Naruto, Sakura and Kakashi team up with Rock Lee to protect Prince Michiru and his son Hikaru on their return home to the Crescent Moon Kingdom. Sounds easy enough – until this royal family becomes a royal pain! The decadent and soft-hearted Prince Michiru can’t help indulging his spoiled son, feeling guilty for the absence of his mother. The Prince even buys Hikaru his own circus along the way, including the circus’ dangerous show-stopper: a sabre-tooth tiger.
As you can imagine, Naruto has a tough time putting up with both the spoiled Hikaru and the saber-toothed tiger which Hikaru seems to be drawn to, but the real adventure begins when they reach the Land of the Moon and find themselves facing a villainous uprising. As usual, Naruto’s ninja missions end up being so much more as well as a lesson in freidnship, of course. Does Naruto have what it takes to save the future of the Crescent Moon Kingdom?
Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom, the third in the line of Naruto films feels closer in spirit and tone to the TV series than its predecessors. Under Kakashi’s watchful gaze, Naruto, Sakura and Rock Lee are guarding Michiru, the wealthy, ostentatious Prince of the Moon Kingdom, and his spoiled son Hikaru. A storm at sea, a confrontation about parents and a revolution within Hikaru’s home kingdom give Naruto the chance to teach Hikaru important lessons about friendship. Typical standard stuff for the Naruto franchise, but there definitely seemed to be something deeper at work here this time.
Naruto does come across as a kinder, gentler knucklehead/big-brother character in this film. When this film was released, we had already seen sufficient character development in him in the anime. He doesn’t pull his usual pranks and practical jokes, and we see him start to emerge as an effective and surprisingly gentle teacher, especially when it comes to showing Hikaru some tough love when it comes to his spoiled attitude. Rock Lee is a great addition to this film. He’s one of my favourite supporting Naruto characters and it’s always great to see more of him and watch his personality develop.
We also see that the main cast have had a bit of a costume change so they’re ready for the summer (even ninjas have fashions, apparently). Short sleeves for Naruto and Lee and who knew Sakura had a midriff? It would have been nice if they’d given them a new colour scheme instead of sticking to the usual shades. We will still know who Naruto is if he stops wearing orange and blue, you know!
The first half the story and character development takes centre stage. Then, when we arrive at the Crescent Moon Kingdom we see our main characters really start to throw down Konoha style. The rapid cutting between the simultaneous fight scenes really pumps up the energy ready for the final battles. The only problem that really stood out to be was Hikaru’s situation and his relationship with his father. Things seemed a bit slow and predictable at times and they had no particular personality traits that made them stand out to me. But this sometimes is the way with Naruto films, with some characters personalities falling into the shadow of the loud-mouthed ninja of the Leaf Village.
Overall, the third Naruto movie was quite satisfying and entertaining, fitting in well with the anime storyline. However, I cant wait to see the Shippuden set of films as you know that there’s going to be a lot more action in store down the line when the stakes get raised. It’s good to know that they haven’t exhausted their resources yet and can still explore interesting, exciting and emotionally powerful storylines.