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Anime / Naruto the Movie: Road to Ninja

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"My name is Uzumaki Naruto. My sensei told me that a shinobi is one who endures."

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie is the ninth film in the Naruto franchise and the sixth film of the Shippuden series. Like all of the previous films in the Naruto franchise, this film is non-canon. The film was made in lieu of Naruto's 10th Year Anniversary (of the anime, rather than the manga) and as such, series creator, Masashi Kishimoto, was involved with the story planning and character designs.

After a odd bout against members of the Akatsuki (including a few that have been killed), Naruto and Sakura reflect on their lives and wonder if things would've turned out differently if their roles were reversed. They get their wish when Madara (aka Tobi) suddenly appears and seemingly transports them into an alternate world where their friends personalities are different (Rock Lee and Neji are perverts, Kiba is more of a cat person, Hinata is more assertive and brash, Ino is a Shrinking Violet, etc), Sasuke never defected and is still around (if not a bit of a playboy now), and perhaps more shockingly Naruto's parents are still alive while Sakura's were the ones who died saving the village and became the hometown heroes. As the two try to figure out what's going on and if they can get back to their world, Madara conspires with a masked ninja to kill Naruto and gain the Nine Tailed Fox from him.

Road to Ninja features the following tropes:

  • A-Cup Angst: Alt!Hinata deliberately mocks Sakura, whom she thinks is that universe's version and is trying to "steal" Menma away from her, by poking fun at her small chest (even referring to her as a Pettanko). Sakura is naturally unamused.
  • Adaptational Slimness: Lady Tsunade, one of the bustiest characters in Naruto, is depicted as having a flat chest.
  • Advertised Extra: The alternate versions of the Konoha 11 are featured prominently in the promotional media, but play fairly minor roles.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Early in the series, Sakura trivialized Naruto's lack of parents and mused that it might be fun to not have parents herself, provoking Sasuke to chastise her for equating an occasional scolding to not having a family. The movie starts with Sakura not only complaining to Naruto about how annoying it is to have parents, but lamenting that Sasuke would understand her when Naruto is less than sympathetic.
  • An Aesop: Appreciate your parents while you still have them.
  • Alternate Universe: Most of the movie takes place in another world that Tobi sent Naruto and Sakura to.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Mr and Mrs Haruno happily joke about how Sakura would make a poor jonin right in front of all her friends.
  • Amusingly Awful Aim: Tenten is a weapons specialist whose fighting style involves pelting her enemies with a storm of kunais. Her Mirror Universe counterpart, on the other hand, is implied to be so inept she has somehow managed to throw a kunai at herself, with other characters noticing she is covered in scars and commenting how common it is for her to injure herself by accident.
  • Back from the Dead: Subverted. The film opens with the Konoha 11 hunting for the Akatsuki, all apparently coming back from the dead, but it turns out that they are all White Zetsu clones.
  • Batman Gambit: Tobi's plan. It banks on Naruto winning in a specific way so the Nine Tails' seal would be weakened in the same way it was for Kushina after his birth. Though Tobi even remarks that Naruto performs a lot more admirably than expected.
  • Battle Couple: Even if its in another dimension, Naruto's parents are still quite protective of their son.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • One of the main points of the film. Sakura initially wishes that she doesn't have any parents, only for her to find out just how painful it would be if they are really gone.
    • Even Naruto gets this to a certain degree as his parents are still alive, but he finds that his father isn't quite as heroic and self-sacrificing as he was in the real world.
  • Beat the Curse Out of Him: After Menma is defeated, his dark hair reverts to its original blond colour, implying that he had been brainwashed and is finally free from Tobi's corruption.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Tobi and the Masked Man are working together towards the same goal of killing Naruto, albeit for different reasons: Tobi wants the Nine-Tailed Fox inside Naruto, while the Masked Man hates the fact that another version of himself exists and want him dead out of disgust.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • The Akatsuki of all people save Naruto during his battle with the Masked Man.
    • Sakura comes to Naruto's rescue when the latter has been struck by the Big Bad's genjutsu, and manages to hold her own just long enough for the boy to recover.
  • Bizarro Universe: Interestingly played with. Some comments and Menma's apparent changes suggest the alternate world to have been a perfect replica of Naruto's, but Tobi sending him and Sakura there caused "ripples" that changed things around.
    • Minato and Kushina are still alive, since they weren't the ones who sealed the Nine Tails and saved the village. Instead, Sakura's parents did. On another note, it is Kizashi, and not Minato, who became the Fourth Hokage.
    • Sai is a Terrible Artist, while Sasuke is a happy-go-lucky womanizer and never defected from Konoha, because the Uchiha Clan Massacre never happened.
    • Lee is a crossdresser, Neji is a pervert, and Tenten is horrible at handling weapons.
    • Shikamaru is dim-witted, Choji is slim and mindful of his body image, and Ino is wholesome.
