What They Say:
With Naruto as the Seventh Hokage, the Hidden Leaf Village is planning to host the Chunin Exams to train new shinobi from the village and from allied villages. Among the entrants are Sasuke’s daughter, Sarada; Mitsuki, an exceptionally talented yet mysterious shinobi … and Boruto, Naruto’s talented but impetuous son.
Meanwhile, Sasuke, who’s been on a mission in another dimension, appears before Naruto to warn of a strange impending danger. Shrouded with an evil aura, Momoshiki and Kinshiki appear and attempt to assassinate Naruto. Petrified, Boruto is shielded by Naruto, only for him to disappear in front of Boruto’s eyes.
The audio presentation for this release melds wonderfully into this film and is available in either English or Japanese subtitled Dolby Stereo 2.0 or 5.1 encoded at 224 kbps. However there are times when the various components of the soundtrack clash with each other to grab a bigger portion of the spotlight. While the seiyus’ performances do carry the weight of the movie, we cannot forget the gripping music which sets the mood for each scene since it blares out of the speakers, almost drowning out the voices; whether it be a rousing rock instrumental for the epic action scenes, calm and soothing full orchestrals to entertain us as we survey the environment of the Hidden Leaf Village or on the rare occasion when we are chance to hear traditional Japanese bamboo flutes with the unmistakable plucking sound of a tonkori, all of these prime examples of background sounds are done right. However even within this glorious balance of voice and music, there are many times when the audio becomes annoying, and this is especially noticeable with the sound effects for the abundance of ninjutsu. You cannot mistake the presence of these techniques, all you need do is listen for a piercing pitch, and while they are visually pleasing upon the screen, the screeching cacophony quickly gets tiresome during the final battle, muffling everything on screen including anything which might compete with it.
However even with all of these acoustic stumbles, the ending theme brings everything into focus thanks to the accompanying visuals of the various families within the series. The declarative soft rock ballad called Diver, is sung by Kana-Boon from Boruto’s point of view, and is an optimistic statement of how he and the other children feel being compared to the previous generation – their parents. He straightforwardly states what most kids their age think: he is dissatisfied with how things are going now, having to live the shadow of his father and even if the tears hold him back, he will not give up. This song itself so beautifully summarizes the entirety of the movie, how children of accomplished people are often compared to their parents and will either sink from despair or as Boruto and his classmates do, will not bend to those feelings of failure, but instead rise up and try to surpass or at least level the playing field. The theme leaves you with a heartfelt warmth which built up during the film and in the end, closes everything up by acknowledging that everyone has their own future to forge.
This film is a lead-in introduction to the new Boruto: Naruto Next Generations series, and as such it establishes the color schemes for the show – showing off all its brilliance as it is encoded in standard MPEG-1/2 DVD media format and 720×480 anamorphic resolution. The 16×9 aspect ratio playback helps to expand the panoramic views which are the basis for the visual sophistication of this film, allowing the audience to dive in head first and view the long established world of the Hidden Leaf and Naruto once again. There is still a ring of nostalgia to those familiar with the previous series and they will constantly see costumes harken back to the past, with the sole exception being the Hokage’s son, wearing a black jacket with hot pink liner. But even with this glaring color staring back at us with every scene, you cannot but think it fits into this universe. However, there are still other minor visual missteps which make some other environments at times painful to see, even within all this movie’s marvelous settings.
The light and darkness of this film at times seem exaggerated, with the former being overwhelming due to its brightness and the latter so comfortable as it is the appropriate atmosphere for the ninja. Daytime is now the enemy and since we switch between the two constantly as morning and night, you would think the animation studio would make it a bit less blinding, but that is not the case. As we beginning the movie with a spectacular night fight scene with Sasuke confronting the main enemies of the film, this glorious clash of minimal illumination littered with dazzling computer generated effects sets the screen aglow – and then establishes the stage for all other scenes to follow. Perhaps that is why the following afternoon setting appears to be too luminous, with the gentle forest and farm setting being overly pale at times due to a glaring amount of sunlight. Even the pale blue sky seems sunbleached when we are first shown it compared to the soothing darkness of the night, but all of the colors eventually smooth out after a few seconds to become rather bleak and washed out. This is a shame for these amazingly animated scenes.
