strong as Madara or Obito’s final form, but he did look more impressive than Kaguya. I’m satisfied with that although I still think that Naruto should have probably had the upper hand a little sooner.
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Overall, This was a fun way to end the Naruto franchise. It was pretty heavy with the romance, but it certainly could have been worse and hopefully now the fans can accept what I always knew, that Naruto and Sakura are just friends along with everyone else. Being stuck in the friend zone is a good thing after all. The fights in this film are incredible and in that area, it certainly is the best Naruto film. The battles seriously keep up with Battle of Gods and this film was infinitely more satisfying. Battle of Gods left a bad taste in my mouth with the ending and I’ll probably never get over that or my dislike of Bills. Of course, the real question is whether or not this will be able to defeat Rebirth of F. It’s hard to say, but the problem is that for DBZ is that it seems to have less of a theatrical feal to it compared to Naruto. Naruto has the overwhelming edge in its soundtrack and I dare say that the animation is superior as well. If DBZ brings its A game, it should still have a good chance at winning this round, but we’ll have to see. Naruto definitely won’t go down easily. I highly recommend checking this film out and I don’t see why any Naruto fan would skip it. If you have not seen anything Naruto related before, this could be a good film to check out and then you can watch the shows as a prequel instead of watching it first. How’s that sound? Just be aware that the rest of the series won’t be quite as high tier. Also, it should be noted that Age of Ultron has now been dethroned for this year. There is literally no way that it can be better than this Naruto film. Unless Rebirth of F can top it, nothing will. This is why I’m glad that the film had a theatrical feel that many anime films do not, this way the general audience can recognize it as being epic as well as the true anime fans.

Overall 9/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Naruto Shippuden Road to Ninja Review

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I finally checked out one of the latest Naruto films. This one got the most hype out of any Naruto film. Even the new one that came out about a month ago didn’t get the same kind of publicity as this one. This was going to be the ultimate Naruto film with the best villain yet. I understand that a lot of people did like the villain, but I can’t say that he was for me. This film suffers from the fact that it seems to appeal to the general audience a lot like the last film, but it’s still a decently good movie. We’re just falling back to the pre Shippuden level for the films.

Naruto and Sakura are having some drama with their parents/lack of parents. This results in some tense scenes in the beginning, which inevitably leads them to conclude that their lives would be better off if they could have swapped parental situations. That’s when the Masked Man appears and blasts them into an alternate world where that is the case. Naruto and Sakura realize that they’re going to really have to put some effort in if they want to escape this world and they’ll need to stop the Masked Man. The only problem is that the Masked Man looks a little different in this world. No matter, time to take him out!

Well, it’s a pretty fun plot, but the movie just messed up in several areas. I will admit that I was worried from the very start, but luckily the film fixed my problem with the intro. Let’s just say that it plays out like a bad fanfic. (Good concept, but terrible execution = bad fanfic) The Genin 11 (Mostly Chunins at this point) are slaughtering the Akatsuki when the film starts. It’s embarrassing for the big villains who used to be a threat. Even Itachi and Kisame are treated like random minions. I was definitely wincing a little during this fight since the disregard for power levels was at an all time high. I feel like power levels tend to be more inaccurate as you go through a series so that made me extra cautious here. Luckily, we get a big twist that makes the Akatsuki look better while making Naruto look worse.

I definitely did not like Naruto as he is treated like a plot device to get things rolling. He suddenly starts to feel bad about not having any parents and he takes it out on Iruka. It’s just not the Naruto that we remember. He got over that a long time ago and seeing his parents in his memories was enough to finally snap him out of that. He’s proud of what they did so he would never wish that they were back here. It seems like something that the writers felt was “realistic” for a kid who didn’t have any parents so they threw that in. This transitions into the general audience problem, but I’ll sidestep from that for a little longer.