    • Kiba is a cat person, Shino kills bugs (!), and Hinata is aggressive and wears Stripperriffic clothing.
    • Tsunade and Shizune switch roles: Tsunade is flat-chested and somber, while Shizune is big-breasted and acts more like the real world's Tsunade.
    • Kakashi and Guy also switch roles: Kakashi is energetic, while Guy is calm.
    • Naruto's name in the AU is "Menma". Interestingly, Menma still got the Nine Tails sealed inside him.
  • Bookends: The film begins and ends with Naruto saying "My name is Naruto Uzumaki, Ninja."
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Menma (i.e: the masked ninja) is being controlled by Tobi.
  • Break the Haughty: Sakura complained about her parents and wished she didn't have them. She soon finds out the hard way just how lonely it is to be an orphan.
  • Broken Pedestal: Minato to Naruto. When Minato says "We're human before ninja", Naruto's reminded that even though they look the same, this world's Minato is not the same Hero from his world. Minato later makes up for this in Naruto's eye's by coming to his rescue thanks to the Thunder God Kunai.
  • Central Theme: Don't take your parents for granted, whether they're dead or alive.
  • Character Development: Sakura comes to appreciate her own parents more by the end of the film, as well as understand Naruto's pain better.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Minato's Thunder God Kunai. Naruto uses it to defeat a Tobi-controlled Memna, and it alerts Minato to his location.
  • The Chessmaster: Tobi. He used a test run of the Infinite Tsukuyomi, to try to capture Naruto. Then he worked with the Masked Man/Menma to weaken Naruto and try to steal the Kyuubi.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Hinata of the alternate world is violently aggressive towards anyone she sees as competition for Menma's affection.
    Hinata: If you touch him, I'll kill you!
    Sakura: (scared) Ehhhh!?
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The Akatsuki takes less than five minutes to destroy all of The Masked Man's Heavenly Beasts.
  • Damsel in Distress: The Masked Man kidnaps Sakura during the attack on Konoha.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The film puts an emphasis on Sakura's story just as much as it does on Naruto's.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Strongly subverted. In the alternate universe, Sakura's parents are dead but hailed as heroes. She initially enjoys the freedom of not having any nagging parents as well as enjoying the fame of being the daughter of a hero. She soon comes to learn, however, that none of it makes up for the loneliness she feels as an orphan.
  • Demonic Possession: Once the Masked Man falls in his final battle against Naruto, Tobi's spirit possesses the youth, reanimating him and granting him a Sharingan.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Tobi immediately retreats as soon as Uchiha Itachi shows up to fight him.
    • The Akatsuki makes their escape once the alternate universe Kyuubi joins the fight, explaining that they are not being paid enough to fight him.
  • Enemy Mine: Naruto and the Nine Tails put aside their differences to fight Menma and his Nine Tails.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Downplayed with Hinata of the alternate world, who a bit of a Yandere.
    • Menma to Naruto, though to his defense, he is mind-controlled by Tobi.
  • Expy: The Masked Man is one for Pain. They both act as the Dragon for Tobi, have similar fighting styles. Pain having the Six Paths of Pain and the Masked Man using his nine masked beasts. In fact the scene in which the Masked Man destroyed Alt!Konoha resembles when Pain use Shinra Tensei to destroy Konoha. The climax turns this up when it is revealed that Menma is the alternate universe's counterpart of Naruto, who, like Pain, is Jiraiya's student and a potential fulfiller of the Toad Sage's prophecy.
  • Fanservice: The bathhouse scene shows all the teenage characters with minimal clothing, although the tie-in manga chapter/promotional episode play up the fanservice quality a lot more then the movie does.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: During Naruto's final battle with the Masked Man, the two temporarily teleport to another world where the mask comes off to reveal Menma.
  • Foreshadowing: The film offers many hints to the Masked Man's true identity before the big reveal: His mask is styled after a Kitsune, he can summon nine servants whose true forms are later revealed to resemble fox cubs, and he destroys a large portion of Konohagakure with an attack that visually resembles Naruto's Rasenshuriken. Those are all dead giveaways that he is Naruto's Evil Counterpart from the Genjutsu World.
  • Heel Realization: Sakura undergoes a big reflection midway through the film after coming home to yet another empty residence: being an orphan sucks, so she should have appreciated her parents better. At the end of the film, she hugs her parents with tears in her eyes.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite all the changes, the Third Hokage and Jiraiya are still dead in the alternate universe, though the details of the latter's death are different. Also, even though the Uchiha Clan Massacre never happened, Itachi is still a member of the Akatsuki. Finally, Naruto's counterpart is still a host of the Nine Tails.
  • Internal Reveal: After the Masked Man's attack on Konoha, Naruto tells the alternate Minato and Kushina that he isn't Menma and that he isn't from their world.
  • Interquel: Episode 271 of Shippuden, Road to Sakura, takes place concurrently with the film and features the Sakura of the alternate world falling into the main dimension.
