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.

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