Boruto: Naruto the Movie Review

Boruto: Naruto the Movie Theatrical Poster (c) Pierrot

Boruto: Naruto the Movie Theatrical Poster (c) Pierrot

“Boruto: Naruto the Movie” is part of the “Naruto Shin Jidai Kaimaku Project” (Naruto’s New Era Opening Project) to celebrate the original manga’s 15th year anniversary. Naruto – the popular manga from mangaka Masashi Kishimoto ended its serialization in Japan last November 2014.

As previously teased on “The Last: Naruto the Movie”, “Boruto: Naruto the Movie” focuses on the new generation of ninjas. Dreams do come true as Naruto is now the 7th Hokage and is married to Hinata with two kids: Himawari and Boruto; while Sasuke, his longtime friend and rival is now married to Sakura and is gifted with a daughter named, Sarada. Other “Konoha 12” Team formed a family of their own; there are obvious pairings but with some odd pairings nonetheless.

Similar to the “The Last” film, “Boruto” made references to the last 4th Great Shinobi War which was the last and concluding part of the manga that sees Naruto promoted as Hokage (Kakashi Hatake became the 6th Hokage presumably after the war.) But the lurking question is what if you’re new to the Naruto fandom; will you be able to enjoy the film? Absolutely yes, as the viewers were aided on what transpired on the last war so you’ll get a sense on the basic premise of the film.

The “Boruto” movie pays homage to Naruto’s origin: family. What separates this film from the other Naruto movies is that unlike its predecessors where you have to save a Princess, “Boruto” is heavily tied on emotional relationships – an ordeal where old (younger) Naruto struggled but eventually triumphed.

The writers also picked up a very good material for the ultimate throwback – the “chuunin” exam. The original “chuunin” arc from the Naruto series is basically one of the keys to the manga’s early success because of its inquisitive fight battles so seeing the new generation of ninjas on the same dome is reminiscent to the early beginnings of Naruto.

Overall, the eleventh Naruto film – “Boruto: Naruto the Movie” is so easy to watch, it’s a feel good movie; and technically, the film is almost perfect: from story-telling, animation to overall direction. “Boruto” will treat viewers to an endless “throwbacks” that is both nostalgic and invigorating restart on Naruto franchise. Be sure to catch the post-credit scenes where Kishimoto reveals the identity of Mitsuki’s parents.

Rating: 10/10

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Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie earns $91K on its 1st week; Blu-ray and DVD on sale now

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie promotional image

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie promotional image. (c) Toho

UPDATED: BoxOfficeMojo reports that Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie (check out my movie review here) grossed an estimated amount of $91,014 (PhP 3,754,292) in 41 screens for the week of April 10-14. The movie which is exclusive to SM Cinemas debuted at #6. Competing against local and US titles, Road to Ninja didn’t do well at the box office as I hoped. and was already pulled-out of the cinemas after its 2nd week. The movie is still being screened on SM North EDSA’s Digital Theater. I’m just saddened that the movie lacked promotion, there is no single TV ad or any tie-ups with media industries, there’s only Facebook to promote the movie. Rurouni Kenshin even had a red carpet premiere and major sponsors back then. I’m not quite sure though why they didn’t come to ABS-CBN or HERO for a possible tie-up (or if they actually approached the network). The fact that ABS-CBN is struggling with its anime line-up, they could have used this opportunity to establish and connect with new breeds of anime fans out there. Note that NARUTO Shippuuden Season 5 premiered two weeks ago on ABS-CBN’s anime block and this film could have been the perfect vehicle for that, it’s a win-win for both parties.

Rurouni Kenshin certainly open doors of opportunity to other Japanese films (anime) when it was shown in the Philippines back in December. But without proper promotion, this “Animation Domination” promotion from SM Cinema and Pioneer Films could be its last. If they don’t do well at the box office then there’s no point of bringing again this well-loved animes to our local theaters and anime fans will continue to patronize torrent sites offering free episode / movie downloads.

It is interesting to see how One Piece Film: Z and Hunter × Hunter: Phantom Rogue which are due on May 1 and May 15 respectively, fare at the box office with some tough competitions. But more than the numbers, I am thankful for both SM Cinema and Pioneer Films and actually appreciate their move of having this shown on an earlier date to avoid the Blu-ray / DVD release date (originally planned to premiere on May 15th, Blu-ray and DVD was released April 24th) otherwise, less-people will watch this and they will obviously just settled on subbed version from fan sites. But fret not because that number is for Philippine screening only. The movie is now being screened on other countries and will soon hit US for its official English dubbed version.

