To start, I'm not sure why so many anime movies suck. I understand that they're usually non-canon in that they're not based on the original source manga. You would think that that problem could easily be overcome by the fact that the author usually has input and a movie's much larger budget should make it possible to hire writers with some modicum of talent. It's almost inexplicable how they manage to create a big screen cockup each and every time, and it's especially atrocious when it comes to long-run shonen series. With Naruto as our example, there have now have 7 feature films and each one has been varying degrees of terrible. Despite my experience with the previous 6 films, I really did have hopes for the most recent released last year: Naruto Shipuuden the Movie 4: The Lost Tower.
To begin with, the Naruto storyline has advanced quite a bit in the year preceeding the movie. Naruto had finally received a level-up (or 10) and had new skills and abilities he could theoretically use in the movie. The previous films were almost nothing other than a repetitive Rasengen-fest, but around a month before the movie released the anime had Naruto finally achieving Senin-mode and I was really looking forward to some epic ass-kicking.
I also had my hopes raised based on trailers and preview images which showed that Minato would make an appearance in the film. The 4th Hokage is a pretty spiffy character and with the fact that he's Naruto's long dead father, I was expecting a lot of really interesting plot exposition. The Lost Tower dealt with time-travel, with Naruto going to the distant past, and I was looking forward to seeing him interact with both now-dead characters and younger versions of the ones he already knows.
In the end, I feel like all my hopes were betrayed. The movie was awful. I'm not even sure what I hated most about it, it was such an undifferentiated pile of crap. Lets list just some of the disapointments:
- Naruto and his father had almost no real interaction in any meaningful way.
- Naruto did not receive his powerup, showing no greater skills than the same damn rasengen we've seen forever.
- The 'big bad' was pathetic and never really felt dangerous at any point. It just seemed like all the characters were twiddling their thumbs rather than really scrambling to defeat the guy.
- This last point was especially egregious when applied to Minato. He was the 4th Hokage and a one-man army in canon. There was no conceivable reason for him to basically stand around the entire time doing nothing.
- The ridiculous plot holes, like how we're supposed to believe the entire city only has around 2 dozen living people in it but somehow the princess never noticed all this time.
In short, it just stank all over the place. I'm not sure I can even think up a redeeming point. The most annoying part is I was really looking forward to seeing the movie and had waited a long time. While it was released last year in July, that was only in Japan, and it wasn't until a few weeks ago that there was finally a dvd release and fan-subbers could get to work. Even worse, I could have downloaded a subbed cam version long before now but intentionally avoided doing that because I didn't want to ruin the experience by watching a crappy low-res and shaky version. If I had known it was going to suck this much, I might as well have just watched the crap version and saved myself a lot of time and angst.
I'd like to be able to say fool me 6 times, shame on you but fool me 7 times, shame on me but I'm not sure that I won't harbor some residual interest in this year's film. I'm sure as summer rolls around there will be another Naruto movie out in theaters and depending on how spiffy the trailer looks, I might once again anticipate the dvd release the following spring. All I know is this is starting to feel like I'm the battered wife in an abusive relationship. They keep saying that this time it'll be different.....and part of me always wants to believe that it's true.