April 9, 2013
Believe it or not, I have never seen anything Naruto until today. This name though, and the image of the young guy with three stripes on either side of his face, with the yellow spiky hairstyle, and wearing an orange jogging suit has long been familiar to me as a Japanese anime character. However, for some reason or another, I never got a chance nor the interest to see any TV episode nor movie from this franchise before, until my kids convinced me to bring them to watch this film this afternoon on opening day in a local mall.
"Road to Ninja" tells a complicated story where Naruto and his friend Sakura are sent into a parallel mirror world by an evil ninja wizard, where their deepest dreams come true. Sakura, who resents her parents meddling with her life, realizes that her parents have both died as heroes. Naruto who had lived his entire life as an orphan, now enjoys the loving presence of his parents, Minato and Kushima.
Both Naruto and Sakura are still cognizant though that they are living in an illusion that needs to be broken. Powerful ninja battles ensue during the night of the red moon, the only night when the spell can be broken by a mysterious scroll, and Naruto had to invoke the Nine-Tailed Fox within him in an attempt to return their world back to how it used to be.
Despite the fact that I did not even know a single fact about Naruto or his friends, I did not find it difficult to get into the groove of this story. I had to ask a question or two to my son beside me to set me straight on character relationships, but overall it was not too tough to get through.
The story was told very well, without really requiring an in depth knowledge of the animated series. The flashbacks give us the necessary historical background in order to understand better the current situation the characters are in. The clarity of this story development is quite impressive considering this is already the ninth Naruto film!
I can now see why this anime series had been so popular over the years. No wonder this particular installment had just become the highest-grossing Naruto film. I think I might just go watch the first film and really get acquainted with this popular series more.