Welcome to Prime Reactions where I go over new or recent movies. Let’s see what they did to bridge the gap between the final chapter and the chapter before the final chapter. Bear with a really long post as we go through Naruto: The Last.
I became a Naruto fan when English Shonen Jump was physical and followed it since. Played the card game. Bought the toys. Liked the show. Unfortunately, the anime became bogged down with unrelenting filler episodes and the manga became a chore to read. I did finish the manga because after following it for so long, I may as well, right?
The final chapter was an epilogue that shows you where everyone ended up but mostly who everyone ended up with. I… didn’t like this. The previous chapter felt like a proper ending with Naruto handing Sasuke his scarred headband. To see it go back to Sasuke just felt right. It came full-circle. I had a few unanswered questions but as an ending to the series, this was passable. Then the next chapter came out and none of my questions were answered. Instead many more got raised simply because nothing important was addressed. Main one being where Orochimaru and friends went. If I didn’t read this final chapter, I wouldn’t have missed anything. Sure, Naruto became Hokage but did anyone think he wouldn’t? The final chapter was more or less fanservice catering to pairings fans. It was Kishimoto giving in to please some fans while angering others. These relationships in no way felt natural and built upon. Gutsy move, but this is sort of why I wanted it to end last chapter. If it did, the pairings remain ambiguous and while some would be disappointed due to lack of closure, they’re free to keep dreaming.
It was announced a movie will connect the last and second to last chapter and that Kishimoto will have a hand in it, I thought “Okay, maybe there’ll be some context for the relationships and what wasn’t covered will be”. I was naive to think so. It’s new Naruto after all. Expectations should be lowered accordingly considering it’s far from over with novels, more anime, more movies…
Before the review, let’s get a quick “too long;didn’t read” comment from our senior anime film analyst.
It’s no surprise that this movie focuses on the Naruto and Hinata relationship. I personally didn’t care who ended up with who. However, if by the end certain characters get together, that’s fine if those relationships were built upon and felt earned. In fact, going into this movie I wanted it to focus on Naruto and Hinata growing closer and forming a bond to the point where I’d believe they should’ve gotten married. Didn’t get that. Just to be clear, I went in hoping to see these two get together properly. I otherwise was neutral on the couple.
As said, this will be a looong post. This movie is so bad that every scene requires comment which is something I don’t usually do but is what this abomination has forced me to do.
The movie opens with a flashback that previously did not exist showing kid Naruto who happens to run into Hinata being bullied and saves/helps her somehow. His scarf gets ruined and he runs off. I don’t know how many of these flashbacks there are now. It’s like they keep making up moments where these two interacted as kids to make up for the fact that they almost don’t interact at all. Just having these two run into each other in flashbacks when they were kids doesn’t help Naruto’s side. Flashbacks give Hinata more reason to like him but Naruto never gives her a single thought. If Hinata was replaced with any other character, he’d still have jumped in.
In the present, we see Naruto becoming popular with some female underclassmen mixed in with scenes of Hinata knitting a scarf. She struggles to actually give it to him and this is a problem for me. There’s no denying evidence exists in the manga that supports this relationship. The issue is that these two have interacted maybe four times in the whole story not counting forced flashbacks. One such time is when Naruto doubts himself and Hinata slaps some sense into him. They hold hands and make their stand. This was a good scene. It showed that Hinata became more confident and was willing to put her life on the line. It was also a huge step for her to act like this around Naruto when previously she would stutter, blush, and barely form complete sentences. Here it seems she’s reverted to that for no reason but “cute factor”. If this takes place after the war and some time has passed, I really expected her to be on better terms with Naruto or at least shed her shyness around him, but no. It’s clearly much better if they have her revert to that because people think it’s cute. You’re telling me the Hinata that twice stepped in to help Naruto at the risk of her life can’t give him a scarf? Yeah, not buying it. It feels so unnatural as a follow-up to events in the manga. Too bad prior development is ignored for this cheap and soulless love story.
