Naruto Road To Ninja One-shot Breakdown: Our deepest desires…
“Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.”
This is a saying that I’m sure most of us have heard at one point or another and it’s meaning is easy enough to comprehend. After all, I’m sure many of us have had one of those moments in life where we think we know what we want, but when we end up getting it, we regret it because things ended up differently from how we expected they would be.
This ambiguous notion, however, has now become a theme of exploration in the upcoming Naruto move, aptly dubbed “Road to Ninja – Naruto the Movie.”
Although not much information has been revealed about the movie – and with a title that is about as ambiguous as the mention of “food that cannot be eaten,” thus giving us no real clues as to what it entailed – the first trailers that appeared online showed what seemed to be an alternate reality setting, where Naruto has a family and where many of his companions and friends have somewhat different personalities to what they currently have in the canonical manga/anime adaptations.
While some guessed as to whether it was a different take on what Naruto’s life would have been like if he grew up with parents rather than as an orphan, more concrete answers have finally arrived in the form of a one-shot that serves as a prequel to the move, which was released alongside chapter 594 and that shares the same title as the movie it represents.
I must say, after having read the chapter – which you can read here – I was left feeling very excited about seeing the up-coming movie, because it really was a great introduction that left me wanting to know happened next. However, before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s take a step back and dissect what exactly the story is all about.
At the beginning of this one-shot, we are immediately presented with a seemingly ominous scenario, whereby Tobi begins making preparations to test his Infinite Tsukyomi – the catalyst for his Moon Eye plan – on a smaller scale, no doubt in an attempt to see what kind of results the jutsu would have on its victims.
Deciding on which individual to test this aptly dubbed “Limited Tsukyomi” on, his sights fall upon none other than Naruto Uzumaki himself – the titular hero of our story – which would come as no surprise to us readers whatsoever. With Tobi having decided on his target, the scene quickly moves to Naruto himself and shows him partaking in what could only be described as an interesting and funny game of cards with two Kage Bunshin he created himself in an effort to help try alleviate his own boredom during his time off from active ninja duties.
I have to say, I really enjoyed this scene quite a bit. If anyone were to ask “what does Naruto do in his spare time?” I think this scene above would represent something close to what the answer might entail. He plays with himself. @___@
Seeing how each clone of the same person reacted to differently to the results of the card game they were playing – while the original tried to contain their excitement – was quite funny and the facial expressions and jeering really lightened up the mood for me. However, despite the light humor therein, the scene belied a far more serious undertone that dealt with the darker theme of loneliness and isolation. The fact that Naruto had to use clones to entertain himself is a stark reminder of the notion that when it comes to returning to his own home, he truly and honestly has no-one else to return to but himself. He has no family and no friends living with him, it’s just Naruto in an empty room, devoid of any presence other than his own.
After dispelling his clones following their rowdy behavior, Naruto questions his predicament and contemplates this state of isolation he finds himself in. It’s a scene that drives home the realization that despite Naruto’s efforts to retain a positive outlook on life, the fact remains that when it comes to the more intimate relationships most people have with either loved ones or family, Naruto is very much devoid of any such bonds with others, a reality that seems to create a gnawing emptiness that eats away at his core. However, luckily, before his thoughts get too carried away with him, someone unexpected comes to the rescue.
Lee, noticing Naruto’s plight, decides to try and help him out by inviting him – and just about everyone else in Konoha with the way he shouted – to the public baths. Fortunately, only the “Konoha 12” (as people like to call Naruto and his peers) ended up going, save for Lee himself who was dedicated to completing his training before he joined them.
At this point, the story shifted to a scene that would probably be considered by many fangirls and fanboys to be the ultimate form of fan service.
When I say fan service, in reality, nothing exceptional occurred that would indicate that this one-shot was following along the lines of becoming obscene in any way. No “bits” or “bobs” were shown in graphic detail at any point in the story and the bathhouse scene – although rich with opportunities for the story to travel down a far more lewd path – remained nothing more than a canvas for Kishi to try and paint a picture that extracted a few more light-hearted moments of humor.
