Naruto Returns – Naruto’s friends are tested as an attempt to overthrow Tsunade begins and they must all fight – or fall. New secrets about Pain are revealed, but they only add to the mystery of his identity. As Pain commences with the final destruction of Konoha, Naruto and the Toads prepare to take on in battle. Can Naruto save his beloved village?
If you are particularly attached to the vibrant ninja village that is Konoha, then perhaps you might give Naruto volume 46 a bit of a skip, seeing as author artist Masashi Kishimoto pretty much destroys the whole place over the course of this book!
As per usual it is pretty much all out action from start to finish, with very little place for comedic moments but loads of space for drama, mysteries and big reveals! Essentially we get to see just about every Konoha ninja that we’ve come to know and love face off against one of the attacking Pains, and for the most part, things don’t go that well for the ninja of the Hidden Leaf.
This volume does however mark the return of Naruto, who up until now has been missing out on the action thanks to his training with the toads – and needless to say our young, more serious protagonist has more than powered up just a little!
This is an action-packed, exciting volume that will no doubt appeal to all Naruto fans, or to anyone who enjoys some good Shonen fighting action.
Combined with Kishimoto’s detailed and expressive pencils that keep your eyes glued to the page for longest of times, Naruto volume 46 is well worth the read if you are an action manga fan!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naruto_manga
Dreams – Naruto’s sensei Kakashi believes that the diabolical Zabuza survived their last battle. Now, in anticipation of their enemy’s return, Kakashi puts Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke through rigorous training programs to increase their focus and control. This time, their job of protecting the old bridge builder Tazuna and his family will be a hundred times more difficult!
After a very much action-packed Volume 2, Naruto Volume 3 slows down the pace considerable for the first two thirds or so, focussing on special chakra training for the trio of young ninja, giving us a little more insight into their characters. At the same time we are given a little more background surrounding the people, location, and situation that Kakashi and his group find themselves in, all of which helps to build up to a very explosive last third of the book, where all out, over the top fighting between the ninja takes centre stage once more! (Ending as expected on quite the cliffhanger!)
Author/Artist Masashi Kishimoto once again effortlessly combines his slapstick humor, drama and action to produce a wonderful page-turner of a manga volume, and when combined with his masterful artwork which is so full detail, emotion and action, never mind his superb bringing to life of all the slapstick humor he throws around, makes for an addictive and fun read that any action comedy Shonen fan will be sure to love.
Definitely a recommended way to spend a lazy afternoon!
Related Link: Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naruto
Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura join up with Kakashi as they’re tasked with protecting and escorting the huge movie star Yuki Fujikaze (known for her Princess Gale movie series), back to the Land of Snow, where the final action sequence for her latest movie is to be filmed.
There is just one small problem though – the actress doesn’t want to act any more, doesn’t want to return to the Land of Snow, and is completely emotionless, making her completely unapproachable outside of her acting.
Oh, and then there is the small matter of a band of ruthless Snow Ninja who appear to have a history with Kakashi and will seemingly stop at nothing to reclaim the mysterious pendant handing around Yuki’s neck!
The difficulty with writing a movie based on a long running show which is still by airing is that you have to write something that feels as familiar as the television show but in no way changes or impacts the characters or their interactions with one another so as not to spoil the actual cash cow. This of course leads to what is commonly known as filler material, and as you might expect, all of the Naruto movies up to date have felt like filler material.
Nevertheless, this first movie, Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, from director Tensai Okamura and Studio Pierrot, turns out to actually be quite an enjoyable watch, though to get the most out of it you will need to already be familiar with the world of Naruto, as no time is wasted on backstory or character development of course. What you are however left with is a great dramatic tale with plenty of heartache, tempered with fantastic action sequences plus physical humor, the hallmark of any Naruto story.
With an already strong musical soundtrack to work with courtesy of the television series, the film elevates the aural experience to the next level, mixing in a satisfying combination of old and new sounds, complementing a great voice acting performance by both the original Japanese cast as well as the American team behind the English dub.
In terms of animation, this is a feature film and thus the attention to detail, fluidity and quality of animation is apparent, with some beautiful locations and detail, matched by great character animation and choreography, which really comes alive during the big battle sequences.
In summary, I actually really enjoyed this Naruto film. It hits all the right spots with its writing (i.e. it is a Naruto story and delivers what a fan would expect from it), choice of soundtrack, visuals, and action sequences, making for a really enjoyable shounen movie that should appeal to just about any anime watcher who enjoys the action ninja genre.