Naruto gets to meet up with fake versions of his parents and he decides that he’ll act like a rude person so that they’ll stay away from him. He decides that he’s not going to play the Masked Man’s games, but he’s stuck in the world for now so breaking ties with them is not the best way to go about it. Not to mention that fake Minato is the reason why he will get to go on the mission in the first place. If Naruto really didn’t want to hang out with them, he should have just slept on the bench or in the woods like last time. As long as he is in the house, he should definitely act hospitable.

Even worse than Naruto’s actual personality though is definitely how weak he looks. Naruto has long since surpassed everyone in his village by now so he should have crushed the “Akatsuki” in the opening now that we know the twist. He looks worse than most of his allies there and it’s sad since he was the first one to rush in. Then, he finally gets to face off against Menma and he is thoroughly outclassed. His Sage Mode is unable to do anything so he is forced to summon a giant monster so that we can have a one hit KO attack when he finally gets close to Menma. Not exactly how I pictured the final battle.

Sakura doesn’t look very good either. Temporarily she doesn’t even care about going back to the real world. This also happens to Naruto in the second half, which is also pretty disappointing. She also has her arguments with her parents that is out of character, but still counts against her in this film. Her portrayal definitely wasn’t very good like with Naruto, but she could have been a lot worse. Just look at most of the supporting characters. Once again, it’s safe to say that the Leaf Village is pretty unlikable. Iruka deciding not to recommend Naruto to be a Jounin is just a really low blow. This is why nobody can trust this village, they’re always stabbing each other in the back.

Time to back it up a little. The film really feels like it’s trying to be a decent introductory movie to new viewers in a few ways. One way is that we get to see Naruto’s origin story once again (Luckily we skip all of the bullying this time) and Naruto hasn’t gotten over the death of his parents like I mentioned earlier. Sakura’s arguments with her parents are completely out of character for her and it’s just here so that she can be a part of the plot. It’s also a common plot to use for a film so the writers just couldn’t pass it up. (The Author was the main one who decided what the film would be like, but I say writers because the film guys likely helped along the way with their suggestions) Another way that it feels like a general audience film is that the climax is a giant monster battle instead of a nice hand to hand experience.

Let’s face it, “Bigger is better” is still a popular saying in films. So, instead of letting audiences see Naruto and Menma go at it in a DBZ style confrontation, we get to see the Nine Tailed Fox duel a giant monster. They are naturally implied to be far superior to Naruto and Menma is strength even though they look pretty unimpressive. They can spam their energy blasts, but the small range of the blasts (They strike more vertically than horizontally) means that we end up with two monsters who are effectively “camping.” They just keep firing blasts at the other and none of them actually connect. It’s more of a chase than an actual fight and then we get the one punch that ends it all.

That would have been the more disappointing final anime fight since Pokemon if not for the fact that we quickly get another fight after that. Unfortunately, the film was running out of time by then so Naruto’s fight against the Masked Man is very short. No worries, they decide to rip some scenes out of the manga as Naruto wins in a move that pays homage to Minato’s fight. The film’s homages didn’t begin there though as Naruto’s punch with Menma is almost identical to how Naruto defeated Gaara back in the day. I like homages….actually I don’t. Thinking about it now, they’re typically just not good and take away opportunities. Look at Avengers Assemble and how often it copies the film. It’s always best to do something unique and a homage should be more subtle than just copying a fight scene. That’s a lesson that this film really needs to learn.

The film’s animation is pretty good. It’s definitely not something to write home about, but the quality is definitely very good and it makes for a pleasurable viewing experience. I think it’s a little dicey that a show that’s a few years old like Fate/Zero looks better than this film, but that company’s animation budget is just through the roof so I suppose that it’s not fair to compare. What hurts this film a lot is the fact that we didn’t get any real fight scenes, or at least ones that would have a chance to shine. No character uses any fancy energy weapons or has a power up scene where the animators can have fun with the aura. The energy blasts from the Kaiju are the only chance for the film to show off its movie budget and the blasts look good, but they’re more like energy balls so you can’t really make them look quite as good as a Kamehameha no matter how much time you spend drawing it. The fight against the Akatsuki is pretty smooth, but not flashy in the slightest, which is why it actually doesn’t look impressive. You could compare it to the fights against Kakuzu and Hidan in the series and it would actually be pretty similar. The film is more streamlined, but just not as explosively colorful sometimes.

