Monday, April 27, 2015

‘The Last’ is a Necessary ‘Naruto’ Shōjo Story

The Last could be the most well-made Naruto movie ever.  Though, to be fair, this is only the third Naruto movie I’ve seen – but it’s certainly the best among those three.  There aren’t any epic action scenes, and its story treads on many familiar tropes, but it was compelling enough at the right parts to make it an enjoyable watch.  Moreover, being set during the time lapse between the events of Chapter 699 (the end of the Infinite Tsukoyomi; aftermath of the Fourth Shinobi World War) and Chapter 700 (Naruto as the 7th Hokage), The Last is officially part of the Naruto canon – thus, this elevates its importance above the other movies and making it more interesting.        
Personally, I’m just happy to see a story set during the time lapse.  And this is the thing about the movie I liked the most.  The time between Chapter 699 and 700 was a period I wish the manga chose to explore instead of immediately jumping towards Naruto being Hokage.  For me, it would have been the best opportunity to start afresh with the interesting characters and world of Naruto after its exposition-heavy, convoluted last arc ruined everything.

Plot synopsis: the antagonist Toneri seeks to destroy the world by sending the moon crashing towards it.  And, as to be expected, it is up to Naruto and his friends to stop him.  But this is just padding to what The Last is really about – the story of how Naruto and Hinata became a couple.  Which is fine since that is one of the intriguing questions that Chapter 700 has raised.  And the two do make a cute, engaging Shōjo story. 

Miscellaneous musings:
  • Apparently, ninja can breathe on the moon.   
  • 19-year old Naruto’s look is his coolest yet. 
  • It is understood that Hinata is a meek, gentle character.  But she is much too fragile in this movie – something I didn’t like – as if she’s not a toughened, veteran shinobi of the Fourth Shinobi World War. 
  • Nice to be reminded that Shikamaru is the smartest character in Naruto.  
  • Seriously, I want to have more tales set in the period between Chapters 699 and 700.  And the anime series has the window of making this happen before it proceeds towards the “New Era” (Naruto as Hokage, and his son, Boruto, as main protagonist).  I remember how the Naruto anime series provided ample time for the manga to considerably pull ahead by doing 77 filler episodes before proceeding to Shippuden.  I suggest that the same thing be done this time around (but in a much, much better fashion than what transpired in that 77 episode-run, since that stretch has most of Naruto’s most mediocre, pointless, and awful episodes).  So, after covering the events of Chapter 699, the anime should do a lengthy run of filler episodes set during the period before Naruto become Hokage.  And let there be sensible character and plot developments that would appropriately set up the status quo of Chapter 700.  At least show me if Kakashi was any good as Hokage and how Naruto was chosen as his successor and how all those characters developed into couples. 

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