An enjoyable movie worth watching then, particularly if you are already a Naruto convert. And even if you aren’t, this is a decent stepping stone into the universe anyway.
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naruto_the_Movie:_Ninja_Clash_in_the_Land_of_Snow
The Worst Client – Tired of menial tasks, Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura ask for a tougher assignment. But you should always be careful what you wish for! Along with their sensei, Kakashi, the trio must now guard a cranky old man from the Land of Waves. But Tazuna the bridge builder is in more danger than anyone could have imagined. And now the young ninja are too!
Volume 2 of Masashi Kishimoto’s smash hit Naruto continues where the first left off, with the result of the gruelling test young Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura just endured through finally announced. These new genin ninja are now officially a team and so need to undertake missions given to them by the village, in order for it to stay alive.
However, as you can imagine, the missions granted to low level ninja are pretty mundane and pretty soon Naruto can’t take this complete lack of serious action – which of course always means trouble for whoever is meant to be reigning him in.
His actions do however result in a new mission being assigned to the team, a slightly higher level task but still one that should fall well within the young team’s capabilities. A simple escort mission back to the Land of Waves.
Unfortunately, the problem with people is that they lie, and one such person just happens to be the cranky old man they and Kakashi have been hired to escort – with rather dire consequences.
Because quite frankly, the man who wants to stop the old man wants him dead. And will use whatever force he can lay his hands on to achieve this!
As you can tell from the synopsis, Volume 2 is for much of its page count a complete and utter knuckle sandwich of a fight, pitting our young and very inexperienced ninjas against some truly fearsome foes. Of course at this early point in their careers, Kakashi has to deal with most of the violence while the youngsters need to find it in themselves as to whether or not they are capable of taking part in real, life on the line combat.
Of course, blended in with all of this is Kishimoto’s trademark humour and as such the story never gets overwhelmingly dark, yet it handles some fantastic character development as it progresses, making for an absolutely thrilling and meaningful journey from start to finish.
As per usual Kishimoto’s pencils are absolutely fantastic as he easily plows through varying degrees of action, comedy and drama, bringing in loads of tone to the story being told. His characters and backgrounds are all beautifully detailed and he manages to masterfully mix the super deformed silly moments with the gut wrenching action that seems to keep one glued to the pages.
In summary, this is the perfect volume to follow up what was a great first volume in the series, and well, well worth picking up if you enjoy your action, comedy and all things over the top ninja!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naruto
Naruto games have always been plentiful, but unfortunately just not that good, generally leaving a little bit of a bland taste in the mouths of the countless Naruto fans across the globe. Well that was until the original Naruto Ultimate Ninja came along.
Bandai has graced us with a stylish, frantic button-mashing fighter that is overly stylish, yet engaging and fairly simple to pick up. Based on the legendary Masashi Kishimoto’s enduring, ongoing series Naruto (which was unleashed on an unsuspecting public in 2003 and hasn’t looked back since), which tells the story of a brash, arrogant young ninja cadet who has the misfortune of having a nine-tailed demon fox sealed within him and how he aims at becoming the Hokage of his native village, the Village of the Hidden Leaf. Of course the stories have progressed far since those early days, but the premise of the story remains the same – super-powered ninjas fighting against one another.
Naruto Ultimate Ninja is set in the early arc of Naruto, when he was still a genin and as such features characters and scenarios from the first part of the long running Naruto anime series. Although the roster of ninjas that you can unlock and play with is not particularly huge, all the favourites are there, and you get to play with Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, Gaara, Neji, Rock Lee, Hinata, Kakashi, Shikamaru, Zabuza, Haku and even Orochimaru himself! Of course, many of your other favourites make an appearance as support characters and for Naruto fans this game is indeed filled with fanboy material.
The game features all the various modes that a fighting game should contain, including a versus and practice mode, but it is the scenario and mission modes that provide the meat to this title. The scenario mode has you completing a number of storyline battles with a character, with each battle increasing in difficulty until you face a final battle to beat that scenario and hopefully unlock some content.
The mission mode on the other hand is split over a number of levels, with each level consisting of a number of missions, with each mission carrying specific requirements in order to pass. Of course, the level of missions gets increasingly difficult, but the money you earn from completing these missions more than make up for it.
Money is gained for each successful mission and every battle win, and is used to purchase the gamut of bonus content that the game comes with. There are literally hundreds of unlockables and only a true fan will ever be able to earn them all. Of course, purchasing these is sometimes a lesson in frustration because you need to go through a lottery system to win, betting an amount of money and hopefully receiving a random item instead of drawing a blank, which quickly becomes more than a little tiresome.
