On July 28th, 2012, the ninth installment of the movie franchise was released, titled "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie." Serving as the sixth "Naruto: Shippūden" film, "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie" is a peculiar story where Naruto Uzumaki and Sakura Haruno enter a strange, new world where everything seems the same but are quite different. Their friends are all acting the complete opposite of themselves. Instead of Naruto's father having his head engraved on the Hokage Rock, the portrait of Sakura's father is now carved in stone. Everyone keeps referring to Naruto as "Menma." And most shocking of all, and — Naruto's mom and dad — are alive and well.
Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of the "Naruto" series, was the story planner and original character designer for "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie." Surprisingly, this was the first time Kishimoto got involved in the animated "Naruto" movie, but he would go on to have larger roles in the 2014 release of and 2015's "Boruto: Naruto the Movie." While longtime fans certainly got a kick out of seeing their favorite characters acting completely out of character, there were plenty of emotional moments in the film (such as Naruto finally embracing the Genjutsu World version of his parents) that had them shedding a tear or two. That said, there are some unclear moments in the film that would puzzle any fan, new or old. If you need better clarity of the story, or simply want a refresher of key moments in the film, here is the ending of "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie" explained.
Among the many themes of the movie, the responsibility of parenthood and family love are explored through the cast of "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie." After a strange yet successful mission against the Akatsuki, the shinobi students of the Village Hidden in the Leaves are welcomed back home by their loving families. Well, everyone except for Naruto. As if the sight of seeing everyone so happy with their moms and dads wasn't hurtful enough for Naruto, there's talk among the adults about issuing a letter of recommendation for their children to advance to jōnin.
The only parents who seem to object to the idea are Kizashi Haruno and Mebuki Haruno, Sakura's parents. Mebuki doesn't believe Sakura is mature enough for the status of jōnin and Kizashi makes light of the situation with bad dad jokes. As one would expect, the hot-headed Sakura doesn't take her parents embarrassing her in public well. She further lashes out at Naruto when he tries to warn her about saying something she might regret about her parents later.
Despite warning Sakura about being too rough on her parents, Naruto is no better. After feeling down in the dumps from seeing everyone so happy with their parents, Naruto meets up with his former teacher, Iruka Umino, at his favorite ramen shop to ask him to write a letter of recommendation for becoming a jōnin on his behalf. Iruka, unable to read the room regarding Naruto's request to act as his parent, turns down Naruto's plea, believing he should earn it the hard way by becoming chūnin first before progressing to jōnin.
Similar to Sakura badmouthing her parents in public, Naruto lashes out at Iruka to the point of Iruka nearly coming to blows with his former student. To make matters worse, the ramen shop is sold out of "Naruto" ramen topping, leaving Naruto with a bowl of menma, a dried and fermented bamboo shoot. While a little on the nose, this whole scene illustrates Naruto's current sense of loneliness that not even his longtime father figure Iruka can understand.
The main draw of "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie," of course, is the alternate world of the Village Hidden in the Leaves. Reminiscent of the parallel world found in "The Legends of Zelda: Majora's Mask," the Genjutsu World created by Tobi is nearly identical to the real world that Sakura and Naruto know and love. "Nearly" is the key word here, as the characters that populate the Genjutsu World are the opposite of their real-world counterparts. As Tobi explained in the movie, the sudden inclusion of outsiders like Naruto and Sakura into the Genjutsu World he has created has caused a distortion, causing the variables to change as a result.
Additionally, the Infinite Tsukuyomi genjutsu that Tobi casts is an experimental one, so there are bound to be a few hiccups. Although the methods of casting an Infinite Tsukuyomi differ, the general idea is for the user to reflect their Rinne Sharingan off of the moon, creating a haunting image of a blood moon. The Genjutsu World that Naruto and Sakura are sent to is contained inside a crystal ball, and the only way to break it is to perform a ritual during a blood moon. In addition to Tobi, Madara Uchiha and Kaguya Ōtsutsuki have also performed the Infinite Tsukuyomi genjutsu.
So, who is who in this Genjutsu World? For starters, Kiba Inuzuka is no longer a dog lover (and Akamaru is no longer man's best friend, at least when it comes to Kiba). Shino Aburame hates bugs. isn't a shy little girl that has a crush on Naruto. She's a strong and provocative woman who won't hesitate to knock down anyone who looks at her man, Naruto, who she thinks is her boyfriend Menma. Hinata threatening Sakura's life over Naruto and mocking her for her flat chest at the bathhouse is nothing like the real Hinata.
