Viz Media has a treat for the manga-loving youngster on your Christmas list: Naruto the Movie: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom was released on DVD for the North American market on November 11, 2008. This entry is the third movie based on the Naruto television series by Masashi Kishimoto. The target audience is children and for that age group, this film is a solid entry with good animation, strong action sequences, and excellent voice work from the English-speaking cast. Adults will most likely find the story too driven by its rather simplistic morality tale of the value of friendship to be satisfying.
Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom premiered in Japan in 2006 and made its English-language debut on the Cartoon Network on November 8, 2008. The movie follows the style and spirit of the television series, while being able to raise the bar with the intricate and spectacular fight scenes. The story follows young ninja Naruto and his friends Rock Lee and Sakura, along with Sensei Kakashi, as they provide protection for spoiled Prince Michiru and his young son Hikaru on their journey back to the Crescent Moon Kingdom after a very long shopping trip—er, visit to foreign locales.
The movie explores the central Naruto theme of friendship, as Naruto clashes with Hikaru, who has learned from his father to try and buy everything he wants, including friends. As Hikaru slowly learns that he has it inside himself to gain friendship and respect, Naruto realises that he can be the mentor the young boy needs. The beginning of the story introducing the characters and plot is a little slow, but everything picks up when a circus enters the picture.
The circus adds a lot of zip and panache to the tale, with the ringmaster being a delight. The action speeds up as the group faces a storm at sea to land in the Crescent Moon Kingdom, only to find that the storm was the least of their troubles. Ninja trouble is afoot, with nefarious plans to take over the kingdom and thwart Prince Michiru’s claim to the throne after the murder of his father.