Back to the fighting however, and it is interesting to see Bandai pull back from pushing out what could have been just a standard fighter with two buttons for two different kicks and two buttons for two different punches. Instead, the buttons are laid out in a particularly simple manner. One button to make you jump, one button to throw your shuriken and other collected items/powerups, one button to raise your chakra level in hope of triggering a chakra-fuelled cutscene attack and one button that handles all the actual attacking (oh and a trigger button for blocking of course).
There is a slight attempt at adding in different combos by mixing up the attack button with directional presses, but other than that you’ll find yourself continuously bashing the same button over and over again in order to dish out maximum damage. Things become a little more interesting though when you manage to land a strike when in a chakra powered up state, unleashing your cutscene driven attack. Each character has three levels of chakra attack and each and every one of them is different and absolutely a joy to behold. However, just to keep things interesting, you’ll be required to frantically input the given button sequence in order to carry out maximum carnage – otherwise you’ll find the damage dealt reduced as well as some of the longer sequences terminated halfway through.
Some of the scenes are particularly humorous to watch while others are downright nasty (though never bloody), but all are wonderfully executed and stylish to boot. A lot of the special attacks come straight out of the manga and anime, making it an instant hit with any long time Naruto fan.
While the characters are all polygonal in nature, the game plays out as a 2D fighter, though each level has a number of different planes which you can instantly travel between by pressing a direction and jump simultaneously. This becomes quite tactical after a while, because your support character will continuously pop in at the various levels to provide you with some or other power-up or special item which may just be what you need to swing the match in your favour.
There are a number of different levels waiting to be unlocked, all from a particular manga location, and usually linked together as you will see when during a battle after getting significantly beaten up you get the ‘change level’ option flashing on your screen. Each location is unique in its presentation, all has its own traps and pitfalls and all are wonderfully fleshed out with hidden areas and secret breakables.
The pacing of the fighting is relentless and at times can feel a bit unorganized and a matter of simple button bashing. However, as with any game in this genre, the more you play, the more tactical your battles become, finally resulting in a thoroughly satisfying experience.
Visually, Naruto Ultimate Ninja is a treat to look at, going entirely for a comic book look which results in a colourful, cel-shaded presentation with thick black outlines which looks as if it leaped straight out of the manga or anime episode. Even the narrative cutscenes are presented in a comic book format which simply adds to Naruto’s ultimately stylish look.
Naruto Ultimate Ninja looks superb and instantly appeals to fans of this type of animated entertainment, which makes it all the more pity that the developers cheapened out to an extent and provide simple stills for each scenario beginning and ending sequences. At least we get an animated opening sequence that is pretty much plucked straight out of the anime series, but I’m afraid that is pretty much it. A surprising decision when you notice just how much of the bonus material actually comes from the anime series itself!
Aurally, Naruto is actually a treat, featuring a strong cast of voice actors for both the Japanese and English language versions (yes, for a change you can actually get a game with its original Japanese soundtrack intact!) and a musical score seemingly plucked straight out of the anime. The sound effects are also top notch, though it must be said that overuse of some of the voices and phrases do become a little annoying after a while.
In summary, while not necessarily carrying the in-depth punch you would expect from a fully fledged fighting game, Naruto Ultimate Ninja more than makes up for it in terms of style and presentation, resulting in a madcap button-bashing exercise that is fun to play and even more fun to watch – particularly if you are already a hardcore Naruto fan!
Related Link: http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/action/narutoultimateninja/index.html
The Tests of the Ninja: In another world, ninja are the ultimate power – and in the village of Konohagakure live the stealthiest ninja in the world. But twelve years ago Konohagakure was attacked by a fearsome threat – a nine-tailed fox demon which claimed the life of the Hokage, the village champion. Today, peace has returned, and a troublemaking orphan named Uzumaki Naruto is struggling to graduate from the Ninja Academy. His goal: to become the next Hokage. But unknown to Naruto and his classmates, within him is a terrifying force…
I seriously doubt there is anyone who knows anything about anime that hasn’t heard of Naruto. Naruto has proved just as (and probably more so) invasive in western countries as Dragonball Z was a couple of years ago. Author/Artist Masashi Kishimoto unleashes this maelstrom upon us way back in 1999 – and it hasn’t looked back since!
