By Andrew Ayala
“Batman Ninja” is a spectacular anime version of a Batman adventure where the Dark Knight along with a few friends and foes from Gotham get warped back to an unkown city in feudal Japan.
It is directed by Junpei Mizusaki, produced by Warner Bros. and the creator of “Afro Samurai” Takashi Okazaki is the character designer for the film.
The film was released in Japan and the United States for fans to enjoy. However, Leo Chu and Eric Garcia admitted to rewriting the film from the original script written by Kazuki Nakashima, which as a result created two versions of the film.
The plot of the movie is that Gorilla Grodd built a time machine and used it to bring several villains and heroes from Gotham to the Edo Period of Japan for his own reasons which are eventually revealed.
When Batman arrives, he lands in the middle of the street and gets rushed by samurai with masks that resemble the Joker and soon learns that the crazed clown is not only a feudal lord in the state that pulls strings around town just as he did in Gotham, but also given the title of “The Demon King,” which is said to be the most powerful person in Japan.
The Joker continues to be on a conquest for total control and uses those who get in his way as pawns to his game.
After escaping an action-packed anime-style fight with the Joker and his goons, Batman comes into contact with Catwoman who explains that the Joker isn’t the only evil lord in feudal Japan.
The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and Deathstroke have also become lords in this storyline.
They all serve a deeper purpose than supporting antagonists but it would be nice to elaborate deeper on each of their states and how they rule them.
With help from Nightwing, Red Robin, Red Hood, Robin, Alfred and the Bat Clan, the caped crusader must do what he does best and stop evil in its tracks.
Many aspects of the Batverse come back, such as locations, technology and weaponry that Batman has access to.
With many anime-style fight scenes and correlations, such as music, setting and animation, the creators do a wonderful job of converging an American classic superhero with a pop-culture style from another country.
Viewers are able to see the influences from other anime shows and films, which can be satisfying if you understand the references.
The dialogue between the characters can be odd at times when watching the English dubbed version, probably because the scripts were changed as mentioned earlier.
When it isn’t awkward, it actually works very well and remains true to the tale it is telling. Like any other anime, there are many exaggerations and scenes that those who aren’t used to watching this style of show or movie may find weird.
The feeling of the scene can be perceived either through the dark and saddening colors or the bright and flamboyant ones that are included in the background or characters themselves.
The character designs are one of the best aspects to the film since it shows how emerged and true they are to that period of time in Japan.
It is interesting to see fan favorite characters and villains in a Japanese-style because not only their outfits are adjusted to the time period or location, but their weapons as well.
Joker and his razor-sharp fans or Deathstroke and his downgraded guns both show a historical influence on modern characters.
The settings are always beautiful and intricate, but never steal the show from the films main purpose, which are the characters in the scene and the actions they are performing.
Throughout the story there are many twists and turns that leave viewers in shock, but ultimately connect to the main plot and allow it to run smoothly.
There are a few points in the film where animation style changes, which is very nice because it shows all the different possible styles that can be implemented in a film depending on the mood or tone of the scene.
Although this is a very different take on an adventure between the Dark Knight and company, it still has the overall feel and style of an action-packed superhero anime that doesn’t stray too far off the feeling of something like “Batman Beyond.”
The film was released digitally in the U.S. on April 24 and will be available on disc on May 8.
With a runtime of 85 minutes full of intense anime-style action and rich story, “Batman Ninja” is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some suggestive material.