Home Film & TV Review: Batman Ninja (2018) – a love of Japanese tropes

Review: Batman Ninja (2018) – a love of Japanese tropes

by Neil Bui

This past Saturday, I had the great opportunity of watching the world premiere of Batman Ninja at WonderCon 2018.

Who remembers Batman: Gotham Knight, the 2008 anthology animated film containing 6 shorts starring the Caped Crusader? It was hinted to be set between Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I bring this film up because it was produced by multiple Japanese animation studios that made it feel like a Batman anime that retained the intense, gritty vibe of Nolan’s films.

With Batman Ninja, a look at at the credits reveal a strong Japanese presence behind the production of this film – director Junpei Mizusaki, producer Tetsuro Satomi, character designer Takashi Okazaki, and production companies Kamikaze Douga and Yamatoworks. Certainly, this is another Batman anime film.

If I had to describe Batman Ninja in one sentence it would be – an amazing love letter to Japanese tropes and Batman with every scene produced to bring artistic visual pleasure to viewers.

Some members of the featured Bat Family in Batman Ninja.

Some members of the featured Bat Family in Batman Ninja.

Without going into too much spoiler territory, the plot sends our Gotham heroes and members of the Rogues’ Gallery to feudal Japan where Batman and his family must defeat the villains and bring them back to modern times. When watching the film, you can expect to see moments like our adorable little Damian Wayne being surprisingly chipper as he adopts a monkey sidekick, the villains uniting with transforming-mechas-combining-into-a-giant-mecha, a massive humanoid Batman formed of bats and armored monkeys, sexy fanservice from Harley Quinn and Catwoman, and unnecessary ninja hand seals not even for ninjitsu. Does that not sound like a recipe for awesome?!

Within my group at WonderCon, the only complaint raised about the film was that sending Batman on a time-traveling adventure as a ninja is very un-Batman. But come on, we’re dealing with a man who has dealt with the trauma of witnessing his parents murdered by donning a cape and going out at night to fight criminals while dressed as a bat. And now sending him backward in time is unreasonable? Like with all fictional works, you have to cast aside your perception of reality and reasonability when going into this film. By doing so, you will be sure to have an amazing time watching Batman take on his destiny as leader of the Bat Clan as Sengoku Batman!

You can download Batman Ninja on April 24, 2018, buy a physical copy on May 8, 2018, or catch it in theaters as early as June 15, 2018, in Japan.

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