  • It's All About Me: Sakura at the very beginning of the film when she is ranting about her parents to Naruto, an orphan. When she sees that he is upset about it, she complains even more about how she is talking to the wrong audience and guilt-tripped Naruto about Sasuke. She grows out of this, however, when she reluctantly accepts being alone in the alternate universe so that Naruto could stay with his parents.
  • Jerkass Ball:
    • Iruka's response to Naruto asking if the guy can recommend him for a jonin promotion? Coldly tell him that he has to work his way through the ranks, as if he's talking to an Entitled Bastard. At the end of the movie, he apologises to Naruto for his behaviour.
    • Naruto grabs it twice:
    • Sakura also grabs it in the very beginning when she rants to orphan Naruto about her parents. When he is clearly upset about this, she complains about how she was talking to the wrong person and wishes that Sasuke is there instead. This is especially odd because Sakura has undergone a massive Character Development in both the manga and anime, during which she had told Naruto that Sasuke is no longer their problem anymore and she will try to move on from him.
  • Kaiju: One segment of the final battle has two Nine-Tailed Foxes fighting each other and destroying most of the temple.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Tobi transports himself, Naruto and Sakura back to their own world once Menma has been defeated and it's obvious his plan has failed.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: During the final battle, Naruto gazes upon Tobi/Menma's Sharingan, succumbing to a genjutsu that causes him to lose his memories. He falls to the ground helplessly, enabling the villain to start extracting the Kyuubi.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: While all his teammates are carefully planning their assault, Naruto recklessly attacks the Akatsuki head on.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The alternate world isn't real, it's based on a flawed version of the Moon Eye's Plan that Tobi wishes to use when he gains all of the Tailed Beasts.
  • Meaningful Name:
  • Mirror Match: The final battle turns into one once it's revealed Menma is the other dimension's version of Naruto.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Alt!Minato and Alt!Kushina look just like they did when they had Naruto, as if they didn't age for 16 years.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Surprisingly averted for a Naruto movie. All of Naruto's abilities on display are ones he already acquired or had the potential to use to begin with.
  • Non-Serial Movie: This film takes place in the same time frame as Blood Prison, after the Turtle Island arc and before the Fourth Shinobi World War arc, because Naruto has already "met" his mother Kushina, all of Akatsuki except for Tobi and Zetsu have been killed, and Tobi hasn't yet gotten his Rinnegan or changed into his new uniform. However, like all of the films preceding this one, this film does not fit into the canon timeline because it depicts Naruto in Konoha, even though the Fourth Shinobi World War begins while Naruto is still on Turtle Island and Naruto then heads directly to the battlefield without making a stop at Konoha since the bulk of the fighting took place at the Land of Lightning, which is nowhere near Konoha.
  • Parental Abandonment: In the alternate world, Naruto gets his parents back while Sakura loses hers.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Neji attempts to use his Byakugan to peek into the girls' bath. Unfortunately for him, Hinata spots him and is not pleased.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Alt!Minato wears a pink apron when cleaning the dishes.
  • Sadistic Choice: Sakura was nearly forced to make one. She could either stay in the genjutsu, so Naruto could be happy but she would be alone. Or force Naruto to leave with her, so she gets her parents back, but Naruto is alone again. If Naruto hadn't made the choice for her, she probably would have let herself suffer for Naruto.
  • School Idol: Sakura is very loved in the Alt!Konoha, as her father takes the place of Minato and this time everyone knows his family tree. Also, unlike Naruto, her counterpart didn't have the Nine Tails sealed into her, since in this timeline, he still got sealed into Naruto's counterpart, Menma.
  • Suit Up of Destiny: Naruto leaves for the final fight by putting on the Fourth Hokage's Cloak.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Naruto agrees to release the Nine Tails and fight side by side for the first time because, by the Nine Tails' admittance, he hates Tobi/Madara more than Naruto. So he wouldn't risk getting trapped in the alternate world by screwing over Naruto. The fact that Naruto was also in the middle of fighting an alternate version of the Nine Tails also helped matters.
  • Trapped in Another World: Naruto and Sakura are sent to another world by Tobi and have to find a way home.
  • Visions of Another Self: Naruto and Sakura get to meet different versions of people they know in the alternate universe. In the climax, Naruto meets and battles his own doppelganger, Menma.
  • The Voiceless: Of the alternate Akatsuki members, Sasori, Pain, and Konan have no lines. Kisame, Hidan, and Kakuzu have only one line each. Only Itachi and Deidara have significant dialogue during their appearance.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Tobi makes one. He sends Naruto and Sakura to the alternate universe and forces Naruto to fight a battle with Menma and unleash the Nine Tails in order to weaken his seal. If Menma wins, he will get the Nine Tails, but if he loses, he will simply end the illusion, since he will still be able to test waters for his Eye of the Moon plan.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: When Naruto and Sakura return to the real world, very little time seems to have passed. If nothing else, it's the same night. They had spent multiple days and nights within the alternate world.