Ever since my early high school days I’ve been a huge fan of Masashi Kishimoto’s “Naruto”. I followed both the Manga and Anime all the way up until the beginning of the second series “Shippuden” where I hit a steep decline in love for what was once one of the most important things in my life.
Even as a fan of the early Anime, I never truly enjoyed the movies that came from it. “Ninja Clash In The Land Of Snow”, “Guardians Of The Crescent Moon Kingdom”, they just didn’t do the series I loved justice.
“Shippuden” came around and alongside it a whole bunch of movies I too didn’t necessarily enjoy, but one DID pique my interest and it just so happens to be the newly released “Road To Ninja”.
Something about an alternate universe story excites me but, as of recent times, “Naruto” has only come to disappoint. I’m hoping that, in this new universe, “Naruto” stayed as good as it once was all those years ago. – (Written prior to watching film)
Long ago, a masked shinobi unleashed the Nine-Tailed Fox onto the Village Hidden in the Leaves to spread chaos and destruction. But the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, and his wife, Kushina Uzumaki, sealed the Tailed Beast into their newborn son Naruto to save the village, foiling the shinobi’s plans.
Years later, Naruto and his friends succeed in driving away the infamous Akatsuki, who have mysteriously returned from the dead. Upon returning to the village, the young shinobi are praised by their families for completing a dangerous mission. Reminded of how alone he is, Naruto begins to wonder what it’s like to have parents, when a strange masked figure appears before him – the same masked shinobi responsible for the death of his parents! – Madman Entertainment
Most “Naruto” movies seem to be made as an excuse for the production team to work on something that isn’t necessarily “Naruto”. The stories are all strange and take place in lands never spoken about before. Their enemies are even stranger with most of them not even being Ninja. “Road To Ninja” doesn’t necessarily break that trend but it also doesn’t stray too far from what you’re used to seeing in the “Naruto” Anime and Manga.
What starts off as a pretty standard “Naruto” film eventually becomes a romp across universes as Sakura and the titular hero get sent to another dimension, one where Naruto’s parents are alive and Sakura’s…are not. “Road To Ninja” serves as a huge “what if” story that mostly revolves around Naruto experiencing a life with his parents. Of course there’s still an enemy to be dealt with because no “Naruto” movie can be without mindless action sequences, but this one is a little different to those that came before.
Possibly the most exciting aspect of the film’s story is the shift in personality each and every single character showed in the alternate universe. Despite that in itself making for an interesting and ultimately comedic film, the unimportant characters were pushed to the background so that Naruto could save the day with his, now-alive, mother and father. As per usual…bar the whole “mother and father” thing.
The movie, visually, just seems like an elongated episode of the Anime series with a little extra budget to spend on simple scenes. For the most part, there’s nothing too awe-inspiring about the quality of animation throughout the movie but, much like the series, you see a huge boost when it comes to dynamic action sequences and the like.
Thankfully, there was only one obvious use of CG animation throughout the entire film; something I’ve come to realize the teams behind the “Naruto” movies absolutely adore. Once again, much like the series, the colours were presented wonderfully and the environments even better.
I’ve also thought of “Naruto” as a series that features some brilliant environments so it was good for one of the movies to finally take that into account and use it to their advantage…instead of setting elsewhere, probably in some “Land Of Tea”.
What surprised me the most about “Road To Ninja” is that it didn’t really feature any cringe-worthy, Shonen-type dialogue. Every once in a while a character would say something ridiculous but it wasn’t very often and therefor easy to disregard.
What’s great about this is that the voice artists behind the characters actually got to show off just how good they are at their art and it was obvious that they are indeed masters. Each of the artists also perfectly wore their new personas as they played the part of their alternate characters.
They seemed so natural even in a role that seems so foreign to their usual ones. Thankfully this time around the crew behind the audio of this film chose to use some classic “Naruto” tracks which debuted back in the series. With original songs sprinkled throughout, the “Road To Ninja” soundtrack is definitely a great one for those of you who grew up watching the Anime.
I won’t go as far to say that this is, in and of itself, a fantastic movie but what I will say is that it is without a doubt the best “Naruto” film in the series. I think it has a great deal to do with its likeness to the actual story that practically forces me to hold it in such high regard.
Unlike all the other films “Road To Ninja” sticks to what the series does best and runs with it. Yes, there are certain things about it that don’t quite agree with me the way that they used to but there’s no denying that those things are what make up the fundamentals of the series and there’s no “Naruto” movie that could go without them. Turns out it took a trip to another dimension to make a decent “Naruto” film and I’m very much glad they did!
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