When it comes to standalone theatrical movies from a long running franchise like Naruto I’m always a little wary of what to expect. Movies of other series haven’t lived up to potential expectations. When found find out the first Naruto Shippudden movie, that is the fourth movie in the history of the Naruto franchise, would have a focus surrounding the death of the main character, it caught my attention instantly and made me want to watch it.
Admittedly the first Naruto Shippuden movie has been out on DVD in the UK for a while. However it is seeing a rerelease of sorts to coincide with the arrival of the second movie ‘Bonds’ on April 2nd as there will be a Blu-Ray double pack containing both movies. Purchasing this pack will be the only way to own the Blu-Ray version of the first movie in the UK. This review will focus on the Blu-Ray version of the first movie.
As I previously alluded to this movie revolves around the death of Naruto, a bombshell dropped on you virtually from the get go. The movie – taking place shortly after the events of the first arc featured in Manga UK’s Naruto Shippuden Box Sets 1-3 DVDs – opens with a scene where Naruto is fighting a monster of some kind and ultimately fails in his attempt to win. This then reveals the main plot to be about a mysterious demon named Moryu that has been sealed away in a secret location for a long time only to be convenient released by a medical ninja named Yomi and his four cohorts. Because of this occurrence the five nations have to work together to battle Moryu from taking over the world. The primary focus for us viewers is put on Team 7 of Konoha, in this movie comprised of Naruto, Sakura, Rock Lee & Neji, who must escort a priestess who just so happens to be integral to Moryu being stopped and the world being saved. It’s when we are introduced to the priestess, Shion, who must be escorted to the sealing shrine we come to realise why we saw Naruto perish at the start of the film and how it ultimately plays into the story as a whole. This tale then focuses on the journey to the shrine in order to stop Yomi & Moryu.
Having not seen this film before, and also being quite far ahead in the main story compared to when this movie is set in the Naruto universe, I’m happy to report this was an absolute pleasure to watch. The storytelling was very well executed, keeping me hooked from beginning to end. It did a splendid job of establishing the mystique of the powerful foes that resulted in very concise and fast paced battles. It also provides many dramatic moments that made me care about the characters and how the story would ultimately unfold. All this while being able to blend the traditional big battles you come to expect in Naruto along a few moments of light comedy relief that never felt alien or out of place, fitting in perfectly with what you’d expect from the characters in the regular story.
Focusing on the production quality of this Blu-Ray, I’m happy to report that the picture and sound on this are tremendous. The sound, available in 5.1 DTS Master Audio in both English and Japanese, was sublime and certainly rocked the foundations of my apartment… well the unit the speakers were resting on anyway. I will note the soundtrack as a whole compliments the entire film with recongisable themes from the series along with new compositions that fit seamlessly with the action taking place. The picture quality was excellent, demonstrating how great anime can look on Blu-Ray. I’m a frequent viewer of Naruto and when I began to watch this Blu-Ray I was genuinely taken back by how wonderful it looked throughout. It made me appreciate the difference between watching anime on DVD & Blu-Ray on a whole new level than I had previously. Suffice to say viewers will be very happy viewing this on their high definition setup. Both the picture and sound quality combine to bring an excellent viewing experience of this film.
There are no extras included on this Blu-Ray, but as it is packed in with the second movie I don’t think this is a major problem given the quality of production that has gone into this Blu-Ray transfer of a film.
Naruto Shippuden The Movie is released on Blu-Ray exclusively as part of the a double pack with the second movie ‘Bonds’ on April 2nd by Manga Entertainment.
– Jeremy Graves