Anime Film Review: Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Blood Prison

Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Blood Prison was the fifth film released for Naruto Shippuden, and it was directed by Masahiko Murata. The film was released to Japanese theaters on July 30, 2011. Viz Media holds the North American license for the film. The company released the film on both DVD and Blu-ray on February 18, 2014; this review will cover the Blu-ray release of the film, since that is the version that I watched. The Blu-ray Disc includes both an English dub and the Japanese audio with English subtitles.

Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Blood Prison
Directed by: Masahiko Murata
Written by: Akira Higashiyama
Starring: Junko Takeuchi, Mie Sonozaki, Masaki Terasoma, and Yūichi Nakamura
Run Time: 108 minutes
Rated: TV-14

At the beginning of the film, Naruto is framed for the attempted assassination of the Raikage, the leader of the Hidden Cloud Village, in addition to the murders of Jonin from the Hidden Mist Village and the Hidden Rock Village. When these accusations against Naruto come to light, Tsunade orders that he be sent to a criminal containment facility known as Hozuki Castle.

When Naruto arrives at the facility, a seal is placed on him by Mui, the head of the prison; the seal limits Naruto’s chakra. During his first night there, Naruto creates a clone as a decoy and tries to escape from the prison. Unfortunately, his clone is secretly taken by Mui to have the Nine-tailed beast’s chakra extracted, so Naruto’s escape is attempt is discovered. Naruto is caught and is placed in solitary confinement.

During his time at the prison, Naruto befriends Ryuzetsu, a female ninja from the Hidden Grass Village who is pretending to be a male inmate. Ryuzetsu knows how Naruto ended up being framed for the crimes he didn’t commit, and that the goal is to extract the Nine-tails’ chakra in order to release the seal on the Box of Enlightenment, which can supposedly grant any wish. Naruto and Ryuzetsu team up together to try to foil this plan; unfortunately, they don’t succeed. The climax sees the seal being released from the Box of Enlightenment and the havoc that is wreaked because of it.

I have to admit that when I first read the promotional write-ups for Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Blood Prison, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into it. However, after watching this film, I can truly say that this is definitely the best film that’s been produced for Naruto Shippuden; in fact, it might even be one of the best, if not the best, film produced for the entire Naruto franchise.

One of the things I really liked about this film is the fact that there is a mystery aspect to it. Because of trying to maintain the mystery, the film is written in a way where the viewer is led to believe that something is true for a while and then is thrown for a curveball when information is revealed that proves that what was thought to be true really isn’t. I also appreciated how, as I watched Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Blood Prison, I wasn’t finding any blatant logistical flaws like I saw in Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower or the lack of explanations that hampered the storytelling in Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Inheritors of the Will of Fire.

I also have to say that overall, the animation in this film is better than in some of the other Naruto and Naruto Shippuden films. I’m glad to say that there wasn’t any blatantly bad computer animation in this film, so there’s no repeat of the “Attack of the Terrible CG Terracotta Warriors” that was prevalent in Naruto Shippuden: The Movie. There probably was computer animation that appeared in this film, and if there was, it didn’t stand out. The only real issue I saw in the animation was during the final fight scene, when Rock Lee and Guy are in a fight; however, I can’t say whether this was truly bad animation or if the director may have been attempting to use this animation for an effect.

When it comes to the Blu-ray itself, the video is in 1080p High Definition 16×9, and the audio includes DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0. This is the first time that I have seen any part of the Naruto franchise on Blu-ray, and I have to say that I thought the film looked gorgeous. The images were sharp and detailed, and I found the video quality to be pleasing to my eyes.

There are a total of six bonus features on the Blu-ray pressing of Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Blood Prison. The first is a 13-and-a-half minute short titled, “Chunin Exam on Fire! Naruto vs. Konohamaru!”; this is the short that preceded Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Blood Prison when it was screened in Japanese theaters.

The short sees the Chunin Exam taking place in the Hidden Sand Village, and among the participants from the Hidden Leaf Village are Naruto, Konohamaru, Moegi, and Udon. Naruto and Konohamaru are being competitive as the rules are being said, so Naruto misses something important that affects him later in the short. As fate would have it, Naruto and Konohamaru are randomly selected to fight each other first during the third stage of the exam. This short is rather funny, and I found myself laughing quite a few times throughout it. I would have to say that “Chunin Exam on Fire! Naruto vs. Konohamaru!” is probably one of the best Naruto shorts that I have personally seen.

The next bonus feature is an interview with Junko Takeuchi, the Japanese voice actress for Naruto. This feature runs for three minutes, and it has Japanese audio with English subtitles. The questions she is asked appear as text on the screen, and is followed by footage of Ms, Takeuchi answering the question. It was pretty standard for this type of interview feature, but I have to say that after seeing this interview, Ms. Takeuchi is very personable, seemed to enjoy herself during the interview, and she seems like she’d be a fun person to hang out with.

This is followed me “Message From Masashi Kishimoto,” which is one page of text where Kishimoto talks about both the film and the short. I liked getting to read Kishimoto’s thoughts on both of these productions.

“Art Gallery” includes five options. The first is “Production Art,” which consists of 13 pages of line art from the film. Next is “Color Production Art,” which includes 10 pages of art from the film. “Key Art” includes five pages of art from both the film and the short. This is followed by “Clean Booklet Excerpts,” which has six screens from what appears to be a booklet that would have been given out to moviegoers who saw the film in Japanese theaters. “Chibi Artwork” has one super-deformed image of Naruto and one super-deformed image of Kakashi. To be honest, I didn’t understand why the “Chibi Artwork” was included, because it doesn’t appear to have anything to do with either the film or the short.

Next is “Japanese Trailers,” which includes five trailers for Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Blood Prison. The Blu-ray pressing gives the viewer the option of watching each one individually or playing them all back to back. The five trailers run for a total of three minutes. The trailers are presented with Japanese audio but no English subtitles. I don’t know whether Viz chose not to put subtitles on the trailers, or if the licensor won’t allow them to include the subtitles.

The final bonus feature is “More From Viz Media,” which includes a trailer for Neon Alley, four of the Naruto Shippuden films, and the four Bleach films.

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. If you have the capability to watch Blu-rays, then I would highly recommend going with the Blu-ray pressing; not only do you get the better video and audio quality, but you also get two bonus features that are not included on the DVD pressing (the interview with Junko Takeuchi and the message from Masashi Kishimoto).

I wrote this review after watching a review copy of Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Blood Prison that was provided to me by Viz Media.

Additional posts about Naruto:

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