‘Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Will of Fire‘ is a 2009 anime ninja film directed by Hajime Kamegaki. Like its predecessors, it was made by Studio Pierrot, distributed by Toho Studios, and later dubbed into English by Viz Media. This review is based on the dub.
Leaf Ninja Sai (Ben Diskin) is attacked while trying to save a ninja with the Kekkei Genkai, a bloodline trait, who is walking into a mysterious temple. He is saved by Sakura (Kate Higgins), Kakashi (Dave Wittenberg), and Naruto (Maile Flanagan), who is injured. Upon their return, a massive illusion of a long-forgotten ninja named Hiruko (Todd Haberkorn) appears in the sky. Lady Hokage Tsunade (Debi Mae West) declares Marshall Law and asks for an emergency meeting with the leader of the Hidden Sand Village Gaara (Liam O’Brien), who seemingly dies en route. The Leaf Village is blamed, leading to a declaration of war. Kakashi comes under a mysterious spell and flees with the village to be possessed by Hiruko. Naruto and Sakura go in pursuit, but Shikamura (Tom Gibis) tries to stop them with a squad of their friends, having a secret that could change the outcome.
The voice actors are the same as the hit television show’s English dub. However, many of the characters sounded, well, different. Kakashi and Gaara in particular were so different I thought they were voiced by different actors, but not so, perhaps the English director was not familiar with the series. Even still, you would think the actors would have remembered how they had performed the roles. That was my only annoyance with the movie.
One thing I did like about the movie is that it expanded on Kakashi’s story. In the first two Shippuden flicks, he only had small cameos, but here he was featured front and center, which was awesome. Naruto and Sakura’s first team captain is probably my favorite character, so getting to see him do battle with his allies was awesome. The overall plot talked about sacrifice and showed how far one will go to protect their allies and loved ones.
I also really liked the villain in the movie. He summoned some pretty well-illustrated beasts that I thought provided some pretty epic battles. While some of the anime spin-off films have antagonists with very vague motives, this one had a great bad guy who provided real stakes in the world of the shinobi.
As for the animation, it provided all of the flawless action, flowing with ease. The climactic battle was particularly well-done and I applaud the animators for providing such a grounded story with such epic details.
Bottom line, Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Will of Fire is the best of the free Shippuden spin-off films. I had a lot of fun watching it and I think even casual viewers will enjoy it, not just fans of Naruto and his friends.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Minor foul language, Violence, Frightening images
FAVORITE QUOTE: That is his will of fire.
Check out the trailer below:
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This article has been updated from a previous version.