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.)