Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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I have been having a blast with these one-off “else world” films in the Batman mythos, and really enjoyed the dark Batman: Gotham by Gaslight. A movie where we got to see an old 1800s variation of our favorite city of Gotham. Now just a few scant months later we get another iteration of these “else world” stories in the form of Anime. It wasn’t but a few months ago when the New York Comicon unveiled a trailer with Batman as a ninja, but I immediately wrote it off as some fan fiction type of thing until I realize that, yes, this WAS a film that was coming to fruition! What more could you ask for? Batman, ancient Japan, sly winks to Anime subculture, and the word Ninja! I was already sold by this point. Fast forward to a few months later and I actually get to dig into the release and am more than delighted. The film brings out a dark aspect of the Batman, as well as cheekily having fun with the almost 4th wall breaking anime elements, while still retaining the heart and soul of the comics.
Batman (Roger Craig Smith) is in the middle of trying to capture Gorilla Grodd (Fred Tatasciore) when the intelligent ape unleashes a time displacement machine that transports the Dark Knight back in time to feudal Japan. Upon arriving Batman finds out that he’s not the ONLY one that’s been transported back. It seems that Gorilla Grodd also used the time portal to bring back Penguin, Two-Face, Deathstroke, Harley, The Joker, and Poison Ivy back into that time period as well. Now the hooligans have each taken over one of the warring states of Japan and are fighting each other for total dominance. Luckily a few heroes were around at the time of the time displacement, so Red Robin, Robin, Nightwing, and Cat Woman have been living in the past as well.
Batman seems to bet the last one to come through the time portal, so it’s been a few years for the rest of them. While to Batman it’s all new and shocking, to the rest of the criminals and heroes they’ve been fighting each other for years. Like normal, Batman can’t let the whole of history be re-written by a couple of goons from his time period, so it’s up to him to accept the way of the ninja and use whatever elements are at his disposal to bring the heroes AND the villains back to the future and where they belong. Unfortunately it’s not going to be as easy as he had hoped, as the warring crime lords have built their own technological marvels themselves while Batman was drifting in time. So now they have giant mecha cities that force the Batman to use his most primal instincts (and some hilariously fun anime cliches) to tear the machines down to the men inside.
The animation style also lends itself to the story, as it is mainly a mix of traditional Anime with some older watercolor designs from Asian art. Not only that it employs several TYPES of animation too. The watercolor art when Red Hood meets the reformed Joker and Harley is reminiscent of The Tale of Princess Kaguya, while the rest is much more feudal 1990s animation style. Voice acting is hit or miss here there. Mostly for the English language track. I REALLY liked the Japanese track, as it gave the film a sense of authenticity that the English track is lacking, AND the fact that most of the English actors rather awkwardly done (besides Joker and Will Friedle voicing Red Robin).
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some suggestive material
• East/West Batman
• Batman Made in Japan
• New York Comic Con Presents Batman Ninja
Batman Ninja is a fun offshoot from the traditional DCAU that Warner has been releasing for quite some time. These “else worlds” films are a lot of fun, as they allow us to enjoy non canon material without having it interfere with the regular stores from the comics or films. This latest iteration just so happens to be one of the more fun stories that I’ve seen come from the DCAU Batman movies in quite some time. It’s exciting, goofy, and a hoot if you’re a fan of Anime in the slightest (while it’s not in any way necessary to be an Anime fan, it certainly adds to the enjoyment of the film). Audio and video are refreshingly good, and the extras are pretty decent. If you’re a fan of Warner’s DCAU lineup, then Batman Ninja is a worthy addition to the collection. Take a look.
Starring: Tara Strong, Roger Craig Smith, Fred Tatasciore
Directed by: Junpei Mizusaki
Written by: Kazuki Nakashima, Leo Chu, Eric Garcia
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, German, Spanish (Castilian and Latin), Portuguese DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English (Translation of Original Japanese Audio), French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Spanish (Latin America), Portuguese
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 85 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 8th, 2018
Recommendation: Great Watch