Blu-ray Review: Naruto Shippuden – The Lost Tower

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It’s recently been heavily promoted on MangaUK’s instagram account, and it even has a unique tale that sees Naruto travel into the distant past to save a queen, but what exactly did we think of Naruto Shippuden’s fourth movie outing and this Blu-ray Release by Manga Entertainment UK? Find out in our Blu-ray Review of Naruto Shippuden – The Lost Tower.

Synopsis:

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.

Our View:

Feature-length movies based on a TV series are usually entertaining, as they provide a nice overview of what to expect from the show itself, unfortunately for Naruto Shippuden – The Lost Tower this isn’t the case, as while it provides a unique time-travel themed story the overall presentation is rather disappointing with more questions being asked rather than answered.

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The films initial story begins with Team Yamato, namely Naruto, Sakura, Sai and Yamato, in the desert on a mission to stop the rogue ninja Mukade from uncovering and using the power of the Ley Line at the ruined city of Rouran. At first the viewer is left unexplained by what’s transpiring, as the film immediately begins with Naruto and Sakura battling puppets being controlled by a Puppet-justu, but after being saved by Sai, Sakura explains how to effectively defeat the Puppet-Jutsu and why they are here in the first place.  It’s this brief re-cap which explains to the viewer what’s going on but it also slows down the delivery of the story with several flashbacks, after which another battle breaks out between Team Yamato, Mukade and his puppet-jutsu. With Mukade nearly beat he decides to absorb the power of the ley line, and by doing so causes a chain reaction which sends himself, Naruto and Yamato 20 years into the past.

The first ten minutes easily sum-ups what to expect from the entire film, namely a combination of dreary fight-scenes, a “one-more-time” approach of fighting, stupidity from Naruto and flashbacks to past events, most of which we have never seen. Interestingly this introduction is just a prelude of things to come, as the real story sees Mukade, now under the name of Ryūmyaku, attempting to kill the Sara, Queen of Loran, take full control of the Ley Line and create a robot army powered by his puppet-jutsu.

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It’s this storyline which takes up most of the films running time, with Naruto helping Sara uncover the truth surrounding Ryūmyaku (Mukade) and his evil plans – all of which concludes in a battle between Mukade and Naruto that spans a third of the movies running time. The battle starts small, and then it constantly keeps getting bigger and bigger, as Mukade keeps refilling his chakara by using the Ley Line which in turn makes his puppet body larger. Because of this a routine of “did we get him” followed by “hes still not dead, lets attack him again” appears and it quickly becomes tiresome. Mukade, and his puppets, which soon combine together, are the only antagonist in the entire film, and because of it I believe the film will struggle to keep viewers entertained, as it is the same enemy just bigger.

What do I find interesting about the film is not the storyline or its antagonists, but how this alternate story came to fruition, as while Naruto arrived in Rouran at the ‘exact’ time he would be needed, Mukade arrived in the city six years prior – which allowed him to set his plan into motion. Furthermore Minato Namikaze and his squad of Ninjas from the Hidden Leaf were sent to Rouran to protect Sara, but they don’t make an appearance until ‘after’ Naruto saved her. I guess it’s just a way for Naruto to interact with the main heroine (victim) of the movie, but if that wasn’t the case then  Minato’s squad aren’t very good at their job. Of course at this point in the film there was no idea that Minato’s squad were sent to protect her, so this film is kind of a “one-time-only” viewing experience, because if you watch it more you’ll find yourself asking questions about the films developing plot.

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For me it seems there is no real logic or consistency behind the progression of the story, characters that are “supposed” to be in the movie barely make an appearance, and when they do make an appearance it is very brief. Sakura and Sai are still in the present (or future) so they can’t be included, but Yamato was also caught in the blast – yet he doesn’t make an appearance until the very end of the film. The same can be said for Minato and his squad, they make very brief appearances in the movie and don’t offer much help to Naruto until it is needed, and even then it is a bit of a let-down.

It may seem like I’m nagging, and maybe I am, but compared to previous Naruto films, which had multiple enemies and an evolving storyline, this fourth Shippuden film just doesn’t pull through. Luckily there is some positives to be had, it’s a straight forward film with a self-contained story that needs no prior knowledge of the Naruto franchise, but more importantly it looks fantastic in High Definition and has an impressive surround sound audio track.

Extras:

As with all Naruto releases the extra content included can be quite bare, fortunately for this Blu-ray release of Naruto Shippuden – The Lost Tower there is some worthwhile content, most notably is the inclusion of the Naruto OVA, Naruto and the Three Wishes.

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In addition to the Naruto OVA, which is a mini-movie that was shown before this Naurto Shippuden movie in cinemas, is the usual suspects of extra content, namely promotional materials and some trailers, with trailers including Evangelion 1.11, Fairy Tail – Part 5 and the K-On! The Movie.

  • Naruto, The Genie & The Three Wishes (14 Minutes)
  • Japanese Promotional Trailers (7 Minutes)
  • Textless Closing Song
  • Trailers

The most worthwhile extra feature is of course the Naruto OVA (Naruto, the Genie & the Three Wishes) as it is a 14 minute length feature which sees characters from the original Naruto TV Series battle it out for the last wish from a Genie.

Basically all of the Teams are taking a vacation at the beach and while eating Naruto discovers a genie which will grant three wishes, upon discovering this fact the other teams want in on the action and soon a comical fight between all of the characters takes place. It’s a highly entertaining mini-movie and, in my eyes, was more entertaining the main film itself, and better yet its available in English.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x1
Region: B
Running Time: 1:25:10
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio:  DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Naruto Shippuden – The Lost Tower is a complete Naurto-filled film, fans hoping for glimpses of their favourite characters will undoubtedly be disappointed as other than brief flashback moments (which sees younger versions of squad captains) there is hardly any other characters appearing on screen other than Naruto himself. Of course this is to be expected with only Naruto and Yamato being sent to the past, but compared to previous films this is by far the least entertaining.

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It’s not all bad news, as the film has a unique story to tell with new characters, a new location and a constant enemy threat – so much so that it takes up majority of the films running time, but more importantly is that it looks fantastic in High Definition and even comes with an explosive surround sound audio track. That’s not the only good news either, as since this film has no involvement (or relation) to events of the TV Series (except one minor spoiler about Jiraiya) newcomers to the franchise will be able to watch it and understand what’s happening, that is as long as you know who Naruto is, and let’s be honest who doesn’t?

With the film aside for the moment this Blu-ray release is not all bad news either, as not only is the audio and picture quality immensely detailed (with surround sound being used effectively during explosions) and picture being noticeable detailed during Jutsu attacks, but there is the inclusion of promotional materials and the Naruto OVA.  For me The Naruto OVA is the best part of this release, as it was created in HD, offers plenty of laughs and is available in English. It’s this type of extra content that we usually don’t get treated to, so it’s nice to see it included in this UK Release, even if it does feel slightly out of place as it features the younger version of characters.

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As a whole the fourth film was a big disappointment – especially after the entertainment that was the Will of Fire, but even so this release still manages to offer a quality product with worthwhile content that will please fans of the Naruto franchise.

Score: review-stars-2

Naruto Shippuden – The Lost Tower will be available as a Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack as well as an individual DVD within the UK from the 3rd March 2014.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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