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie is now the highest-grossing Naruto film, making 1.46 billion yen (about US$18.3 million) between its opening on July 28 and September 23 last year in Japan. The film was seen 1.25 million times. Mangaka (manga creator) Masashi Kishimoto was personally involved with the movie, creating the story and providing character designs. Blu-ray and DVD are out now, I’ve already got mine on time. Check my photos below.

UPDATE 2: Road to Ninja on its second week earned a total grossed amount of $123,613 (PhP 5,068,627) and dropped from #6 to #8 spot according to BoxOfficeMojo. One Piece Film: Z on the other hand, debuts tomorrow, May 1, exclusive to SM Cinemas. Check the schedule and ticket prices here.

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Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie – the ‘Menmastic’ Review-ttebayo!

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie theatrical poster © Masashi Kishimoto; TohoRoad to Ninja: Naruto the Movie theatrical poster © Masashi Kishimoto; Toho

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie theatrical poster. Image © Masashi Kishimoto; Toho

If you are a newbie to the whole Naruto-verse then worry not because the movie itself basically covers some of the highlights from the 14-year-old manga (the anime on the other hand, is on its 11th year) suffice to say, you won’t feel like an outsider and you’ll definitely enjoy this film.

To quickly summarize, Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie, starts off with a flashback sixteen years ago when the nine-tailed demon fox or simply, the Kyuubi, was summoned by a masked man as the beast went on rampage and nearly destroy the whole village of Konoha. But the village was saved by the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki, the current host of the nine-tailed demon fox, at the cost of their own lives. The Kyuubi was then sealed to Naruto and the village live at peace. Through the years, (not shown in the film) the Akatsuki went after the jinchuurikis (hosts) to extract the tailed beasts (there are nine ten) to create an ultimate weapon known as the “Infinite Tsukuyomi” that will allow Madara to manipulate every living creature. The Akatsuki did managed to collect the one-tailed up to seven-tailed beasts but were killed one by one in the process (not shown in the film too).

The movie then cuts to the present day, where Naruto and his batch mates along with his teachers fight against the Akatsuki which bothers them since they’ve already killed most of them. They battled and Akatsuki eventually retreated but unbeknown to them, Kakuzu left Naruto a seal on his leg. Apparently, it was just a test from Madara and the dead Akatsuki members are actually white Zetsu’s clones. They came back at the village and everyone’s raving for the jonin recommendation (jonin is an elite ninja taking high-rank missions; most of them are still chunin while Naruto is still a genin – lowest level of ninja). Sakura’s parents’ poked on her and felt embarrassed. Naruto, on the other hand, went to Ichiraku Ramen to meet up with Iruka, his first sensei which he considers a family, and desperately try to get a recommendation from him, but the latter said it has to go on proper channel which made Naruto upset. He also hated that there are no “Naruto fish cakes” on his ramen and instead Teuchi puts menma (bamboo shoots) on his ramen — take note of “menma” alright?

Later that night, Sakura had a feud with her mother and stormed out of their house and came across with Naruto and the two went to the park. Sakura keeps on complaining about her life and wishes to have a different parents while Naruto feels otherwise because he’s been longing to have one ever since and tired of being alone to which Sakura lamented that if only Sasuke was around he’ll probably understand her. This is where Madara comes in to continue his “real” plan reference to the first attack earlier.

He wanted to get the Kyuubi out of Naruto and believes that by sending him to an alternate universe that he “created” will give him the advantage not knowing that he only “created” the universe but cannot “control” it as it will depends on the people living out there. He activates the seal on Naruto’s leg while casting the “trial version” of Infinite Tsukuyomi. It was revealed that people under this genjutsu (spell) will get exactly what they want deep in their hearts. For Sakura’s case it’s Sasuke and getting rid of her parents while for Naruto is the family that he long dreamt of.

Real Universe (main characters with “Naruto fish cakes” on the background) VS the Alternate Universe (main characters with “menma” on the background). Image © Masashi Kishimoto; Weekly Shonen Jump

Real Universe on top (main characters with “Naruto fish cakes” on the background) VS the Alternate Universe, bottom (main characters with “menma” on the background). Image © Masashi Kishimoto; Weekly Shonen Jump

In a blink of an eye, they were transported to an alternate universe where Sasuke and Naruto’s parents exists, Sakura living on her own and to make it even more exciting, peoples’ personality and behavior here are the exact opposite from the real universe. Let me quickly rundown the personality from the alternate universe because I really found this funny:

