published in Empire No.75, Sydney
An infectious series in the tradition of Dragon Ball Z, Naruto bears all the trademarks of mass-oriented franchise-inducing anime. Wildly popular in Japan and well received in the US (its translated manga being particularly successful), the TV series now being released on DVD will satiate those seeking latest crazes in anime.
Spiky noisy Naruto is a ninja in training who is destined to become a Hokage lead ninja. Afflicted by a demonic blood line that links him to evil forces that ages prior almost destroyed his village, Naruto is both the means for the village's survival as well as its darkest secret. Bawdy gags and unrequited love pepper this mystical ninja treat which should appeal to young kids.
published in Empire No.83, Sydney
Naruto has a large fan-base in the American-speaking world, so reviews such as this will have no impact on the tightly networked word-of-mouth that is already zipping through countless online groups. In Naruto The Movie, Naruto and his ninja training team are assigned to protect a famous actress who is revealed to be the princess heir of the Snow Country to which she is returning. A George Lucas-type adventure complete with lots of wise-cracking and ham-fisted pathos unfolds for those who like their anime in hamburger buns.
Like all boy product, Naruto’s puerile factor is deliberately maxed out. All characters in this film are engaging and well-rounded, but Naruto remains in this reviewer’s eyes an irritating, self-centred, loud-mouthed ass. Which is probably why the series is so successful in the US. The film’s animation and direction – like the TV series – is of high quality, but everything hinges on Naruto: you’ll either love him or hate him. But what I hate worse is the ‘important messages’ rammed home in this movie (particularly in its dubbed form): hold on to your dreams, don’t give up, etc.. It all seems somehow forced and unnecessarily amplified – which is very un-anime.