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Naruto the Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom
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The third movie based on Naruto, which takes place after episode 196, in season 8. Kakashi, Naruto, Sakura, and Rock Lee are escorting Prince Michiru and his son Hikaru, of the Land of the Moon. The two of them have been travelling through many lands in the past few years, and acquired a long caravan full of all the stuff they'd purchased. Shortly after the Leaf ninja join them, they attend a circus, where Hikaru (who is, btw, good with a bow, even if he only shoots rubber-tipped darts) takes an interest in a sabre-tooth tiger and its friend, a monkey. So, Michiru buys the whole circus, which joins the caravan as they head toward the sea, to sail back to their island kingdom.

For awhile I thought the movie was just okay... kind of blah, not in a bad way, just... nothing special. And really, it is pretty standard. Michiru and Hikaru are both spoiled, even if Michiru seems nice enough. Naruto doesn't like Hikaru, who looks down on everyone, apparently. Anyway, when they get to the port, they stop briefly to visit Hikaru's mother, Amayo, who had left Michiru some years ago (and at first doesn't even recognize him, since he's gotten quite fat from constantly eating to deal with his loneliness since she left him). He wants her back, but she tells him he doesn't understand what's truly important. And... he doesn't understand. Then the prince and his son and the ninjas and circus and all head to sea, where there's a storm, and something Naruto says to Hikaru changes the boy's attitude. He ends up saving the life of the tiger, who then befriends him. It was during the storm that the movie started reminding somewhat of a Miyazaki film. Which is a compliment, of course.

Anyway, Naruto becomes Hikaru's friend as well, along with Sakura and Lee. But then when they all get to the kingdom, it turns out it's been taken over by a noble named Shabadaba, who had hired a few rogue ninja (led by one named Ishidate, who has a petrification jutsu) to help him. Our heroes barely escape from the army, with some help from a few soldiers still loyal to Michiru's father, the true king. The king says some stuff to Michiru about learning what's really important, but he still doesn't understand. Anyway, after the king dies, everyone tries to get Michiru and Hikaru off the island, but they're stopped by Shabadaba's ninjas, and Michiru is captured, and taken to be hanged.

Of course, Naruto convinces Hikaru and all the others to try to rescue Michiru and take down the ninjas and Shabadaba. And the circus helps, especially the tiger. As the Leaf ninjas fight the bad ninjas and everything, Michiru finally understands what his father meant, and intends to become the kind of king his father wanted to be. And... I dunno what else to say. It's all pretty predictable and a standard plot in some ways, but still I found it pretty enjoyable. It could be amusing at some points and sort of touching at others, I guess. Nicely animated, with reasonably decent battles. I certainly think it's worth checking out if you're a Naruto fan....

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