For discussing non-Tenchi related series
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by WisperG
mitsuki lover wrote:Just wondering if the rest of the Shippuden movies are like that.

I don't think so. I haven't seen them all yet, but Bonds is widely considered to be the worst of the Shippuden films. Most of the others are either decent or even really good. I quite liked the first one (simply titled "Shippuden: The Movie") myself.

The two that are most worth watching, and are now considered the best by many, are the two that are actually canon to the manga, The Last and Boruto (the 7th and 8th films). Though for obvious reasons they're best watched after the conclusion of the series (or rather, the manga or the latest video game, since the anime still hasn't adapted the ending), unless you just don't care about spoilers or following about a specific viewing order.

Before the two above movies claimed that title, the third Shippuden film, Will of Fire was the one I most often saw pointed to as the best, as it was one of the few that actually tried to pull from the main series narrative both thematically and by referencing a number of key scenes from the last few Shippuden arcs. That one's next on my list, so I'll know soon if all the praise is deserved. I may even rank/score all of the Naruto films I've seen in my review post for WoF.
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by WisperG
#32368 Oops, I missed this when I made my previous post.

Nobuyuki wrote:
Again, it's just another way this movie kills your suspension of disbelief with regards to it actually working as an event in the canon.

Best bet's to not treat any of them as canon.

Except The Last. ;)

That would certainly be easier, but I just don't think that way. blush1

I'm aware none except The Last and Boruto are actually canon, but are we not supposed to pretend that this is what Naruto and Co. were up to at various points? The movies, like the filler arcs, are just more material that expands and fleshes out the universe, and while many of them come up with pointless new villages, characters and special techniques that will never be referenced again, few of them contradict anything beyond minor details that can be easily overlooked (notably however, Kishimoto has accepted a number of anime-original ideas into the manga canon).

As I mentioned in the review, most movies do "fit" into the narrative (for the most part) and can be placed on the timeline somewhere. It's basically Star Wars Expanded Universe territory. And if it fits, it might as well be canon, as far as I'm concerned, and honestly, most of them don't do such a bad job at that. For the most part, they're just self-contained fluff stories. They resolve themselves by the end and leave no lasting repercussions on the world or characters. It's not hard to pretend that these movies really were random missions or events that happened between existing arcs without worrying about breaking canon in any significant way, if at all. As such, that psuedo-canonical suspension of disbelief always factors into my impressions of these one-off Jump films.

But Bonds just wasn't like that. It's like it went out of it's way to directly contradict established plot points (like Naruto's brief use of the Nine-Tails transformation, which should have been sealed) and include major events that would have had lasting repercussions had it been canon (several of which oddly mirroring actual events from later in the manga), but ultimately amount to nothing. It's really the only movie (of the ones I've seen) that breaks canon to this degree without a second thought. It's like they just said "Screw it! Here's Sasuke, and the Nine-Tails, and a couple slick fight scenes, oh and lets raise the stakes by decimating the Leaf Village too. That'll be cool." In the end, it really was nothing more than a fanservice movie.

Sorry, I didn't mean to ramble on about this for three paragraphs. Ultimately, it just comes down to canonicity meaning different things to different people. For me personally, as stated above, I've always preferred the "If it fits, it might as well be canon" mindset, unless it's directly in major conflict with canon material, as Bonds was. On that note, is it still called a headcanon if it encompasses official works?

In other news, I watched Will of Fire today and will have that review up within the next few days.
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by WisperG
#32495 Here's your spoiler warning. It was hard to talk about someone's role in this movie without mentioning the death of a certain character from the main series.

Naruto Shippuden The Movie: The Will of Fire

Can this be? Did a Jump movie rise above the standard of mediocrity set by so many films before it, actually making a concerted effort to tie into it's parent series in a meaningful way? Yes, yes they did. All of the previous Naruto films (and a good portion of the filler arcs), regardless of quality, were all pretty much the same exact thing. It was always the same story, just with different characters and villages swapped out.

