Naruto the Movie 1: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow

Naruto the Movie 1: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow

n1Naruto Uzumaki the ninja-in-training knuckle-head and his team are sent on a mission to guard Yukie Fujikaze, a popular actress starring the hit movie “The Adventures of Princess Gale.” The crew is heading toward the Land of Snow, a land forever covered in snow, to shoot the final scenes of the film. When Yukie refuses to go and escapes from the set, she is brought back by force by Naruto and his teammates. But little do they know there are three rouge Snow Ninja lying in wait with a sinister purpose that forces Yukie to make a crucial decision and face her hidden past.

It’s taken me a while to get around to watching all the Naruto films. I vaguely recall watching this one, and a few of its successors many years ago on an old laptop in bits and pieces through sites like YouTube and the quality wasn’t exactly the best. I thought it was high-time I watched them again and continued on where I left off.

Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow took me back to when Naruto was actually a very young ninja in an orange jumpsuit. This was when I was still in school, and that was a while back now. So from the very start everything about it had a sort of nostalgic tint to it that made me recall the time before Shippuden – Zabuza and Haku, meeting other young ninja from other lands, the chuunin exams, and how fun and simple things were for Naruto and chums back then.

n3

What makes the films different from the anime series is the pacing. Being feature length means that there aren’t any formal time constraints and certain things to fit inside the duration of one episode. To begin with, the atmosphere is lighthearted and relaxed with some good exposition to bring everyone up-to-speed on just where this adventure is beginning on the Naruto timescale. However, when things get more serious and real threats reveal themselves you also enjoy plenty of the uninterrupted action scenes that all shounen lovers wait patiently for. When things get going, there’s plenty of varied and creative fights in typical Naruto style with the added bonus of there being a significant increase in the quality of the animation compared to the early episodes of the anime. Considering that this film was released in 2004, I was quite impressed.

n4

There’s plenty of small details worked into the backgrounds and the characters, which gave familiar personalities and scenery a new shade of freshness. Some of the more frequented locations in the Hidden Leaf Village, such as the shopping district, showed a noticeably new level of detail. Whilst only the most basic colours tended to be used in the anime, the shading and added extras in shop fronts, windows and forest contributed to the whole experience. They seem like simple additions, but together they were successful in giving the surroundings an effective boost. The same applies for scenes and new locations we don’t usually see – aspects feel bigger and better generally.

The soundtrack to this film uses a lot of familiar tunes from the anime series, something which will bring a reminiscent smile to the face of all Naruto fans (you know when the drums kick in that someone’s about to throw down). The sound quality is decent and indicated what emotions you’re going to end up feeling by the time each scene is over with before things have even started.

n2

And of course, we get to see more of a young Team 7 learning to work together under the watchful eye of Kakashi. I feel like there wasn’t enough of this in the anime, so I could indulge myself in the character dynamics: Naruto being a lovale idiot, Sasuke bickering and competing with Naruto before he became a rogue ninja, Sakura being useless (this bit I think I forgot and was quite annoyed to be reminded of how rubbish she started out as) and Kakashi being an awesome sensei.

Naruto the Movie 1: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow is a very entertaining film and a strong start for the line of feature-length stories that will follow it. The face that it can be seen as a whole anime arc in one sitting is attractive and, combined with the accentuated visuals and the great core cast of characters, it’s definitely worth a watch. The information included at the beginning of the film means that you don”t need to have religiously watched the anime in order to enjoy it as the plot is easy to follow and has its own fully-formed story.