"Batman Ninja" Animated Release Talkback (Spoilers)

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Batman Ninja - Rate and Discuss this Epic DC Animated Movie!

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  • Total voters
    7

James Harvey

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Toonzone
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#1
You think you've heard all the Batman stories? Think again.


Batman Ninja
Studio:
Warner Bros. Animation
Release Date: April 24, 2018 - Digital; May 8, 2018 - Blu-ray/DVD

Synopsis: Batman Ninja takes a journey across the ages as Gorilla Grodd’s time displacement machine transports many of Batman’s worst enemies to feudal Japan – along with the Dark Knight and a few of his allies. The villains take over the forms of the feudal lords that rule the divided land, with the Joker taking the lead among the warring factions. As his traditional high-tech weaponry is exhausted almost immediately, Batman must rely on his intellect and his allies – including Catwoman and the extended Bat-family – to restore order to the land, and return to present-day Gotham City.

The visually stunning Batman Ninja is the creative result of a trio of anime’s finest filmmakers: director Jumpei Mizusaki (Opening animation of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure), writer Kazuki Nakashima (Gurren Lagann), and character designer Takashi Okazaki (Afro Samurai) produced the original movie with Warner Bros. Japan. The script was then reinterpreted and rewritten for English-language distribution by award-winning screenwriters Leo Chu and Eric Garcia (Supah Ninjas, Afro Samurai). Benjamin Melniker and Michael Uslan are Executive Producers.

Roger Craig Smith (Batman: Arkham Origins) and Tony Hale (Veep, Arrested Development) lead an impressive cast as the voices of Batman and the Joker, respectively. Grey Griffin (Scooby-Doo franchise) and Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke) supply the voices of the antagonist & protagonist’s closest allies – Catwoman and Harley Quinn, respectively – while Fred Tatasciore (Family Guy) provides the gruff-yet-sophisticated tones of Gorilla Grodd, a villain who must team with Batman to achieve his own personal agenda. Other voice actors include Bat-family members Yuri Lowenthal (Ben 10: Omniverse) as Robin, Adam Croasdell (Reign) as Nightwing and Alfred, and Will Friedle (Boy Meets World) as Red Robin, and the Rogue’s gallery also features Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants) as Penguin and Eric Bauza (The Adventures of Puss in Boots) as Two-Face. Doing double duty is Tatasciore as Deathstroke, Strong as Poison Ivy, and Friedle as Red Hood.

Batman Ninja Bonus Content:
-"East / West Batman" (Featurette) – Batman meets the anime medium, as this documentary looks into some of the Western tropes and archetypes, meshed into the world of feudal Japan. East meets West, swords, samurai and giant robots, all playing into the clash between Batman and his Rogues gallery.
-"Batman: Made in Japan" (Featurette) – To make a special film about Batman requires just the right artist to bring the mix of style and energy that is unmistakably anime. The filmmakers discuss the Japanese character models, influences and design that create a fusion experience into this hyper real world.
-"New York Comic Con Presents Batman Ninja" – Meet the talented filmmakers behind Batman Ninja as they discuss their inspirations and challenges in bringing an anime version of Batman to life during a panel discussion unveiling Batman Ninja during New York Comic Con 2017.
Note: Bonus content may vary between Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD editions.

Discuss the Batman Ninja animated release here!

Please note this talkback is for both the Batman Ninja animated feature and all aspects of the assorted home media releases. Discussion for both are now housed in one single talkback discussion thread. Spoilers are also allowed, so those who have yet to see the movie may want to avoid this thread until they have.


Note: Remember, we appreciate and encourage discussion, but please keep your posts civil, relevant and insightful. Please do not post any improper or inflammatory material, as we will issue warnings if we believe it necessary. And remember to keep the discussion ON-TOPIC!
 
Apr 19, 2018
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#2
Just seen it ...

and I freakin' LLLLLLOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVEEEEE IT!!!

I LOVE HOW CRAZY it IS!!

the animation is top notch and GREAT as expected by any great anime!!

Batman has Never looked THIS good and BEAUTIFUL!!

theres a LOT of homages to BATMAN and anime genre mix together and its a LOT of Crazy FUN!!

A LOT of WTF moments BUT when it get serious.. it DAMN gets SERIOUS!!

I want Sequels!!

And I HOPE this Time We get a more traditional Batman story in this type of animation.

I also LOVE the main theme and score!

PERFECT for Me!

Only thing I can think of that's sorta Bad was I'm not into much w/ Tony Hale Joker voice.. and one sequence w/ an out of place song .. but other than that.. that's just Me..

HIGHLY recommended!!
 

Ahsoka

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#4
I can't believe more people aren't talking about this movie. It's such a wild and fun movie. I like that the trailers don't really give anything away and only hint at how crazy this movie gets. It's a fun time for sure but I can see why some fans might not like it because it is a little goofy,
 

Ahsoka

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#6
Well, WW, some of us won't actually be seeing Batman Ninja before it releases next month on Blu-ray and DVD.
True, but there is a fair amount who purchase digital. I purchase both when I can afford it to show a little extra support for the movies. Then again discussion is always quiet around here now sometimes so I assume its just that too. There is a part of the movie about halfway through that I am curious what people will say about it.
 

