“The Last: Naruto the Movie”
Before I dive into this, I want to start by saying that whilst I’m not a major fan of the Naruto series, I do enjoy the characters of Naruto and Hinata, and I always supported them as a endgame couple. When the series ended last year, I was over the moon that all the pairing I preferred were the result. Of course, Naruto isn’t solely about who ends up with who, but it was what had most people talking when the final chapter was released. Longtime fans of major pairings were either over the moon or distraught over the result, especially when legacy is a pretty big theme in the series. The children of these characters are the future of the Shinobi world. Once Boruto: The Movie comes around, it’ll be interesting to see the next generation of ninja hoping to replicate their parents.
Going into this, I knew that The Last was essentially chapter 699.5 of the series, showing what happened in the major timeskip between the final two chapters. Knowing that the events here were canon, I made it my mission to watch this, so I knew the full story of Naruto and Hinata, and how they ended up a couple. With that in mind, let’s get to the content of this rather lengthy film.
A Rewarding Romance:
As a Hinata fan, I’m happy that she gets her own movie – or at least half of it. Seeing her point of view growing up, being bullied, struggling with her crush, and generally staying in the background was pleasant to watch. I’m sure that bitter SasaNaru fans will be unable to see past the fact that Hinata won the romance game in the end, and I don’t exactly blame them. If I were so massively invested in the series and desperately wanted two characters together, who – for the majority of the series – seemed like they were going to end up together, then I’d be annoyed as well. Thankfully, I’m not of that opinion, which allowed me to enjoy the little moments of Hinata’s life in the first part of the film – which was, incidentally, my favourite. The slice of life look at Konohagakure was sweet for as long as it lasted; the characters are in their late teens here, and there’s no major conflict to speak of. It’s nice to see them just wandering around, inspiring the little ones, and simply enjoying life after the major events of the series (unless, of course, you’re Neji). I would have been entirely satisfied with an action-less, plot-less look at life in Konohagakure as Naruto and Hinata and all the other eventual couples got together. That way, we would have got more romance, which was the strongest point of The Last. The more focus on the characters, their thoughts and feelings, and them reflecting on the past, the better.
Once the story kicked in, I could feel myself slipping into a state of disinterest. That may be because I’m simply not a great fan of Naruto and its storytelling, but I suspect it has more to do with the self-contained story of the film itself. However, when we got those heartfelt or comedic character moments between the team, I found myself quite enjoying the ride. Sai and Shikamaru didn’t play a massive role here, but Sakura was a good wingman, pushing the romance between Naruto and Hinata (thank you for that, Sakura). Truthfully, I did not expect Naruto to be the first to confess. Throughout the series his thoughts were always on Sakura; it wasn’t until the last stretch of the final arc when his attention turned to Hinata. Yet still, he never seemed to be in love with her. Seeing him reflect on all their interactions over the past few years and then realising that he is in love with her was nice, albeit a little unbelievable. I may have preferred it if he didn’t start off with “I love you”. Perhaps something more gradual would have been better suited. If Hinata had been the proactive one in taking the relationship to the next level, then I feel that would have worked better, and been more in line with what the entire series was building up to. Her not having her big confession was a bit of a letdown.
Speaking of letdowns, Hinata got shafted in this movie. Seeing her relegated to damsel in distress or princess locked in the tower/cage multiple times was enough to seriously get on my nerves. I did’t expect her to be the one to take down Toneri (Fukuyama Jun), but I at least wanted her to be important in her own story. The romance side of it was nice, as was her one very short fight scene, but it simply wasn’t enough to satisfy me. I shouldn’t expect effective female representation in Naruto, but given that this was basically Hinata’s film, she didn’t do enough. At least the resolution was good. Of course, I knew they would end up together, but their first kiss was a nice treat, and a lovely note to end on. It almost washed away the disappointment that came for a solid hour beforehand. Almost.
Lackluster Villain, Weak Story:
I don’t want to say this movie was terrible or even bad, because it wasn’t. In fact, I’d say it was quite good – good enough, at least. But when it comes to Toneri, I can do nothing but groan. He is an uninspiring villain if I’ve ever seen one. From his introduction I was left wanting more, and never got it. Looking into it further, this may be a result of his story being related to Kaguya’s. Kaguya may have been the final villain of the series, but she was probably the worst. Too sudden, too short, and her whole backstory was not what I wanted from the series. It wasn’t a good note to end on, and to be reminded of her story throughout this film was not helping much. Toneri himself had the classic transformation at the end, but I never felt anything from it. The animation was smooth and action was well choreographed, so I could appreciate it on some level, but not enough for me to remember it fondly.
Everything to do with the Moon collapsing and landing on Earth was so ridiculous that I just tuned out. I knew nothing was going to come of it, so I didn’t want to try and accept that it made any sense. Again, this comes down to me not liking the overarching storytelling elements, particularly in its last few years. Thankfully, the meteors allowed the supporting cast to show off their powers in order to defend their villages. Whether it was Gaara using his sand or Rock Lee delivering an epic punch, I was happy to see them again. I would have liked Kakashi to have actually done something, but I suppose having Sasuke appear on the scene made for more of an impact. It was teasing more than anything else, keeping his fans partially satisfied. It’s just a shame that all those Tenten, Choji, and Shino fans had little to appreciate. Perhaps Boruto: The Movie will treat them kinder (I wouldn’t count on it).
Overview – Final Impressions:
I may seem quite negative towards this film, but I don’t regret watching it. I wanted to see the origins of Naruto and Hinata’s love story, and that’s what I got. It may not have been exactly how I’d liked, but it was more than enough to make me a happy fan of the pairing. The character interactions were another highlight, especially in the quieter moments. And for as much hate as she gets, all of Sakura’s scenes were really good, especially when they served to further push the Hinata endgame. So when it comes to the characters, the romance, and the animation, you’ve got a pretty enjoyable movie.
Unfortunately, the actual story, villain, and conflict was just weak and a little silly. Hinata almost getting married Star Wars style was a particularly jarring moment. Thankfully, we ended up on a better note, with a sweet kiss under the moonlight, seeing the real wedding in the ED (selfies included) and a snippet of Boruto and Himawari at the very end. I expect we’ll see those two in Boruto: The Movie, which is already the best selling movie of the franchise, and is bound to be the most talked about when it’s released outside of Japan. But for now, we have The Last: Naruto the Movie, which ultimately served its purpose in delivering a sweet, rewarding romance.
ED: 「Hoshi no Utsuwa」 (星のうつわ) by Sukima Switch