Naruto the Movie: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom is the third film as part of the Naruto anime series directed by Toshiyuki Tsuru made by Studio Pierrot and distributed by Toho Company Ltd. This review is based on the Viz Media English dub released on Cartoon Network in 2008.
Leaf Ninjas Team 7 including Naruto Uzumaki (Maile Flanagan), Kakashi Hatake (Kate Higgins), Sakura Haruno (Dave Wittenberg), along with Rock Lee (Brian Donovan), who is standing in for Sasuske since this film takes place after his defection are assigned to protect royalty. Prince Hikaru Tsuki (Kari Wahlgren) and his father Michiru (Michael Sorich) are heirs to the throne of the Land of the Moon. Hikaru’s spiled attitude annoys Naruto, especially after they buy a whole circus just to please the little royal.
However, when they arrive at the Land of the Moon, they find that King Kakeru (Michael Forest) has been mortally wounded in a coup. After they mourn his death, Naruto convinces Michiru and Hikaru to rally loyal troops to stop the coup and their gang of evil villain ninjas.
The third entry is not as good as the first film or the second film as it seems to take a long time for the plot to kick in. It takes way too long trying to set-up the antagonistic relationship between Naruto and Hikaru. At one point, I found myself asking what the pay-off would be and it does come, but a lot slower than one would hope.
My only criticism is with Rock Lee. He is one of the most compelling characters within the anime, but here he is underused. While he has a chance to show his skills toward the climax of the movie, it feels like he is more of a background character.
I did enjoy the character development of Michiru and Hikaru. Michiru starts as a selfish royal who thinks he can buy love while Hikaru starts as a selfish brat who considers people toys to disregards, which clashes with the selfless attitude of Naruto. It really plays into the story-arc and makes the characters more three dimensional.
Also, it was good to see Kakashi back in action. He was completely absent in the second film so seeing him use his ninja skills to fight off an army was pretty cool. The same goes for Sakura. She usually is a supporting character, but this time she was active as a fighter and seeing her do Martial Arts fighting was cool.
Bottom line, while the first act of the movie drags on a bit, the ninja action and character development is a lot of fun.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Foul language
FAVORITE QUOTE: I promised to protect him no matter what!
Check out the Cartoon Network promo below:
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This article has been updated from the previous version.