Chōji Akimichi is fit as a fiddle, while Shikamaru Nara acts like a kid. Ino Yamanaka is actually a good friend and not a mean girl adversary to Sakura. Neji Hyuga is a perv, as well as Rock Lee who gets caught wearing one of the girls' clothes from the bathhouse, and is a womanizer. Kakashi Hatake acts like Might Guy and Might Guy acts like Kakashi Hatake. is racier in her outfits, while Lady Tsunade ... wears glasses. The most shocking change of all, however, is that the are good guys in the Genjutsu World. If you pay them, at least, like Tsunade did to help Naruto out in the final act of the story. Oh, and Tonton is black now.
While everyone in the Genjutsu World is topsy turvy, the two that remain the same from their original counterparts are Naruto's parents, Minato and Kushina. At first, Naruto was eager to see if this alternative world would have his parents alive, but when he ran back to his apartment he realized it was now the home to a surprisingly strong woman that threw everything at the poor shinobi, including a kitchen sink and a couch. However, when Minato and Kushina made a surprise appearance at Lady Tsunade's office, Naruto couldn't stomach the sight of them. As much as he longs for the day of being with his parents, Naruto knew they were only faux copies created by Tobi's genjutsu.
It was even more painful that his parents in this world only knew Naruto as "Menma," not "Naruto," the name his real parents gave him. Real or not, Minato and Kushina treated Naruto like he was their flesh and blood. Kushina saved Naruto's life when one of the summon toads spits acid in his direction during their mission for the Red Moon Scroll, taking a minor hit on her foot. Minato scolded Naruto for his reckless action and even slapped him in the face for the disrespect he was showing them. What broke Naruto was when Kushina went against her hot-tempered attitude to hug him out of concern and love. Naruto, who never experienced any parental love when he was growing up, finally gave in and embraced the illusions of his parents.
Although their journey to the Genjutsu World began with Sakura having everything she always wanted in life and Naruto predictably left with nothing, the tide began to shift as the story progressed. After embracing the Genjutsu World versions of his parents, Naruto finally had a loving family to come home to. Sakura, on the other hand, began to feel the loneliness from living on her own, as her heroic parents were the ones that sacrificed their lives for the village in this world. Mirroring Naruto's envy from seeing so many happy families in public at the beginning of the movie, Sakura engaged in her own lonesome stroll at night.
What delivered the final blow to Sakura's selfish thinking, however, was seeing the Genjutsu World version of Sasuke flirt with other girls after he wooed her not too long ago. After experiencing the loneliness that Naruto has lived with throughout his life, Sakura tried to meet up with him to apologize and finally tries to make it back home. However, after seeing Naruto so happy with his newfound family, Sakura began to wonder if leaving this world would be the right thing to do. When Sakura confronted Naruto about the possibility of staying in the Genjutsu World, he couldn't deny his feelings for wanting to stay, as he finally had what he wanted for so long: love.
What sets "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie" apart from other "Naruto" movies like "Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow" or "Naruto Shippûden the Movie" is that the bad guy is actually an established villain from the original series. Tobi, thought to be Madara before his real identity was revealed in the "Naruto Shippûden" TV series, is the one pulling the strings here. He was behind the Akatsuki assault at the beginning of the movie, which turned out to be Zetsu clones, and created the experimental Genjutsu World that trapped Naruto and Sakura.
Tobi also gave the dangerous masked man the push he needed to attack the faux Village Hidden in the Leaves and go up against Naruto, to quell the disgusting feeling he felt in his stomach whenever he was in his presence. All of these random acts of violence were done for the sole purpose of tiring Naruto and the nine-tailed fox inside him out, so Tobi could finally extract the demon beast out of Naruto's body and claim its power for his own. In other words, Tobi was playing 4D chess the entire time, while everyone else was playing checkers.
One of the most fascinating additions in "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie" (and arguably the most underutilized) is Menma Uzumaki, the Genjutsu World counterpart to Naruto Uzumaki. Unlike the other counterparts, Menma is the only one to have a completely different name from Naruto's but still derives from a real-world ramen topping. Menma is revealed to be the S-class masked assailant who has been hunting down shinobi with rare Kekkei Genkai. Before Menma's identity was revealed, Naruto was unable to fight him with his full strength due to a sick feeling in his stomach. After Menma reveals himself, he tells Naruto he had the same pit in his stomach, too.
