Producer: YAMATOWORKS, Kamikaze Douga, Warner Bros. Animation
Air Dates: April 24, 2018 on DVD & Blu-Ray
Sub Version Available: Yes
Dub Version Available: Yes
Batman Ninja is the latest in the line of DC’s Animated Movies. This time, the film is presented in an anime-style format as it is made entirely by a Japanese production staff. Some people may think this as the first Batman anime, but it’s not the franchise’s first rodeo. 2008’s Batman: Gotham Knight features short stories produced by various anime studios. Even Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series had much of the animation done by TMS Entertainment – the same anime studio behind Lupin III.
The overall story is as follows: Gorilla Grodd has built a device that sends the villains of Gotham back in time, specifically the Sengoku Jidai or Warring States period of Japan, in an attempt to rule Gotham as the sole bad guy. Batman tries to stop him, but results in him, Grodd, and other characters being transported as well to the Warring States period. Turns out the villains have decided to join the war, forming their own clans and battle each other for control of Japan. The Joker becomes the most powerful of these warring clans. With no advanced tech to help him (save a few), Batman has to rely on the weapons and even the mystical skills of the Sengoku Jidai to not only defeat Joker and other villains but also to find a way back to present-day Gotham.
The film had a number of talented names working behind it. The script is penned by Kazuki Nakashima, who also made the script for Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill. Takashi Okazaki, the creator of Afro Samurai, serves as Character Designer for the film. Junpei Mizusaki, who worked on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure as Opening Animation Producer, makes his directorial debut here in Batman Ninja. The overall animation is a collaboration between YAMATOWORKS, who also worked with Studio Pierrot to co-produce Tokyo Ghoul. And Kamikaze Douga, who recently worked on Pop Team Epic. With that amount of talent and the positive reactions from the trailer, Batman Ninja is hyped to be one of the best Batman stories out there. Well, that depends on your expectations for this film vs the reality of it.
Whatever it is you know about the Batman franchise and the mythos, you set that aside to dive into Batman Ninja, as the production team has taken liberties to direct the cast in however way they see fit. Some retain from their comic book counterparts, while others are, well….. let me put it this way. We’ve seen various adaptations of our superheroes being different from what we know them, but the ones in Batman Ninja are quite far off.
There are other things that you may or may not like in Batman Ninja, in particular, that it contains so many tropes you would find in many popular anime: deus-ex machinas, power-ups, fan-service, tons of yelling, you name it. Although it contains a diverse cast, it’s mostly centralized between Batman and Joker. I would dare say you can have this film to be all about Batman and Joker and leave everyone else out, as they barely contribute anything to the narrative, anyway other than just being there.
My biggest gripe in the film is the animation as it’s done in rendered CG with very low frame rates that it looks choppy. You won’t notice this during the action sequences, but in the non-action scenes, I find it so noticeable it’s cringy. There are also some issues with the English dub, as the voice actors talk so loudly the BGM gets drowned out, unlike the original Japanese dub. A shame, given that two of my favorite voice actresses, Grey Griffin and Tara Strong, get to work in this film as Catwoman and Harley Quinn, respectively.
FINAL THOUGHT: Batman Ninja is by far the best anime-style fan-fiction Batman story I’ve seen, and that’s as good as it gets. Not for those who take the mythos of the comics seriously. But if you’re willing to set that aside and dive into the film’s near mindless chaos, you’ll get a good kick out of it.
User Review( votes)