Batman Ninja (2018) Review

Time: 85 Minutes
Kōichi Yamadera as Bruce Wayne/Batman (voice)
Wataru Takagi as The Joker (voice)
Ai Kakuma as Selina Kyle/Catwoman (voice)
Rie Kugimiya as Harley Quinn (voice)
Hōchū Ōtsuka as Alfred Pennyworth (voice)
Director: Junpei Mizusaki

Batman, along with a number of his allies and adversaries, finds himself transplanted from modern Gotham City to feudal Japan.

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I heard about Batman Ninja, a Batman animated movie in a Japanese style and setting. Outside of that, I knew nothing about it. Watching it was certainly an experience. Batman Ninja isn’t a particularly good movie and is nowhere the level of the other DC animated movies. However it is crazy and weird enough and has some good enough animation that it does make it somewhat enjoyable.

Something that immediately needs to be noted is the differences between the English versions and the Japanese versions. I watched it on Netflix and there was a Japanese version with English subtitles, as well as an English dubbed version. Apparently 90% of the dialogue are different from each other, so I should point out that I’m reviewing the Japanese version. It wasn’t too distracting seeing all these characters speaking Japanese and you got used to it, however it did feel a little odd sometimes, for example there’s one scene when Batman is given a note and he points out that it’s in English, which seems out of place unless you’re watching the English dubbed version (and who knows if that was even featured on in that version). Storywise, the most I got out of it was seeing the weird and different versions of these characters, seeing Batman fighting with samurai swords, Joker fighting with deadly fans, an army of monkeys being weirdly powerful, all of that was kind of bizarre to watch and that was fun to watch. Otherwise it was actually rather underwhelming and generic. There’s nothing particularly interesting to what’s going on, you’ve seen this type of story done before and you’ve seen it done better. I will say that being a tad tipsy could possibly improve your enjoyment of the movie. Also this is not a movie to watch if you only have a vague knowledge of Batman, for example if you’re only familiar with them with the live action movies, this is going to be very confusing for you. Batman Ninja is less than 90 minutes long, and while the ridiculous aspects can be fun to watch, they do wear down on you after a while.

Much of the characters are essentially the same as they are in the comics, as in Batman is still Batman, Joker is still crazy, and all that. It’s the way they decided to interpret them into anime form that’s different. Most of the time I thought they worked well enough for what they were going for I guess. However I must point out that Bane is now a sumo wrestler for some reason. I’m not exactly sure how to feel about that.

Batman Ninja is the closest thing to an anime I’ve watched thus far. The direction and animation of the movie is one of the reasons the movie works okay. It is a stunning looking movie, with the environments looking great, the movements seamless and smooth, really great overall. While I’m rather unfamiliar with anime, it seems to use a lot of the anime stylistic aspects, making it seem pretty much like Batman made into an anime. Some of the dramatic close ups, over the top done segments, and stylised fight scenes are here. Pretty much all the things you can imagine in an anime is here. If you know even the slightest thing about anime, you’ll definitely recognise it here, otherwise if you nothing you’ll just be really confused and that’ll probably reduce the amount of enjoyment you’ll have. As absurd as the idea of making an anime out of Batman, it actually works rather well surprisingly. The fight scenes are where the movie shines, particularly the last fight of the movie.

Batman Ninja is a really odd movie. While it is fun at points, mostly due to the random parts, and is well directed and animated, the rest of the movie doesn’t quite live up to that same standard. It has its moments. If you’re a big Batman fan, and you like anime (or if you’re at least interested in seeing a different take on Batman), then check it out, it’s less than 90 minutes long. Overall though, Batman Ninja was disappointing and not quite as good as I hoped it would be.


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