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DOKool Destroys Tokyo Part 4: The Naruto Movie and Japanese Movie Theaters

Movie Ticket: $15 (student discount)
'Large' Pepsi: $4 (size equivalent to American small)
Hot dog: $3
DOKool reviewing the Naruto movie? Priceless.

Almost enough to make a gaijin feel like he's back home in the States, except that the theaters back home don't have programs or other merchandise related to the movie for sale...
Yes, folks, today I saw the Naruto movie, and for my first experience in a Japanese movie theater, it was pretty interesting.

First off, as you can imagine, the price. Yes, it is as bad as you've read, and it actually gets worse than that (regular admission was 2000Y, or about $2). The theater I went to (CineFront in Shibuya, right across from Hachiko) was located on the 7th floor of a giant record/game/DVD/book/video store, and only had one screen. Tickets are for pre-assigned seats rather than a free-for-all. To my left was a father and son, and to my immediate right were a brother and sister, not older than 10, but self-sufficient enough to get their own seat-riser things.

(And an aside on the seats, this was the most comfortable theater chair I've ever sat in.)

Instead of fresh popcorn, boxes of caramel corn and a variety of other treats were available for sale, including, yes, Pocky. To the right of the concession stand was one cashier selling Naruto-related merchandise. Sets of lapel pins (two sets total) for 500Y each, a Naruto keitai strap for 700Y, CD singles of the main songs from the movie, and programs for 500Y each, as well as posters detailing what other Naruto-related things were for sale elsewhere.

When coming into the theater, I recieved a small Naruto plastic bag with 'GuruGuru Naruto' on the label. Inside was an orange necklace that apparently purports itself to be similar to what Naruto actually wears around his neck. As my gaijin neck is a bit too large for it to not restrict my air supply, it's now a bracelet.

As for the movie itself, it was first preceded by several commercials (same as in the US), followed by a metric ass-ton of trailers. One thing I noticed is that they do trailers a lot shorter than they do in the US, almost like they're TV spots. Notable trailers included Lorelei (a Japanese WWII submarine flick), Swing Girls (Live-action movie about Japanese schoolgirls forming a jazz band), Godzilla: Final Wars (mentioned in another post to TBP), an Inu-Yasha/Hamtaro Movie (I think it's a double feature), 2046 (Artsy with what appears to be a cyberpunk edge), and a trailer for Howl's Moving Castle that lasted at least 2 minutes.

Even after that, the movie didn't start for another 10 minutes. Instead, the movie was preceded by a Naruto short. The plot resolved around some sort of athletic competition in the big stadium against all of the Konoha Genin (relay races, etc), with Naruto trying to relieve himself but never quite being able to make it to the bathroom. Only being able to understand a little of what was said didn't matter, it's more or less a sight gag-oriented short and it worked very well.

The movie itself, however, was a bit more to stomach, especially because of my aforementioned limited Japanese knowledge. It takes place in the Snow Country, where Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke, and Kakashi are enlisted to escort a popular (but troubled) actress named Fumiji Yuki to her latest movie. Unfortunately, the current head of Snow Country (Dotou) seeks Yuki, and more specifically one of her posessions...

In any case, you get to see many cool things, including a young Kakashi-sensei. The animation is well-done and lacks the melodramatic still shots of the TV show that, in my opinion, break up the pacing (except for one point where Naruto, in chains, reflects on his past). The fight scenes are excellent and frequent, and you get to see something that is a rarity in the series: Sakura actually doing stuff!

Overall, this was a very nice self-contained feature. Nothing too revolutionary, and although it would have been nice to see other popular characters like Gaara and Rock Lee get time on the big screen, I was entertained regardless.

For a decent (but not particularly exceptional or revolutionary) movie experience that cost me about $40 after all the stuff I bought (some of it perhaps even coming to an eBay near you!), I give the Naruto movie 3 out of 4 pimps.


-DOKool

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