This film borrows just about all of its themes from previous films and the show. That’s pretty sad for it, but it’s a new trend for films based off of old franchises nowadays. It’s a pretty bad trend if you ask me since the music may be established and great, but you need to keep making new songs. Imagine a time where all films just use old tunes and remixes of old tunes. That’s not what we want to see, but the soundtrack is definitely 5 stars worthy. They’re old, but the themes are tried and true. They’re perfect for battle scenes and some of the villain themes really make you feel like the end is near. They’re fitting for such a world filled with despair as everyone fears Menma.

Speaking of which, one of the gimmicks for this film was that Naruto’s supporting cast would have warped personalities in the alternate world. It’s a decent sub plot in concept I suppose, but totally unnecessary. I always liked the idea of parrellel worlds, but just turning all of the heroes to villains and villains to heroes would suffice for me. Instead, the writers decided to make just about all of them unlikable. We have a few perverts, and more of the others are either really meek or too aggressive to the point where they are antagonistic. It’s hard to imagine how this village lasted for a year, much less up to now. There are no good fighters and the whole world lives in fear of Menma.

Time to finally talk about Menma. Saying Menma’s true identity is hardly a spoiler since it’s probably basic Naruto knowledge at this point considering how popular he became for a while, (Not to mention that the actual plot mixed in with the tie in episode makes it a logical conclusion) but I shall not mention it just in case. He has brought the entire Shinobi world to its knees and he is feared as the ultimate Naruto villain. He knows about the Masked Man and then he decides to destroy the Red Moon scroll. It is the one thing that can defeat him so he heads to the Leaf Village to destroy it and that’s when the climax begins. He can summon several monsters like Pain and his physical abilities are already pretty considerable. He is able to catch a Sage Mode Punch from Naruto, which is no easy feat. Unfortunately, the film was just toying with us there as he doesn’t actually fight. Instead, the monster battle begins. From that one moment, we can tell that he is a tough villain, but he just couldn’t end up showing it.

Menma is ultimately an unlikable character despite his powers. One of the main reasons is that he seems to just be a tool the whole time. He has no real motivations and he seems to just fight for the thrills. What really doesn’t help this is the fact that he has a terrible voice. It’s one of the worst voices that I’ve heard for a final boss in some time. It doesn’t strike fear into you or make you gain respect for his character. It just makes Menma seem like a villain who’s tough talk is all that he’s got. Menma’s true design is pretty good and the voice luckily shifts, but it’s hard to watch his masked form.

This review is definitely turning out longer than I had expected. Partially it’s due to how many ways the film went wrong, but also just because this is a Naruto film so there is a lot to discuss. Naruto’s fake parents look pretty good for the most part. One scene is there to quickly reinforce the point that Naruto’s parents were better so that he could leave with no regrets. It definitely shows how much fun it would have been if the parents had been here since the beginning. That would make for a pretty good AU spinoff series since the Leaf Village would definitely be overpowered with them in the ranks. In a way, that’s how it should have been.

I think I’ve addressed most of the points in this film by now. Time to quickly mention one of the negatives that certainly helped to drag the film down. The fanservice. This film has a lot more of it than usual, which is pretty disappointing. It’s not a huge amount, but for Naruto film standards it is considerable. We have the generic bath house scene, which is pretty cringe worthy. There is really no point to it at all. It’s probably just there to get in some more money, but this has always been a pretty cheap trick. You don’t need fanservice in a film and then having two of the characters be perverted for no reason is also in bad taste.

