One of Japanese anime’s most enduring characters goes into darker territory in this latest film adaptation.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
For some of you (like me) who have no idea what Naruto is all about, here’s the nutshell. The popular Japanese manga tells the story of teenage ninja Naruto Uzumaki, a Hokage — the crème de la crème of all ninjas — wannabe. He has been battling demons and other ninjas since 1997. 59 manga issues, 478 animated TV shows (258 from the series sequel, ‘Naruto: Shippuden’) and eight big screen films later, the ninja warrior is still at it.
‘Naruto: Blood Prison’ is the latest film from the franchise. Suspected of killing Jounin from Kirigakure and Iwagakure, and attempting to assassinate the leader of Kumogakure –the Raikage, Naruto is imprisoned in a criminal containment facility known as the Blood Prison. Helmed by the warden, Mui, he uses magical techniques to extract powers from the prisoners. Knowing this, Naruto seeks for the truth behind the murders and hopes to prove his innocence.
Naruto has obviously been set up and the moment he is released from his cage, he instantly takes on the warden. But wait, there’s a seal on his chest that blocks his chakra. The seal doesn’t only prevent him from using his powers but also weakens him.
His many attempts to escape rides through the film and eventually leads him to understand the purpose of the prison: a secret tomb, hidden underneath the jail’s courtyard, was used by the Grass Country to take over the world during the great Rokkudo Sage.
Mui has been trying to break the seal of this tomb with the chakra extracted from his prisoners; especially from the body of a jinchuuriki, and Naruto possess such powers.
But unlike previous Naruto films, the original characters have stayed true to their identity and not overtly exposed.
I don’t want to give too much away, but what lies in the tomb might frighten the most die-hard of Naruto fans. It is indeed the most violent of Naruto past eight films. While the manga’s storyline has progressively gotten more intense and more adult, this was the first movie that I wouldn’t recommend children to watch.
Creator Masashi Kishimoto may have had nothing to do with this year’s movie, but it was an amazing improvement from previous series. It is a good reflection of the darker, more adult side of the manga that we have slowly started to see over the past few years.