Batman Ninja – 2 out of 5
I’m not really an anime guy. While I think the general designs and the art style of anime looks kinda cool I never really got into the world of Japanese anime. Every time I say that I’m always told that I’m watching the “wrong anime” but whenever I take the suggestions of the person who makes this declaration I still find it not resonating with me. So far, I just haven’t found a story in the world of anime that speaks to me and I find a lot of the clichés within them (the static image filled with action lines, the weird facial expressions, the strange stories and all the yelling) not really my cup of tea. However, when a property I like gets the anime treatment I will definitely give it a shot and that’s what happened when Batman went anime in Batman Ninja. Long story short: This didn’t change my status on anime. Also, I watched the American dubbed version so I did the dubs and not the subs. I’m sure that will get me killed in some anime circles.
|Pfff, dummy. The movie is called Batman Ninja.|
|The hairstyle makes for a good argument that you|
might be branding too much, Batman.
While battling Gorilla Grodd (Fred Tatascione), Batman (Roger Craig Smith) gets caught up in the villain’s device called the Quake Engine and it sends him back in time to Feudal Japan. Batman soon learns he wasn’t the only one who made the trip as villains The Joker (Tony Hale) and Harley Quinn (Tara Strong) have become feudal lords and are now battling other enemies from Batman’s rogue gallery for control of the area. Batman, however, isn’t alone as Alfred (Adam Croasdell), Catwoman (Grey Griffin), Robin (Yuri Lowenthal), Red Hood (Lowenthal again), Red Robin (Will Friedle) and Nightwing (Croasdell again) have also been displaced and they will team with a ninja clan that prophesizes of a bat ninja who will restore order to the land.
|He's wondering if he put enough bats on his outfit.|
I won’t lie and say I hated Batman Ninja. There are definitely elements that I enjoyed about it. For example, the character designs definitely looked cool and the animation styles used in the film are basically fine art. Simply put, the film is gorgeous. The film also has some really cool action sequences that used footage of real actors that were animated over so they not only look cool but they move extremely realistically. Finally, the voice acting for the English cast was fairly decent. Roger Craig Smith is a great Batman, Tara Strong is fantastic as Harley Quinn and I really enjoyed Tom Kenny as Penguin. Sadly, that is kinda where my positives end because I found the rest of the project to be too odd for me to enjoy.
|How many other people in Batman's life also got sucked into this? Were any|
of them peripheral actors in his life? Like did a gas station attendant who once
helped Bruce Wayne suddenly wake up in ancient Japan?
I mentioned I like the designs of the characters and found the animation to be great but there were elements of it that I found distracting. The biggest distraction is how the characters never stop moving. Even when they are standing around talking there is always some movement going on with their body—and I don’t mean natural body language. The movements all looked and felt very unnatural as their heads would shake side-to-side as they spoke or their bodies would be slightly twisting. It’s hard to describe but all the characters had what appeared to be twitches or nervous energy and it looked very strange.
Additionally, the English-speaking cast, for the most part, is doing a great job—especially considering how strange some of the dialogue gets. One member of the cast, however, I was on the fence on the entire time was Tony Hale as The Joker. There are times where he is just fantastic as the clown but then there are times he feels out-of-place. For the most part, it sounds like Buster Bluth doing a Joker impression and it is pretty distracting.
|He looks great. He must be on his way to Motherboy.|
The product only gets stranger from there as the time jump somehow makes the World’s Greatest Detective a little thick as he is blind to the fact that Alfred, having fallen through time as well, is literally standing right next to him and it takes the vigilante a full minute to realize it—but that isn’t even the worst of it. During its third act is when the story lost me with its craziness as we watch all the villains fight in buildings that turn into robots. I’ll concede that the tech for that all came from the future when Grodd sent everyone back but once all the buildings combine to create a bigger robot the whole thing just became silly—and this is a story that centers on a grown man who dresses as a bat and fights crime. Strangely enough, however, this isn’t even the weirdest part as the heroes use a large group of monkeys and bats and have them combine together to create a giant version of Batman to fight said building robot. Is all anime this strange? Is this an outlier or is it par for the course?
|A bunch of buildings formed together as a giant robot versus a giant monkey|
made out of millions of armored monkeys. Can this be any stranger?
|Oh wait, it can. The giant monkey made out of millions of armored monkeys|
was covered by millions of bats to form a giant Batman. Kudos for the bats
who were able to change their shading and coloring.
From a technical standpoint, Batman Ninja is well made and looks great. The only problem is that I am not the target audience for the feature. The tale got a little too over-the-top for me (I was officially checked out once the Voltron-monkey sequence happened). Add in the fact I’m not an anime fan (and yes, there is plenty of screaming in this one and tons of action lines surrounding still images) and this turned out to be a forgettable one for me. I admire DC’s animated library taking this route and trying something so incredibly different since most of their animated films look and feel the same over and over again but, alas, this one just wasn’t for me.
|Oh wait, it gets dumber. When Batman gets back to his time, he decides to take|
a horse-drawn Batmobile to an event for the mayor as Bruce Wayne.