Hanabi, Hinata’s sister, gets kidnapped, but no time for an action sequence here. It turns out Naruto already has a scarf and he seems to be treating it with great importance. Hinata feels bad and wonders who gave it to him, crying at these thoughts. She’ll feel bad over a random scarf but smile when Sakura hugged Naruto after he beat Pain? Well, no time for that forced drama because there’s our action sequence! After some henchmen are thwarted by Naruto and Scarf MK I gets torn, we meet the bad guy that tells them he wants Hinata and leaves… Um, why didn’t you just get her? Naruto didn’t stop you, just your henchmen. Why did you even show up if you were just going to walk off and try again later?
Naruto, along with Shikamaru, Sakura, Hinata, and Sai are given the task of rescuing Hanabi. If Kakashi was competently-written, he’d have told Hinata to stay behind because the bad guy wants her. But when the plot needs smart characters to be stupid, they’re stupid. So he lets her go with no argument. They each fly on one of Sai’s ink eagles, but not Naruto and Hinata. They share an eagle because it’s cute. Shikamaru did tell Naruto to protect Hinata, but you know darn well why they’re riding together. Their first stop is in a snowy area. For some stupid reason, Hinata dresses sleeveless while Naruto is dressed for the cold. She puts a clue into her bag and Naruto sees the scarf she planned to give him. He asks if she’s cold and why she isn’t wearing it, but she says she’s fine. Hey, he acknowledged how stupid and impractical her outfit was for me!
They end up at a cavern where they see a deep pool of water. They decide to go in but not before Naruto declares that he shouldn’t get his scarf wet. Hinata looks away so the audience can feel bad for her. Turns out this is the kind of water that doesn’t get you wet… That’s convenient. Now for more flashbacks as the water causes our heroes to enter a sleep-like state. Hinata’s flashbacks bleed into Naruto’s so he can see her memories.
We see the time Hinata saved Naruto from Pain. Good scene, but let’s assume it was any other character but Hinata. Wouldn’t Naruto get just as mad if any of his friends got hurt? Naruto doesn’t value Hinata any more than anyone else. Now, let’s reverse it. If it were any other character but Naruto, would Hinata have jumped in? Probably not. This always bothered me and shows again how much of Hinata’s character development solely revolves around Naruto. It’s fine that he inspires her but she never gets to shine as a fine character on her own. When it comes to her, it’s all about Naruto-kun. Just the fact that her confession was completely ignored is a testament to how much Kishimoto DID NOT CARE. And if he didn’t, why should I?
Next we flash back to the classic scene of Hinata handing him ointment during the Chunin Exam. Not because that was a pivotal moment in their relationship, but because they ran out of moments where they interacted. Seriously, this is a proof of how lazily this relationship panned out when they have to resort to using this moment. Couldn’t they have shown the time she offered to let him cheat off her test instead?.
The next flashback is another new one. They’re kids in class and Iruka asks the students to write down who they’d like to spend their time with when the world ends. First, what teacher asks little kids this? Second, what does this have to do with ninjas? Third, guess what name Hinata writes? Guys, kids this little wouldn’t act like this. Would you really write down the name of a boy you never knew or talked to over someone in your family or a really close friend? If you’re going to pander, pander discreetly.