  • Sakura’s dad was the 4th Hokage, hence she is the daughter of the hero that saved the village but bad news — she’s still flat-chested, haha!
  • Sasuke is such a playboy, a very straight guy! (no, not what you’re thinking what is his characterization on the real universe, lol!)
  • Sai, who excels on art from the real universe, sucks big time in this alternate universe. He’s passionate yes, but you can’t call his work a masterpiece since his work is a disaster!
  • Tenten, based on the patches on her kimono seems she trains really hard
  • Lee and Neji are pervs!!! Can you believe that? I can forgive Lee but the “genius” Neji! This is crazy and what bothers me is that scene on the bath house where he’s peeping on Hinata, aren’t they cousins? Hahaha!
  • Ino is timid; Shikamaru is a glutton while Choji is the smart guy and he’s thin!
  • Kiba and Akamaru aren’t in good terms since Kiba yearns to have been a cat person
  • Shino hates bugs even his main jutsu uses bugs. It’s funny when he tries to kill his own bugs with an insecticide!!! That is something, I couldn’t stop laughing on that scene and on Sai’s painting.
  • Hinata – TOTAL BAD@SS
  • Tsunade is old; Shizune got the chest size of Tsunade while Tonton seems scary!
  • Gai lost his “power of youth” motivation and keeps on complaining about him getting older while Kakashi seems to be the one that’s full of energy.
  • Menma, this universe’s Naruto is the “masked guy”
  • It couldn’t get any weirder as Naruto was called Menma in this universe. So the very thing he hated from real world, he hated it all the more here in the alternate universe.

Though I’m not ecstatic on the series of flashbacks like when the Kyuubi attacks Konoha which leads to the death of Naruto’s parents as I’ve already seen them on the anime, I believe it is an integral part of the story because as you move forward watching the film, you will be able to understand and sympathize with Naruto.

While the drawings are outstanding, thanks to the original creator Masashi Kishimoto as he was personally involved with the movie, creating the story and providing character designs, the coloring on the other hand, was poorly done. Just like on previous Naruto movies, where we can clearly see a brown instead of a black headband cloth, Road to Ninja had its fair share of inconsistencies. Right from the opening scene, I can’t help but notice the very pale color of the Kyuubi. It got even worse towards the end of the movie when two Kyuubis are fighting. For me, they could have done it better as the Kyuubi was described as a demon and that color tone certainly didn’t leave me with an impression that he’s strong and should be feared. By the way, it was revealed on the manga that the Kyuubi’s name is “Kurama” (yes, even the tailed-beasts got their own names).

For the story, I don’t know why Kishi chose to have Sakura’s parents’ debut on the film instead on an episode of Naruto Shippuuden (note that Bleach’s creator Kubo Tite also opted to reveal Rukia’s very own “bankai”on Bleach: Fade to Black, I Call Your Name Movie) but for whatever it’s worth – it worked and though he gave us a rather quick introduction on Sakura’s parents on the real universe; it’s a good twist and quite moving when we learned that on the alternate universe they are the heroes that saved the village of Konoha.

I just wanted to say this: Kishi seems to be listening to the rabid fans of Naruto. Since the early years of Naruto manga, fans are constantly doing fan arts of Naruto wearing the Fourth’s cloak and when we finally witness this as it comes to life, that scene just blew me away, it was epic. I took it as Kishi’s simple, subtle, little way of saying “thank you” to the fans. But wait there’s more! It’s quite a feat also to see how Naruto defeated Madara (possessing Menma’s body) exactly the same way his father Minato defeated him back in the real world.

"Thank you very much everyone for watching the film! And and please always support our protagonist Naruto!". Image © Masashi Kishimoto; Scott / Shueisha

Special message from Kishi: “Thank you very much everyone for watching the film! And and please always support our protagonist Naruto!”. Image © Masashi Kishimoto; Scott / Shueisha

Road to Ninja became the highest-grossing Naruto film as it surpassed the first ever Naruto movie “Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow” which was shown back in 2004. So, to celebrate this achievement, Kishimoto drew a picture of Naruto and Menma. I strayed myself from the internet when this movie debuted in Japan July last year because of possible spoilers, so it all makes sense to me now because when that picture was first released, I thought it was just a random artwork from Kishi, and actually thought that the other character is Sasuke.

I’m a little bit disappointed though with so little screen time given to Sasuke, but overall, I enjoyed watching the movie because there is a balance of comedy (humor) and drama (emotional ties with each characters). Is this the best Naruto movie? No. While I believe the story-line is far better than previous Naruto movies where you have to save the Princess or rescue a friend, I think they could have done this one better. The fight between the two Kyuubis was kind of boring and we’ve only got mediocre fight scenes throughout the movie.

Certainly not my favorite but absolutely on my Top 3 Naruto Movies.

  1. Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow (2004)
  2. Naruto Shippuuden The Movie: Inheritors of the Will of Fire (2009)
  3. Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie (2012)

I’ll give Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie an 8/10 Rating. BluRay/DVD out on April 24th!

This review was also published and featured on PinoyExchange.