Although that humor may have been more adult-oriented in nature, to me it didn’t seem in any way excessive or profane, just skimming along acceptable levels while still aiming to gain a giggle or two from hormonal teenagers.
In a way, you could say that this scene was created with the sole purpose of giving us a glimpse into the ever-day lives of our favorite shinobi and how each of them might behave when residing in a more care-free environment devoid of any form of peril, without doing so in a manner that was inherently dull or boring to us readers. As such, we are given the time to appreciate each character’s mannerisms – from Hinata’s shy behavior, to Neji’s more strict and disciplined outlook, which I believe are all important factors to take into account when we consider that in Naruto’s ideal dream world, he may have very different ideas of how everyone should behave.
In the end though, the true focus of the story here remains Naruto, who at this point seems to be reveling in the opportunity to enjoy this time with his friends, a fact that he is well aware of was only thanks to the efforts of Rock Lee. Unfortunately though, despite Lee’s honest intentions, our favorite bushy-browed shinobi finds himself in a far more precarious situation than he deserves.
Alas, those horrible moments when you’re training and suddenly you fall through the roof into the women’s bathhouse change rooms. It happens to everyone at least once in their lives, right? It’s a perfectly honest, inconvenient mistake, but unfortunately, with girls being girls, it is immediately perceived to be a nefarious act born from less-than-innocent intentions.
To add to poor Lee’s embarrassment – and shame – soon all of his male counterparts become embroiled in the situation as well.
I have to admit, I felt pretty bad for Lee after reading through this scene. The poor guy went out of his way to help a friend in need and all he gets in return is the undeserved scorn of others over what was little more than a freak accident – albeit a very suspicious-looking freak accident.
To add to his shame Lee is noticed by none other than Naruto himself, a contributing factor that seems to push the boy over the edge emotionally; no doubt because he didn’t want Naruto of all people to believe that he only told them to go to the bathhouse to fulfill his own desires and not for the true purpose that was intended.
Despite what everyone else believes though, Naruto remains adamant that it was all just a misunderstanding and that Lee was innocent of the charges directed towards him. He could see the truth in the fact that Lee was only trying to help him and so, feeling a sense of responsibility for the situation, Naruto comes to his friend’s defense.
Unfortunately though, the situation quickly spirals out of control and Naruto himself becomes implicated when everyone discovers that one of the girl’s items of clothing had indiscriminately found itself attached – rather firmly – to the cloth towel tied around Naruto’s waste, yet another unfortunate coincidence that lead to his detriment.
So, in the end, an evening that should have been a moment for Naruto to enjoy, ended up concluding in a far more bitter manner than he might have liked.
If I were to point out one pertinent detail in all of this, it would be the contrast between Lee’s behavior, and the behavior of the rest of his and Naruto’s peers. Where Lee’s actions where innocent and pure, Naruto may have seen the others as being overly harsh and this in itself creates a gap between the two sides which may have left a bad impression on Naruto in some way. The fact that Naruto himself became a victim of that moment most likely also left a bad impression on him and further added to his angst and feelings of loneliness.
Still, even despite that, Lee doesn’t give up on trying to help Naruto and gives it one more bash. The results, however, were more positive this time and in stark contrast to the beginning of the chapter where Naruto was playing cards alone, this time he was able to enjoy the game with his friends by his side.
I’ve always felt that in life, the greatest joy can often precede the greatest sorrow, after all, if you give someone hope, all that is needed to make them plummet into despair is to cause that hope to waver in front of their eyes.
That was the feeling I got in this last scene, after Naruto’s evening was complete. Once his friends had spent their time with him and left, the house that was momentarily filled with laughter and joy now once again stood empty and cold. In the end, despite everything that transpired in this chapter, we’ve all returned to square one again, with Naruto sitting by himself in his own home, contemplating his own loneliness once more.