Tell me if this sounds familiar:
Naruto, Sakura and [insert 1 or 2 popular secondary characters here] form a team lead by either Kakashi or Yamato to go on a mission. Along the way, Naruto tears down the walls of a new movie-exclusive character, befriends them, and teaches them to believe in themselves, helping them achieve some degree of personal growth, and inspiring them as he defeats the new movie-exclusive villain (usually with some movie-exclusive, one-time-only, powered-up Rasengan) while making sure everybody knows that his ninja way doesn't involve giving up.

I just described the plot of all 5 of the previous Naruto films. Except maybe Stone of Gelel? That movie was so forgettable I honestly could not tell you 90% of what happened in it. Fortunately, Will of Fire completely bucks the trend. Gone are the made-up villages and one-off movie protagonists. Sure, there's still a movie-original villain with a fairly cliche character arc, but by making him a former Leaf ninja he already feels more closely connected to the goings-on in the Leaf Village. And this movie is all about the Leaf Village, and the ninja that live in it.

As the title implies, the Will of Fire is at the center of this (to be clear, this is an important, oft-mentioned aspect of the series. It's not something made up for this movie). I would suggest reading the main body of the wiki page. It's not too long, though there are some spoilers in there. But to summarize, it's an ideal or philosophy representative of the desire to love, serve, and protect the village. It's also emblemic of the hopes and dreams of previous generations passed down to the next generation.

The Will of Fire (the movie, not the philosophy) is the best kind of filler. The kind that draws on the core themes of the main series and crafts a new tale that truly feels like it adds something to the series, both narratively and thematically. Interestingly, much of the character development goes to Kakashi and Shikamaru this time around, who both play integral roles in the film. Shikamaru even becomes the de facto villain to Naruto's hero for a good portion of the movie. Not in a "he turns evil" kinda way, but from a conflict of ideologies regarding what's best for the village and about the hard decisions that need to be made to protect it.

This movie gave many of the secondary Leaf ninja an important (if brief) role to play. The Sand ninja played a role in the story too. The last time the Sand ninja had more than just a cameo in a movie was way back in Stone of Gelel, where they felt very shoe-horned in, and while they no one but Gaara did much this time around, their presence made sense given the context. I was rather impressed they included nearly every secondary character of note, while both giving their presence a purpose and managing to avoid having such a large cast bog the movie down.

The basic story is actually rather simple. Kakashi leaves the village under mysterious circumstances, prompting Naruto, Sakura and Sai to track him down against orders. Meanwhile, the bad guy is kidnapping ninja with kekkei genkai (special powers exclusive to a bloodline) from each nation to rather narrow-minded ends, casting suspicion on the Land of Fire, as they're the only nation who hasn't had anyone kidnapped yet, bringing the ninja world to the brink of war.

That might sound pretty dense, but the main plot itself actually feels a bit thin, and mostly exists to create a situation where Naruto's idealogies clash with those of the other ninja, most notably Shikamaru and Gaara. But it works great for that purpose. As such, the actual villain's role in the movie feels more like a subplot than something truly important, but he does set the whole story in motion, and his character arc, if rather predictable, did at least tie up in a rather satisfying way that again hearkened back to those "core themes" I mentioned earlier. Still, the story offered a lot of opportunities for drama as loyalties and duties were called into question and fingers were pointed by people without a full grasp of the situation. While the plot could've used some more work, taken as a whole this movie feels far more significant than it's predecessors, and still works as a solid piece of entertainment.

To further the ties to the main series narrative, Shikamaru and Kakashi flash back to a number of key scenes from their pasts. Shikamaru thinks back to Asuma's death and his final words, which are very important to the role he ends up playing in this movie. Kakashi thinks back to something important his squad-mate Obito told him back when he was young (a very important line that continues to be brought up again and again throughout the series). He also thinks of the test he gave Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura, where he tested whether they were worthy of continuing their ninja training by having them steal a pair of bells from him. He still holds onto the bells as a memento (which is also canon, as we see he has the bells in the main series too. It happened in this movie before the anime series, but I suppose the manga may have been beyond that point already).

On another note, the villain Hiruko and his cronies seem to be quite fond of the leather-and-straps look. I quite liked Hiruko's design. He looks pretty cool. The others, for better or worse, wore a lot more leather, and really played up the bondage look.