Next flashback is one I mentioned before where Hinata slapped some sense into Naruto. What’s that? They didn’t put this in? WHY NOT? THIS was a pivotal moment in their relationship. You’re telling me that time she shyly gave him ointment was more important than this? Oh wait, it’s not about importance. It’s about what’s cute and slapping your crush while encouraging him to rise up against impossible odds is not “cute”. I can’t believe they omitted this in favor of ointment…
We see that Naruto likens romantic love to his love for ramen… Remember when he met his mom? He asks her how she fell in love with his dad. He couldn’t have thought that kind of love is the same as his love for ramen. Throughout the manga Naruto seemed very perceptive of how far Sakura would go for Sasuke. Sakura probably loves Sasuke at least as much as you love ramen, but come on… They’re trying to keep this guy stupid so when he realizes Hinata’s feelings the audience will “d’awww” a little more. This is frustrating. Naruto seeing Hinata’s memories might flatter him but to think that he legitimately falls in love with her by the end of the movie? No…
The villain pops back in and says he wants to marry Hinata. We get an action sequence of Shikamaru, Sai, and Sakura fighting a giant crab. Naruto knocks out the bad guy but it turns out it’s a puppet. Then our heroes go into an abandoned city. Naruto and Hinata do “cute” exploration together for a bit. They find some hidden stairs and a zombie shoots some energy ball at Hinata which knocks her out. He gives us some exposition, calls Hinata the Byakugan Princess, and dies. For no reason, things become awkward between the two with Hinata not wanting to be around Naruto.
We cut to Hinata knitting when Naruto randomly tells her he loves her… At first, I thought this was genjutsu, but apparently not. Bad guy crashes the party saying he’s here for Hinata. Hinata hands Naruto the scarf and leaves with the bad guy. The bad guy taunts Naruto saying she chose to go with him. Naruto tries to get her back but gets knocked out with the scarf getting burned and destroyed in the process. Nooooo, not scarf MK I.V! He’s my favorite! I spent more time getting to know scarf than the villain or other characters.
At the moon (not kidding), Hinata finds Hanabi with bandages over her eyes. They flash back to the previous bad guy capture attempt where he gives Hinata exposition nobody cares about. Turns out there used to be moon ninjas and he has to marry someone with the Byakugan because things. Also, he now has Hanabi’s eyes in his sockets. He then asks Hinata to make him scarf MK II. Remember when I told you a zombie shot something at Hinata? Well, now they explain that as a result, Hinata had visions of more exposition. Why both of these expositions had to be shown now instead of the order they happened I don’t understand. We learn that the bad guy wants to destroy the earth and that there’s another superpower eye: the Tenseigan.
We cut to the Cloud village taking out what looks like a hyper death ray. Oh, cool! I wonder what it doe- Oh, back to Hinata and the bad guy… While knitting scarf MK II, she tries to convince the bad guy to not destroy the earth but to no avail. Naruto wakes up after three days and sulks over Hinata leaving. Sakura tells Naruto that the reason he used to love her was solely because he didn’t want to lose to Sasuke (BS). This would normally be a longer and more substantial conversation riddled with flashbacks that would help us understand these two, but she just hypes Hinata some more.
Hinata finds the Tenseigan and is about to destroy it. Some henchmen show up and she gets to fight for like ten seconds before getting captured by the bad guy. He destroys scarf MK II (NOOOOO!) and shoves her into a thing. While Naruto narrates how he understands Hinata’s feelings now, we see that her body has been placed on a picture frame above the bad guy’s fireplace while tears run down her lifeless open-eyed face. Naruto resolves to save Hinata as if there was any doubt that he would.
Hinata’s about to be wed while our heroes storm the place. We get the “leave this to me” cliche from Shikamaru while Sakura and Sai fight offscreen. A giant meteor is going to fall on Konoha but Lee and a bunch of characters open some gates to destroy it. They succeed, but the top third is still falling. Sasuke shows up and destroys it saying he’ll save the village if Naruto isn’t around. That’s it for Sasuke. Lee, Sasuke, and wacky things like new gates users and the hyper death ray would be cool to explore but nah, nobody wants to see those.
Naruto catches up with the bad guy who now has Hinata under his control. He has her start walking into a thing to complete his plan and instead of letting her walk into said thing, he wastes time by ordering her to attack Naruto. Way to foil your own plan, guy. Naruto removes an energy orb that was controlling her and the bad guy pulls her body back to him. Thanks to plot, his eyes act up allowing Naruto and Hinata to escape. They run to the Tenseigan Hinata tried to destroy earlier. She says only the chakra she gained from the zombie’s exposition can destroy it. She proceeds to destroy it and saves the day! No, wait. She fails because she’s not Naruto. Can’t have the girl doing something relevant (EWW, cooties!). Naruto suggests she transfers her chakra to him. What do you know? Naruto broke it! As a result, Byakugan eyes start floating around.
