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Naruto: The Lost Story

voice cast: Junko Takeuchi, Kazuhiko Inoue, Maile Flanagan, Dave Wittenberg, and Yuri Lowenthal
creator: Masashi Kishimoto

40 minutes (12) 2004
Manga DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Sarah Ash
Kakashi's team of trainee ninjas Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura are on a mission to escort Shibuki, the leader of the Hidden Waterfall village, safely home. Just a little way from their destination, Kakashi is urgently called away and, as the coast seems clear, he leaves Shibuki in the care of the three young ones. Big mistake! A rogue shinobi, Suein, once Shibuki's tutor in the ninja arts, has secretly returned and is holding the villagers hostage to force their young lord to hand over the Hero's Water. This, the village's secret treasure, will amplify the chakra of anyone who drinks it and make him invincible - though at a terrible cost. And why is Suein convinced that Shibuki will comply? Because he knows that he's mild-mannered and unlikely to put up any kind of resistance. It's going to take all Naruto's gritty courage and dogged determination to hold out against the embittered Suein and his henchmen - but the odds don't look good.

Naruto: The Lost Story is, it turns out, a 'special' episode (some might even argue a filler as it doesn't seem to be based on a chapter from the manga), which takes place, I guess, a little time before Kakashi's team are split up by the machinations of Orochimaru. So comparisons with the Naruto films like Ninja Clash In The Land Of Snow are, frankly, pointless. It doesn't add anything much by way of character development to the ongoing TV series and even goes so far as to reduce Sakura's role to that of the traditional 'girl', leaving her to 'look after the children' when the action gets rough.

An unexpected bonus, however, is the charming 'extra' episode, The Four Leaf Clover, which is subtitled, not dubbed. This concentrates on the ongoing friendship/ rivalry between the younger boy Konohamaru and Naruto. Konohamaru is sad because a little girl he has made friends with is leaving the Hidden Leaf village. He enlists Naruto's help in finding a special red four-leafed clover, which is said to grant all wishes. The only problem is that this clover can only be found within the forbidden area known as Akagahara... but when did a few 'Danger: Keep Out' signs ever stop a couple of boys? This welcome short addition is much more like the classic Naruto episodes in its mix of rough-and-ready humour and ninja action.

I'm a fan of Naruto the TV series (although I still prefer the manga) and I'm not a purist when it comes to subtitles versus dubbing. Many of the American voice actors have really grown into their parts, especially the excellent Dave Wittenberg (Kakashi).

The only other bonus extras are five trailers. This is a disc for Naruto fans and completists; anyone unfamiliar with the series would be far better advised to start at the beginning with season one and the superb 'Land of Waves' arc.

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