Naruto the Movie
Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow

Starring (voice): Junko Takeuchi, Noriaki Sugiyama, Chie Nakamura and Kazuhiko Inoue
Manga Entertainment
RRP: 17.99
Certificate: 15
Available 24 December 2007

Naruto and his friends are sent to the cinema prior to the start of a new mission. An odd idea until they discover that they have to guard the actress, Yukie Fujikazi, who played the princess Gale in the film. As it turns out Yukie is in fact a princess in the Land of Snow, where a new film is going to be shot. However her land was taken over by a rouge Ninja who wants Yukie's necklace to gain access to the Land of Snow's treasure. All he has to do is get by Naruto and Team 7...

Ninja Clash in the land of Snow (2004) was directed by Tensai Okamura and written by Katsumisawa. The main feature runs for an hour and twenty-two minutes. As Naruto was produced to a high level of animation, you'll be please to know that there does not appear to have been any skimping for the feature as the visuals look to be a cut above that normally seen in the show. The fight scenes especially benefit from this.

The film continues the show's usual mix of comedy and fight scenes, with lots of moves to please a hungry fan base. The introduction of Yukie allows the show to take the story down a darker path. When we are first introduced to her she presents as despondent, though at this point as far as we know she is little more than an unhappy actress finding solace in the bottom of a glass. Her interactions with Naruto, and the juxtapositions between Yukie as a person and her portrayal of Princess Gale, bring this character to life as does Naruto's reaction to the real Yukie. It will surprise no one how the show plays out or what happens at the dénouement.

The disc has a reasonable set of audio options providing both Japanese and English stereo and 5.1 tracks with optional English subtitles. Both sets of vocal actors do a fine job in keeping Naruto exciting and fun. Extras come in the form of three trailers and a Sports Festival featurette (10 min 56 sec), also in both languages. It is not a 'Making of', but rather a short show which consists of Naruto looking for a toilet at the festival before competing with a full bladder; it's less of a stand alone story than it is an excuse for some fun. The interesting thing about the short is that they have included every character, whether they are alive or dead - even if it is only a passing shot.

The film is unlikely to convert any non Naruto fans, though compared to the intricate television anime it does have the advantage of being straight forward, in the narrative, and therefore more accessible to the casual watcher. Overall it is a nice, if not exactly spectacular, addition for Naruto fans.

Charles Packer

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