Anime Film Review: Naruto the Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom

Naruto the Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom is the third film in the Naruto franchise, and it was released to Japanese theaters on August 5, 2006. The English dub of the film aired on Cartoon Network on November 8, 2008, and this was followed by a DVD release on November 11, 2008.

Naruto the Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom
Directed by: Toshiyuki Tsuru
Written by: Junki Takegami
Starring: Junko Takeuchi, Chie Nakamura, Kyōsuke Ikeda, and Akio Ōtsuka
Run Time: 95 minutes
Rated: TV-14

At the beginning of the film, Naruto, Sakura, Lee, and Kakashi have a mission to protect Michiru, the prince of the Land of the Moon. Accompanying Michiru is his son, Hikaru. Michiru believes he can buy anything he wants, and he has passed this attitude down to his son. Hikaru’s attitude rubs Naruto the wrong way.

On their way to the Land of the Moon, they make a stop at a circus. Hikaru uses his bow and arrow to shoot an apple in a circus act. He impresses the ringmaster, who says Hikaru can have anything he wanted if he could shoot another apple that was being held by a monkey riding on top of saber-toothed tiger. Hikaru gets the shot, and he says he wants the tiger. Michiru ends up purchasing the whole circus. Before boarding the ships to return home, Michiru makes a visit to the home of his ex-wife, Amayo, bringing her a bunch of flowers. Amayo says that Michiru doesn’t understand what’s really important, and refuses to go back to him.

On the voyage home, Hikaru tries to befriend the saber-toothed tiger, but it wants nothing to do with him. He becomes bored with the animals, and doesn’t seem to care about them when a storm hits. Naruto gives Hikaru a major lecture, and this seems to make Hikaru realize how foolish he’d been acting. Hikaru helps to save the animals, and the next morning, Chamu (the saber-toothed tiger) befriends him. Not only that, Naruto, Sakura, and Lee also become friends with Hikaru.

When the group returns to the Land of the Moon, they discover that the country has been taken over by one of the royal advisors, with the help of three powerful ninja he has hired. Can Naruto and the group save the kingdom and return Michiru’s family to power?

Like the first Naruto film, this storyline fits in rather well with the Naruto anime series. However, just like the other two Naruto films, characters and story elements are introduced that are never seen again during the series. Overall, I do enjoy the story of Naruto the Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom. I especially like the scene that takes place between Michiru and his ex-wife, Amayo. Admittedly, her speech does hit the audience a little over the head, but I liked how she was willing to speak her mind and not feel like she had to hold back due to speaking to royalty. I also appreciated the interactions Naruto has with Hikaru, even though I have to admit that some of those interactions can come across as a little preachy sometimes.

While there is a good story in the film, I was rather disappointed with the animation. Of the three Naruto films, this one easily received the worst animation. There isn’t as much detail on the character drawings, and the computer graphics that were used just drew too much attention to themselves. I guess I have to give this film credit for the fact that it consistently utilized poor animation, unlike the second film, which wavered too much between good animation and poor animation.

When Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom was released on DVD, it was released as a two-disc set. On the first disc, the only extra is an audio commentary.

The second disc contains eight bonus features. The first is a 22 minute documentary titled, “The Story of Naruto: Growing Up a Ninja.” The documentary starts out talking about Naruto and his childhood, and then goes into talking about the actual film. This documentary includes interviews with the production supervisor, the ADR director, and the English dub actors for Tsunade, Naruto, Hikaru, Kakashi, Michiru, Shabadaba, and Ishidate. At the very end, there is a brief discussion of the next Naruto series, Naruto Shippuden. This is the kind of documentary I have come to expect from a VIZ Media release, and it’s decent for what it is.

The second bonus feature is the seven-minute documentary, “Team: The Art of Group Recording.” In this feature, you see some of the voice actors recording the dub of the film together. It features interviews with the ADR Director and the English dub voices for Kakashi, Michiru, and Lee. Again, it’s a decent feature for what it is.

The third feature is “Shooting for the Moon: A Conversation With the Naruto Movie 3 Producers.” It runs for 10 minutes and 41 seconds, and features the Japanese producers. The feature has Japanese audio and English subtitles. I enjoyed getting to see the perspective of the Japanese production crew.

Next is the “Clean Ending,” which runs for four minutes and 25 seconds. This is the ending credits and the epilogue without any text. However, since the text is never seen over the images (it’s on a black portion to the side of the images), this feature seems to be a bit of a waste.

Next are the original Japanese movie trailers. This feature runs for four minutes, and contains eight trailers. The trailers have Japanese audio, but absolutely no subtitles. Unfortunately, not having the subtitles can make it a little hard to watch these trailers, since you have no idea what the narrator is saying unless you understand Japanese. At least if you watch the film before watching these trailers, you have the context to understand what’s happening in the scenes that appear in the trailers.

There is a “Production Art Gallery,” which contains 35 pages of line art drawings of the characters.

The next feature is a Naruto trivia quiz, and this is definitely aimed at viewers who have seen all of the Naruto series. You watch clips and answer questions. At the end, you get your ninja rank. First off, I thought there were too many questions in this quiz. Secondly, there were a number of times where the question and the clip shown before it really had nothing to do with each other.

The final feature contains game trailers. It runs for eight minutes, and includes trailers for five Naruto video games and one Bleach game. Personally, I didn’t think the Bleach one really needed to be included.

If you’re a Naruto fan that wants to own everything on DVD, then this is a “must get” item. If you’re a more casual fan, then I would only recommend purchasing this release if you enjoyed the movie.

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