When Naruto chases a bad guy, he’ll go back in time in order to do it.
What They Say:
The Rogue Ninja Mukade is about to be caught by Naruto’s team when he summons forth the power of the Ley Line – an ancient underground channel of chakra. Naruto gets caught up in the chakra and is sent back in time to the city of Loran, known for its thousand towers. There he encounters the future Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, on a top-secret mission and the Queen of Loran, Sara, whose rule is threatened by Mukade. Will Naruto be able to return to his own time, and can a chance encounter in the past save the future?
Plus, in an exclusive animated short, Naruto and his friends come across a magical genie in a bottle. The time has come for the last wish, but Naruto just may squander it!
The audio presentation for this release is on par with previous Naruto features as we get the show in both 5.1 and 2.0 mixes for both languages. The 5.1 mixes are encoded at 384kbps while the stereo mixes are done at 192kbps. The 5.1 mix is where it’s at and while it is underfunded in terms of the bits, it comes across pretty well here. There’s a good balance of action and dialogue throughout that gives it a good flow that feels natural. With the dialogue side of it, it has some solid placement during key scenes and generally works the forward soundstage well. The action and music is what clicks for the 5.1 mix as it hits the rear channels frequently enough to be worthwhile but also gives us a good forward soundstage mix with some well done bass in a few scenes and plenty of directionality. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally in theaters in 2010, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Similar to previous Naruto: Shippuden feature installments, the animation here definitely rises up above the TV series for the most part with some very fluid scenes throughout and a lot of detail. It’s not just a TV episode on the screen but a full on feature that doesn’t hold back when it comes to putting the money on there. The transfer here captures the look of the film well for standard definition with just a bit of noise in some of the darker background scenes and little else to really complain about. Colors are generally solid and line noise is non-existent as is cross coloration. With the fast action scenes, the show holds together well and doesn’t introduce any breakup. Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, there’s a good bit of space to work with here and the materials come across well.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized keepcase where the front cover uses some of the artwork from the original Japanese theatrical poster with Naruto and Sara together in an action pose on the right. The left side brings in the Leaf shinobi on the left to busy it up a bit more and add a little more color to it, but outside of Naruto and Sara, it’s a very dark cover overall that works in some ways but feels a little murky in others. The logo along the top is the familiar type with just the feature name below it in a subtitle form. The back cover uses the background from the original poster as well which has the dark skyscape with dark blue skies along the top. It hits all the standard notes here with a decent summary of the premise and a breakdown of the films features and the extras as well. Add in a few shots from the show and the production credits and it covers things well, though their technical grids – or lack thereof – continues to frustrate me. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release follow the trend of just using clips for the bulk of it as what we get here dominates the majority of the screen with a lot of action and some decent shots for it. The menu does work with a widescreen style border that’s done in a stone style which does give it a bit of weight. The logo is kept to the upper left corner and looks a lot more vibrant here than the cover and provides some nice contrast to the action clips. The navigation along the bottom is the standard options and the language setup is quick and easy even with the multiple choices there. Submenus load quickly and we didn’t have any problems navigating it.
The release does come with a couple of extras we get the usual ones with the clean ending version for this feature as well as a look at the original Japanese trailers. The big extra is the inclusion of the short that preceded the film with Naruto and the Three Wishes. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from the title and clocks in at just under fifteen minutes to do it as we get a young Naruto story.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the Naruto: Shippuden movies roll on, The Lost Tower is the fourth installment in the Shippuden side of it and the seven feature overall for the franchise. While we continue to slog through the TV series, both in DVD releases with some of the past episodes and the new simulcast episodes as well, I have to admit that on some level I look forward to the features. They’re all essentially filler when you get down to it as everything is mostly put back to square one by the end of it, but it’s done with a much better level of quality to it and it’s not interminable like some of the filler arcs. Since they have to tell stories that don’t impact the ongoing series or the manga itself with any radical changes, what’s done here is pretty much a given, but similar to the other movies, it’s done well and is pretty engaging overall.
The story for this feature is pretty simple and straightforward but it’s executed well as we get Naruto and a group of others from Hidden Leaf Village following a rogue shinobi named Mukade who has gone to the ruins of a place called Loran. It’s here, where the Ley Lines are strong, that he intends to break it open and accept in the power in order to achieve his goals of showing the world what kind of badass he is. To do so, he can’t break the seal that was placed there years ago, so he has to absorb the seal into himself, which is possible because of his particular jutsu ability as well as the power of the Ley Lines and all the chakra there itself. While he’s able to do this as Naruto and the group are attempting to stop him, it all goes higgledy piggledy pretty quickly and before you know it, Naruto is caught up in the power flow that ends up throwing both of them back in time by a couple of decades.
This naturally confuses Naruto for awhile as he goes from being in a place of ruins to a beautifully built city with huge spires. It takes him a bit of time to realize he’s in the past, though it starts to come together as he runs into other Leaf shinobi, including what’s plainly obvious to be his father (though Naruto is unsure for a lot of it). This makes for a few awkward moments along the way since they can’t really know each other as it would spoil too many things, but the feature plays as you’d expect when it comes to the whole time travel aspect. While Naruto is stuck there in the past, thinking defeating Mukade will help return him to the present, the other shinobi are after a man that has threatened the safety and existence of Loran but hiding themselves within the power elite itself. That means protecting the current queen of the city, Sara, who had lost her mother years ago and been watched by her advisors ever since.
The feature works about as you’d expect where Naruto ends up saving Sara from an assassination attempt, which brings her into contact with the normal citizenry that allows her to understand what’s been going on in her name without her knowing. Though we see the other shinobi from time to time, it is largely about Naruto and Sara as the discoveries come to light and she commits to fixing what has gone wrong in her land, though she’s distrusting of what Naruto says at times about the future. The reveals aren’t too surprising overall nor is the structure of the film as it works through traditional story methods, but it hits all the marks well as Naruto and Sara band together, she gains a spine and the inevitable end fight occurs with the twists that help to reset everything near the end. Because of the run time, there isn’t a whole lot of character depth going on for Sara, though she at least comes across reasonably well here, and there’s some really decent material involving Naruto and the Leaf shinobi with who they are and what they may mean to him. His uncertainty and hesitation does feel natural in a lot of ways, but you also wish it could have just had a lot more fun with it instead of having to reset everything to proceed.
Going into this feature, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. The story hits all the right marks and it manages to be interesting and exciting at times while working with familiar characters. The time travel twist may make you cringe a bit as it kicks off, especially when the Leaf shinobi show up, but you can see the track of it easily enough from there. What this does is to allow you to just settle in and enjoy what’s coming. And it does it pretty well with a good paced movie, clocking in at 84 minutes with credits, so you can treat it as a few episodes of the TV show that’s done really well but has no lasting impact. It adds a little more nuance to things that will never be revisited, but sometimes those can be some of the best stories. Definitely a fun little adventure that will please a number of the Naruto: Shippuden fans out there.
Japanese 2.0 Language, Japanese 5.1 Language, English 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Animated Short, Clean Ending, Japanese Trailers
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P 3D HDTV, Sony PlayStation 3 via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.