The second Naruto movie arrives, and much like any other feature produced during a long running show, it makes sure not to affect the over-arching plot of the series, but provides a fun and entertaining stand-alone story nonetheless.
What They Say
Naruto, Shikamaru, and Sakura are executing their mission of delivering a lost pet to a certain village. However, right in the midst of things, troops led by the mysterious knight, Temujin, attack them. In the violent battle, the three become separated. Temujin challenges Naruto to a fight and at the end of the fierce battle, both fall together from a high cliff. Furthermore, Shikamaru, having been left behind, beholds a giant moving fortress as it appears before his very eyes. In order to get a grasp on the situation, he infiltrates the fortress by himself, however once there he witnesses a frightening sight...
For my main reviewing session I watched the disc with the English audio, and the 5.1 track came across very well with some great directionality during many of the action scenes (such as the siege at the start of the film), although much of the dialogue does come through the front channels. I didn’t notice any dropouts or distortions on this track, nor when spot-checking the Japanese version. The 5.1 tracks are definitely a big step up from the stereo tracks, which sound rather hollow in comparison. The English dub was very enjoyable and on par with the standard of the TV series.
The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen, and the film’s increased animation budget is well presented on this disc. Upscaled, the colours are extremely vibrant and striking at times, and the animation gets a good chance to shine. There are some moments of blocking and the occasional bit of banding, but overall this is a good transfer and an expected step above the TV series.As with the series, there are no translated credits present. Subtitles are the same as the TV series; white with a black outline.
No packaging was included as this was a check disc.
The menu system is pretty simple. After animating in the logo, Naruto and some shuriken, the left side focuses on characters from the film revolving around, while the selections are on the left, with the movie theme playing for good measure. Sub-menus are static, and there is a transitional animation between each of them, but it doesn’t slow things down a great deal.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Whenever a long running show is as successful as Naruto is, you always know that every opportunity will be taken to rinse the franchise dry and make as much money as possible while it is popular. One such product you can always expect with such an anime is the annual movie. You nearly always know what to expect from one; it’ll be a story that does nothing to advance the overall plot of the show (aside from perhaps giving the hero a new power or something), and it will stand-alone so that everything is wrapped up by the time the credits roll.
Unfortunately this leads to some problems, the most glaring of which is predictability. Because you know that nothing is really going to change as a result of the movie’s story, you know that even if our heroes are in danger they will always come out triumphant in the end. It’s this lack of danger factor that causes a problem in a movie like The Legend of the Stone of Gelel, the second Naruto movie, because the story emphasises some perilous situations for the group and yet it’s hard to be concerned knowing the group will all survive anyway.
So when judging a movie like this you kind of have to just take the story for what it is, away from the series itself, and forget the fact that it is all a little bit pointless in the end. And as a story in and of itself, The Legend of the Stone of Gelel is actually pretty good.
The movie tells the story of the titular Stone of Gelel, which was long ago fractured and spread across the land. A village leader called Master Haido is looking to harness the power of the stone to apparently create a utopia; eradicating war and bringing peace to the land. He enlists the help of one of his villagers, a young man called Temujin, who attacks Naruto and the gang as they’re on a mission from the Hidden Leaf Village to catch a ferret and return it to its owner. Naruto and Temujin end up battling away, separated from the Sakura and Shikamaru.
After the battle, Naruto wakes up in a “caravan” (not in the literal sense, this is a type of village in the world of Naruto), and unsurprisingly Temujin is in a bed nearby. He’s naturally unhappy, but at least has returned the ferret to its owner. The village elder explains to Naruto that the ferret has been with the caravan for centuries, and Temujin soon wakes up and makes a sharp exit. Naruto follows and it turns out that Temujin is actually a Gelel user; he has a piece of the stone inside him and harnesses its powers in a similar way to Naruto using chakra.
As Shikamaru and Sakura search for Naruto, the story takes some expected turns, with a couple of girls from Temujin’s village getting involved, fighting Gaara and Kankuro (whose village was attacked by Master Haido’s earlier, and they ended up finding Sakura and Shikamaru), and later the village elder. When all is said and done, their and Temujin’s goal is to find the Mine of Gelel, where supposedly the Stone has been locked away as its powers of good were abused by the last people who got their hands on it.
With the goal of the story finally revealed, the race to the mines begins in earnest, with Temujin tricking the village elder into taking him to the mine, and leading Master Haido there as well. It all leads to the big expected showdown, and of course, a test of Temujin’s character as he is forced to choose between siding with Master Haido and doing what is right. His choice, with Naruto involved, is pretty much guaranteed though!
The biggest problem with this story is that it takes a while to get going. Ideally, the goal of getting to the Mine of Gelel probably would have been revealed earlier, because in the first part of the film there is a fair bit of meandering over what is happening with Temujin, the stone and the goal of it all, with a few fights thrown in for good measure. Having said that, the extra time does allow a lot of focus to shift to the supporting cast, so we at least get to know the likes of Temujin and the elder quite well, which helps in understanding their motivations later.
Everything is all a bit predictable as well, not just in terms of knowing nothing bad will happen to Naruto and the gang for the reasons I mentioned in the opening of the review, but also just because it’s fairly easy to tell which side of the moral ground Temujin will end up on, and it is also obvious quite early on that Master Haido will have bad intentions.
Despite all this though, The Legend of the Stone of Gelel ends up being a pretty enjoyable ride. There is always something about the core cast of Naruto that tends to click, even when we only get a few of them, and the presence of Kankuro and Gaara in the story is extremely welcome. The key supporting cast members are built up pretty well and get enough screen time to make them worthwhile, and the fighting and animation are as top notch as you’d expect from a Naruto movie.
Though it has its problems, most notably because you just know by the end of the film everything will be much the same as it was in the beginning for Naruto and the gang, The Legend of the Stone of Gelel is quite enjoyable for a movie produced during a long running series. The usual gang are as enjoyable as ever, and the supporting movie-only cast are well represented. Though the story is predictable, there is enough here for most fans of Naruto to enjoy, and the production values are good to boot.
Japanese Language (5.1 & 2.0), English Language (5.1 & 2.0), English Subtitles
Samsung LE40M86 1080p HDTV, Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player (upscaling DVDs to 1080p via HDMI), Pioneer HTP-GS1 5.1 Surround Sound System.