WONDERCON 2018 [Anime Movie Review]: Batman Ninja.
“MONSIGNOR” TRAVIS MOODY: The one thing that immediately stuck out to me about our Saturday morning screening from WonderCon‘s “Arena”, Jenn, was the gorgeous animation. DC’s animated films have always been very good, if not excellent, and always a superb sight for sore eyes. In the visuals department, Batman Ninja may top them all. While there’s no doubt the DC-does-Anime venture was gonna be a bit nutty, I never expected them to pull off something that uses every damn Japanese Anime trope in the book — to astonishing results. Hell, this might be the most wildly imaginative Batman film ever. While not the most perfect DC Animated flick — Tony Hale‘s terrifying vocal performance saves a Joker with a surplus of not-so-funny jokes — Batman Ninja might serve as the most interesting, especially when it comes to Lead Character Designer Takashi Okazaki‘s facial mannerisms, moving background silhouettes, and flat-out insane fight choreography. It’s Batman Shippuden, and anime fans of the DCU are in for a treat.
“SISTER” JENN CASALS: Batman does bat-jutsu! Do you understand that I got to witness mother fucking Batman doing hand seals!? As with the rest of the film it was done with such a seemless style that I was NOT prepared and promptly lost my shit. Okazaki and company were able to create artwork so breathtaking that you dont even question the often absurd levels of actions taking place. What’s that you ask, Moody? Why yes, that is a Rogue’s Gallery giant mech battle royal on the screen. But it’s a freaking majestic–ass giant mech battle royal! Grodd’s Back to the Future themed plans for world domination take a drastic turn during this battle and lead to the ultimate final showdown between Bats and his longest running foes…
(Cont.) Adding to the epicness of this final battle was the unique anime look each of the villains had taken from Ivy‘s ethereal old manga look to the more graphic pop anime look of Two-Face. Seriously, I can’t say enough about the the overwhelming amount of eye candy that took place. But the time has come to talk about the true heroes of this film: the monkies!! No that’s not a typo, I mean monkies. Without totally giving it away, these adorable and noble little bastards were EV-E-RY-THING! Not only did they steal every scene they were in but added to the most legendary moment in the entire film. Really, the screen could’ve cut to black after those primates had their moment and I would’ve been perfectly happy.
“MONSIGNOR” TRAVIS MOODY: Oh, there’s just a barrel of surprises. That said, Leo Chu‘s script was iffy for me. While it winds up as perfect a merging of traditional anime and Batman detective story there can be, much of a dialogue is cringeworthy; sadly, a good brunt of the Joker’s lines left the WonderCon crowd to dead silence. Thankfully there were still plenty of fun moments and tiny easter eggs and memorable quips that will be found upon a second viewing. The Q&A mentioned that the English version isn’t exacty a “dub” as per usual with anime; rather, it was more of an adaptation, since much of the circumstantial dialogue comes off far different in Western culture. That makes me wonder if I’ll like Batman Ninja‘s subbed version better, despite being familiar with Roger Craig-Smith (Bruce Wayne in Arkham: Origins) and Tara Strong‘s (Harley Quinn in everything) work. But the chief point in watching this is for the action, and the whole magic of seeing Elseworlds “things” like the Joker and Batman’s intense samurai designs, the very best elements of Batman Begins (Bat Ninjas and such!) and Bats’ classic gadgets finding themselves entirely displaced in Feudel fucking Japan. Also, peep the Okami style artwork in a sequence involving a Joker and Harley we’ve NEVER witnessed before. 4.5/5 Bibles (with hopes that the subbed version is even better).
“SISTER” JENN CASALS: I have to agree with you on the dialogue being off, mainly the Joker falling flat. That said there were still plenty of hilarious and light moments to make up for the laughs the Joker left me wanting for. The humor just wasn’t always where or how I expected. Truth be told, much of Batman Ninja was exatly that: unexpected. I went in expecting a fun Batman mash-up but –my gawd– did they go above and beyond. The story was wilder than anything I could have imagined, the ever-changing visuals were phenomenal and the incredible voice acting saved any awkward moments of questionable/dull dialogue. It was a surreal expierence from start to finish, utterly satisfying to both my nerd and weeb heart. I’m more than interested to see the differences in the Japanese sub version but either way I’m one happy geek. 4.75/5 Bibles.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Batman Ninja will be available on April 24 digitally, and on Blu-ray and DVD combo pack on May 8, 2018.