Anime Film Review: Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow

Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow is the first theatrical film in the Naruto franchise, and it was released to Japanese theaters on August 21, 2004. In the United States, the film had a one-day theatrical showing on June 6, 2007. A DVD was released on September 4, 2007, and a Deluxe Edition of the DVD was released on November 13, 2007.

Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow
Directed by: Tensai Okamura
Written by: Katsuyuki Sumisawa
Starring: Junko Takeuchi, Yūko Kaida, and Tsutomu Isobe
Run Time: 82 minutes
Rated: TV-14

Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke, along with their sensei, Kakashi, are sent on a mission to accompany famous actress Yukie Fujikaze as she heads for the Land of Snow to shoot her new movie. While on their travels, it comes out that Yukie is actually someone important from the Land of Snow, and that someone is after a crystal necklace that she has. Can Naruto and the rest of Team 7 protect Yukie from the danger that she is in?

Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow is a good film. However, it was definitely written in a way where you already had to be familiar with the Naruto anime series in order to fully understand what was going on. No time was used for any kind of exposition to explain some of the things that are common knowledge from the series. But then again, it was probably expected that viewers who watch Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow would already be fans of either the Naruto manga series or the Naruto anime series.

This film is pretty much what one would expect from a film based on a Shonen Jump property. Characters and story elements are introduced in the movie that will never be seen in the anime series ever again, and there’s also plenty of action. The animation in Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow is rather decent overall, and it seems to have received the best animation of the Naruto films that I have seen up to this point.

One of my favorite moments of the film was getting to see a flashback that shows a younger Kakashi Hatake. I believe that by this point in the anime series, the viewers would have seen a picture of a younger Kakashi, but not actually seeing the younger Kakashi in action.

When the film aired in Japanese theaters, it was preceded by a 10-minute short called “Konoha Annual Sports Festival.” The short is definitely more light-hearted in nature than the actual film itself, and it includes some “potty humor.” The short, which is included on the DVD release of the film, is about the various ninja teams competing for a vacation. Unfortunately for Team 7, Naruto finds he needs to use the bathroom. However, every attempt he makes is foiled. Can Naruto ever make it to the bathroom, and will his need to go affect his team’s chances to win?

If you don’t mind the fact that the main story of the short is Naruto trying to find a bathroom to relieve himself, then you’ll probably enjoy this short. One of the most amusing things about this light-hearted short to me is seeing some of the characters that appear in the crowd scenes during the event. The most amusing cameo appearances are for the characters who are clearly established as being dead by the time this short would be taking place.

I had the opportunity to see the film as part of the three-disc deluxe edition pressing. For audio options, there is English 5.1, English Stereo, and Japanese Stereo. For subtitles, you can choose whether to have them on or off.

In the Special Features menu on the first disc, there are six options. You can watch the short, you can see the English trailers for the film, you can see trailers for four VIZ Media releases, you can see ads for Shonen Jump manga, a screen promoting Toonami Jetstream, and trailers for several Naruto videogames.

The second disc in the set includes seven special features. “Behind the Scenes of U.S. Voice Recording” is a 20-minute documentary which includes interviews with the Production Manager, ADR directors, and some of the voice actors. You also get to see the voice actors dubbing some of their dialogue for the film. It’s a decent documentary for what it is, and it’s basically the kind of documentary I have come to expect on VIZ Media releases.

Next is a 10-minute feature which includes interviews with the Japanese voices for Sasuke, Naruto, and Kakashi, and this feature is subtitled. It was nice to be able to put faces with the Japanese actors who perform these roles, since I prefer to watch Naruto with the Japanese audio and English subtitles.

This is followed by a five-minute feature that includes messages from the ADR Directors, the U.S. voice cast, the Japanese voice cast, and a text message from Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of the Naruto manga.

Next is the seven-minute feature, “Inside the Animation Studio,” which is narrated by Dave Wittenberg, the U.S. voice actor for Kakashi. The feature shows the animation process that the film underwent in Japan from the character sketches to the final rendered product. This was a decent behind the scenes feature, especially for how short it was.

Then, an almost eight-minute feature about Naruto at the 2007 New York Comic Con is next. It includes interviews with several people involved with the dubbing of the series, as well as some footage from the actual con. While this may not have been a terribly exciting feature, it does give a historical glimpse into the reaction and promotion the film received at the time it was released in North America.

This is followed by the original Japanese movie trailers. This feature runs for about five minutes and includes 10 trailers. Unfortunately, it is not subtitled. While I may understand what’s going on in the scenes shown in the trailer due to seeing the movie before watching these trailers, I have no idea what the Japanese narrator for the trailers is saying. For me, the lack of subtitles for these trailers make them a little hard to watch.

The final extra is the original Japanese credits. It’s basically the last five-and-a-half minutes of the film, and does not include subtitles.

The third disc is a CD soundtrack for Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow. There are 20 instrumental tracks, and the disc is 29 minutes in length. The longest song on the disc is three-and-a-half minutes long. The CD is sequenced in a way where the music from the short appears first, and is then followed by the tracks from the film. Since this is an instrumental disc, the song that appears in the ending credits of the film isn’t on this disc. However, you can find the ending credit song on the Naruto Best Hit Collection 2 soundtrack CD. For what this soundtrack CD is, it’s actually quite good.

If you’re a Naruto fan, then this film needs to be in your DVD collection. In my opinion, this is probably one of the best Naruto films that I have seen. However, if you do add this movie to your collection, then I would recommend trying to track down the deluxe edition DVD.

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