Anime in 200 Words: Naruto Movie 2
Premise: A country tries to build a utopia, but they’re hiding a dark secret. Naruto and his friends try to fix the problems and save the day.
Required Viewing: This movie takes place before the chunin exam, but you won’t know who the Sand genin are without watching that arc. It’s your call, but I recommend watching the exams, just to be safe.
The Team: Shikamaru, Sakura, Naruto, Gaara, and Kankuro
Perks: The movie’s got a decent story, though it’s rather predictable. Like the first Naruto movie, there’s more content here than in the filler seasons.
Problems: There are few characters that are familiar, which causes a lot of screen time for people who are unfamiliar.
Story: A simple plot becomes more complicated; the moral dilemma of utopia and forced pacifism are actually memorable. These are pretty big issues for Naruto!
WTF: There’s a weird Sasuke moment, similar to the ones used to boost ratings in later seasons. Not a fan.
Overall: This is definitely a better movie than most anime films, and one of the most thought-provoking stories to come out of Naruto. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s an enjoyable diversion.
I found this film to be very strange and different from what I'd expect from a Naruto film. Maybe the change is a warm welcome for some people, but I found the medieval vibes from it really unusual and out of place. What bugged me was this random land where this magical stone came from that does all these weird things and causes the people who have it in them to transform and have powers..
The storyline and progression of the plot is typical of Naruto films with classic Naruto and his talk no jutsu. But it just wasn't very interesting in my opinion.
The characters were underdeveloped, like apart from the usual Naruto characters, the only one I remember is Temujin and Master Hido or whatever his name is. All the other random female knights, orphans and caravan people felt extremely irrelevant. Temujin was some silly kid who followed some random dude with blind loyalty, who surpise surprise was actually the bad guy all along.
The animation was also a bit weird, everyone just looked a little bit disproportionate.
The sound/music was nice, though it's nothing compared to the original soundtrack.
Overall, I'd say the standard is a tad lower than a typical Naruto filler. However, it's good enough if you want to have something to watch and maybe multitask doing something else.
This is the second Naruto movie, made around the time the dreaded fillers began. You can clearly see how the franchise is starting to saturate by now and just rehashes the same old stuff just for the sake of making them and keeping up with a dying trend. As far as movies go, you can of course expect far better production values and flashier battles than the main series, along with much less effort to tell a story or have interesting characters. Other than that, it is just another passable filler mission.
The basic plot is about our heroes trying to stop the members of a mechanical ship from getting their hands on some magic stones of immerse power that will help them rule the world. So in a way it is like a rehash of what the Akatsuki want in the main series, although in a much cheaper and boring way. Later on you get some Nausicaa vibes, as if they are trying to pass a anti-war, pro-ecology message regarding the power of the stones but it is all completely dried up.
I guess the makers received complaints about the first movie having too much plot and not enough action and as such sacrificed everything for an 80% action flick with cheesy drama. “The kids who watch this don’t care about dramatic princesses, they just want to see action” is what they told them. Thus they replace a character with some basic interest such as a frail girl like Yukihime with an emo fighter boy named Temujin. They also try to have as less twists as possible that will eat up precious screen time from the action, and thus you get this cheesefest. I liked the part with the filming in the first movie for offering something slightly smart in the otherwise straightforward story. But this “in your face” plot is just boring and on top of that one of the same as always when it comes to the themes of Naruto. Emo kids with tragic childhoods fighting for a better future is something you get all the time in the main series so there is no innovation here; unlike what they did with the first movie and apparently were scolded for it. Some of course may say there is some innovation because there is a blending of other civilizations and technology. Seriously, the villains appear to be European knights who transform to European monsters, their weaponry appears to be steampunk, and the village near the ruins has murals that resemble those of the Aztecs. Well I was not convinced all these fit in the setting. I got the part how the mechanical ship is supposed to symbolize the westerners invading Japan but it wasn’t relevant to the plot. And what the devil are Aztecs doing in a Japanese-like world?
Anyways, Temujin is a very boring character and just a slight variation of practically half the other moody characters in the show. The other 3 villains are shallow as hell and you just don’t care about them either. As for the good guys, aside from Naruto they are all there just because the movie is supposed to be mostly action and needed more people to fill in the fights. Furthermore, the scriptwriter didn’t care much for the canon teams and picked the characters based on popularity and not on proper team structure. So we get Shikamaru without the others of his team and Gaara with Kanguro without the girl of their team. Sadly, the real protagonist of the show, Gaysuke, is now gone from the main team and could not be present, and even Kakashi is no longer their leader to be present with his coolness. And even sadder than that, there is absolutely no attempt to somehow bridge what is going in the story with some canon character. Remember how Kakashi had ties with Snow Country and was giving off a feeling of familiarity? Well forget that, over here we get this ancient civilization nobody knew anything about and some village nobody had ties to. Plus they threw in Europe and South America for kicks. Basically, they didn’t even try, because trying means adding some context which makes the target audience (10 year old kids) to have to think and makes them bored. Unless of course telling them once again how the monstrous westerners invaded the super cool ninja country that is Japan counts as educational. Anyways, they are there for the action and not for the story.
As far as the action goes it is spectacular for the year it was made. There is so much of it, and it is all pretty dynamic and cool for a shonen anime. Definitely much more exciting than the first film and basically the only thing it did better than it. It still ends the usual way though (Rasengan on the villain’s face and Naruto giving his motivational monologue to the emo kid that makes everything feel right). Down to it I liked the movie for the action and disliked everything else. A very passable and forgettable chapter in the franchise.
So, this film focused a lot on medieval vibes/setting and the introduction of new characters even though most of the main Naruto cast were there. Honestly, I didn't mind new characters although, I really didn't understand the whole idea of the medieval take on it. Maybe the creators wanted to add something more to Naruto however, in my opinion it was just straying futher away from the Naruto universethan it should have. Which is maybe what the creators wanted for a change but, I don't think the fan base did. But, I do feel like the newly introduced characters and the story would have worked well as a separate anime altogether.
In conclusion, it wasn't a bad film, just not one you would expect from this franchise.
This movie is really average.
Story isn't directly related to main series. The plot is becomming more complicated cause of the moral dilemma of "Utopia", which has dark secret. Story is engaging, but still predictable.