Batman Ninja – Not the movie I expected, but it was a whole lot of fun

Batman Ninja.  If you’re a fan, you’re already in.  Oh, and NO SPOILERS!

Last year, a friend of mine sent me an innocent Facebook message.  It was a link to the Batman Ninja trailer.  And it was AMAZING.  I could go on about it, but instead, I am just going to put the trailer below.

Batman Ninja - Anime Trailer (2018)

Now, I love the DC animated movies.  These are what I compare to the Marvel Cinematic Universe instead of the Justice League movies.  There have been misses – what franchise doesn’t? – but on the whole, these are both the stories I want, with little twists that have made it all worth it.

So, this little preview piece will sound fairly vague and out there, but it’s being done on purpose.  If I mention anything specific, a lot of surprises will be spoiled and could dampen your enjoyment of the film.

That said, this is not the movie I expected.  Looking back at the amazing talent involved, I can’t see why I didn’t expect the movie we got, but there you go.  So really, this is a piece on not to expect the movie you probably are.

A little different from Gotham

Now, I am a diehard Batman fan.  Growing up, seeing a normal human whose superpowers were forward planning and determination were inspirational.  Of course, being a billionaire to fund his activities didn’t hurt, but at that age, money was the thing you asked your parents for 🙂  And as previously stated, I really enjoy the DC Animated Universe.

I think this combination of fandom lead me to believe this would be a ‘serious’ film of a Batman in Feudal Japan.

Bottom line – no.  No, it’s not.  This is the most over the top anime take on any western property I have ever seen, and I love it.

Why should I have known this?  Because the creative forces behind some of my favourite anime are involved in Batman Ninja.

They were all in the original trailer, but some of the anime influences include:

  • Afro Samurai
  • Gurren Lagann
  • Kill la Kill
  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
  • Psycho Pass

If you have seen any of these series, then you know that the common thread for all of them is an incredible lack of subtlety, and that is continued in Batman Ninja.

The Bat Family. And Catwoman.

Once I realised how to watch this movie, probably about 45 minutes in, I really got to enjoy it.  It’s not an alternate DC Batman movie, it’s just an alternate Batman movie.  I know that sounds almost the same, but once you see the film, you will know exactly what I mean.

One thing I really enjoy is the characters are themselves in this movie.  Joker is Joker through and through.  Batman is as stoic and brooding as ever.  While they have been ripped from the streets of Gotham, they are still themselves in this strange new world.

So what didn’t I like about Batman Ninja?

There is one flaw in the English sub that a lot of animated Batman shares – the voices of Batman and Joker.  Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are the animated voices I grew up with in Batman: The Animated Series, and are definitive performances in my opinion.  As such, for me, not having these voices is a constant niggle whenever I watch an animated version.

With this in mind, the real annoyance of the film to me is the English dub.  The voice acting by itself is fine, and it’s far from the worst dubs I have seen.  The story matches, the timing of the animation is good, it just feels wrong to me as I watch it.

Some things will always be the same

For me, the best way to watch this is with the Japanese audio with English subtitles.  This may be a touch purist of me though.

One thing for sure – I watched both versions back to back, once in English and once in Japanese, and I enjoyed both versions, so it really is up to you how you enjoy the movie.

Bottom line, if you are a fan of anime and would like to see Batman in a very different light, this is the film for you.  If you are after a continuation of the previous DC animated Batman films, this film probably isn’t for you.

Until next time,

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