After 15 years of publication, the Naruto manga series has ended. Luckily, the anime and the films still have a bit more to share. “Road to Ninja – Naruto the Movie” is the 9th and second to last Naruto feature film we as Naruto fans will be graced with. “Road to Ninja” is not canon to the series, like every Naruto film linked to the Shippuden portion of the series. Timeline ways, it takes place during the new great ninja war before we find out Toby is Obito. Obito is testing his Tsukuyomi on a small scale, and ends up trapping Naruto and Sakura in an alternate universe where both get their biggest wishes of the moment granted. In this universe, Sakura’s parents died in the battle with the Nine-Tails and are renown village heroes while Naruto’s parents lived. In this world Sakura’s dad was the 4th Hokage rather than Naruto’s. Other than that, every character is almost opposite of what they are in the regular universe: Sasuke never left and is a playboy, Hinata is very promiscuous and outspoken, Kiba is a cat person, and so on. Other than the reverse personalities and swapped histories of Naruto and Sakura, everyone refers to Naruto as Menma and rather than having the threat of Obito and Akatsuki in this world, the big bad is a masked villain. The masked villain’s goal is to possess the scroll which Jiraiya died to protect. With no clue how to get home, Naruto and Sakura believe that the masked villain is Toby and that finding him is the key to getting back to their world.
The Naruto films are always glorious to watch, the animation is taken to a higher level making the animation extremely vivid and fluid. Not to take away from the anime series, but something about the films really takes the characters, powers, and environment to a whole new level. With the elevated visuals, the sound quality is raised to compliment it. The clangs of the of blades are sharper, the sound effects from the powers are more distinct, and the environmental white noise is encompassing. This is largely due to the blu-ray quality, but the medium really allows viewers to appreciate the great work and effort put into the sound engineering. On top of the movie itself in glorious 1080p full 5.1 surround sound, the casing the movie comes in is covered in glorious artwork inside and out. However, other than the option to choose to watch the movie in the original Japanese with subtitles or the dubbed English versions, the features are lack luster and do not offer anything worth noting. No behind the scenes, in depth stories from the creators, or deleted scenes; just trailers, promotional videos, and a digital art gallery. The blu-ray quality is a must for a full feature experience of the Naruto Universe, however the special features of the disc are nothing that would entice anyone to choose to purchase the physical copy a digital one.
“Road to Ninja” is full of hilarious moments. Seeing everyone act out of character is always a refreshing trope that every great series throw at their fan base. Seeing Shino and Kiba hate what usually is their defining trait are true high points, while I feel Rock Lee’s cross dressing was a bit disturbing; I feel seeing him be fat and lazy would have been a more accurate and funny approach. The coolest thing, and part of the troubling aspect of the story, is that we get to see Naruto’s parents in action. Minato and Kushina truly are bad asses as the stories of them claim, and they seem to have a healthy and hilarious relationship. The troubling part of the story is the contradiction. I’ll explain more, but overall the movie has a lot of humor and action for everyone. This alternate universe is a fun take on the characters the fans have grown to love, and Naruto’s parents do live up to their reputation. “Road to Ninja” is a great film for any Naruto or action anime fan.
*SPOILER ALERT warning for those who haven’t seen the movie, but it’s on Blu-Ray so I don’t feel bad about ruining it. *
The alternate universe Naruto and Sakura are in has everyone with a polar opposite personality, yet Naruto’s parents are exactly as they’ve been described throughout the series. So by the rules of this alternate universe, they should be wimpy characters especially considering the fact them and Sakura’s parents switched places. From their small moment in the beginning of the film, Sakura’s parents seem like civilians. Narut0’s parents should be civilians, but they are bad asses with their legendary ninja skills who are treated as normal ranked nameless jounin ninjas. Even more troubling, the masked villain turns out to be Menma (the alternate universe’s Naruto) yet there is no Sakura of this universe. The defense of this, is that this universe is a genjutsu created by Toby to trap Naruto and Sakura and he gave them their wishes to try and entice them to stay, only reversing everyone else’s personality as a rule. This is why Naruto’s parents are just like the legends and not polar opposite personalities like everyone else. But this does not justify Menma and Naruto both being in this universe. When Naruto and Sakura escape this genjutsu, it seems as if Naruto and Sakura are actually leaving another reality and that it will continue on without them, mainly Naruto’s parents continuing to raise Menma and the alternate universe no longer having a Sakura. Other than this annoying plot hole, I would still recommend this movie to any Naruto or action anime fans.
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