Viz Media has announced a new box set release of the first three Naruto movies. With the release, they are also featuring a thematically questionable Western-style cover; a departure from the traditional anime style that IPs such as Naruto are known for.
Announced on July 31st, The Naruto Triple Feature Collector’s Edition Steelbook will include Blu-Ray copies of the first three films: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, Legend of the Stone of Gelel, and Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom.
In celebration of this special re-release, Viz Media commissioned seasoned comic book artist and co-founder of Image Comics Whilce Portacio to provide the cover art for the collection. Portacio is also known for his work on Uncanny X-Men, IronMan, and Superman/Batman.
The box art depicts a battle between the main cast of the first film, Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, with a more Western art style.
However, after Viz announced the collection, many fans expressed their confusion over the company’s choice of cover art. With many unhappy with how the commission came out.
On Twitter, a few argued that Portacio’s piece was of poor quality. Many would go on to point out that the comic-book-style artwork clashed with the anime aesthetics of the franchise. That this combination didn’t go well together.
One user wrote, “This is like one of those bad video game cover arts from like the SNES era where they drew the cartoony characters hyper-realistic.”
Luminous Epoque stated, “Well, let’s be real: no one is bashing the cover because it’s ‘bad’, but because it’s the absolute opposite of Naruto’s aesthetic (or any anime in general).
They added, “The worst part is: whoever commissioned this must have paid a lot of money just for it to backlash disastrously.”
Another user indicated they had pre-ordered another version of the Naruto Triple Feature Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-Ray with a photoshopped box art.
Director of Publishing at UDON Entertainment Matt Moylan added his own thoughts writing, “While Portacio is an excellent artist but, his style does not gel with Naruto at all. Nor would it appeal to the Naruto fanbase.”
He added, “I’m sure Japan produces endless amounts of on-brand art they could have used. This one’s a head-scratcher how it got through even the concept phase.”
Some users were so confused by the style of art chosen for the cover, they didn’t believe that this was an official release of Naruto through Viz Media.
Mohammad Bahareth stated, “This art work is not naruto, this is not his face! Are you sure this is legitimate release?”
Another added, “The art is really well done, but it’s a little confusing that they’d hire someone with such a jarringly different style for an official cover instead of just using an existing image.”
Looking to roll with the punches, Viz Media playfully acknowledged this backlash by jokingly tweeting a picture of the cover art superimposed over a blank t-shirt and asking “Should we make this t-shirt?”
It appears the company is painfully aware that users aren’t very happy with the cover:
What do you think of Whilce Portacio version of Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow used as the cover? Do you like the piece? Or does it miss the mark? The Naruto: Triple Feature Collector’s Edition is available for pre-order now and is set to release on October 6th, 2020.