Anime Reporter breaks its fingers attempting the cross-temporal jutsu for Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower, the fourth movie in the Shippuden series and the seventh overall Naruto movie.
The Lost Tower starts off with Team 7, i.e. Naruto Uzumaki, Sakura Haruno, Sai and Yamato, chasing down a rogue puppet user on behalf of the Hidden Sand village. This devious ninja, Mukade, plans to use the vast chakra emanating from underneath the ruined city of Rouran in order to grant himself unlimited power over an army of puppet-weapons. Naruto attempts to chase the fiend, following him into a field of light, and soon finds himself in a bustling, thriving city under the rule of a young queen, Sara. Inexplicably, this city turns out to be Rouran itself, some twenty years in the past.
Naruto quickly learns that all is not as peaceful and happy as it seems in Rouran when he is attacked by wave after wave of giant, weaponised puppets and manages to escape thanks to the aide of some Hidden Leaf ninjas from the past. After being warned to avoid tampering with the past, Naruto is happy to explore the city and simply try to find a way home until an attempt is made on Queen Sara’s life. Things are soon revealed to be much more serious than Naruto had imagined and, with some help from a few vaguely familiar faces, he must fight to save the past and his own present.
The plot is quick-paced, starting off with little touches of the anime’s typical humour before giving way fully to the more intense battles that arealso its trademark. There is a certain amount of entertainment throughout the film’s 80 minute runtime but a fair amount may have been sacrificed for the sake of fitting a self-contained storyline into such little time. As is typical with the Naruto movies, the plot exists outside of the anime or manga, meaning that it really doesn’t matter much if you’re a few seasons behind on the show’s storyline, you can still easily appreciate the events of the movie without much fear of spoilers. From the beginning, we’re treated to a veritable ton of ninja-action, though fans of Naruto’s friends and teammates may be disappointed as this movie focuses almost exclusively on its namesake, leaving little up to Mr. Uzumaki’s co-stars.
The voice acting is excellent in both Japanese and English versions, with the right touches of humour and sincerity sprinkled throughout. Mutsumi Tamura (from Tiger & Bunny) and Dave Wittenberg (from Last Exile) in particular do an excellent job as the arrogant younger version of Kakashi Hatake in Japanese and English respectively. The animation is an improvement upon the already excellent work on the series, with cleaner lines and more fluid animation really giving more substance to the characters and the very impressive environments.
The main flaw with The Lost Tower is that it ends rather abruptly after less than an hour and a half. Viewers may be left with the feeling that there was room for more characterisation and that some of Naruto’s interactions with the past versions of the Hidden Leaf ninjas could have certainly been given more weight and screen time. In fact, aside from Naruto, many of the other characters are really only skimmed and it really does feel like a missed opportunity. Nonetheless, this is a story worth seeing and the acting and animation make it a pleasure to do so.
Also included on the DVD and Blu-ray version is a great little animation of a tale set back in Naruto’s younger days with Sakura and Sasuke as well as his other classmates. A short but very funny glimpse back into Naruto’s more innocent days.
Naruto Shippuden Movie 4: The Lost Tower is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Manga Entertainment from March 3rd 2014.
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80% – Packs a Punch!
Naruto Shippuden Movie 4: The Lost Tower is a welcome outing for devoted followers of the anime who don’t mind taking a break from the events of the story or for fans who may not even be entirely up-to-date. Well worth watching!