‘The Last’ still stands today as a standalone film
Released in 2014, The Last: Naruto the Movie remains one of the most popular films to come out of the franchise, in addition to being one of the most lucrative. He is adored by diehards naruto fans, serving as a suitable end to Naruto Shippuden and perfectly set up Boruto take charge.
However, The last is different from most naruto movies and is certainly more than an epilogue to a hero’s journey. With its self-contained story, engaging and unique narrative style, and excellent visuals, The last makes a strong standalone animated film. Its appeal goes beyond fans of the series, genre, or even the medium itself, and could arguably serve as a viable introduction to anime as a whole.
Last place in Naruto
Set two years after the end of the Fourth Great Ninja War, The last introduces viewers to Naruto and his comrades as young adults. During the Rinne Festival, Toneri Otsutsuki – a descendant of Hamura Otsutsuki – kidnaps Hinata’s younger sister, Hanabi, and declares her plan to destroy all ninja by crashing the moon into Earth. Konoha’s elite team including Naruto, Hinata, Sakura, and Sai, and led by Shikamaru, use a little-explained ninja technique that allows them to travel to the moon to battle Toneri, retrieve Hanabi, and save the world.
Throughout the film, the growth of the characters from their days at the academy until the end of the war is a highlight. Their growing maturity, depicted through subtle moments such as Naruto and Hinata’s interactions and the implicit trust placed in Shikamaru’s leadership on such a vital mission, is felt not only by longtime fans of the series, but also by longtime members of its production team. The climax to Naruto’s story also sets the stage for Boruto and the rest of his generation to take the reins of the franchise.
What distinguishes the last
Like most previous naruto movies, the story of The last finds its conflict through the actions of a direct threat to the ninja world. However, unlike the rest, this film uses Hinata as the central character, and much of the narrative goes through her. This narrative style is unusual for a shonen action film and is more common in romantic dramas. Even the role of the antagonist Toneri is as much a hindrance in a budding relationship as the big villain of the overall plot.
Naruto and Hinata, a fan-favorite couple for decades, are finally portrayed as a true top couple, and much emphasis is placed on their impact on each other’s lives. For the first time, Naruto’s growth occurs more in his identity as a man than a ninja. Common romantic tropes such as the moon and the red thread of fate (through Hinata’s knitted red scarf for Naruto) are used amply and effectively to further emphasize their romance.
The last can therefore be summed up as a coming-of-age romance between two childhood friends who supported each other throughout their lives. They both faced pain, loneliness and even ostracism together. Although one of them is pretty obvious about his feelings early on and the other is awfully oblivious until the very end, at this point they overcome incredible odds and end up together, happily ever after. This story, when done well, makes for as universally appealing a film as any.