Anime Film Review: Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Inheritors of the Will of Fire

Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Inheritors of the Will of Fire was the third film for Naruto Shippuden, and it was directed by Masahiko Murata. The film was released to Japanese theaters on August 1, 2009. Viz Media holds the North American license for the film, which they released under the title Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Will of Fire. The company released the film on both DVD and Blu-ray on October 23, 2012; this review will cover the DVD version of the film, since that is the version that I watched. The DVD includes both an English dub and Japanese audio with English subtitles.

Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Inheritors of the Will of Fire
Directed by: Masahiko Murata
Written by: Junki Takegami
Starring: Junko Takeuchi, Chie Nakamura, Kazuhiko Inoue, Satoshi Hino, Noriaki Sugiyama, Showtaro Morikubo, Ryoka Yuzuki, Yoichi Masukawa, Shinji Kawada, Kousuke Toriumi, Nana Mizuki, Yukari Tamura, and Koichi Tochika
Run Time: 96 minutes

The film opens with Kakashi, Naruto, Sakura, and Sai in pursuit of ninja who have taken ninja with Kekkei Genkai abilities from four of the lands; the only land to not lose a ninja with a Kekkei Genkai is the Land of Fire. Unfortunately, Team Kakashi is unable to apprehend the ninja responsible, and Naruto and Sai are injured during this confrontation.

Suddenly, an image of a ninja appears in the sky across the various lands, claiming to be Hiruko, a missing-nin from Konoha who has developed a Chimera Technique. During his spiel, he says the Konoha is his next target. After this, Tsunade is summoned by the Feudal Lord of the Land of Fire to capture Hiruko and prove the innocence of Konoha; if they are unable to do this, the Feudal Lord will be forced to destroy the village in order to preserve world peace, since other nations are amassing troops on the borders of the Land of Fire and threatening invasion as well as setting the stage to start a Fourth Great Ninja World War.

It’s revealed that Hiruko’s target is Kakashi’s Sharingan. Hiruno had placed a Puppet Curse on Kakashi 10 years earlier, and this is activated one night. Kakashi asks Tsunade to let him go, so he can defeat Hiruko. After some reluctance, she grants his request; this includes placing a special seal on him that will automatically activate Kamui when Hiruko tries to absorb him to finish his plan. Kakashi lets Hiruko control him with the Puppet Curse and leave the village.

Tsunade labels Kakashi as a missing-nin and orders everyone from the village to stay away from Kakashi. Naruto, remembering the lesson Kakashi taught Team 7 at the beginning of the series with the bell exercise, refuses to listen to Tsunade’s order. Sakura ends up going with Naruto to follow Kakashi, and the rest of the Konoha 11 and Sai end up in the middle of everything. The film follows the battles that they fight with Hiruko’s minions, as well as Naruto and Sakura’s attempt to save Kakashi.

I will say up front that overall, I thought that Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Inheritors of the Will of the Fire is the best of the three Naruto Shippuden films that I have seen; however, this film still has some issues.

My first issue is that there is little to no explanation given for anything; the viewer is simply expected to accept what is presented. Unfortunately, this lack of explanation can make the film a little hard to follow at times.

My second problem is that the fact that it is shown that Sunagakure is on the verge of starting an attack on Konoha. I’m sorry, I don’t buy this, due to the fact that it’s very established in the anime series that Konoha and Sunagakure have become allies. I also can’t see Gaara, the Kazakage, ordering this. I just can’t. I would have had a better time with this if it had been one of the other lands being shown as the one that is about to fire the first shot and send the world to war.

My third issue is trying to figure out where exactly in the timeline this story would fit. If you put this film in the timeline of the series when it was shown in Japanese movie theaters, that would mean a character who died in the series would come back to life in this film. However, a character who died even earlier in the series is still dead in this film, so there’s really only a narrow space in the anime series where this could even begin to fit, but I really couldn’t find a way to fit this in with the anime timeline. At the end of the film, I really had to view it as an “alternate timeline” story in order to be able to truly accept it.

Even though this film has some issues, it also did do something right. Compared to the other films in the Naruto franchise, this film references and relies on canon material from the anime series. Over the course of this film, there are flashbacks of scenes that appeared in either the first Naruto anime series or in Naruto Shippuden. The previous Naruto films really hadn’t relied on canon material this heavily, so this was a refreshing change.

As for the actual DVD release, there were only two bonus features included. The first is a Japanese audio trailer for Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Inheritors of the Will of Fire; unfortunately, no English subtitles were provided for the trailer. The other feature is a trailer for Viz Media’s Neon Alley service, and it’s the exact same trailer that plays at the beginning of the disc.

If you’re a fan of the Naruto franchise who wants to own all of the Naruto material that’s available commercially, then you need to buy either a copy of this DVD or a copy of the Blu-ray pressing of this film.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of the DVD release for Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Inheritors of the Will of Fire that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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