The anger and disgust Menma felt from looking at Naruto and realizing how similar the two were drove him mad, leading him to try and take Naruto out for good. Unlike the hostile relationship Naruto had with the Nine-Tails at this point in the series, Menma had mastered the Black Nine-Tails inside him and used it to create devastating attacks that bear a resemblance to Naruto's signature move, the Rasengan. The fight scene between Menma and his Black Nine-Tails versus Naruto and his original Nine-Tails is perhaps the best action sequence in the movie.
What ultimately goes unsaid is that Menma had the happy childhood that Naruto always wanted in life, but for reasons unknown turned against his friends, family, and village. Considering the pain and anger Naruto felt throughout the movie for being an orphan, one would expect Naruto to lash out at his doppelganger for taking his perfect life for granted, but the moment never really comes. There's also not much time in the movie to deal with the ramifications of Menma's actions, but the Genjutsu World ceases to be once Naruto and Sakura finally say their goodbyes.
Throughout "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie," the audience is introduced to the various father figures in Naruto's life. The first one is Naruto's deceased father, Minato Namikaze, the Fourth Hokage of the Village Hidden in the Leaves. The second father figure, Iruka Umino, Naruto's former teacher who tries to steer him toward the right path, even if his best intentions aren't always clear with his actions. Third, and most importantly, Jiraiya sensei, also known as Naruto's pervy mentor. Despite his juvenile nature, Jiraiya was still one of the best father figures that Naruto ever had. He was responsible for teaching Naruto the Rasengan and trained him for three years to stand a chance against and the Akatsuki. It's cruel that in the Genjutsu World , denying Naruto the chance to see his mentor one more time.
From what little was shown in the movie, the Jiraiya in the Genjutsu World appeared to be the same as the one from the real world. But considering Jiraiya was only shown near death, it's hard to say if Tobi's caricature had the same eccentric attitude that Naruto hated and loved about the old man. Regardless, memories of Jiraiya teaching Naruto the Rasengan that were provoked by the image of the damaged Red Moon Scroll was enough to restore Naruto's memory after Tobi temporarily erased them with his Sharingan. While the prophecy behind the Red Moon Scroll didn't go exactly as everyone thought it would, it was ultimately responsible for Naruto and Sakura defeating Tobi and destroying the crystal ball that housed the Genjutsu World.
Despite the familiar faces present in "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie" (as well as their doppelgangers), this was a Naruto and Sakura movie through and through. Sakura, who tends to look down on Naruto and make him the target of , finally got to experience the hardships that Naruto endured throughout his life. After finally making their way back home, Sakura sees her mom and dad out looking for her after she stormed out of their house. After her brief life as an orphan, Sakura apologized to her parents for taking their love for granted.
As the Haruno family reconciles, Naruto cheekily asks Sakura if they can go on a real date next time, to which Sakura yells out that they just came back from the longest date ever, shocking Naruto that Sakura considered their recent escapade as a date. While it was far from a traditional date, Naruto and Sakura's trip to the Genjutsu World was filled with imagery that paired the two together — especially if you take into account Kushina's outrageous temper being the same as Sakura's, as well as Naruto saving Sakura from Menma while wearing his dad's Hokage coat. Although Naruto would go on to marry Hinata in "The Last: Naruto the Movie," one could argue "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie" was hinting at something with the way it parallels the relationship of Minato and Kushina with Naruto and Sakura.
With the Genjutsu World no more, Naruto returns home to his somewhat peaceful but isolated life. Or, so he thought. When Naruto arrived at his apartment, he was greeted by Iruka who came to apologize to Naruto for his harsh attitude towards him. Naruto, realizing he had a family in the real world all along, tears up before joining Iruka for dessert. It's a sweet moment that demonstrates the complicated yet loving relationship between Naruto and Iruka.
It also serves as the stepping stone for Naruto asking Iruka to be the for his wedding with Hinata in Episode 500 of the "Naruto: Shippūden" TV series. In the end, Naruto would get the family he always wanted with Hinata and their children, Boruto and Himawari. He would also experience the difficulty of being a father and Hokage in "Boruto: Naruto the Movie" and "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations."