Minasan, ohaiyo! With the holiday shopping season fully underway, we’ve got the perfect gift for that ninja in your life in the form of an anime box set that packs a literal punch. The Rasengan Collection, published by our friends at VIZ Media, brings together four incredible Naruto adventures on Blu-ray for the very first time. It includes Naruto Shippuden: Bonds, Naruto Shippuden: The Movie, Naruto Shippuden: Will of fire, and Naruto Shippuden: The Lost Tower. Packed with special features and extras like production art and an animated short, it’s a stealthy ninja-steal at $29.98. Let me break down why any true Naruto fans needs this collection on their shelf.
Naruto Shippuden: Bonds
In Bonds, enigmatic ninja from a faraway land launch a sneak attack against the Hidden Leaf Village. These “Sky Ninja” hail from the Land of Sky, a nation previously thought long destroyed by the Hidden Leaf Village. It’s up to Naruto Uzumaki and his team to save their village and stop this new threat. Unbeknownst to our hero, he’ll soon cross paths with his former friend-turned-enemy, Sasuke Uchiha. These events unfold after Sasuke’s renounced the Leaf Village.
Bonds has always had a very special place in my heart, mainly because of the Naruto/Sasuke reuinion. It makes for a very bittersweet moment in the greater Naruto narrative. Sasuke only turned his back on Konoha after believing he’d learned the “truth” about the destruction of his clan during the Uchiha Incident. True to his nature, Naruto’s torn between friendship and his sworn duty to protect Konoha; as a fan, there’s always hope that your beloved characters will reconcile their differences, reunite closer than before, and vanquish the baddies side-by-side.
The fight sequences in Bonds are pretty damn epic, too, but they pale in comparison to the climax! While this film’s part of an older Shippuden arc, the animation still holds up really well. I give it 7/10 shadow clones!
Naruto Shippuden: The Movie
An ancient spirit with the power to destroy the world returns in Naruto Shippuden: The Movie, and its Naruto’s job to stop it! His mission centers on protecting Shion, the only priestess capable of sealing away the monster. Along the way, we discover she also has the ability to predict someone’s fate. Her latest prediction? That our hero will soon be dead. Naruto’s only hope for survival is to abandon Shion, but we all know that’s just not his ninja way. He decides to face destiny head-on along with all its consequences!
Honestly, I just love it when we meet new characters in Naruto Shippuden who actually have substance. Shion adds an entire new layer of emotion that, in my opinion, we don’t experience until this film. There’s a very odd, ominous but hopeful air about her that makes Shion such an interesting character. She was an outcast, much like Naruto originally, which makes for an amazing kinship between the two. Naruto Shippuden: The Movie also has a very touching scene I won’t outright spoil, but suffice it to say Shion’s a very capable seer.
This film gets 9/10 shadow clones!
Naruto Shippuden: The Lost Tower
Naruto and his team are about to capture the powerful rogue ninja Mukade in Naruto Shippuden: The Lost Tower when he unexpectedly summons forth the ancient Ryumyaku chakra power. The ability sends Naruto back in time to the city of Loran, the land of a thousand towers. He encounters someone he never expected to meet there—the Fourth Hokage himself, Minato Namikaze—who’s on a top-secret mission. Queen Sara of Loran’s rule is being usurped by the evil Mukade! Will Naruto return to his own time? Can a chance encounter in the past save the future?
In addition to film, this disc also contains an exclusive animated short in the bonus features. When Naruto and his friends stumble across a genie in a bottle, it’s time for the last wish. Will he accidentally squander it?
The Lost Tower is my pick for “Most Emotionally Wracking Experience in a Naruto Film”. Those crafty showrunners, leading us to believe the red-haired girl on the cover was Kushina (Naruto’s mother). Add on top of that Naruto coming face-to-face with Minato—who doesn’t even get the chance to tell him he’s his son—and you better have some tissues handy. I honestly wasn’t sure how to feel about time travel in the Naruto universe, but they really made it work. Rather than a contrived or forced plot, The Lost Tower naturally flows into a very interesting tale.
A definite must-see, I’m giving this film a whopping 9/10 shadow clones!
Naruto Shippuden: Will of fire
Our final entry in the Rasengan Collection, Naruto Shippuden: Will of Fire, just so happens to be my favorite of the four. The four powerful bloodline shinobi charged with protecting the Hidden Stone, Sand, Cloud, and Mist Villages mysteriously disappear without a trace. The Land of Fire, the only country that suffered no loses, comes under suspicion. As tensions among the four nations rise, the potential for another Great Ninja War looms over the land. In the Hidden Leaf Village, the fearless Lady Tsunade orders her forces to prevent anything that could potentially start a war while also trying to uncover the truth. In their mad dash to take control of a volatile situation, Naruto and his friends make a troubling discovery: Kakashi Sensei has left the village!
What makes this film more entertaining in comparison to previous Naruto films is how it feels like part of the Shippuden television series rather than a standalone. The other three films featured in the Rasengan Collection all follow new faces; you can watch them and follow what’s happening without having intimate knowledge about Naruto Shippuden. Will of Fire insists you go into it a true fan, otherwise you’d be confused or mad because of all the spoilers. Some perfect examples of the latter are Asuma’s death, the origin of Kakashi’s Sharingan, and his first training session.
All of these scenes are portrayed in the film via flashbacks, which fit very artistically. They serve as a mental foundation to reinforce the message portrayed in Will of Fire from Naruto’s perspective. It’s the will of fire our beloved Sarutobi Sensei taught us through Naruto that lives within all of us: The desire to protect the things you care about.
Hands down, Naruto Shippuden: Will of Fire easily gets 10/10 shadow clones!
This box set, available now through most major retailers, is perfect for new and old fans alike. Be sure to add the Naruto Shippuden: The Movie – Rasengan Collection to your holiday wishlist, and stay tuned for more reviews on VIZ Media products right here at nerdslant. Stay nerdy, America!