To love Naruto is to know frustration and disappointment.
I will always have a soft spot for this manga. It was my gateway into the manga world, prior to that I only watched anime like Pokemon (up to Johto League),Digimon, etc, etc. Naruto was what got me started on manga and paved the way for a lot of awesome stories I read, ranging from One Piece to Fullmetal Alchemist to Shin Angyo Onshi and various other manga's and a few manhwa's.Plus a wonderful group of online friends who have taught me so much.
The manga itself can be frustrating. It has all the ingredients for a great series;a protagonist who suffers from discrimination but wants to prove himself to be more,a young girl with self depreciation issues who grows into an action girl under tutelage of a female role model and a young boy torn between revenge and his new found friends.Then you had their mentors with their own issues,a power system that allows for all sorts of fantastic abilities but with limitations and still keeping the character's grounded, fights that were meant to be more about strategy than throwing the strongest attack (hahahah, remember those days?), villains who can also be sympathetic and a world that was ripe for exploring and so much of it's politics and ups-and-downs of it's system that could have been developed upon.It could have been great, it could have been amazing but the author dropped the ball.I would argue that it's better than Bleach which often suffers from having absolutely no direction at all, shoddy artwork, repetitive arcs, terrible fights and overly-linear power systems but that's just me.
If I had to show anyone how awesome Naruto could have been, I would show them this movie.This movie took all the good stuff about Naruto, took away all the bad parts and distilled it into an awesome movie. Heck, I am a huge One Piece fan boy and I found myself enjoying this movie more than Film: Z!I thought RtN had a lot more to offer than Film Z. Not to mention the animation was better in RtN and while both of them tried to tug the heart strings, RtN did it a little better.There is also all the fun to be had from watching all the established characters having opposite personalities. The movie also spends more time developing Sakura than Kishi ever did and they finally show her parents, something that Kishi never bothered to do in his own manga (but he did design the characters so there is something).
The movie isn't perfect, it does leave some questions unanswered like whether the characters really were in another dimension or whetherit was all a genjutsu or the whole deal with evil alternate universe Naruto but I didn't mind it because I thought the story achieved all the goals that it set out to do.
So if you are disgruntled Naruto fan like me or just curious and want something to pass the time with,I recommend checking out Naruto: Road to Ninja.
In fact you can watch the movie for free here: