As I mentioned in my last column, I figured I would go ahead and write up my thoughts to this and the other movie since they are canon after all. I had a lot to say about these two films so I may as well get it going.
Road to Ninja was a fun yet extremely predictable piece of the Naruto franchise that I ultimately enjoyed about as much as I thought I would. The premise is simple, after the Pain invasion ‘Madara’ (does anyone even care about spoilers anymore? Can I just call him Obito?) makes a prototype of the Infinite Tsukuyomi that he later uses in the war and transports Naruto and Sakura into a mirror version of reality where all their friends have opposite personalities. Some of these were really fun to watch, while others needed more development. Shikamaru running around like an idiot was pretty funny, but in comparison all that was different about Tsunade was she had glasses…???
I guess the main thing about the movie was how it wanted to show the bond of parents because the central thing about the set up was Naruto has no family, wishes he does, Sakura gets into a fight with her family and wishes she didn’t have parents (what are you, 12?). So the world they visit Sakura’s dad was the 4th Hokage instead of Minato. I really couldn’t take this seriously, he had one of the silliest damn designs I’ve ever done seen.
This face was actually on the Hokage mountains, god damn.
I greatly dislike Sakura as I always have so I found her whole character arc to be boring in this movie, but Naruto’s was pretty good. I like how he pushed away the alternate versions of Minato and Kushina, refusing them as real, but ended up caving in to loneliness and briefly enjoying life as a family with them. It was sweet. This brings us to our main antagonist, though…
I knew something was going to be up with this dude. Some random, nameless masked ninja with an extremely distinct voice. Look, no one else sounds like that… it’s alternate Naruto aka Menma. His motivations are vague and he exists solely to be a villain and trying to pass it off as a twist like that was silly to me. It reminded me of the twist in the Gintama movie where Gintoki unknowingly killed his future self, except there (while it was still obvious) it was dramatic and really sad. Here it was just obvious and random. BUT, I hardly care about quality of writing as long as the visual spectacle is enough to make up for it and right after the reveal of Menma/Dark Naruto boy did they make up for it.
They had an absolutely fantastic battle sequence where Naruto and Dark Naruto call out their Kyuubi and ride atop them and have an epic Kaiju battle where both of them run around a lake shooting laser beams at each other. It was awesome, stupidly awesome. The sound effects made me laugh because they sounded like Star Wars lasers but that was part of the appeal to me, it really did feel like a Kaiju fight.
So in the end nothing matters, they get out of the illusion, Dark Naruto becomes less edgy and Sakura learns not to take her family for granted despite her dad’s head being a literal sakura blossom. The end. It was a good brainless fun Naruto movie full of the series hallmark of having good ideas and execution all over the place, but really it was fun as long as you don’t go in expecting some amazing piece of film. I really wish Naruto had something along the lines of Strong World and Film Z in terms of quality. One Piece Film Z is the gold standard to big screen adaptations of shounen manga to me, that’s a damned masterpiece. But hey, it was still fun.