Naruto the series has been such a hugely popular anime series that most of our readers would have seen at least a couple of episodes, and hence need no introduction to Naruto or Team 7. For those unfamiliar with the series, Naruto is a young ninja from the Hidden Village of the Leaf, who aspires to become a Hokage, the highest ranking ninja. He is a member of Team 7, together with fellow ninjas Sasuke, Sakura and team leader Kakashi. Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow is the first movie adaptation of the successful anime series, and tells the story of another adventure for these young ninjas.
This time round, Team 7 goes on an ‘A rank’ mission to protect a popular actress, Yukie, on a trip to the Land of Snow where her new project is to be filmed. Naruto is most enthusiastic about the assignment because he idolises the actress. He tries his best to get her autograph (and attention) but fails miserably, because Yukie is really cold towards him. She also seems more than a little reluctant to go on the film trip, and is always attempting to escape. Team 7 eventually finds out the reason behind this coldness and reluctance, and what enemies await them in the Land of Snow…
Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow is most successful in the visuals department. The film looks fantastic, and the scenes set in the Land of Snow are particularly beautiful. The action scenes are drawn extremely well. They are imaginative, exciting, and even spectacular in some of the scenes. The clever use of colours and camera angles also add to the energy and fluidity. The way the characters say what style of attack they are going to use, before actually using it, is always kind of cute. The music is also great, with the use of traditional Japanese musical instruments (a personal favourite being the Japanese drums) nicely complementing many of the scenes.
It is a pity that there isn’t a good story to go with these wonderful technical aspects of the film. The story is neither very interesting nor very original. Many viewers would have heard or read a similar story before. The script is also a little on the weak side, most notably in describing the change in the attitude of Yukie the actress towards the later part of the film, which feels awkward and abrupt. There is also little interaction between Naruto and the other members of Team 7 in the film. In fact, most of the time it feels like Sakura, Sasuke and even Kakashi are just there to take part in the fights and showcase their different styles of ninja skills. And while I support the central themes of having faith, never giving up and always having dreams, they are repeated just a few times too many throughout this film.
Now please don’t get me wrong: Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow is by no means a bad film. Just the action scenes alone should be enough to make it a worthwhile viewing experience for most people. Fans expecting a bit more than good action may end up being a little disappointed though. I do hope, however, that viewers new to the Naruto franchise will enjoy the film enough to check out the excellent anime series and discover what makes it so popular in the first place.