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.)