Also, here's something interesting I was made aware of. We don't know if Kishimoto provided the designs himself or if he actually pulled them from the movie, but the four kekkei genkai-posessing ninja Hiruko kidnapped (and killed) would much, much, later have look-alikes with small appearances in the manga in flashbacks of ninja from their respective villages and, if I'm not mistaken, these look-alikes were eventually brought back to life by a villain using a resurrection jutsu and played a bit-part in the present. The anime goes a step further and actually has some of these resurrected ninja star as the villains of a filler arc. It's hard to say definitively if they're meant be the same people or not. Even though they look the same, their abilities don't match up perfectly with those featured in the movie, but canonically their manga back-stories stories do match up quite well with the circumstances surrounding their disappearances in the movie. It would be pretty cool if they actually gave some forethought to including these characters in a movie to have some built-in backstory for their eventual manga appearances, even if a few details didn't quite match up years later. Hooray for pseudo-canonism! This movie definitely gets brownie points for feeling relevant to the main series narrative in ways none of the other films did.

After the animators dropped the ball in the previous movie, this one was quite a sight to behold. Everything stayed on-model and had consistently fluid animation. I didn't notice any obvious CGI either. The movie also featured some really solid tracks during most of the fight scenes. The ED was a decent pop song by PUFFY (whom I almost entirely forgot stills exists in Japan, as they haven't been relevant in the US for a good decade now).

Can Studio Pierrot keep this up? From what I've heard about the next film, The Lost Tower, that will probably be a "no." I will, of course, reserve judgement until after I see it, but it's looking like the movies will have to go back downhill before I can hit the fan-favorites like Blood Prison and Road to Ninja.

I might have a new favorite Naruto movie. I rated it higher than Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, but I can't quite decide which one I simply enjoyed watching more. Either way, I hope I'm not overselling it too much, but I really liked the direction they took this movie in comparison to the older ones.

Score: 8/10
* Given the relevance of Asuma's death to Shikamaru's role and the presence of another character who isn't going to last much longer, this movie would most likely be set right after the end of the Akatsuki Suppression Mission arc, which concludes in episode 89.
* However, the mini-arc where we learn of Kakashi's past and hear the line from Obito isn't adapted in the anime until episodes 119 and 120, which was the week right before the movie came out. In the manga, this Kakashi flashback was right in-between the final chapter of OG Naruto and the first chapter of the Shippuden era. So if you've read the manga, it should be fine to watch it in it's "chronological" spot, whereas anime watchers should only watch it after episode 120.

This isn't relevant to the review, but Hiruko seems ripe for gender-ambiguous fanart. So I'm rather surprised I only came across this one picture while searching for the image of him I used in the review. I guess filler/movie characters just don't attract the same amount of attention as canon characters. He just feels like the kind of character that would be quite popular if he was featured in the series proper.
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by WisperG
#33133 I finished writing this over two months ago, but apparently I forgot to submit it. So here it is now...


Here's the usual spoiler reminder for the main series. I mention some things about Naruto's family, the death of an important character, and a significant event carried out by a major villain. You have been warned.

Naruto Shippuden The Movie: The Lost Tower

I really should stop skimming reviews for things I'm going to watch anyways at some point, it sometimes skews my opinions, though in this case it probably helped. I hadn't heard great things about this movie, so I went in with pretty low expectations, but came out pleasantly surprised. As expected, it is a step down from Will of Fire, but it was still an enjoyable movie.

This was basically Back to the Future: Naruto Edition. While pursuing this movie's cliche bad guy, Naruto and Yamato are sucked into a mysterious light after the villain removes a sealing Jutsu from some kind of chakra ley-line or something. Naruto wakes up 20 years in the past. The ruins they were in are now a sprawling city with enormous towers. Something fishy is going on in this city, but unlike Bonds, this movie handles the twist rather well. I was genuinely surprised when it happened, and that knowledge gives a completely different context to a scene from earlier in the movie.

Aside from the time travel gimmick, the plot is the standard "movie bad guy wants power to rule the world/nation/universe, Naruto inspires someone to never give up, etc." filler/movie formula, but I think it's one of the better examples of that overused premise.

