Review: Boruto: Naruto The Movie

Seeing Boruto: Naruto the Movie at NYCC with a room full of insane Naruto fans, after having the movie introduced by Kishimoto himself, is far and away the most exciting experience I've had at the movies ever. Burned out from two full days of commuting to the city super-early for NYCC, I got up slightly later than usual to catch a 9-ish train into the city, in order to get on line for Boruto at the Hammerstein Ballroom around 10:30.  I knew the showing would be at 11:30, so there was no way I'd be first in line, but I'd probably beat all of the slackers underestimating how long the line was going to be.

Sure enough, the line was already too long to see the entrance to the ballroom.  People had likely been filtering in since sunrise, or at least as long as they were allowed to stand there, since the first one hundred people in line got to attend a special signing with Kishimoto.  I had thought about trying to make that, but there was talk of some people camping out for the opportunity, and one day, let alone two days of NYCC, makes my bed too tempting for any such shenanigans.

Okay, fine, I'll talk about the movie.

Boruto fucking rocked.  It fucking rocked my face off.  Everything about seeing that movie in the context of NYCC and the Kishimoto festivities was incredibly unique and supremely special for me as a fan of the series for roughly half of its fifteen year run.  I can't even imagine what that all felt like to someone following the series longer than me, but regardless of who was following Naruto the longest, the crowd--mostly made up of early college and late high school folks--was so loud, so engaged, so much fun to watch the movie with that I completely forgot how much I absolutely hate people making noise during films.

Boruto Movie PosterBoruto is the story of Naruto's son, "Boruto," and the fact that he has to deal with his father's general absence from his life because of his duties as Hokage, head of the ninja village of Konoha.  Kishimoto has always put a lot of himself into Naruto's character, and this was no exception: here, Kishimoto is empathizing with his own children and what it must have been like to have a father who was similarly dedicated to the village of Konoha.  Of course, Kishimoto was drawing Konoha, scribbling away non-stop for the better part of fifteen years, and not ruling Konoha like Naruto.  But the time-consuming responsibilities of a mangaka rival many world leaders, I assume.

Kishimoto had a hand in this movie in a way he has not in any of the previous movies: he wrote the entire screenplay himself.  Additionally, Boruto is itself a continuation of the events of the series after the fact in a way that only The Last Naruto Movie (what an unfortunate name the second-to-last Naruto movie has, huh?) has done before.  So, rather than being filler, or semi-canon that fans can write off, Boruto is not only an extension of the Naruto series but a final augmentation carried out by Kishimoto himself.

I talked about this in my reviews of the Scarlet Spring manga mini Kishimoto wrote about the later years of Naruto's life as Hokage, but Naruto as a series is and always has been a story with a massive emphasis on legacy.  An individual's talents in Naruto are tied inextricably and explicitly to a web of influence which usually takes the form of an unbroken teaching lineage that can be traced back to the roots of the ninja world itself.  It's something no other series has quite done the same, and was, to my mind, by far the most unique as well as the strongest aspect of Naruto as a series.

Ending the series with Boruto, then--and I mean, really, actually, legitimately, finally ending this fucking series--is a stroke of genius on Kishimoto's part.  Sure, maybe it leaves things open for future sequels (I really hope not), but more than that, it emphasizes that just as Naruto's generation had their teachers, Boruto's generation has its teachers, and its own unique dynamic as to how those teachers relate to their students.  Additionally, Boruto crams a handful of commentary on modern life versus an older way of doing things and, because it wraps things in the context of the ninja world, never seems preachy or condescending.

This was a movie about not taking shortcuts, appreciating what others can teach you, and appreciating that you yourself are only really teachable if you're willing to bust your own ass on your own time.  There's really a lot of intellectual and emotional material jammed into this one movie, and considering it is, for all intents and purposes, Kishimoto's first complete movie screenplay, it's a pretty damn impressive outing in that respect.

Fans of Naruto will want for almost nothing in this movie.  Understandably some things will go unexplored because it has the runtime of a film and not a filler-laden two hundred episode anime season.  Further, the villains are, essentially, leftovers, but this does prevent this film from detracting from the ending of the Naruto series proper.  The fight scenes are some of the best in Naruto since early Shippuden and, in some respects, they are actually much more tightly choreographed.  The movie wastes no time catapulting the viewers into a stellar opening fight scene.  Still, the overall quality of animation sometimes leaves the viewer wanting, as I find the style to be more washed-out than early Naruto and early Shippuden, but there are still plenty of visually stunning set-pieces.

I know fans probably want me to gush about what characters are in it, what kind of moments they have, what new jutsu people learn, how they kill everyone off--yeah, I'm not going into any of this.  The cheers that each character received during their first appearance on the screen are probably only going to be echoed in the other screenings by two or three people, rather than the entirety of the Hammerstein Ballroom.  I'll let you savor that sliver of the Naruto fandom yourself, because you all deserve to be as excited about watching this film as I was.

Score: 5/5

Boruto: Naruto The Movie Director: Hiroyuki Yamashita Writers: Masashi Kishimoto, Ukyō Kodachi Run Time: 105 Mins Release Date: 8/7/15