Anime Reporter takes a peek at life behind bars with Naruto Shippuden the Movie 05: Blood Prison.
While naturally enough, this film takes place outside the regular anime and manga continuity, it does exist at around a certain point within Naruto’s tale so if you’re not more or less up to date with the words ‘Fourth Great Ninja War’, there’s a chance you could encounter a few characters or plot points that might leave you with a wee bit of puzzlement. In other words:
Okay, now on with the business at hand. The Raikage and some of his trusted officers are discussing the need to find and dispose of a certain dangerous artefact when a cloaked assassin makes an attempt on his life. The figure fails to pull off the kill but doesn’t leave before his face is revealed, a face that happens to belong to Naruto Uzumaki.
The word goes out around the ninja villages and soon Naruto is called in to pay the piper. Naruto claims total innocence and cries out that he’s being framed, (and I personally believe him, what with him being the hero and all), but that isn’t enough to stand in the path of justice and Tsunade declares that Naruto must be sent to Hozuki Castle until any evidence can be found to clear his name.
Hozuki Castle, the prison used to hold and control the outcast and criminal shinobi of all the ninja nations, is a pretty formidable place. It’s guarded closely and the surrounding terrain is not very escape-friendly. Making his stay all the more difficult, Naruto, like the other prisoners, is hit with a fiery sealing jutsu which completely inhibits his ability to use chakra. Friendless and powerless, Naruto needs to figure a way out of the blood prison so that he can set the record straight.
As a prison designed to deal with powerful and violent ninjas, this is something they’ve encountered before. Mui, the cruel and calculating head of the prison, takes little mercy on Naruto and isn’t above using his burning jutsu to get the point across.
As the plot develops, it becomes pretty apparent that there’s a hell of a lot more to this prison than first glance would suggest and Naruto soon needs to start asking not how to clear his name, but why he was framed in the first place.
Blood Prison is certainly a dark example of a Naruto movie, but it’s also quite imaginative, offering Naruto some fresh challenges that can’t be met with his raw power and adding some powerful moments of tension and anxiety into the mix. The ending of the film isn’t terrifically fresh or surprising but it is overall a very well crafted premise and a very solid overall package.
On a side note, it’s definitely worth mentioning that viewers should stick around past the end credits of both the main feature and the bonus short film for overall more satisfying endings.
Naruto Shippuden Movie 05: Blood Prison is available on DVD in the UK and Ireland from Manga Entertainment UK from 1st December 2014.
Included on the DVD is a brief interview with Junko Takenehi, the Japanese voice of Naruto, a message from Masashi Kishimoto, the original creator of Naruto, and a short called Chunin Exam on Fire! Naruto vs. Konohamaru!, which is absolutely superb, managing to be both touching and hilarious in the way that Naruto has always captured so well as a series.
Bonus Features: 8.5
81% – “Top of the range” – Naruto is still on top form, several hundred episodes and eight movies in. Blood Prison is a bold and grittier tale than some viewers may be used to but at the heart of it all, it’s still about that grinning little kid so determined to prove himself. This month saw the final issue of the Naruto manga being published in Japanese and it’s hard not to feel that something truly great has come to an end. This film is worthy of that legacy, I can offer no higher praise than that.