Naruto volume 1 introduces us to all the primary characters in the Naruto universe. We’re introduced to the young and plucky, arrogant, untalented, boastful (but with a heart of gold) Naruto who serves as the protagnistic for the series, Sakura who serves as Naruto’s one-sided love interest and the boy ninja genius Sasuke (Sakura’s one-side love interest and Naruto’s chief rival – even if he doesn’t come close in matching up to him!). We learn of the tragedy of Naruto, particularly in reference to the secret of the Nine-tailed Fox, something that no one dares inform Naruto of and then the volume changes pace and we get to chuckle at Naruto’s various antics at the academy (where his is forever failing everything), a couple of romantic high jinks and then finally the forming of the very mismatched training team of Sasuke, Naruto and Sakura, under top ninja Hatake Kakashi.
The story is pretty solid for an opener and introduces all the characters in an extremely fast-paced, comedic writing and is a thoroughly enjoyable starting point for everyone who wants to get in on the global Naruto phenomenon.
Masashi Kishimoto manages to balance physical humour and dramatic elements brilliantly, meaning we get a book that will hold your attention and keep you laughing throughout the story. And because he is the artist on the title as well, we get everything presented to us exactly as he the writer intended, meaning timing, panel layout and composition all meld together seamlessly.
In terms of the book’s artwork, Kishimoto simply does not disappoint in giving us the goods. His characters are extremely detailed and yet at the same time can be presented in just as simple a form for all the usage of deformed art to impact the humour upon us. Instantly likeable characters combined with detailed and well proportioned backgrounds provide us with a thoroughly easy to follow and appreciate work of art – truly Kishimoto is one of the great mangaka of our time.
Naruto is an extremely pleasing book to look at and read, and you’ll find yourself instantly hooked the minute you pick this book up. Read, enjoy – and then go out and buy the rest of the series (which you’ll need to have deep pockets for – this is one series than looks like it may never end!).
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naruto
Naruto the Movie 3: The Animal Riot of Crescent Moon Island is the third Naruto movie to be produced and was released in August 2006. And once again, much like the earlier movies, it reeks of substandard filler arc material, proving once again that this is purely a movie made to give existing Naruto fans a quick fix of all things Naruto.
This time round the story has Naruto, Sakura, Rock Lee and Kakashi leading a protection contingent to a travelling prince and his son of the Moon Island country. Naruto and the princes son, Hikaru take an instant dislike to each other and a fairly eventful trip comes to a close with a visit to a travelling circus. So impressed by their performance and on his sons insistence on wanting the rare Siberian sabretooth tiger travelling with the circus, the prince purchases the circus lock, stock and barrel.
Its a stormy trip back to Moon Island, but the events that unfold on the trip does eventually lead to Naruto befriending the young and rather annoying Hikaru. However, when they finally land, they are in for one nasty surprise. There has been a coup de tat in Moon Island and the princes father has been killed, making him and Hikaru the evil ministers next target.
It is now up to Naruto and his comrades to protect the prince and his son against the ministers soldiers and his three deadly hired ninjas, one of which has the ability to turn a person into stone!
To be honest, the story is pretty basic Naruto stuff, with the usual little lesson to learn thrown in, and really comes across as an extended filler episode, which could just as easily have been broken up into 3 episodes and shown on TV instead of on the DVD scene. The pacing of the story is fairly slow and there are rather few action sequences in this movie, and in fact there are hardly any sequences worth mentioning at all (Apart of course from those involving Rock Lee – but that’s just because I like the character).
The animation is exactly the same as that used in any episode, with even the backgrounds not receiving the same luscious attention as they did in the second movie. A few sparse uses of CG, usually in panorama scans and opening door sequences. At least the colour palette used is fairly good, with some decent shadowing done on the character models.
Sound-wise Naruto doesn’t disappoint, but it really is a case where the sound is on par with a television episode and not something you’d expect to get on the big screen. The voice talent is pulled from the television series, so at least that continuity is there. The soundtrack itself borrows from classic Naruto source material, and nothing exciting gets brought to the table here.
In the end, the third movie is a passable Naruto experience, basically aimed at hardcore fans. It isn’t exciting and wont make you sit upright in your seat, but it does a solid job and I cant really complain about it. An average watch, Naruto fans not fed up with filler material might get something out of it.
(May 2012 Update: Watched it again, and to be honest, it isn’t a horrible movie. It is a little too over the top towards the end in terms of some of the fight scenes, and perhaps a little too soppy in terms of story, but it is a good tale, you don’t need to be a Naruto fan to enjoy it, it delivers plenty of action and drama, is animated rather nicely, and features a great voice cast and some excellent background music.