It’s easier to noticed the cold when stepping out of a warm house on a winter’s night. In the same breath, Naruto became even more aware of his own loneliness after having spent a night with his friends.
It is through this single moment that Tobi sees all that he needs to, to understand the desires lurking deep within Naruto’s heart and thus can now put his Limited Tsukyomi to the test. It was after reading this chapter that I realized that the movie wasn’t presenting an alternate reality per say – as I mentioned earlier on in the breakdown – but rather, it was exploring the idea of what would happen if one was to be placed in a dream where all their heart’s desires would come to life. How would the victim of such circumstances react to that kind of situation? Would they realize there was something amiss, or would they be too absorbed in their own happiness to care whether the “reality” they were living in was actually real or not?
It’s clear to me now that Naruto will be the victim of Tobi’s Limited Tsukyomi and that he will be placed in a dream where all of his heart’s desires will come true, with the forefront of them being his desire to have a family – people he can go home to and be with. Of course, such dreams of an ideal world are not only limited to one’s most innate personal desires, but may also present many other unexpected changes as well.
This goes back to what I was talking about earlier, with regards to how Kishi used the bathhouse scene to give us an idea of each character’s individual behavior. When we consider what might be an ideal world to Naruto, how would those characters change based on Naruto’s perceptions? I think we may be able to find some clues about that looking at the image I posted earlier here.
Looking at the image showing the contrast between the characters in Naruto’s reality and his dream world, we can see significant changes in the demeanor of many of his peers. For example, Hinata who is overly shy and introverted, seems to be far more confident now to the point of being overbearing. Likewise, Neji who acted strictly about the idea of spying on the girl’s bathroom, now appears to be a pervert on the level of Jiraiya. Going further along those lines, we also have Sakura who – in a fashion quite opposite to Hinata’s change – has become more meek and shy (probably because in Naruto’s ideal world she’d be less violent and oppressive), while Sasuke – who is filled with hatred in the “real world” – now seems to be a complete love guru.
I believe all these changes represent – in some form or another – changes Naruto would like to see in some of his friends, if perhaps taking them to some extremes. It’s only natural to see why he’d want Hinata to be more confident and for Sasuke to be less hateful, so clearly these changes represent those innate desires within Naruto to some degree. Ironically, the only person who does not appear to have changed at all in the image is Lee, who looks identical in both realities.
Perhaps it was because of Lee’s act of kindness in this prelude chapter that Naruto does not see anything in Lee that he would want to change and that to Naruto, Lee is perfect as he is. It may also be Lee who ends up being the only link that anchors Naruto back to the real world and who helps Naruto break down the illusions around him. Only time will tell.
The only other person who doesn’t seem to change from one reality to the next is also Naruto himself. Judging from the posters and previews for the upcoming movie, his personality is still the same and he still has Kurama sealed inside him, so it just proves that no matter how much you might want to change reality, you can’t run away from who you are. Even in a perfect world, your own inner flaws will remain.
In the end though, I think it will be nice to see what Naruto’s life would have been like if he had the things he really wanted growing up, especially seeing what it would have been like if his parents, Kushina and Minato, were still around to raise him. However, at the same time, I also know it will be bitter-sweet as well, because in the end, Naruto will be forced to accept reality, which also means accepting that happiness has no value if it is false and built on nothing more than a lie. It’s something that I think will be profoundly sad and yet, perhaps, somehow empowering as well.
It makes me look forward to seeing what this movie will have to offer once it is released. I can only hope that it is as deep as I am imagining it will be.
To end of this already long breakdown, I’d like to pose one question that I hope some of you wouldn’t mind answering for interests sake. The question is, if you were trapped in Tobi’s Limited Tsukyomi, what would your dream life be like? What would have changed from your real life to make your ideal world perfect, or at the very least, better than what it is?
I do understand that for some people, this question may have very personal answers that you might not want to divulge in, so if you don’t want to answer, it’s fine. I just thought it might be interesting if we all got to know a bit more about each other.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the breakdown. I’ll see you in the comments. ^ ^