The hyper death ray fires and blows up some meteors. The Raikage then proposes they blow up the moon. Cut to Sakura handing a piece of scarf MK II to Hinata. Naruto asks her for it and she tells him “but it’s busted”. Insert “I’ll cherish it foreverz” line as he takes it anyway. The bad guy’s Tenseigan awakens and giant Sandman from the end of Spider-Man 3 pops up. Naruto yells “Flame on!” and summons a giant energy fox to fight giant Sandman. The Raikage’s about to fire the hyper death ray at the moon but the other Kages tell him to wait because Naruto’s on the moon and they they believe in main character power.
Bad guy drops in and tosses Hinata into a cage while she yells “Naruto-kun” as she usually does. The movie’s heroine, everyone! Naruto and the bad guy have a Dragon Ball Z fight while exchanging uninspired, badly written, and generic hero/villain cliches. They clash attacks splitting the moon in half. Eventually, Naruto slams the guy into a wall. The cage disappears and his Tenseigan shuts off. Hinata takes out his (Hanabi’s) eyes with her bare hands because she’s totally prepared with proper sanitary equipment to store them. The floating Byakugan eyes I mentioned before start attaching themselves to the bad guy. Can we see a picture of that?
Yeah, that’s it.
He absorbs all of Naruto’s chakra but Hinata transfers her exposition chakra to Naruto again. The eyes finish attaching and the bad guy grows. Do we have a picture of that?
His body bulges out of control. Naruto jumps up and saves him offscreen because either the animation budget ran out or the writers couldn’t figure out how Naruto did that. The earth is saved! Hinata tells the bad guy to go to earth where he’ll be welcomed. He opts to stay to atone for his sins and walks away. Wait a minute. Come back here and explain yourself, you crap villain. Are we supposed to feel bad for him just because Hinata does? He didn’t even learn anything. Way to sweep him under the rug instead of I don’t know… writing something?
Finally Hinata asks Naruto about his scarf prime, the one she was jealous about. He tells her that his mom made it for him before she died. Hinata’s relieved and the two hold hands while skipping towards the exit. He reminds her of the flashback where she wrote his name down and tells her that he wants to be with her forever too. They de-age while holding hands showing that they were destined to be together since they were kids (yeah, right) and while the area explodes, a chorus sings for their togetherness. Naruto carries her like newlyweds at their front door, launches himself high up into the sky, and they kiss.
The end credits roll and we see stills of their wedding. Sasuke isn’t present and I don’t blame him. There’s a scene after the credits where we see an older Hinata knitting scarf MK 42. While Naruto trains outside, their kids go out and tackle him as Hinata joins them. Naruto tells the kids that when their mom is serious, she’s super strong. Yeah… that’s something this movie clearly demonstrated by not allowing her to fight and instead letting her get captured while Naruto does everything. Cut to a picture frame with pictures of their wedding and the birth of their children.
So as you can tell, I’m with Powerglide on this one. They spent way too much time justifying the premise but none of it felt believable. Key moments of development in the manga were ignored to suit the needs of this movie. They had to create new flashbacks because there weren’t enough interactions reinforcing how contrived this relationship was. Many scenes existed purely to pander to the cheap romance crowd or blind supporters of the pairing. I WANTED this movie to make me like them as a couple but it was riddled with awful execution.
