A Naruto movie is coming, although a release date has yet to be announced. While anime series are often getting made into movies, this one is different, as it’s set to be a live-action version.
As expected, anime fans and armchair film critics alike are generally not happy about this announcement. Anime and American cartoons rarely translate into great films. Expectations for Scarlett Johansson’s Ghost in the Shell are rather low already, and it’s basically being called a “whitewashing” cash-in to capitalize on her fame as Marvel’s Black Widow.
Live-action adaptations of anime have failed every time. There was once a Dragonball movie, which very few people actually saw before Hollywood decided to make another one. Dragonball Evolution was considered one of the worst movies ever made, having turned a beloved anime series into a story about a hero who ends up being the villain. It made audiences wonder exactly why it was a good idea to train a character when they apparently knew he would turn evil. It was a stupid idea and an insult to the fan base.
The live-action adaptation of Speed Racer fared only slightly better, keeping the characters generally intact. However, it set the racing, a big brawl akin to a candy-coated Death Race, in what looked like a Hot Wheels playset created by an architect on drugs.
Of course, everybody knows about the M. Night Shyamalan box-office bomb known as The Last Airbender, renamed due to conflicts with a James Cameron animated film released that same year. Sadly, the James Cameron film ended up a success, while the one based on the cartoon failed across the board.
Much like video game movies, live-action anime movies rarely do well and often flop. There is hope, though.
According to Blastr, Shonen Jump announced it was in negotiations to create a live-action Naruto movie over a year ago. Last Saturday at the Naruto and Boruto stage event, it was made official. Masashi Kishimoto, the man behind the manga series, is confirmed to be behind the official Hollywood production, so there may be hope for fans of the series.
Few details have been released about the Naruto live-action movie or its release date, aside from the fact that the film will be directed by Michael Gracey, the visual effects supervisor for 2005’s The Magician. This will be his first time in the director’s chair, which may make fans of the series nervous. Naruto has a rather complex backstory and a diverse group of characters who need to be done right in order to please what is probably the most unforgiving fan base short of Dragonball.
The story involves a young and ironic ninja and his hard-won friends Sasuke and Sakura, as well as a selection of others from the Leaf village. It all starts when the Leaf village is faced with the terror of the nine-tailed fox, a demon that was only defeated when Naruto’s father trapped its soul in his son’s body at birth. For this reason, everybody tends to avoid Naruto, making him an instant outcast to all but a few. His determined and often annoying demeanor don’t help, but his dream is to become the next Hokage, leader of the ninja world.
It’s Naruto’s status as an outcast that makes him extremely relatable to fans around the world, a boy determined to fight the odds and gain the respect of everybody around him. Of course, with his personality, he doesn’t have an easy time of it. He is also up against some decidedly scary competitors, such as an immortal snake-like villain and a boy who uses bags of sand as a weapon, to win the title he dreams of.
So many things could go wrong with this film, but hopefully, with Masashi Kishimoto behind it, the Naruto live-action movie could surprise us all.
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