Naruto: Road to Ninja is the 9th feature movie in the Naruto Franchise. It’s also the first film with the story created by the original series creator, Musashi Kishimoto. In this film we finally get to see some background material on the emotional past of Naruto and his family – which for me was a breath of fresh air.
The Road to Ninja opens with a scene from the past with Minato Namikaze (4th Hokage & Naruto’s father) and Kushini Uzumaki (Naruto’s mother) sacrificing their lives in order to defeat the Nine Tails and spending the final moments saying a final farewell to their newborn son Naruto. We cut back to present day with a heated battle between our main protagonist Naruto (plus many of our favourites) versus the Akatsuki (A group of evil shinobis threatening the ninja world). Before long the Akatsuki retreat and suspicions are held that something more sinister may be at hand.
Naruto and his friends return home and are greeted by their families with warm welcomes and congratulations on their recent battle. We then get view points of two main characters, firstly Naruto who doesn’t have any parents to greet him and in Sakura’s case, her parents airing her dirty laundry in public, which she despises them for. In these instances Naruto feels utterly alone and aches for that connection with his parents, where as Sakura feels that her parents are overbearing and would love to have freedom from their control.
The next scene has Naruto wondering the streets in a lonely state and travels past Sakura’s house, witnessing an argument with her parents. Sakura instantly sees an opening to escape, grabs Naruto and states they are going on a date.
During this date, they are rudely interrupted by Madara (Akatsuki leader). After trying to fight him, Madara uses Genjutsu and transports Naruto and Sakura into a parallel dimension in which everyone is a topsy-turvy version of themselves. Hinata who is usually timid, is overconfident and argumentative, Shikamaru the strategist is suddenly dumb as a post, Chouji who only cares about food is skinny and so on. This makes for some fantastic laugh out loud moments, which is a nice change of pace from the usual emotional intensity of this film.
Naruto (named Menma in this world) and Sakura switch places in this alternative reality. Sakura’s parents are no longer with us and are classed as the heroes of Konoha and Naruto gets to feel the warmth and affection of having a Mother and Father there for him.
The film then leads you on an emotional rollercoaster of the two facing choices of either running away and enjoying this dream world or facing life as it is and accepting reality. What will they choose?
At the start of this movie – we have a quote from Naruto saying, “I once got asked what is a Ninja? I replied “A Ninja is one that endures” Which is basically what this film is all about and even the series – Naruto and his hardships and how he has endured and overcome them – for me he is probably one of the most inspirational anime characters to date! I utterly enjoyed this film and it had me enthralled from start to finish, not only did I finally get to see what Minato and Kushini were like, I got to see how kind hearted they were and how good they would have been to Naruto if they were still alive – it seriously gave me a tear to my eye. Then we had the second aspect of seeing all the original cast with alternate personalities which cracked me up – Rock Lee for an instance you think he’s the only one that hasn’t changed- but then find out he’s wearing women’s underwear – pure gold!
As most Naruto movies, they all have a message that the viewer can take with them, to me in this it’s that even though you have come to love these characters and they have become a part of your life, they are Shinobi – they live by a code and no matter what’s thrown at them – they have to endure and fight on!
I recommend this film if you’re a Naruto fan that’s looking for something a bit deeper, but if your just looking for the next action clash – maybe continue on with the series!
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.