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It's been one of those days when I decided to power through all the movies out this year. Continuing with shonen movies, I decided to check out the newest Naruto. The sixth movie of the Shippuden variety and the tenth overall in the franchise.
My experience with the Naruto films is far from great. I like two out of the nine and find a few of the others decent or at least acceptable. Perhaps I keep watching these films out of loyalty to my gateway anime, but there really is no need for me to do so. With the exception of the two I liked, each film may start of fine - one or two are just bad from start to finish - but they all end in the same, disappointing way. That's even true for Road to Ninja, but at least a good chunk of it was very entertaining.
The best part of the movie, without a doubt, was the first half. Full on comedy with the main cast of characters exhibiting traits and quirks opposite to their norms. This particular plot setting really made for some great comedy and acted as a bizarre tool of wish fulfilment. Hinata was forward, Sasuke was a playboy, Rock Lee was a perv and so on - up is down, black is white - really made me happy as a long-time fan of the series. Unfortunately the comedy couldn't and didn't last and it was time for Naruto to have some type of plot.
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Both good and bad parts exist in the plot. The one concerning Naruto was very well done as it let us sympathise with him a little more and gave him the long overdue break he so deserved. At the same time it made Sakura come to terms with obvious realities concerning her attitude and even got her to empathise with Naruto. This too was long overdue, and was satisfying in its own way. Sakura remains the most detestable character in the franchise, so I'm all for her going through some lessons in common sense and general decency.
Those were the good parts of the episode. The bad ones came mostly at the end, much like they do with the rest of the movies. Simply put, there was too much and that lead to one too many attempts at poetic action and giving the movie a decent end. It's as if there was no sense of restraint from Kishimoto when it came to the final battle scene and the plot twists. The latter of the two, took it too far and warranted plenty of eye rolling. A pity that because of a lack of restraint, the movie fell apart towards the end.
Looking back, it was still one of the better movies from the Naruto franchise. Might not be saying much given the quality of the other nine movies, but it was definitely more enjoyable than the last two movies. If not for the ending, it would have been the third best behind the two I like.
Naruto Shippuden Episode 312 - Road to Ninja Prologue
Prologues seem to be the new thing when promoting movies for series such as Naruto. The prologue to the movie is episode 312 of Shippuden and it directly animates the one-shot Kishimoto drew as the teaser for the movie.
If you watch it and then watch the movie, it'll give you a chuckle or two.