It’s certainly not a master piece by any stretch of the imagination, but it is quite watchable and certainly delivers what is expected in terms of its target demographic.)
The boss is away at the moment so I decided to take a quick break from work and sink my teeth into the second Naruto movie, namely Naruto the Movie 2 – Great Clash! The Illusionary Ruins at the Depths of the Earth. Ridiculously long name, I know.
For anyone than knows anything about anime at all, they would undoubtedly have heard of Naruto by now. Naruto is one of the biggest television shows in Japan, airing since 2004 and is based on the wildly popular manga of the same name by Masashi Kishimoto. Naruto has captured the minds of the western audience much like DBZ when it first got released to a western audience via the fansub scene. I watched pretty much the first 200 odd episodes of the first season before finally stopping when I finally tired of it – too much a good thing is never a good thing after all.
Anyway, just for a quick frame of reference, Naruto is about a boy, Naruto Uzamaki who lives and trains in the Hidden Leaf Ninja Village. A playful, headstrong and brash lad, Naruto aims at one day becoming the villages Hokage, the highest ranked and most respected ninja of them all. However, Naruto isnt all that gifted in terms of technique, but for everything he lacks he makes up with sheer heart. Together with his team mates and all their fantastical powers, Naruto takes on a number of challenging and danger fraught missions on the way to realising his dream and earning the respect he so craves.
Anyway, the second movie takes chronologically place around episode 160 of the first anime series.
The mysterious Stone of Gelel, the source of life and power unimaginable. Lost to the ages, now a group of foreign invaders have landed in the Shinobi territories in order to claim this long lost treasure in the name of their envisioned Utopia. Heavily armoured and seemingly unstoppable, even the elite Sand ninja are struggling to match their tenacity.
While on a routine animal capture mission, Naruto, Sakura and Shikamaru are drawn into the conflict per chance, following an unexpected encounter with one of these groups of invaders. As Naruto is split from the group following an epic battle, he comes across a nomadic caravan that seems to know a just little more about the Gelel legend than what they are willing to let on about – and it would seem that the foreigners are after their secret as well.
In a fight for control of the power source that may just very well change the world as we know it, Naruto and his comrades need to battle against incredible odds in the hope that their camaraderie might win the day against these awesome foes and their enormous vessels of war. They will travel to the very bottom of the Earth to unlock all the secrets of the mysterious Gelel and in doing so attempt to stop the power hungry conquest of a madman!
So, as I’ve said before this movie is pretty much for existing Naruto fans – no background information is provided to first time viewers, so they are pretty much left in the dark as to who everyone is, what the heck is going on and how the heck is everyone got these strange and fantastical fighting abilities. But if you are already a fan, then you are pretty much in familiar territory. Honestly, this movie comes across pretty much like the rest of the Naruto filler material that made up such a huge part of the original show – a bit pointless to be honest. The movie kind of feels like an extended episode, but that may very well be simply because I am so acquainted with the show in the first place. Still director Kawasaki Hirotsugu does well with the script he has been given, cleverly crafting an exciting and rather enjoyable romp in the land of Naruto.
Production wise, a person would be hard pressed to call this a movie. The animation is the same hurried animation sourced from Korea that gets used in the television show, pretty much reinforcing my opinion of this just being an extra long episode. The animation is spotty in places and there are occasional parts where you can see two different teams worked on sequence which to be quite frank, just don’t mesh with one another very well. The character designs are fairly simply and the palette of colours used is bright and simple. At least the backgrounds are quite nicely done, oozing a lot more detail than any of the animation could ever hope to. Action sequence are nicely composed those, and everything flows nice and smoothly during these frenetically paced scenes.
All the voices from the television series are here, and as always no one disappoints. The soundtrack is classic Naruto stuff, right down to the electric shiver inducing heroic music that chimes in right at the conclusion of the final battle.
Pretty much a cash in, hurried piece of work, Naruto the Second Movie does however cater perfectly to the legions of Naruto fans out there and is in itself a pretty enjoyable action romp which I myself quite liked. Non fans might want to give this one a skip though – if youve seen any of the television show then you know exactly what you are going to get.
(May 2012 Update: Watched it again, and to be honest, it still isn’t a horrible movie. My only real fault is that the conclusion comes across as very rushed, but it is nevertheless a good tale, you don’t need to be a Naruto fan to enjoy it, it delivers plenty of action and drama, is animated rather nicely, and features a great voice cast and some excellent background music.
It’s certainly not a master piece by any stretch of the imagination, but it is quite watchable and certainly delivers what is expected in terms of its target demographic.)