However even as we become content with the at times overly bright day, we are plunged back again to the welcoming grasp of dimmer twilight, making the morning seem foreign. It is only when the light and darkness become intermingled thanks to shadows does the atmosphere become more adaptable. Once we enter the Village this new combination of shading seems more natural and suitable to this ninja filled world. After the initial mission with Boruto and his team is a thing of the past, the smoothness of the colors and light is more fluid and normalized, but that enemy of overexposure is always waiting in the wings to show its ugly head when we venture into an open space with no shadows. It is almost as if you are venturing from a moderately lit room into the bright sunlight – blinding the victim in its ignorance; I can understand wanting to keep authenticity in the lighting shift, but why do so if it quickly and frequently becomes an annoyance? This discrepancy of too much light quickly becomes bothersome, and is even takes precedence from infrequent digital artifacts in the frenetic fight scenes when too much action or movement causes pixelation in the computer generated effects. If the studio could only balance these two elements within the movie, it would have made for such a better presentation, but with the lack of this the film falls short of its true greatness.
Viz Media does a nice job presenting the film to the buyer with an initial outer sleeve cover displaying a suitable advertisement using the original Japanese movie poster, even while using a minimum of colors. While it may seem to be a poor choice to use white as the primary color for such a striking image, the sinister image of the film’s main villain Momoshiki shaded with greys and creepy yellow eyes embedded within his palms takes away any doubt that this is one evil guy. Then to concentrate the essence of the movie as he being the protagonist, we have the center of the illustration dominated by the antagonists: Sasuke, Naruto, Boruto, Sarada and Mitsuki, with Shikadai, Inojin and Chocho guarding the rear; however, I cannot understand why add the latter three characters of the new Ino-Shika-Cho to the cover since they have a very minor role in the film, aside to balance out the pyramid format of the picture. But of course the most stand out element of the cover is the striking and colorful movie logo: a grey bolt reinforcing the background as the colorful red to orange gradation of the name stands out on its own, just like its owner.
While the exterior packaging does an amazing job to represent the movie, Viz does a substandard job for the interior casing and disk designs. The first image you notice is the midnight blue case cover with Naruto and Boruto presenting a Rasengan, both dressed in the father’s signature orange tracksuit color; I like the portrayal of the old generation handing over his prized justu to the next one, but to dress them both in the same bright color is a bit too much of that tone for one illustration, even if it also signifies the same handing down concept. However, the disappointment is magnified once you pick up the flimsy disk case and worry it is about to collapse in your hand. Although I can understand needing to cut down on weight of the overall package, every time I grasp the case, it feels as if my fingers are going to go through due to an absence of plastic between the spokes on both disk wheel hubs – almost likening it carrying an empty eggshell. Then lastly the disk itself, they use the same Naruto orange splashed all over the DVD with a lighter shade decorating an image of Boruto carrying a wrench, not very original, even it is taken from the original advertisement. It is only the artwork which saves this packaging display, but not by much.
Bright pink borders reminiscent of the interior of Baruto’s jacket with white paint splatters bar off the interior animated section of the main screen, presenting select scenes from the movie. While it is entertaining to see exciting and heartwarming action from the film, the value soon wears thin after being forced to hear the same repetitive minute and a half musical piece used to accompany the menu; although it is rousing and gets the viewer interested in seeing the movie, it quickly becomes tiresome and makes us want a need for a mute button. Perhaps Viz Media did not think people would spend much time within this area as they are making a choice from the regular selection of menu choices, but for whatever reason, after the first run through of the melody, it is best to make your choice quickly.
The extras for this film are one of the better choices from the main menu and luckily there is no musical accompaniment to bother the entertainment value. While we are only given four selections: Storyboards, Clean Ending, Japanese Trailers and More From Viz Media, these choices represent a wide variety for the viewer. The first is pretty straightforward, presenting two scenes from the film in simplified pencil sketches with Kanji explanations too small read; while this is an interesting insight to how each event is storyboarded, it would have been better to understand if they allowed a chance to cut to that selection, instead of making the audience scan through the movie to see the finished scene.
The Clean Ending is, of course, the end credits of the movie, presented with either English or Romaji subtitles of the rousing closing song Diver. It is satisfying to see the various clans/families, teams and relationships of the new series, but what makes this end even better is to see the striking illustrations in black and white, just as designed by Kishimoto-sensei. There are no colors to clutter the images and therefore allows the purity of the characters to shine through in all their bold and unadulterated glory. But what makes these portraits all the more poignant are that they reinforce the whole handing down through the generation’s focus of the movie, seeing the parents presented with their families and more importantly, their security for the future.
And to close off the Extras, Viz includes Japanese Trailers – which are essentially commercials which they broadcast to advertise this film and trailers from their other properties, namely other Naruto and Bleach movies. This is not a bad way to show off the film and another excellent franchise for the viewer to enjoy, All in all, this section is one of the better ones I have seen in any film, even if it was a bit repetitive due to all other studios using the same formula.
Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
An overly confident Boruto, along with his teammates Sarada and the mysterious Mitsuki, are trying to complete a training mission under the careful guidance of Konohamaru-sensei. However this time, a rogue bear is terrorizing a village and it is their job to lure the beast toward so their leader he can pacify it. While the son of the Seventh Hokage thinks this is too easy, his companions still know this is a dangerous animal, but are amazed when they see their teacher use the Shadow Paralysis Jutsu in order to stop the panda bear; confused as to how he can use a technique which should only be known to the Nara Clan, the students ask and Konohamaru shows off secret – a prototype ninja tool. As he explains the workings of this device, their sensei further defines it as being able to use ninjutsu via miniaturized scrolls which allows anyone to use these spells, even if they are not ninja, but sometimes with unexpected results.
Once the group arrives back at the Hidden Leaf Village, they promptly return to the Hokage’s office to report on the success of their trip; an excitable Boruto is clearly pleased with himself, even bragging to his father that he could have completed the mission by himself, much to his partners’ chagrin. However after his glowing statement, Naruto’s son quickly snaps back to his obstinate attitude and demands that his over worked parent not to forget the importance of today – his little sister’s Himawari birthday; but it is quickly apparent by the look of shock in his face that this burdened leader had forgotten his daughter’s happy day. This tense situation is soon forgotten by a knock at the door and the abrupt interference by a bespectacled man who Naruto acknowledges as Katasuke, head of the Scientific Ninja Tool Team.
Even before waiting for permission to speak, the hurried man quickly begins his speech and addresses the Hokage as to the purpose of his visit – to praise the device on Konohamaru’s wrist. As he continues with his sale pitch, it is readily apparent this scientist is not interested in cultivating the skills of young ninja, but more interested in selling his tool to other villages to line the Hidden Leaf’s coffers. He even goes so far as asking for approval to allow the upcoming Chunin examinees to use his tool to enhance their performances. Naruto promptly refuses to allow this device to be used in the Exams, clearly explaining these games were set up to test how far the genin have progressed, and therefore to nurture their own skills. Katasuke leaves disappointed, with Boruto not far behind, clearly expressing his disapproval thinking his father won’t allow the tool’s usage since he is too old fashioned to think of the future.
As Boruto sulks in a local restaurant with his friends, an infuriated Sarada and Mitsuki storm in, demanding he fill out an application so the team can participate in the Chunin Exams – by which he refuses. He does not want to become the next Hokage, so by this logic, advancing a new rank will not be necessary to achieve his goals. This makes Sasuke’s daughter ever more angry at this childish brat and comes up with a new idea: if Boruto decides to participate in the tests, she knows his father will be watching, giving the right opportunity to show off new skills and win his approval. Of course she knew this would work, but the discussion is cut short as the Young Lord’s family arrives, little sister Hima chiming away they need to leave so she can start her party. Offering to carry his mother Hinata’s packages, the happy group marching away towards their house. But once they arrive, the unusual presence of Naruto is a promising surprise since he never spends time at home, always too busy at work.
As the festivities continue into the night, the event they have been waiting for arrives – lighting of the birthday cake for the happy girl. But as a proud father brings forth the pastry as his family sings for the child, the man ungraciously disappears, dessert dropping to the floor and revealing to all he was only a Shadow Clone. Infuriated by this father’s callous nature for not showing up to his own daughter’s party, Boruto storms out of the room, even as Hinata tries to explain the importance of his job. It is then the doorbell rings, and his cross son answers the visitor with a swift fist, thinking it might be an absent parent coming back; but his poor judgment is blocked by the swift hand of Uncle Sasuke, coming to report on the progress of his mission, who immediately leaves once he learns the leader is not at home. It is now when Boruto locks onto the idea that this man, his father’s rival, should be the one to train him for the Chunin Exams – what better way to show off to someone who never acknowledges him.
Unsure of how to approach this cold and aloof ninja, Boruto assumes the only way would be to ambush him, by which he is quickly subdued. However as he requests for his Uncle to become his teacher, instead of a no, the loner answers he will only do so if this child can show him the Rasengan. Excited to be finally acknowledged, this impatient adolescent does not wait and immediately wakes up Konohamaru-sensei in the middle of the night. Happy this rambunctious student is finally taking his studies seriously, the duo begin the following morning with the same lessons used to teach his father so many years ago – with Sarada watching in the trees. After many days of frustrating setbacks, the Young Lord is ultimately able to create a small version of the jutsu which he shows Sasuke, only to have his hopes supposedly dashed; as he runs off, his teammate shows up and asks her father why he rejected this technique, surprised that he did not, but the reckless child was too impatient to listen for a full answer.
