Anime Reporter sets off on a pretty interesting journey with Naruto: the Movie- Road to Ninja. This film was released in the UK and Ireland by the folks at Manga Entertainment on DVD and Blu-ray towards the end of October, so if you like what you read about in this review, you can get your hands on a copy right now!
While this film doesn’t form a part of the anime series’ canon, it really does take place at a specific moment within the series and so, if you’re not pretty well versed in a great deal of the later events of the series, there could easily be a lot of crucial spoilers in this film for you. If the words Akatsuki, Yellow Flash or Sage Mode are terms you haven’t come across yet, then you’ll risk exposing yourself to a few important details here.
The film starts off with a mission seeing our Hidden Leaf ninjas taking on a group of core Akatsuki members. When the mission is declared a success, Naruto and several of his old classmates return to the village, hailed as heroes. The parents of many of his peers decide to put his teammates forward for nominations to the next level of ninja, and Naruto understandably feels left out, given that his own parents are no longer around to support him. His feelings are compounded somewhat when Sakura loses all patience with her parents’ embarrassing ways and drags Naruto away to essentially complain about how annoying having parents can be. Naruto just about starts to tell her off, when a certain masked Akatsuki member shows up and sends them hurtling into a world not too far from their own.
In this bizarre version of their village, all of the familiar faces are there, their personalities are just entirely out of sync. What’s weirder, in this world, Sakura’s parents sacrificed themselves to save the village and she’s highly respected as the child of heroes, while Naruto, whose name in this world is apparently Menma, lives at home with his parents and enjoys all the perks of family life. The two naturally work out that this world is some kind of alternate reality and set about trying to get home, with Sakura initially enjoying her new freedom and Naruto feeling grossly uncomfortable being surrounded by copies of his lost parents. The idea of an alternate Hidden Leaf Village was briefly touched on in a side episode of the anime series and it’s nice to see the idea in a more fully developed state here.
With the heavy weight of the power and circumstances that Naruto’s life thrust upon him from an early age, it’s easy to see the power that the question “What if?” could have on his life. The Road to Ninja shows us what Naruto’s world could perhaps have been and, as the series so often does, reminds of exactly what being a ninja means to Naruto Uzumaki.
Highlights include some wonderfully twisted variants of some beloved ninja characters, the chance to see Naruto spending some time with his (sort of) parents and of course, hefty helpings of ninja action!
As I said before, this collection has been available since the tail end of October, so don’t just sit around, hurry out and pick this one up! It’s a worthy addition to any Naruto fan’s collection.