By: Tevin Murphy
By now I’m sure you’ve all heard of the impending Naruto movie and if you’re a fan of the show like me you’re both excited and quite nervous. You’re excited to see these characters and storylines you love so much come to life, but you’re also nervous because let’s just be honest Hollywood has more than shown that it’s less than equipped to handle live action anime productions because for some reason they can’t fathom not casting white people. Well those of us here at Geeks of Color tend to be optimists and with that said I’ve decided to come up with a list of ten things I hope to see happen with the Naruto film so I hope you enjoy.
1. An all Asian cast, an Asian writer, and an Asian director
Anyone who has followed me personally or Geeks of Color as a whole will know that we are pretty adamant about representation and not white washing characters of color. Don’t let Naruto’s hair and eye color fool you he’s still an Asian and therefore an Asian should portray him. I’m a firm believer that no one knows a culture better than someone actually from that culture hence no one can write and direct this film or act out the roles better than someone who is from the culture it’s based on. It would be a great step towards improvement to have Hollywood sign on an Asian, preferably Japanese, director and writer to shape a world that is shaped by their own culture. Hollywood has to start giving opportunities to the Asian community instead of adapting their work and taking the opportunity away from them. If done well this film could turn into a franchise that opens up a lot of doors for a lot of Asian actors. As a master of visuals and storytelling, Cary Fukunaga is my choice to direct. Keep an eye out for my upcoming Naruto fancast.
2. A full sequence of the 4th fighting the Kyuubi
As someone whose both read the Naruto manga and watched the anime I can honestly tell you that one of my favorite things from Naruto was when we got tidbits of the 4th and the village battling the Kyuubi. I’d love for the films to take some time to develop a full blown fight scene that opens the film, sort of how we got the Krypton prologue in Man of Steel. I think it would be visually stunning and it would also allow for that night to be expounded upon more and fleshed out some. It could give us the opportunity to spend more time with the 4th and start laying the groundwork for the emotional connection we are meant to have with him.
3. Strengthening Female Roles
Naruto as a series has someone of the strongest and most fearsome female characters I’ve ever seen from characters like Anko and Kurenai to Tsunade and Sakura. With that said more often than not I think quite a few female characters get tossed to the background for their male colleagues and none faced this more than Sakura Haruno. For the majority of the 1st series Sakura was relegated to crying in the corner, being defeated, or being saved and this ends up becoming the motivation for her change in the 2nd series. I would love to see the writer of this film take the time to place more importance on the female characters and give them more agency earlier on. Make Sakura a little stronger and more useful earlier on in the series rather than waiting to bump them up. The same goes for Hinata who for all intents and purposes started out mousy, quiet, and afraid. I’d love to see her start out that way but have her arc cause a change in her earlier on. And I think making sure those strong female characters like Anko, Kurenai, Tsunade, and others are present is a big part of that.
4. Zabuza and Haku as the 1st Villains
Zabuza and Haku’d story is classic because it is the first real threat that Team 7 faces together and it very well could’ve ended up being their last. It’s also the story where we find out why Kakashi is named “The Copy Cat” ninja. This story holds a lot of growth and development for Team 7 so it only makes sense to use it as the main influence on the first film. Not to mention the dynamic between Zabuza and Haku is quite extraordinary because it gives some heart and depth to Zabuza who it could be very easy to just paint as evil. Zabuza and Haku would present the opportunity for great visuals due to their fighting styles especially with Haku’s ice jutsus. These two definitely form the crucible that starts to purify and forge Team 7’s relationship and trust with each other.
5. References to the Akatsuki
If the intention is to form a popular film franchise then I highly suggest that the writer start laying the groundwork for the Akatsuki pretty early on. The earlier you start leaving hints and clues and references the bigger the pay off will be when they finally do step out of the shadows for the main event. This could easily be done by addressing Itachi’s supposed whereabouts or showing shadowy cloaked figures watching in the background. The Akatsuki cloak is instantly recognized by any Naruto fan.
6. The Uchiha Massacre
The Uchicha massacre is just as important to Sasuke’s development as the night the 4th fought the Nine Tails is to Naruto’s. I think it would be a great mirroring to show the two events that created our two main characters. Turn the massacre into a full scene rather than something talked about and learned about through word of mouth or short flashbacks. The Uchiha massacre sets the stage for Sasuke’s entire life from his relationship to Itachi to his defection to Orochimaru. I think it’s such a big event that it deserves to be shown the respect of being made an experience.
7. Jiraiya and Naruto’s relationship
One of my favorite things about Naruto was the relationship between Naruto and Jiraiya. The relationship always felt like a grandfather and his grandson who were really close, while the two argued like cats and dogs you could always tell there was genuine love, respect, and admiration between the two. These are the types of relationships we don’t generally get to see between Asian men in American cinema and it would be quite refreshing to see it.
8. Tsunade and Sakura training
This one is really important to me because it would give us the opportunity for some much needed representation. With this relationship we would get to see two women working together and training for their betterment. We would get to see Sakura grow as a fighter and a friend and gain important lessons from someone that she admires. Rarely do we ever get to see female warriors training female warriors to reach their full potential.
9. Flashbacks to Kakashi’s Childhood
I really hope we get this because it kills two birds with one stone. Doing this allows the audience to not only get to know Kakashi, but it also allows the audience to spend more time and deepen that connection with the 4th Hokage. Plus it’ll also provide us with some information that will later on become relevant and end up yielding a helluva pay off.
10. Naruto’s optimism
One of the things that is stressed in both the manga and anime is Naruto’s immense optimism and hope. It’s stated over and over again that quite often people want to be better for him, people want to be the best they can be and do the right thing. With all the terrible awful things that have happened to Naruto you’d assume that the kid would just give up and quit, but no…he is the most optimistic and happy character in the entire series.
Tell us some things you also hope to see come out of the film!