This film is pretty long, but it doesn’t know how to maximize the time that it is given. Too much time is spent on showing us how everything is a little different and not enough is spent on the actual fights or the villain. The film is already almost over by the time that the final fight happens so naturally it is given the shaft instead of the filler moments. Definitely not a good move for the film if you ask me. The film could have been the usual 70 or so minutes without a lot of the filler moments or 2 hours with more action. Either way, it would have been a huge improvement from what we did get.

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Was this movie as disappointing as Battle of Gods? I’m going to say no although it’s very close. My hopes for this film were slightly tempered by Blood Prison while I had nothing to protect me from Battle of Gods before hand. This film still had a great soundtrack, which Battle of Gods lacked although the DBZ film had the much better fight. It just goes to show that the modern films for these two series are not as good as the classics, but that just means that the sequels have a higher chance of being better than these. I’m already hyped for the return of Frieza and I think that the final Naruto film should be pretty good as well. I don’t have high hopes for that one anyway, but the big battle should be good.

In the missed opportunities section, there are definitely a few things that come to mind. One of them is Sasuke since his appearance literally has no point here. He just gets 2-4 lines and that’s about it. He’s relegated to the background like most of the characters here. That’s pretty sad for his fans when the trailers made it seem like he would actually get to do something. The Masked Man’s plan at the end is decent, but plot hax get in the way of this and he also looks rather weak since Sakura is able to hold her own against him for so long. Sakura is a tough fighter, but she’s not Naruto level so he should have been able to crush the Masked Man considering how Sakura’s fight turned out.

Now, I should probably summarize what the positives of the film are since we have so many negatives. How does it actually deserve a 6? Well, we still get a decent fight with the Akatsuki at the beginning and watching them fight random monsters at the end may not be extremely amusing, but it’ll do as an action scene. You just need to ignore the power levels for this film and then you’ll enjoy the fights a lot more. The actual concept is interesting, but it just isn’t used very well. The soundtrack and animation are pretty good as well of course. The film is also pretty interesting while you’re watching it and it’s a fun film. It’s a popcorn fun, action block buster so you’ll leave it feeling satisfied. Amidst all of the negatives, you have to remember that this is still a Shonen Jump film. The designs are unique and the fights are fun. We have good amounts of those two positives here and mixed in with the music, you’ve got the makings of a pretty good film. That’s about it for positives I’m afraid, but they’ll do.

Overall, Road To Ninja is definitely one of the worst Shippuden films and probably ranks pretty low on the all time Naruto list. It loses to films 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8. I’m going to say for now that it does beat films 1 and 5 though. 5 was probably the ultimate disappointing Naruto film since Sasuke was in it, but he couldn’t save it. This is a good film to introduce you to the world of Naruto and Naruto fans should still enjoy the fights. Just be prepared for all of Naruto’s friends to look pretty awful and for the unnecessary fanservice included. Also, brace yourself for the final battle because you are sure to be disappointed unless you were waiting for a giant monster fight. The soundtrack and animation are pretty solid and it’s still a good film despite all of the flaws. This review was certainly on the negative side, but that just seems to be the fate of the modern anime films that get a lot of hype. Obscure titles like Bleach 4 and Yugioh 3D seem to get all of the fun. You’re still guaranteed a fun experience here.

Overall 6/10

7 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Naruto Shippuden Legends Akatsuki Rising Review

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This is a game that I’ve owned for quite a while at this point. It’s had to sit in my backlog for years, which tells you just how many games I’m juggling at the moment. After all, why else would an anime game ever stay on the shelf? This game is part of the Uzumaki Chronicles series so the gameplay is in that style. Unfortunately, the gameplay has significantly regressed, but it’s still a pretty fun game to check out, it just keeps it from getting a good ole 8. (Most 3D fighting anime video games do end up with 8s, which is why that is pretty notable)

The game covers the first arc of Naruto Shippuden. Naruto has returned to the village after a long time training abroad. He discovers that the Kazekage has been kidnapped by an evil organization known as the Akatsuki! Naruto won’t stand for this so he heads out with a few of his comrades to pursue the villains. Another squad is also dispatched to assist Naruto. They will need to hurry since the villains intend to destroy the Kazekage after their operation is a success.

