DVD Review: Naruto The Movie: Road to Ninja
18/11/2015 Leave a comment
The latest Naruto outing comes to us in the form of a movie on both DVD and Blu-ray formats; but what we did think of this DVD release of this film and it’s worth watching? Find out in our review of Naruto The Movie: Road to Ninja, otherwise known as Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie.
For my friends and family, I’ll risk my life for this mission!
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!
As a concept and as a story Naruto: Road to Ninja is superb; but as far as progression and pacing goes then it’s a disappointment that never wants to end. When it comes to Naruto films, or Naruto in general, I find it hard to get attached to the characters emotional state – and let’s be honest its quite an emotional story when you sit back and look at it – and yet here in this film i found myself having empathy for Naruto and the pain he has to go through during his daily life; and that’s before he goes and fights his enemies. This is where this particular film excels; putting physical emotion and heartbreak into Naruto through a unique story that portrays out onto the viewer and it’s done so in a way that could have worked well in the original manga and anime series – if it hasn’t been done so already.
How exactly is this achieved? Through the appearance of worthiness from others and the portrayal of his daily life outside of battle. It’s something we rarely get to see in the Naruto franchise; a look at ‘every-day-life’ once the battle has ended and it’s here, after a short battle with the Aktsuki, where the story of this film begins to unfold. The premise here is that after successfully fending off another Akatsuki Attack everyone returns home to be praised and given approval by their families to be moved up a ninja rank, with the exception of Naruto. Disappointed that no-one will praise and support his ideals Naruto begins to mindlessly walk round town and its here we see just how alone Naruto can be when not in battle or training. Meanwhile Sakura, who is constantly frustrated by her parents nagging, bumps into Naruto and an unusual conversation ensues. It’s a conversation that sees Sakura share her thoughts about her family’s lifestyle, but before Naruto has a chance to void her comments Madara appears and casts a Genjutsu on the unsuspecting Ninja. At first glance it seems like nothing has happened; but in actuality Naruto and Sakura find themselves in an alternate world where everyone’s lifestyle and personality have been altered.
It’s an amusing situation that leads to some comical outbursts down the line; Hinata for instance isn’t the shy timid girl we know but a more aggressive tomboy that doesn’t hide her feelings for Naruto. Of course the biggest change is that Sakura’s farther is now considered the hero of the village and Naruto’s parents are infact alive; but in this reality Naruto is known by a different name. As i mentioned before it’s a relatively emotional story; we started the film seeing Naruto’s parents die in the battle with the Nine Tailed Fox before moving onto his lonely life-style and unsupportive friends and now here we are with Naruto adjusting to the reality that his parents are alive and well. Meanwhile Sakura on the otherhand has gone from a house full of family to a cold-empty-house with no-one welcoming her; for her it’s a paradise but as the film progresses the empathy for Naruto starts to really sink in.
In retrospect this is the films main talking point, a characters emotional state, as other than that not a lot happens. There is the story of Madara manipulating someone (i won’t spoil the surprise) from within this world; but it feels more like an afterthought rather than an inclusion to the main film. Sure ennough we see this mysterious figure on screen at several points throughout the film but his presence doesn’t cause any concern until the climatic fight at the end. It’s pretty much a waiting game; as other than Naruto and Sakura adjusting to their new lifestyle there’s not a lot to see until the mysterious enemy appears to imitate the final fight of the movie.
It’s a great fight but it’s the only one that lasts any amount of time. This is why, as a concept, Naruto: Road to Ninja works well but as a cinematic viewing experience you are left constantly waiting for something to happen; however as it is ‘so different’ to the usual Naruto films it makes a nice change of pace and is easily one of the better movies. Bizarre; but true.
When it comes to bonus features then this DVD release of Naruto: Road to Ninja has a few interesting surprises in store as not only does it include a wealth of promotional trailers but it also has an interactive art gallery.
The Japanese Commercials and Trailers each last around 10 minutes in total (combined) and do not feature any subtitles; so while you won’t have any clue what’s being said it does give you an idea of how the film was promoted in Japan. As you would expect the same clips, and dialogue sequences, are used so don’t expect anything different or flashy when watching them all back to back.
The interactive art gallery on the other hand has pieces of character artwork and backdrops from the film and your player’s remote is used to navigate through them. It’s a type of feature that was religiously used on DVD anime releases in the past so it’s nice to see it used here where artwork was available.
Media: DVD 9
Running Time: 1:45:26
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps
Naruto: Road to Ninja is a film that sees Naruto and Sakura warped into an alternate reality where most things are opposite to what they should be and the in process we see Naruto come to terms with the meaning of family and Sakura discover what its truly like to be alone. Outside of this ‘empathetic’ story is one that sees Madara maniupulate a mysterious figure in this alternate reality in order to kill Naruto and the different types of jinchuriki all of which results in a climactic battle that sees destructive powers against one another.
As a film i found it to be entertaining and enlighting, especially to get an insight into Naruto’s lifestyle but the overall pacing and presentation could have been better. For instance the opening ten minutes is a battle we’ve seen many times, the arrival of the nine tail jinchuriki and Minato saving the village from destruction, afterwhich it’s a short battle with Akatsuki members long-time since thought dead. There’s no real purpose to either of these scenes– other than to highlight the ninja ranking promotion – and it just adds twenty minutes to the running time. It is the same when Naruto and Sakura arrive in the alternate village it starts off, as you’d expect, explorative but then the progression just stops (so to speak) and then the main antagonist of the film, which isn’t Madara, arrives on the scene to potentially wrap-up the film. I feel that so much could’ve been done with that time – the gap between arriving and the final fight – that would’ve made it worthwhile but it didn’t. Sure enough some comical moments arrive, which even sees the girls naked in the bathhouse – which i thought was unexpected – but nothing explorative or fun was done; which is a real shame as the film could’ve been better than what it already is.
In regards to this DVD release by Manga Entertainment UK then there’s no real complaints to be had other than with the subtitles; as the subtitles seemed relatively small compared to other DVD releases. The DVD menu also remains consist with previous ‘movie’ releases of the franchise so it is nice to see that continuity is still a factor – which is most likely down to VIZ Media or Madman Entertainment on their disc authoring production. My only gripe with this release, other than the relatively small subtitles, is that at times a PAL to NTSC conversion error (jagged lines across screen) can be seen during some fast-paced scenes very briefly; of course this could be as a result of my setup rather than an encoding issue but it’s something thats worth mentioning for those who aim to have the best picture quality – in which case go for the Blu-ray.
Overall Naruto: Road to Ninja is a solid product; the story is different and entertaining that it brings a fresh of breath air to the franchise while the presentation of this DVD release more than meets the standards of what one might expect. Understanding the Naruto franchise is not needed with this film; but knowledge of Naruto’s origins can benefit the overall story of trying to fit in… which is something that’s always plagued the Naruto franchise but very rarely shown in TV anime nowadays.
Naruto the Movie: Road to Ninja, or Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie if you prefer, is now available on DVD and Blu-ray within the UK via Manga Entertainment UK.