Let’s talk about what I did like about the movie. Sakura was great for the five minutes she’s allowed to talk. Now that she definitely won’t end up with Naruto, she plays a supporting role in getting the two together. It was nice seeing her encourage Hinata and being a good friend. I wanted more of Hanabi. Her playfulness when it came to Hinata’s crush was fun. These two are sisters and I don’t think they’ve ever had a conversation. Hinata was ditched as the family’s successor in favor of Hanabi and a talk would’ve been welcome. If Hinata is the main female Kishimoto’s pushing her to be, her sister should be more prominent. Here, Hanabi just gets captured and becomes pointless. Just like her big sister! Seriously, why was Hanabi in this movie? The taijutsu fights were well-animated, but too short. The hyper death ray was cool, but irrelevant. I really wanted to see more of the side characters but their cameos are seconds long. Even Shikamaru, Sai, and Sakura who go on the mission don’t get more than a few lines. Sasuke’s few seconds of screentime was nothing more than fanservice. Where was he until now? The scarves got more time than him. Why were these characters even here? To remind us they exist? The movie poster is such a lie.
I want to like Hinata. I really do. Kishimoto just goes out of his way to make sure I don’t. She has nothing to do. How many times did she get captured or “noped” when trying to be relevant? She even gets thrown in a cage at the end. When she decides to go with the bad guy, this was planned ahead of time. I can understand not telling Naruto, but at least tell Sakura. Maybe by letting the bad guy take her, her friends could follow them and find the entrance of the bad guy’s secret base. No, the bad guy has to coincidentally pop in right when Naruto tells her he loves her just so we can have a heartbreaking separation scene with scarf MK I burning up. She doesn’t get a proper fight and simply transfers her chakra to Naruto twice. You gave her special chakra and didn’t let her do anything with it? I’d have really liked to see how she’s improved as a ninja. No cool taijutsu fight? At least let her fight the bad guy alongside Naruto to establish good teamwork.
Father-Son Kamehameha Contrived couple Rasengan? Nah, too much effort. Much easier to let Naruto do EVERYTHING. You make a movie about two characters getting together and the female’s nothing but a damsel in distress for all of it? What’s wrong with you?
So who was the villain? Do we care about him? Of course not. It wasn’t worth my time to type his name. Excuse me for asking this of a shonen movie, but there should’ve been no villain. Nobody watching this movie came for the action. They might’ve been satisfied with the fighting, but everyone came here for the characters and interactions. If you’re a kid, well, maybe you came for the action but this isn’t a Michael Bay Transformers movie. I expected substance. Instead, I got a zero-dimensional villain who walks off at the end to “atone” after learning nothing. Why not just kill him like every other movie villain? What makes this guy worth leaving alive? He does the “steal and marry the main character’s love interest” cliche which was not only awful, but rushed and pointless. He clearly didn’t marry her, yet most of his plan came through… Why did you have to marry her again? Right, forced romance subplot so it’s all the more satisfying when Naruto gets Hinata back. This villain was shoved in just for action scenes. I have a lot of problems with the film but the villain’s existence is at the top of the list.
I really wanted this movie to be about the people. What I got were bad romance cliches, a villain who’s so bland they forgot to color him in, and a lack of soul. If you were in Naruto’s place, would you all of a sudden truly love Hinata who you’ve ignored for so long? If they made it so he returned her feelings out of kindness, dated her, and eventually grew to love her, that’s fine but we need a kiss at the end so they’re just in love now. Skip what happens in a real romance. When the plot needs the characters to be stupid or ignore past development, they’re stupid and regress. There’s nothing special or profound here. If this wasn’t a Naruto movie, people would hate it. If you take the villain out, you get bad romance. If you take the bad romance out, it’s any other Naruto movie. It doesn’t add closure or answer any questions so it’s entirely skippable. If you like the other Naruto movies, you might like this one. If Naruto/Hinata is your thing, you’ll either like this or realize how shallow their relationship is. This is a cash-in pure and simple. How many characters didn’t need to be on that movie poster but were put there to rope people in? It failed to patch a fixer-upper of a romance and it failed as a movie in general. It’s awful.