The gameplay is the biggest factor here so let’s talk about that first. You’re placed in a 3D environment and you typically have to reach the end of an area that is filled with minions. The other type of area is a “defeat the enemies to advance” section which is self explanatory. On the normal areas, you don’t have to actually fight anyone as you run to the goal. I wouldn’t recommend that due to how tricky the leveling up system is. You can teleport with the O button and attacking uses the square button. You can use your ninjutsu like a Rasengan or a Shadow Clone to try and defeat the enemies a little quicker.

The gameplay sounds pretty solid right? It actually sounds great like that since a 3D fighting game is what we all want. Unfortunately, it’s not as clear cut as it sounds. The teleporting option is really what wrecked the gameplay because it doesn’t take up any meter. You can teleport forever and ever if you want too. Your opponent can go one step further as they can teleport through your attacks infinitely. This gets old very quickly as you can try to hit them for minutes without much success. It’s the biggest flaw imaginable since it makes fighting with hand to hand skills virtually impossible. The enemies will just keep on punishing you if you dare to use such a tactic.

The best way to counter this is to just focus on Naruto’s Shadow Clone Jutsu and get it to at least level 5 so you can use the whirlwind combo. After that, just spam it for every single boss along with regular shadow clones. It’s the best way to win, but it’s not a very fun way. Once in a while, you can try to get up close and personal to take on a boss, but then you’ll just watch as they teleport away and hit you with a powerful jutsu that takes away 70% of your health. A single combo was enough to beat me several times so you have to keep your distance. I’m thinking that the developers just didn’t realize that the A.I. would exploit the teleporting so well. I’m hoping that this is fixed for Kizuna Drive since that would make the gameplay so much more enjoyable. Technically, the actual gameplay style is still great, but you really can’t get past the teleporting angle. Who wants to use the same jutsu over and over again for the entire game right?

One thing that could also have made the experience better would be to rehaul the leveling up system. Most games just give you EXP for defeating opponents, but this game added a new spin to it by giving you EXP for good combos as well. This means that defeating normal enemies gives you almost no EXP at all so you need to either keep facing bosses or racking up those combos. Getting a good combo is tough considering how often the opponents teleport so replaying levels to face the bosses is your best bet. Even then, leveling up isn’t very quick and the power upgrade is very slight so you need quite a few level ups to really feel it. I ended the game at level 44, which actually isn’t that bad. I only had to grind for level ups once, but that was before I learned that the Shadow Clone jutsu was the best in the game so it’s hard to tell just how necessary it was. I barely squeaked by one of the final boss fights though so it’s safe to say that it may have ultimately saved me. I think that it should be easier to see how much EXP you need to level up instead of going into the menu that leaves you vurlnable.

Speaking of which…you should be able to pause the game. There is no way to do that in the game, which is pretty sad. You just have to find a quiet spot and camp out t here while you open the menu to look at items and your status. Why the game doesn’t stop while you do that is beyond me. It provides a bit of a challenge in terms of health I suppose, but you should still be able to pause when you’re not in the middle of battle at the very least. (Pausing during battle should still be okay) Nobody wants to keep putting their PSP to sleep when they need to quickly go somewhere. It’s a smaller gripe than the others, but it’s definitely worth mentioning.

The graphics look pretty good. They’re not downright amazing and they certainly get outshined by other PSP games like Birth By Sleep, but it’s good enough. The gameplay graphics are pretty bright and sharp, which allow you to take in everything easily. The cutscenes can definitely be a little blocky, but everything is still clear. I definitely give the game a thumbs up in this area. The soundtrack is decent, but I’m a little more critical of it. There are only a few themes in the game. I’d say that at least half of them are pretty good and there are one or two really good ones. I think they should have had more themes though since just about every boss shares the same one. So, it’s a pretty fun game to listen too, but you should be prepared to hear the same tunes a lot. It’s not as bad as it could have been if the themes were not good of course.

