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Road to Ninja: It’s not Hope and Crosby, that’s for sure!

For those keeping score at home, Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie is the ninth feature film in the Japanese Naruto franchise created and supervised by Masashi Kishimoto, and the new film makes little effort to acclimate the neophyte to the ongoing series.

Nevertheless, some of the trappings will inevitably be familiar to even casual anime aficionados, in that the heroes tend to be young and impetuous while the villains tend to crave ultimate power, with which they can exert full control. Here, the villains are on a quest to procure “the Nine Tails,” which will give them the power they covet.

In short, the film is chock full of magic, mysticism and martial-arts – which is likely all that fans care about. Road to Ninja may not be particularly deep or nuanced, but at least it’s less pretentious than those eye-rolling, card-flipping Pokemon movies.

Needless to say, it falls to the good guys to save the day (and, one supposes, the universe), and along the way they must combat any number of menaces, including a horde of toads led by a giant, talking toad that smokes giant cigarettes. (Now there’s something you don’t see every day.)

As in traditional anime, the animated backgrounds tend to remain completely still while movement occurs in the foreground. The heroes, led by Naruto and Menma, are a predictably youthful bunch, working themselves into a frenzy to emerge victorious over the forces of evil. No fair telling how it all turns out, but given Road to Ninja’s success – in its native Japan it’s the highest-grossing of any of the Naruto films, it would hardly be surprising if the adventures continue. Those giant toads may be lighting up again soon.

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie is scheduled to open Friday at Carousel Grande, Greensboro. !

LOG ONTO YesWeekly.com — click on the “Flicks” section. Then go to “What’s Showing”

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