Reviewby Briana Lawrence,
Naruto Special: Battle at Hidden Falls. I am the Hero! + Naruto Graphic Novel Co
Naruto and the rest of Team 7 arrive at the Village Hidden in the Waterfall on an escort mission for Shibuki, the young leader of the village. With things going along smoothly Kakashi decides to take off on urgent business, but as soon as he leaves the village is attacked! Suien is a former jonin from the Village Hidden in the Waterfall and together with his band of rogue ninja they move in to try and steal the village treasure: the sacred hero's water. Naruto and Team 7 must work together with Shibuki to try and stop Suien, but does Suien have what it takes to be a real hero?
The trick to watching this OVA is to ignore all of the current plots of Naruto and go back to thinking of it as a goofy series about a prankster ninja, an anti-social perfect student, and the useless girl who has a crush on him. “Naruto: The Lost Story” goes back to the basics with its overly simple plot, formulaic battles, and constant toilet humor. This is a special that only a true Naruto fan would purchase, not for viewing pleasure, but simply for owning another piece of the Naruto franchise. At most, a fan will watch it once then they'll put it on their shelf full of Naruto box sets and action figures. Fans can shell out a couple more dollars to get the special pack that comes with the first volume of the Naruto manga, but this late into the Naruto game fans probably already own volume one plus the other fourteen volumes.
After making it through the chuunin exams, the huge battle with Gaara, the confrontation with Itachi, and the battle between the Legendary Sannin it's hard to believe that Naruto was ever this corny and un-thrilling. If you're a Naruto fan who is watching the series as it airs in Japan then this terribly predictable plot might be painful to go back to after watching week after week of exciting new episodes. It's not that the story is horribly bad, it just pales in comparison to the series today. Anyone can read the back of the DVD and figure out how the story will end.
The special is only half an hour so the pacing isn't the greatest. Before you get a chance to blink Naruto is either stepping in dog crap or he is being attacked by the bad guys and trying to fight them off. The supposedly epic battle is the slowest twenty minute fight in the history of anime, dragging on like a DBZ powering-up episode. After a non-epic battle it's all over and Naruto is stepping in dog crap all over again. Think of it as watching the third episode of Naruto with the spoiled milk; the OVA is just as long and the humor is just as childish. Unfortunately, the OVA doesn't improve over time like the series did.
The villains are not nearly as threatening as characters like Orochimaru or even Zabuza. You'll most likely forget their names during the final credits of the movie. The new hero, Shibuki, is a whiny coward who predictably learns what it takes to be a hero when every other heroic character is down for the count. The take home message of the movie is something right out of an after school special, “Believe in yourself, true strength comes from within.” Shibuki isn't the only one who learns this because both Naruto and Sasuke work together and become stronger than ever before (again, ignore all the current plots where Sasuke can use the Chidori and Naruto is mastering the Rasengan).
Anyone who likes Sakura is going to hate her characterization in this story. She isn't the short haired warrior who fought off a group of Sound ninja to protect her fallen comrades, nor is she the girl who took on her childhood friend in the chuunin exams. Her sole purpose in the OVA is to sit back and panic every time someone gets punched in the face. It's just like the first couple of episodes where all she did was swoon over Sasuke, yell at Naruto, and… swoon over Sasuke.
The OVA has a rather long preview to “Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow” that is broken into three parts; one that just shows the movie, one that has a funny comment from Naruto, and one that explains the entire plot. After watching the preview be sure to watch trailers to “Bleach,” “Prince of Tennis,” and “Hikaru no Go.” There is also an advertisement for a subscription to Shonen Jump magazine. When buying the OVA be sure to look for the specially marked box that includes an exclusive trading card of Sasuke and Naruto. And as usual with Naruto DVDs there is a dubbed and subtitled track. The movie is also uncut… though to be honest there isn't really anything that needs to be cut.
Perhaps the OVA should've been released sooner when the series wasn't so far along. The quality of this special is on the level of the beginning episodes and doesn't really do the series justice. Though watching it will make fans appreciate how much the series has progressed because hey, it's been a while since Naruto has stepped in a pile of dog crap.
Overall (dub) : C-
Overall (sub) : C-
Story : C-
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B+
+ The extras on the DVD.
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