The actual story mode is 10 levels long. Each level is pretty short in terms of gameplay..or at least technically. As mentioned earlier, the boss fights can be quite long and difficult at times so that actually helps to stretch the game out along with the cutscenes. 10 levels is my minimum for a game and my play time was a little over 7 hours so I’m pretty satisfied with the length. There is certainly a lot of replay value to be found here as well. You can try leveling everyone up to level 99 for starters. Then you’ve got Survival Mode and Mission Mode, which have a lot of challenges to complete. You’ve even got an Akatsuki Mode where you effectively play story mode again from the villain’s point of view. A pretty nice touch wouldn’t you say? If you’re really grasping, you can also try to complete each mission with a star, but I’m not sure what you unlock for doing that.

Overall, Naruto Shippuden Legends Akatsuki Rising is a good game, but it’s one that could have been much better. The leveling up system needs a little work since the bosses are typically a little too strong without some extra level ups. The teleporting trick also gets old pretty quickly since the bosses can abuse it while you just watch in awe. The actual story mode is very engaging so it’ll keep you glued to the screen and I still love the concept of a 3D Naruto adventure game. I definitely recommend it to Naruto fans and especially to gamers who want a challenge. Whether intentional or not, this is certainly one of the toughest Naruto games out there! I plan on starting Kizuna Drive soon after I get back to a few other video games so then I should have a review for it up soon. It has more levels than this game and it’s the sequel so we’ll see if they fixed the teleporting issue. I sure hope they did!

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Naruto Mission Protect The Waterfall Village Review


This OVA will always hold a special place in my heart since it was at the origin of my venture into being a Naruto fan. I always get a retro feeling from watching this film (Even if this is only my second time watching it) and the climax never disappoints. It’s a fun venture back into the old Naruto days and they did a good job with it. It had its flaws of course, but the pros outweigh the cons.

Naruto and friends have been assigned to protect a man named Shibuki. Shibuki is the leader of the Hidden Waterfall village. The very location of this place is a secret from just about everyone for security reasons. Shibuki then convinces Kakashi to have his team pick up the trash for some extra money. Kakashi gladly agrees to this and he quickly heads back to the Leaf Village. Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura are to follow once they have completed their mission, but the three shinobi are attacked by some rogue ninja. Will our heroes really be able to deal with this?

Well, it’s pretty interesting to see them try to fight these guys since our heroes were very inexperienced back then. From their power levels and the way that they fight, you would guess that this was either right after Zabuza or right before the Chunin Exams. (Not much of a gap there anyway……) Sasuke has mastered his Sharingan, but he definitely doesn’t have the speed that he acquired to fight Gaara. Naruto is in his clone spamming days and he doesn’t seem to know the Rasengan at this time. This was probably the toughest point in Team 7’s career. The heroes were actually more grounded than the average main characters after 5 or so volumes. (Bleach volume 5- Ichigo is already a supersonic warrior of legend, Yu Yu Hakusho volume 5- Yusuke is already getting familiar with his spirit gun and his abilities would possibly be around Kakashi level or slightly lower, etc) Sakura doesn’t fight at all so it’s hard to gauge just how prepared for action she is.

Nevertheless, the villains couldn’t have picked a better time to attack. It’s unfortunate for the Waterfall Village because the secret location is pretty easy to guess. The village is….behind the local waterfall!!! I don’t know whether that’s ingenius or just sad, but it evidently tricks most ninja. The villains only find out about this because the main one used to be a ninja there. The location of the village also provides a lot of questions. How can kids and seniors be expected to hold their breath for the reeeeeally long swim to and from the village? We see a possible answer since one of the old ladies just walks out of a forest claiming that she’s from the village, but then what’s the point of the shortcut? It seems like you can enter the secret way or you can just go all around through the forest. If that is the case, the writers really didn’t plan this out…..at all.