Since it's set in the past, Naruto bumped into a squad made up of Minato (Naruto's father, and the future 4th Hokage), little Kakashi and the fathers of Choji and Shino who happened to be on a covert operation in this same city. It was cool to see the adults (and Minato especially) getting more screentime, though they don't play a huge role.

Speaking of rolls, I found myself rolling my eyes a bit when it was suggested, for the fourth time, that the Leaf Ninja split up, with Naruto protecting the Queen while Minato and the others would hang back and fight bad guys. It made sense that the Jonin would put the Genin on guard duty, but it was still a rather overused way of keeping Naruto together with the movie-protagonist and to keep the Leaf adults from hogging the spotlight for long.

Speaking of the movie protagonist, Sara, I liked her well enough. She's the young queen of this city, and although she spends a good portion of the movie in denial about some of the questionable goings-on in the city that her fishy adviser seems to be spearheading, with Naruto's encouragement she eventually has her "stepping up" moment, and has that "tough princess" thing down, in a similar vein to the likes of fellow red-head Nausicaa (On a basic level, at least. Don't want to give her too much credit).

One thing the movie didn't do well was giving a proper sense of how many people really lived in this enormous city. One of the sub-plots (one of the "goings-on" I mentioned in the last paragraph) involved citizens being kidnapped and used as slave labor in an underground factory. Naruto and Sara meet a small, ragtag group of "rebels" made up of a wide age-range of people from the young to the elderly (but mostly consisting of children) who have all had family members taken away. The "main" ones that Naruto and Sara interacted with were actually quite likable, so it's a shame they basically just played bit parts. Naruto and Co. eventually spring a modest number of people out of imprisonment (couldn't have been much more than 20 or 30), with almost all of them coincidentally being the direct family members of the rebels, and then act as though there wasn't anyone else to save. To be fair, they were quickly pursued by the villain, so they didn't really have the time to save anybody else right then, and presumably the rest of the citizens are tracked down and rescued after Naruto and Yamato return to the present, but the movie doesn't actually address this. Those 20-ish people and the rebel group are the only citizens we see in the entire movie.

The ending wasn't "bad" by any means, but a part of it did make me groan. It pulled the "we all know too much, so we have to erase our memories" thing, which is a big pet peeve of mine, and all because Naruto couldn't keep his big mouth shut and kept talking about a bunch of stuff from the future that the Leaf ninja in the past kept telling him to stop talking about.

One thing I found rather odd was that Naruto quickly suspects Minato of being his father, even though he hasn't been told about his parentage yet. It could be (and probably is) that he realized the uncanny resemblance upon seeing him in-person rather than just his stony face on the mountain behind the village (that is, assuming he hasn't seen a normal picture of him before), which could make sense, though while actually watching the movie it just felt rather odd that he jumped to that conclusion on his own so quickly after seeing him without any kind of prompting or hint.

Visually, the film was nothing mind-blowing, but the animation was pretty solid. I loved the city's architecture in particular. The ending theme was nice, though the rest of the soundtrack didn't make much of an impression.

Score: 7/10
* This movie is set sometime after Naruto learns of Jiraiys's death (ep.152) but before Pain's assault on the Leaf Village (ep.157).
* However, there isn't a good spot in-between where the team could have gone on a mission. As soon as Naruto comes to terms with his master's death, he agrees to help decode a message Jiraiya left behind. They're successful in decrypting it, but Pain starts his attack on the village while they're still trying to figure out what the message means.
* This movie only fits if you assume it took several days to decrypt the message, with the characters taking breaks and doing the odd mission here and there in the interim.
* Oddly, they didn't use the familiar poofing sound when Naruto's Shadow Clones disappear. I have no idea why they used a different sound effect.
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by Ukinojo92
#33138 Drifters OVA came out on June 6th
the series is expected to come out in October

Synopsis from wikipedia: It centers on various historical figures summoned to an unknown world where their skills and techniques are needed by magicians in order to save their worlds from total destruction.

The OVA had good animation, as expected from Madhouse and Kouta Hirano anime. The story goes at a fairly fast pace, the OVA covers about 8 manga chapters. Not much is changed from the manga in the OVA, it's a good watch, only about 40 minutes. I am trying to leave out the story in order not to spoil it for anyone and encourage to see it for yourselves.