Nartuo Uzumaki is finally the Hokage of the Hidden Leaf ninja village. He’s fulfilled his lifelong dream, brought his friend and rival Sasuke back to the side of good, married fellow ninja Hinata and had a couple of kids. With that, the Naruto anime came to a close. Well, until now. Boruto: Naruto the Movie serves as a first look at the son of Naruto, who takes over for his dad in the titular role. There’s also a manga and a weekly anime is to follow, so this story sets up the motivation for Boruto in training to become a ninja and introduces us to his team and classmates. At the center is the relationship between him and his dad.
Director: Hiroyuki Yamashita
Screenplay: Masashi Kishimoto, Ukyō Kodachi
Distributed by: Toho
The Boruto anime picks up with him already on a team with two other young ninjas. In contrast to his dad’s childhood, Boruto seems to get along with everyone for the most part and has good relationship with his teammates. Unlike his father, however, he has no ambition–he’s shown to spend time playing video games (which he cheats at) rather than training, and isn’t interested in taking the Chunin exam to receive a higher rank in the village until he is told it might be a way to get his father’s attention.
That’s the main conflict in the movie, as Nartuo, busy with the duties of the Hokage, rarely has time for his son and family. He writes emails rather than congratulating his son in person for an accomplishment and even sends a shadow clone to his daughter’s birthday party, who disappears halfway through and drops the cake, instead going himself. While he wants his dad’s attention, he also resents him. So when Sasuke returns to town from a mission, Boruto sets out to become his student as he is sure Sasuke knows of his father’s weaknesses and can use the knowledge to defeat him. While all of this is going on, there is a new enemy that is seeking to claim Naruto’s enormous chakra. The storylines intertwine and eventually Boruto has to step up and help his father and Sasuke face the threat.
The movie will feel just like a continuation of the Naruto series to anyone who was a fan of the original. The animation is good, with some well animated fight scenes and special effects as Naruto uses his nine tails chakra together with Sasuke and his Suzanoo powers to fight the film’s big bad. Boruto is still young in this one, without any unique attacks or jutsu of his own, so the heavy lifting in the battle scenes is still left to the old guard, grown up versions of the ninja from the first series. It was good to see Naruto and Sasuke back in action together one more time, but going forward I assume they’ll try and pull away from those two a little and let Boruto have the light on his own.
As someone who had seen most of the Naruto anime I could pick up the story fairly quickly, but there isn’t a lot of background spent on what terms like “Hokage” or “Chakra” mean, as I’m guessing they thought most people coming into the film would have already been fans. If you’re coming in cold, you’ll probably miss most of the connections, such as Boruto’s classmates being very obvious combinations of characters from the first series who had ended up pairing off and having kids. It’s not surprising that Sarada, one of Boruto’s two teammates, is his closest friend and happens to be Sasuke’s daughter. What was surprising was his other teammate Mitsuki’s lineage isn’t revealed right away, but if you can’t guess from his “snake-like” jutsu, there’s a final scene after the credits that confirms it. It’s a nice touch.
One word of warning, the movie goes further into the first arc of the story than the manga does. If you wanted to go into the manga fresh, you might want to watch the film after you’ve read the first few volumes.
It’s a Naruto movie, and if you are into that series, there is no reason you shouldn’t enjoy this one. Part of the novelty is seeing Naruto and pals in their new, grown-up roles, and the rest is introductory for Boruto and his generation. It’s not deep and wouldn’t stand on its own plot-wise to someone who doesn’t have any background on the manga and anime. But, the action scenes are good and interesting, just as the old Nartuo series was. I’d recommend it to Naruto fans, but for everyone else, the emotional attachment isn’t going to be there for these characters, so it will be fun yet forgettable entertainment.