Back on point, the villains aren’t very interesting. Suien is the main villain and he’s just a corrupt ninja who fled when the going got tough. He wants the Hero’s Water so that he can live a glorious (and short) life. It increases a person’s chakra levels by 10X after all. (It also shortens a person’s life by 10X) We are never given any scenes to develop the villain, which aren’t typically necessary, but then the villain at least needs a cool design to fall back on. This guy has none of that and I can’t say that he’s that impressive without the enhancement. Once he has it, Suien’s super strength certainly looks good…which I found to be interesting to say the least. I’ll make the DBZ comparisons in a moment.

Suien had some partners, but none of them really appear all that much and they look terrible by the end. A single shot takes them down in an instant. The main filler character of the film is Shibuki and he’s pretty bad. He doesn’t want to risk his life and he’s the type of guy who won’t admit it either. He’ll act pretty ungrateful all the time and it’s really hard to root for him. He’s clearly not much of a fighter and he only became the leader because his father was the former (cooler) leader. He has his big moment towards the end, but he still almost let one of the kids die about 3-4 times before he stepped in. That’s pretty unacceptable so he gets a thumbs down from me.

Naruto looks pretty great here and it reminds me that he always has the potential to be a great character even if he doesn’t always live up to that. He stays determined to win and save everyone even while he is being pounded into the ground. It’s hard not to root for Naruto since he really looks great here. I dare say that he is probably the best character if we’re just judging from this OVA. He looks pretty weak if we’re talking about power, but he doesn’t let that stop him. Naturally, Sasuke will always be the better character….

Sasuke still looks pretty great as you would expect. He’s very confident and his abilities speak for themselves. He’s considerably stronger than Naruto at this point in time, but that also means that he has to lose since that will give the film some shock value. I don’t really agree with how he lost, but at least Sasuke dealt a lot of damage first. I have no problems with his portrayal and it was as good as you would expect from him.

Sakura doesn’t look very good and her fans will certainly be disappointed with her portrayal. She doesn’t fight at all and even the villains comment on how weak she is. That’s not what we expect from someone in the Haruno clan! Luckily she got some abilities after the 3 year timeskip, but this was certainly a tough time to be a Sakura fan. It’s hard to find any positives for her in this OVA….better luck next time I guess.

I felt like the writers had watched more DBZ than Naruto before they made this OVA. Chakra levels are treated completely like Ki from DBZ. The more chakra that you have, the greater that your speed and power increases. Suien is practically able to fly by the end and his punches can send his opponents into the distance with ease. He punches Naruto through a mountain and he can break someone’s bones by casually stepping on them. Chakra is good to have, but it doesn’t necessarily increase your physical stats or at least not by such a noticeable amount. It just means that you can use more ninjutsu, which is why your chakra level isn’t a downright huge factor. It’s still fun to see how much chakra a person has since it tends to show how skilled they are, but this felt more like sheer aura power than chakra.

My only negative would probably be in how much the villains get to pound on the heroes because it really makes you wince at Kakashi’s decision to leave. The heroes really take a beating in this OVA and the villagers are not safe either. The kids actually absorb their share of damage, which was a bit much. We don’t need to see the villains hurting the kids do we? Keep it to the ninja! (Who are kids, but they’re fighters so it’s different) That’s the only real negative for the film and the rest of it was classic popcorn fun.

The OVA also follows the concept of Naruto a little more than the show did. Team 7 basically act as mercenaries who simply aren’t holding back. Sasuke terminated nearly 10 of the enemy shinobi without a second thought. It’s not unheard of since that’s what ninja do, but it’s not something that you expect to see from them. Luckily, Naruto doesn’t destroy anyone so he’s still on the path to heroism while Sasuke’s foreshadowing got to start a little earlier than expected.

