VOD Review: Boruto: Naruto the Movie

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VOD Review: Boruto: Naruto the Movie

Since the conclusion of Naruto in both manga and anime, VIZ has decided to keep the cash cow going by introducing us to Boruto, Naruto’s son. But when it comes to his introductory movie, should we “Believe It!” or leave it?

Boruto: Naruto the Movie
 Ah, Hinata. She’s the best.

When I was trying to self-teach myself Japanese way back when I watched a lot of Naruto. Actually, all of Naruto. Even all 300 FILLER EPISODES. I’ve played most of the Naruto games, read all of the Naruto manga, and even have some of the opening and closing songs to the series in my workout playlist. I get Naruto. But I was deeply skeptical of the follow up to Naruto, Boruto. While it is sanctioned by original author Masashi Kishimoto, it has a different writing and art team. Naruto was already kind of jumping the shark at the end, with battles that incredulously upped the ante, almost to DBZ levels. All of it left me very wary.

But as a fan of Hinata Naruto, I decided to check out the exploits of his son. At least he doesn’t have that dumb “-ttebayo!” speaking habit.

Boruto: Naruto the Movie (2015)

Boruto Uzumaki is the son of the legendary Naruto, the world’s best ninja and Kage (leader) of the ninja village hidden in the leaves. Compared to his father’s youth, Boruto has everything: parents that aren’t dead, an adorable little sister, friends, and the adoration of the entire village. But Boruto is miserable anyway.

Being constantly in the shadow of his father has left Boruto frantic to find his own path in life. The expectations tied into being the son of two of the most powerful ninjas in the world is suffocating. But the largest thorn in Boruto’s side is that his famous father is just too damned busy leading the village to pay any attention to him or his sister Himawari.

Then the ninja promotion exams come around. Boruto finds an opportunity to make his dad notice him. Self-doubt leads Boruto astray, and he decides to let a shady ninja-arms-dealer convince him to cheat with banned ninja-technology. Yes, these ninjas have ninja-tech. They use computers that open scrolls instead of files, have ninja GameBoys, and have even faced off against ninja robots. Don’t ask.

Robot Naruto
Technically, this is from the tie-in game. But it’s not that far from the silliness you’ll find.

In the background of all this, a clan of ninjas seek to steal the power necessary to turn ninjutsu into a consumable commodity, and Naruto is their target.

Kazoku Power!

Boruto Kazoku
The family that ninjas together, stays together.

In Shonen manga, the usual sublot of all the majors (Bleach, One-piece, Fairy Tale) is the power of friendship (Nakama). While Naruto has always had that subplot, its subplot of family (Kazoku) was always the most compelling. Naruto’s parents are dead, killed shortly after his birth in a heroic act of self sacrifice. Sasuke, Naruto’s rival, is more of a brother character than a friend (and quite frankly if you have a friend like Sasuke, go find a new friend. He’s a dick.). Sasuke has his own family issues in the form of his parents being murdered in front of him by his older brother Itachi. From the many father figures in Naruto’s life, to his desire to be accepted by the “family” that is the village, family ties have always been the driver of all of Naruto’s best moments.

Boruto picks right up on this thread. The only time Boruto smiles is when he is doting on Himawari. His desire to be noticed while simultaneously differentiating himself from his father are the major plot drivers. Even weepy old Sasuke has a family now, and believe me, it has done wonders for the emo little punk.

Spend that Movie Money!

Aside from the movie where Naruto and Hinata get together, the Naruto movies have always been non-canon, self contained fare. As such the plots and villains have been sub-par. So why are there like nine of them, and why do they do brisk business in Japan? Because in a movie, the studio can afford to up the animation quality.

The Pain fight still gets me all goose-bumpy.

Anime series in Japan are like TV shows in America. If your show has high cost features (say Game of Thrones), you have to use them sparingly. It’s the same with action anime. That’s why we get three episodes of Goku grunting and screaming (while standing stock still) before we get 5 minutes of explosive fighting. Naruto has had some of the best anime fights in the business (I dare you to watch the Pain Arc and not get all types of hype), and the movies allow them to go whole hog on the fights. Boruto is no exception. Well, one exception…

Naruto the Movie

…Boruto has almost none of those sweet fights. The movie starts out with Sasuke kicking ass, and wastes the promotion exam as a venue to let Boruto be his own character. In the Naruto anime, the exams were the first big action arc, showing off all the cool jutsus that each ninja has. Here the exams are rushed through, aborted at the end just so we can see Naruto, Sasuke and the other four Kages go nuts.

Boruto Rasengan
This is about as much action as we get from the lil’ guy.

We already had tons of movies and two anime series about Naruto and his pals. Viz seems to not have a ton of faith in Boruto, and hedges their bets by making his introduction a best of  Naruto highlight reel. For a new franchise with the plot-line of a young man stepping out of his father’s shadow, it’s sad that his first movie doesn’t do that at all.

Crazy-pants Ninjas: The Next Generation

The movie is entertaining. By making the movie canon, it allowed the heart of the movie to have the same kind of attention that the action has enjoyed. Boruto already has a monthly manga (the first ten episodes are literally this movie), and he will get his own weakly series April 5th. The next arc of the manga seems much more interesting in terms of setting Boruto apart as his own ninja. This movie gives us a taste of Boruto and his friends, but can’t quite let the birds leave the nest. Come for the Boruto, stay for the Hinata Naruto.

Naruto Hinata
For real, Hinata is best girl. And don’t ask how many NSFW pictures I had to scroll through to find this.

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