Be forewarned, possible spoilers ahead.
Nearly sixteen years ago, the Naruto manga started off, and for a lot of us, it was our first real introduction to serialized manga or manga in general. Here’s a story that took literally years to tell and then the story ends. The Last: Naruto the Movie isn’t a side story like many of the other movies, it is the last adventure of pre-Hokage Naruto. It is the lead up to a much hopeful happy ever after for our gutsy gunho master ninja. It is definitely a love story told in a traditional Naruto action venue.
The end of Naruto and the subsequent Naruto no Senaka ~Nakama no Kiseki~ manga shows that Naruto and Hinata not only got together but also had two children. This rather comes out of left field since all through the series, Naruto hasn’t really shown much interest in Hinata outside of friendship while she was carrying a torch for him since they were children. The first few minutes of the movie actually recaps the series very well while making key references to its important parts. As it catches the audience up, it also gives a frame of reference why Hinata is making the keepsake for Naruto and a hope that Naruto would get this confession after the previous one ended prematurely with Pain. Still, while Hinata is a characteristically shy woman now, Naruto proves to be equally as dense as the first day we were introduced to him. Even as he gains popularity for his exploits in the previous war and seems to gain some wisdom, you really want to just punch him through the floor for missing all the signals in the beginning of this film. Long story short, we don’t have to wait long before the villain, Toneri Otsutsuki, shows up after almost killing Hinata’s father. Also, we learn Hinata has a younger sister. But the villain comes for her and Naruto jumps into action. He manages to rescue Hinata but her sister, Hanabi. The premise of the action is to rescue Hinata’s sister and also figure out why the moon is steadily moving towards the Earth.
As stated before, this is a romance at its core and everything is made to bring Naruto and Hinata closer together. This movie also takes the idea of “falling in love is like a dream” somewhat too literally. Without giving too much away, the romance is paced with the action well. Both parties discover hints of reciprocated feelings and a love triangle doesn’t detract from the action. Thankfully, Hinata is not constantly characterized as the damsel in distress, though there are times in the film that she is put in powerless situations. Despite that, the movie pushes to show that she’s capable in her own right. It also reiterates that Naruto isn’t infallible despite all his strength. If not for Shikamaru and Sakura, he’d have likely crawled under a rock somewhere and sobbed himself into a stupor.
If there was one hang up to be had about the movie, it would be the grandeur of the villainy. In order for Naruto to experience love, the world must literally be about to implode. Thus, cue the moon crashing into the planet and killing everyone. That said, with the ending of Naruto being him and Sasuke facing off against the literal mother of all chakra, its understanding for there to be little way to top that. It also gave some insight into the Byakugan that wasn’t greatly covered in the anime, and showed how truly dangerous they can be. On a side note as well, there is excessively much eye gouging and replacement in this series, even by our heroine.
All in all, The Last was a lovely end to the Naruto franchise and a fantastic way to tell the story of how Naruto and Hinata fell in love. While its sad to see Naruto end, it’s good that we can still share his story and other great anime series with our friends. The cry of Rasengen will not fade from our memories any time soon. Much thanks to Kishimoto for the beautiful storytelling. And if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, Naruto volume seventy-two just released stateside this past month. Be sure to pick up your copy.