Anime Review: Boruto: Naruto the Movie (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 30.05.2017

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Boruto: Naruto the Movie (UK Rating: 12)

There was a reason the big three of Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach was known as such - they were unbelievably big in Japan and, even better, they achieved worldwide fame and acclaim. Naruto was at the top of the anime and manga world for over fifteen years, even going so far as to, at the time, challenge the legendary One Piece for the Shonen crown. Naruto received a fantastic ending, too, and it delivered the sort of epilogue every fan hopes for, showing how all the fan favourite characters ended up, shippers got to see their hoped for pairings, and there was even a next generation born to these characters. Even better, this next generation will be getting its own series and it all kicks off with this movie, Boruto: Naruto the Movie, out on 5th June, courtesy of Manga Entertainment.

Okay, it has to be said that "Boruto" is indeed a silly name. It's basically "Bolt," as evidenced by the shape of a Bolt behind the series title. It makes sense to the fans out there who understand - Naruto ended up with Hinata, Hinata's older brother Neji lost his life in the Ninja War, Neji means "Screw" or "Whirl," so he was named after his deceased uncle. Now into the story! The film picks up with the next generation of kids, and compared to where the original series ended, the world has drastically altered. The ninja villages have come to a unifying peace after the great war, and thanks to this, the technology and society of the world have greatly moved on.

The more things change, the more they stay the same and this new generation of shinobi has reached a similar position as its parents were at when first introduced. The kids of the leaf village are acting as genin, grouped into teams of three and working as teams of three underneath a sensei. The titular hero, Boruto, son of Naruto and Hinata, is part of a team that is led by his father's previous student, Konohamaru, joined by Sarada, daughter of Sasuke and Sakura and, finally, Mitsuki, son of… well… his lineage is a surprise! The children of the original cast are, of course, very much the heart of the story here, along with Boruto's relationship with his father. After all, bonds have always been a big part of Naruto.

The story picks up as a major event is about to begin in Konoha. Preparations for the Chuunin exam are underway and ninja from every country are coming to attend. The Chuunin exam holds a special place in the hearts of fans of the original series. Naruto's Chuunin exam had many memorable and iconic moments: rhe forest of death, the "Ninja info cards," Rock Lee vs. Gaara, the impromptu rescue arc, the introduction of many special moves, and so on. It is, without a doubt, one of the best arcs in the series. Here the Chuunin exam is rather brief but it's filled with promising moments that will doubtlessly get fleshed out when it reaches the new anime adaptation. There are the necessary one-on-one battles at the end of the tournament, and even something of a capture the flag match to showcase the abilities of the new characters.

The Chuunin exam may be the backdrop to the story but its heart is the relationship between Boruto and his father. While Naruto grew up without parents, Boruto is growing up with an absentee father. Naruto taking on the office of the Seventh Hokage has taken up the majority of his time, and while he utilises liberal and inventive uses of his shadow clones to take on more tasks than would ever be possible, he has still missed much, and children's lives. Boruto has gotten use to his father's lack of attention, but it's when Naruto lets down Boruto's little sister, Himawari, on her birthday that Boruto finally snaps. He enlists his father's rival, Sasuke, as his mentor to train him to whoop his Dad.

This tale may be all about the Chuunin exam and the Uzumaki family feud, but there is a much bigger threat lurking in the background. The antagonists are a familiar classic anime trope - one huge powerhouse and one smaller that, of course, turns out to be much more powerful. This pair is of the Otsutsuki clan, the same as series' final antagonist Kaguya. These two are attempting to track down the fruit of the Chakra Tree also, gathering up the Jinchuuriki and planning to use them to produce special pills that grant them immortality. The pair has its eye on a certain fox…

Towards the end of Naruto, there were lots of issues with the quality of the art and animation, so it's good to be able to say that is not the case here - the art and animation are both top notch throughout. The combat scenes look smooth and dynamic, plus the characters look individual and memorable. The audio is great, too, reusing and remixing iconic themes from the original series to stir up nostalgia in the audience. Speaking of the audio, this release includes the English and Japanese dub, both of which bring back the cast the fans have come to love and whether it's "Dattebayo" or "Believe it" the long performing cast delivers on the performance front. For the new cast, a relative unknown, Amanda Miller, takes on the role of Boruto but some major names like Todd Haberkorn and Cherami Leigh take on Shikadai Nara and Sarada. It will be interesting to see if these actors continue in the anime adaptation. There is also a bonus OAV included (along with two trailers for the film), entitled "The Day Naruto Became Hokage." It's only ten minutes long but gives a fun, and funny, inside look at the family Uzumaki dynamic.

There were many contenders to the big three over the years but none quite made it: series like Toriko and Assassination Classroom. There's still hope today for new Shonen to reach those same levels, though, with popular new series like Boku no Hero Academia, The Promised Neverland, and Black Clover all vying for the mountain where One Piece now is.

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
While original series creator, Masashi Kishimoto, had a huge part in this story, it's also the work of Ukyo Kodachi, the man who is helming the monthly manga, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. Whether the Boruto series can live up to its lineage is yet to be seen, but if this film is anything to go by, it's safe to say the story is in good hands. Boruto: Naruto the Movie completely captures the heart of the original and sets the stage for a new story with a new protagonist, bridging the gap between the generations. A highly enjoyable story that fits with the series; if only the main series had an epilogue like this.

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