DVD Review: Naruto Shippuden – Movie 5: Blood Prison
28/11/2014 Leave a comment
With Manga Entertainment UK opting to release the fifth Naruto Shippuden film onto DVD only we’ve decided to take a look and see what it offers; so what did we think of the film and more importantly what do we think of the DVD? Find out in our Review.
Naruto is convicted of a serious crime he didn’t commit and is sent to the inescapable prison, Hozuki Castle. The warden, Mui, quickly seals away Naruto’s chakra to prevent him from rebelling. Refusing to give up, Naruto plans his escape while also befriending his fellow inmates Ryuzetsu and Maroi. But he can’t help but wonder what their ulterior motives are…
When it comes to Naruto Shippuden movies you never quite know what you are going to get until you sit down and watch it; for instance the fourth movie, The Lost Tower, saw Naruto travel back in-time to defeat an enemy threat, while in this fifth movie, Blood Prison, Naruto is wrongfully sent to a prison and attempts to escape it while in the background a bigger, more immediate threat looms. Does this ‘unique’ storyline make it any better though? No not really but at least it tries something different.
Upon starting the film you know it’s going to be a different kind of Naruto film, as within five minutes Naruto Uzumaki has already been accused of various unforgivable crimes, none of which he committed, and finds himself on a one way ticket to Hozuki Castle – the prison for where ninja-turned-evil go to serve their punishment. It’s a quick turn-a-round and leaves much to speculate about who did what and why, but instead of questions being answered we find ourselves patiently waiting another fifty minutes for something interesting to happen – and when it does it happens all at once.
For me this was Blood Prisons biggest let down; it starts off relatively fast-pace with a unique story, but by the time Naruto reaches the prison the story slows down to a snail’s pace. For the next fifty minutes we see Naruto attempt to escape the prison and engage with other inmates; however with everyone having their chakra’s sealed by Mui’s jutsu, whose the warden of Hozuki Castle, it makes everyone seem like regular humans and, quite frankly, a bit boring. Those hoping for endless streams of over-the-top Jutsu’s and intense fist-fights better look elsewhere. Additionally if you have a favourite support-character, such as Neji, Ten Ten and Sakura, then you’ll be also disappointed to learn that these character only make a ‘very’ brief appearance towards the end of the film at which point they become more than useless and add nothing to the overall story other than to “assist naruto”.
Basically it’s a complete Naruto-fest with iconic characters from the franchise being left-behind in favour of new characters that are unique to this film; this isn’t exactly a bad thing but even these ‘new characters’ don’t get much screen-time so you’ll never become fully interested or acquainted with their personalities. This aside an interesting story is to be told – you just have to wait for it. The story is pretty simple (Spoilers); Naruto was impersonated by an associate of the Hidden Grass Village so that the real Naruto would be sent to Hozuki Castle as punishment for the crimes he commited. This prison is managed by the Hidden Grass Village, whereby Mui, along with other members of the village, use the power of Naruto’s Jinchuruki in order for a mysterious box to be activated. This box, which is considered a myth, is said to grant anyone a wish and the Hidden Grass Village want to use it in order to restore their village to its respectful place within the world.
Interestingly Mui has his own selfish desires of reviving his son – although when this happens a bigger threat looms and a destructive battle takes place, at which point everyone within the facility, and members of the Hidden Leaf Village, make their grand debut and their secrets known.
While I found the main feature to be a bit slow, although the fight scenes were pretty entertaining towards the end with Naruto entering Sage Mode and summoning ‘Boss-Frog’, it was the bonus content which stood out for me as not only was their variety but there is a whole mini-episode which, in my eyes, was better than the film itself.
The Mini-Episode,entitled Chinun Exam on Fire, is available in both English and Japanese and sees Genin from various Villages compete in the Chinun Exam, which is actually a tournament, to see if they can move-up to becoming a Chinun; something which Naruto has, as far as I recall, yet to accomplish. What’s entertaining about this episode is that it sees Konohamaru pitted against Naruto in the first round and lots of amusing escapdes take place. It’s short, it’s witty and provides the over-the-top action that the feature length film missed out on.
Other bonus materials include a Q&A with the Japanese Voice actor for Naruto (Junko Takeuchi) whereby she answers questions sent in by fans of the show; questions such as “what does she do on her days off” and “what traits does she like about Naruto” and so forth. Another unique feature is a short message from the original Naruto manga author, Masashi Kishimoto; both are interesting additions to the DVD and are not something you usually see on English released anime titles.
Of course the final selection of bonus materials is non other than original Japanese movie trailers and a selection of artwork from the film.
Media: DVD 9
Running Time: 1:38:16
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps
Overall I found Naruto Shippuden – Movie 5: Blood Prison to be another hit-and-miss Naruto film, whereby some elements I enjoy, such as the stories intentions, and some I loathed, such as the films pacing. I guess it all comes down to what your expectations are; but in this film we see Naruto framed for various crimes he didn’t commit so that a village who runs the prison can use his Jinchuriki powers to open a mysterious box.
I guess in one aspect the film does offer a nice change of pace, as it showcases that Naruto is just as weak (or as human) as the rest of the cast when he can’t access his chakra; but when the film starts to steadily progress into un-needed flashbacks and events that no-one really asked for, you do ask yourself what am I watching? – at which point the story, and an explanation for its existence, is just dumped onto your lap. It also bugged me how a variety of characters sustained ‘massive’ amounts of damage, such as their entire body being impaled, yet they managed to survive for another fifteen to twenty minutes; I know this is an animated fictional story but seriously?! What made it even more amusing is that after the fight these characters would collapse and then their wounds would be considered life threatening; I guess the director wanted the ending to be “tense” but in reality it’s just seemed a bit stupid; especially when it involved Mui.
In regards to this DVD Release by Manga Entertainment UK then it’s pretty much business as usual for a Naruto DVD Release as the menu is easily accessible, readable and fits in line with the rest of the movie instalments. The Picture, Audio and Subtitle quality also remain consistent throughout the film; however I did occasionally notice some pixilation during some scenes like if the picture had glitched up momentarily and worse still the film stopped for several seconds during playback on my Xbox One – around the 1 hour 10 minute mark – but they do say that Dual layered disc ‘may’ trigger a slight pause – although I’ve never experienced it in any other film ive watched. Both Audio options (English and Japanese) also provide an entertaining viewing experience, with regular voice actors returning to their roles, but while the film itself features 5.1 Audio it’s not necessarily needed due to the quiet nature of the film; that is until the final battle takes.
It’s a shame that Naruto Shippuden – Movie 5: Blood Prison is only being released on DVD, as the picture quality in Standard Definition was pretty much perfect so I can only imagine that the native HD picture quality must be extremely impressive – especially in the later segments of the film. Anyway Blood Prison is not exactly a necessity to watch; but it does differ from the norm and offers an alternate Naruto experience, however if you are looking for the ‘traditional’ Naruto theme of fist-fights and jutsu’s then you may want to look elsewhere for your fix.
Naruto Shippuden – Movie 5: Blood Prison will be available on DVD on the 1st December 2014; The film is also being bundled with the Naruto Shippuden Movie Pentalogy Collection which will be available on DVD and Blu-ray.