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Originally published Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 3:05 PM

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‘Road to Ninja’ leads to love, action in alternate anime world

A movie review of “Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie”: This anime actioner has a poignant core as its orphan teen hero is magically reunited with the parents whom he misses terribly. It received three stars out of four.


Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review ★★★  

‘Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie,’ with the voices of Junko Takeuchi, Chie Nakamura. Directed by Hayato Date, from a screenplay by Masashi Kishimoto. 106 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains violence, brief nudity). In Japanese, with English subtitles. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.

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It’s Opposite Day in “Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie.” The teenage characters in this anime picture don’t call it that, but it’s the situation Naruto Uzumaki (voiced by Junko Takeuchi) and his friend Sakura Haruno (Chie Nakamura) find themselves in when they’re magically transported to a world that’s a mirror image of their own.

Their village looks the same, but their friends are all behaving in ways contrary to the manner Naruto and Sakura are familiar with. Very strange.

Stranger still is the fact that in this world, Naruto, an orphan in his own world, finds that his parents, two ninja heroes who died saving their village, are alive. And it’s Sakura, whose parents are alive in her world, who is the orphan in the alternate world.

A box-office hit when it was released in Japan in 2012, “Road” is the ninth movie derived from the popular Naruto franchise, which encompasses a series of manga comics and a TV series. (The manga was launched in 1999 by writer/artist Masashi Kishimoto, who wrote the screenplay for “Road to Ninja.”)

Magic and thundering fight scenes dominate the story in “Road” as Naruto battles the demonic villain who transported him into the disorienting mirror-image world.

All the slam-bang aside, this is a story with a poignant core. In his own world, Naruto is a lonely adolescent who resents that his parents’ dedication to their heroic endeavors left him feeling neglected. In the alternate world, concocted by the villain from the boy’s dreams, Naruto is loved and cherished. The dream is meant to weaken his resolve to fight the evildoer, but it paradoxically has the opposite effect. In “Road to Ninja,” love triumphs.

Soren Andersen: asoren7575@yahoo.com



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