After losing himself in another disappointment, it is only now does the conniving Katasuke approach Boruto, determined to assist the Young Master at the same time as helping himself. As they tour the Scientific Ninja Tool Team’s facilities, this charmer explains to his new protégé he also his wishes success in the tests, but at the level he is now, it will not be possible without the aid of a certain prototype. If Boruto accepts this plan, both will have what they want: the Young Lord will be able to outshine his father and the Team will have a public display of their latest device, only to be revealed after he passes the Chunin Exam. What could possibly go wrong?
If I did have a major criticism for this film, it would be this movie is essentially the first story arc for the new series, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. The studio is counting on the audience being diehard Naruto fans and thus, in having read the manga and therefore prior knowledge, thus any revelations they show will not be so shocking as to spoil future events. However even if you take this into account, Western viewers cannot be so fortunate since the books and anime will not release until a month after this movie. Therefore be forewarned … watch this film at your own risk – especially the shocking discovery seen after the end credits.
In addendum, even being current with the anime, this movie still shows how events will unfold once after the students become genin and might make the show less enjoyable if you know how things will develop. But now with afterthought, can this really be considered the first story arc since it occurs after they graduate from the Ninja Academy? Once again, you have been made aware there are spoilers.
Now that I have gotten all of those pesky warnings out of the way, this movie is an excellent example of the proverbial passing of the torch – from the old generation of Naruto and Sakura down to Boruto and Sarada. While we have seen many examples of this genre, this film does the idiom justice by visibly showing us how the franchise we have seen and read for fifteen years now comes to a close as we watch their children become the inheritors of the Will of Fire and caretakers of the Hidden Leaf. But they do not all wish to do so willingly, especially when you look through the eyes of the Seventh Hokage’s son, which is how we witness his rebellion in this movie. And it is fitting via his attitude that the story develops and continuously evolves almost in opposition to Naruto’s own childhood.
Anyone who watched that orphan grow up knows how he suffered from ridicule and shame, everyone knowing a secret which they kept from him and as such, he lashed out to temper that anger, which eventually became determination and therefore his greatest strength. His son is a mirror image of him in looks, but that same attitude which forged the strongest ninja has made him into someone who rejects his own father, even to the brink of hatred since everyone compares son to father and as such have equal aspirations for the young lord. While we have seen this type of child trying to grow up in his parent’s shadow, this one is has much more dangerous consequences when he rejects any help and ventures down the wrong path, drawing equivalences between Boruto’s choices and what actually happens within the village. It is paradoxical to see him realize in the end if he made the wrong decision, everything could have resulted in much worse consequences.
However even before any of those revealing choices come to pass, Boruto must still prove his strength to himself and others, and it is here where the film dares to make comparisons between the two generations within this coming of age story. Most of these similarities which originally occurred around our heroes of the last franchise, now happen to their children, Boruto and Sarada. Of course the most obvious would be the inheritance of Naruto’s stubbornness and Sakura’s shyness and anger which explodes when confronted by what she doesn’t want exposed. And then finally as Boruto trains to learn the Rasengan, we also see that same scene of Sarada watching over her rival and then blush as she thinks he might have seen her. You have to laugh seeing that scene, as most fans will recognize this budding romance coming to fruition once again, but with these kids, but who will be Hinata?
And lastly the most profound theme within the movie is when Boruto asks Uncle Sasuke about his father’s weakness, but it is only as we watch the story develop does child see that flaw become his greatest strength. Naruto was always making a mess of things, lashing out at the rejection from never belonging due to that great secret and now, this missing nin is seeing the same situation within his nephew, but due to a different cause – the weight of unwanted expectations. Even as both Uzumakis try to find balance and prove their value to both to themselves and others, it is this rival and teacher who sees what both missed: it is this stubbornness which becomes determination and in the end, the will to overcome all. It is only then does child and father come to terms and begin to see each other in a whole new light, which is how it should always have been.
Boruto: Naruto the Movie is a wonderful coming of age film which encompasses so much more than what is shown on the action filled surface. If you take the time to reflect on the past and see how it shines on the present it becomes something much more as we watch the generations pass into capable hands. You cannot but help to see the problems of an early release for Western audiences, but if you are open to taking it with a grain of salt, the delights of the movie incorporate into a meaningful future.
Storyboards, Clean End Credit, Japanese Trailers & More from Viz Media
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Review Equipment: Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player