The animation is pretty good, but it’s not great. It’s basically at the TV show’s level and it looks better than the Zabuza arc, but not as good as the Chunin Exams. The fight scene between the two sword fighters at the end was pretty great and I liked the final battle as well. They were brief, but the animation really gets to shine in the fights. The soundtrack is from the show so it’s pretty great. I think that an OVA for a show should always get an original soundtrack or at least a few new tunes, but you still can’t fault the classic themes. They help to get you pumped up for the battles that are ahead.

Overall, This was a pretty fun OVA. It would have been nice to see Naruto put up a better fight in round 1, but he made up for that performance by the end. The animation is good and the soundtrack is pretty solid as well. It’s not very long (around 40 minutes) so the special will be over before you know it. This is a decent way to get into the Naruto franchise and I recommend it to any action fan. Just try not to wince when Kakashi leaves the main characters to fend themselves off in an unknown land while he heads all the way back to the village by himself…

Overall 7/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Chunin Exam on Fire! Naruto vs Konohamaru! Review

Naruto_vs_Konohamaru_The_Burning_Chunin_exams
It’s time for a review a pretty short OVA. This is probably the shortest thing that I’ve reviewed since the Superman shorts! It’s only about 13 minutes, but that’s still decent I suppose since it’s mostly about a fight. (30 minutes is still the minimum length that is acceptable for an OVA though) This OVA is pretty good and it definitely beats most of the other Naruto shorts…even if the ending is a little predictable.

After all these years, Naruto has finally decided to retake the Chunin Exams. This will help him to finally move past the Genin handle that has haunted him for so long. Unfortunately for our proud shinobi, Naruto is faced off against Konohamaru in the first round. This will certainly be a fight to be remembered and Naruto is going to have to use all of his techniques. After all, Konohamaru has been waiting for this day for over 3 years!

It’s cool to see Naruto actually take the Exams again, but that’s even more of a reason for this short to have been longer. Wouldn’t it have been cool to see Naruto participate in all of the trials up to the fight? That would have been pretty fun, but I guess they didn’t want to squeeze all of that in. I’m not sure if you guessed the ending yet, but you should realize that Naruto was still a genin in the manga at the time….so it would be hard to move up.

Nevertheless, Konohamaru puts up a fight and I’m happy to say that Naruto takes the fight a little seriously as well. He says that he can’t hold back since it would make Konohamaru feel bad. To an extent, Naruto has to be holding back since his first punch didn’t shatter Konohamaru, but we get the overall message of what he is trying to say. Konohamaru tries a lot of different jutsu and apparently he even knows the Giant Rasengan. That’s pretty cool for his fans since he is definitely learning at a quicker rate than Naruto. Technically, this means that he should be able to surpass Naruto at some point, but I don’t see it.

One thing (There is Always one thing) that I found the writers to have made a mistake on was Naruto’s Rasengan barrage. We get that he’s not holding back, but attacking Konohamaru with dozens of Rasengans is a little much. If any of those hit the poor kid..he’d be dead. There’s no way he could survive a full encounter with one of those devastating attacks. It looks cool to see Konohamaru dodging them the whole time, but that was definitely a bit much.

The animation is decently good for this OVA. It’s basically TV show quality, but considering some of the episodes during the War arc, I guess this is still an improvement. At this point, we’ll take what we can get. Also, it’s not like the OVA had a big budget to back it up so I’m sure that they did what they could with it. As long as the animation doesn’t look bad, I’m fine.

Overall, Naruto vs Konohamaru is a pretty fun special. It’s certainly not something that is going to keep you talking for a while, but who doesn’t like to see a fight scene? Naruto got to prove that he may be a Genin, but he can still hold his own against anyone. The ending is pretty cheesy and a little sad, but it’s unfortunately one of the only paths for the writers to go. I would have gone with the “I surrender” route, but that wasn’t in the cards. I recommend checking this out one of these days when you have the time. It’s brief and fun, which is all that you would expect from this. After that, check out Shippuden film 3!

Overall 7/10