With Naruto the Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom, I’m amazed at how each Naruto movie has gotten better and better. In this one, the action is even better then the last two movies. We’re still stuck in the zone of filler, Sasuke has turned to the dark side, and Naruto is doing nothing of narrative significance in the interim. Nothing you may be watching in the current Naruto series releases has any bearing on the events in this film. The plot is basically thrusting Naruto and his friends into the crucible of a villainous rebellion resulting in the welfare of an entire kingdom.
It’s a fairly straightforward story and more youthful than the two previous films. It’s an adventure like the others that holds a moral center. This movie takes place after the departure of Sasuke, but definitely before Shippuden begins. The scenery is breathtaking and exemplary and the action scenes will keep you rooted to your seat. The first act is mainly about Naruto and Hikaru’s strained relationship. There are two action scenes which include a brief fight with some bandits and the boat ride to the Crescent Island. The animation in these fight scenes are top notch as usual, and the colors always seem to stand out to me.
The voice acting never fails as Junko Takeuchi always fascinates me with her portrayal of Naruto. Less predictably, English Hikaru is a decided improvement on the Japanese, and nearly every one of the new parts is expertly played. Fans of the franchise will certainly appreciate the care and quality of the animation presentation. But you also wish that they’d do a big continuity altering feature that would shake things up some and give it real impact. Until that happens though, this is a fun little romp that’s worth checking out.
Having now seen quite a few Naruto movies since opening this site, I can say this so far is the best of them. I deem it a must-have for Naruto fans, and a fine introduction to this series for anyone who’s never read the manga or seen the anime before. As you can see from the video above, Rock Lee gets a decent amount of screen time tearing up baddies. It is always good to see him in action as I have always thought of him to be underused in previous films. Director Toshiyuki Tsuru uses rapid intercutting effectively to pump up the energy in the climactic battle that puts Sakura, Naruto, Rock Lee, and Hikaru to the test. When watching the movie I didn’t once think to myself how this felt like felt like an extended filler episode. That is the best thing you can hope to achieve when making a film based off of a popular series.
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