There is quite a different feeling when you’re going to see a film when you know the cinema is packed with fellow fans that are just as excited as you to see their Nine-Tailed Hero large and encompassing on the big screen as you are. Their hero, who many may well have been following since 1997, whose story is now concluding. The Last is a gift to these fans and is the love story that we have all been longing (perhaps secretly) for. As described this is Naruto’s final story and this “final story is a first love”.

The film snuggles itself into the canon Naruto storyline, between chapters 699 and 700, officially dubbed chapter “699.5”. The opening sequence puts things into perspective for us with a beautiful black and white manga-style/sumi-e ink brush influenced recreation of the memorable moments of the Sage of the Six Paths and the climactic final battle.

The action-story line is kinda your typical misguided villain trying to create a better world but still ends up lonely (in space with the moon) type of thing, but that’s ok because the focus of the story here is not on the action. It’s on the bond that has formed for Naruto’s future. We’ve seen him fight and win hundreds of times now, but this is something new for him- how to conquer his feelings and those of the one he loves. Where we only saw in the manga that Naruto had married Hinata and that the couple had children together, The Last tells of their connection and how they bonded together.

Fans have been a little frustrated at the rather absent Sasuke, who pops up in the occasional flashback and then bursts in with a fairly excellently-timed moment with “CHIDORI!” That’s pretty much it though. There’s quite a few characters who only get brief cameos too though- including Temari, Kankuro, Tenten and Shino (very minimal Kiba, and never enough Kakashi). Truly though, this is Naruto and Hinata’s love story, and nothing should be getting in the way of that.

Throughout the film Hinata knits (and reknits) Naruto a red scarf- not only symbolic of their past but of the “akai ito”, the red thread of fate that connects them together. There is a focus here on helping fans understand why Hinata truly loves Naruto, and how it is that Naruto is able to understand his own reciprocated feelings towards her.

This moment is encapsulated in the beautiful ending scene- Naruto and Hinata, hand-in-hand, leap through bubbles filled with moments in their history. We remember the scenes as we dash past them, and when Hinata falls Naruto picks her up in his arms and uses a rocket-launcher rasengan to shoot them beyond their memories and into the sky where they are silhouetted against the large moon. And they lean in and kiss and it’s beautiful and you’ll cry.

The film closes out with their happy marriage in stills, and all the guests we love in attendance. They have all grown up, just as we have. And the epilogue shows Naruto and Hinata at home with little Bolt and Himawari demanding their father play with them. So closes out our Happily Ever Konohagakure After.

So, as Iruka-sensei would ask- “Who would you want to spend the last day on Earth with?”

(Kakashi)

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)