RoyalRubble

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I thought this was a lot of fun. There were a few moments where it got a little more ridiculous than I expected (I didn't mind the giant robots/transforming castles, but those monkeys surprised me), but overall it was still pretty awesome. The story was good, easy enough to follow but still with some pretty nice surprises spread throughout. I especially liked the way Joker and Harley tricked Batman into thinking they reformed, I thought that was a pretty clever idea and just added to the overall wackiness of the movie.

The action scenes looked great, and there were plenty of them. I liked how just about each character got a chance to fight, even if some of those were kind of short. But still enjoyable enough for me. The characters all looked great (but if I had to pick, Catwoman was my favorite design from the movie), even if Damian had a pretty weird hair-do. They also had a nice mix of characters - both good and bad. Some of the villains didn't really do much, apart from Joker & Harley, and Grodd but I still liked their inclusion and designs.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie. I wouldn't mind seeing more movies in this style in the future. Whether it's a sequel to this or a project starring other DC Comics heroes. In a way, it kind of reminded me of the Batman Unlimited line of movies, but the unique style used here probably made this a little more entertaining.
 

Otaku-sempai

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#10
So is this in Japanese with English subtitles, or are there two versions?
The original cast is Japanese. There is an English-language dub cast. The Blu-ray/DVD should have both English and Japanese w/subtitles.

EDIT (05/02): We've Got This Covered has a less-than-glowing review by Eric Joseph of Batman Ninja. You can't please everybody, though I'm sure he raises some reasonable complaints.
 
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GWOtaku

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#12
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#13
Most of the animation was great! Big robots in the pre-industrial Japan not so great. Batman and the others adapting to his and their situation great! Would have like to see them train and adapt to the ninja style. Batman losing his gloves a little silly since he would leave his finger prints all over the place and even back then they knew how to decpher them. Remember Sherlock Holmes is from this era! silly!
 

DarkAngel

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#14
I've seen some fascinating reports about differences between the English dub and the Japanese track with subtitles and the reasons for them, which I'm thinking I'll get into here after I've had the chance to see it twice each way.

Such a burden I endure, I know

Edit: in regard to the version difference, here's my favored primer on what happened: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/why-batman-ninja-in-english-is-so-different-from-t/1100-6458513/
Ah, yes, thank you! That's what I had read before, prompting my earlier question of whether there were two versions. I hope it does play very differently in Japanese.

Also, in the English version, I found Joker shrill and grating. I hope the Japanese actor is...well, less than that.
 

Otaku-sempai

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#15
Most of the animation was great! Big robots in the pre-industrial Japan not so great. Batman and the others adapting to his and their situation great! Would have like to see them train and adapt to the ninja style. Batman losing his gloves a little silly since he would leave his finger prints all over the place and even back then they knew how to decpher them. Remember Sherlock Holmes is from this era! silly!
This is supposed to be set during the Warring States Period (the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century). Bruce would not be concerned with leaving fingerprints in feudal Japan at least 400 years in the past.

Batman Ninja is outrageously over-the-top, but in a good way. I am glad that it didn't include even more anime tropes (such as the Magical Girl); the writers were pushing the envelop as it was. I haven't watched all the bonus features yet, but I've decided I like the Japanese dub with subtitles better than the English-language dub (though the acting's fine; I just prefer the original script).
 
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DarkAngel

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#16
EDIT (05/02): We've Got This Covered has a less-than-glowing review by Eric Joseph of Batman Ninja. You can't please everybody, though I'm sure he raises some reasonable complaints.
I do agree with some of his points. For instance, as noted above, I didn't care for the Joker voice actor either (in English version) and, like Eric, was cringing during many of his scenes. I also agree that a lot of the dialogue was bad.

On the other hand, I'm puzzled by his claim that he was expecting something much different/better/cooler based on the trailer. He criticizes the movies for cramming so much in, for its different visual takes/interpretations of the characters, for the frequent bizarre turns the movie takes. This was all on display in the trailer. So many of the characters were shown, it was clear they were drawn/styled different, and it was so obvious they'd be doing so many different things in the movie. I expected that going in (and therefore perhaps not the most coherent, streamlined story) based on the trailer.

Also, as a reviewer, I think there has to be an appreciation of different styles/approaches. So, as the article GWOtaku quoted above discusses, the Japanese approach to animated feature seems to involve visuals/animation first and then creating the dialogue/story after. More emphasis on storytelling through the visuals. So, naturally, dialogue might not be stressed as much (or be of incredible quality). Not fair to assume a Western approach and criticize something for an intentionally different way of storytelling.

I'm not that familiar with anime, but I'm guessing much of what we see in Batman Ninja was an homage to other Japanese animated features/cartoons, or applying that approach to Batman. From what little I now of that, it seemed authentic/true to that approach. Seems like that should be the way to judge this, rather than comparing this to typical DC animated features or the usual American/western approach to animated works. Someone's who more knowledgable can correct me if I'm wrong.

The animation here was better than what I'm used to seeing in these DC movies. I loved the style, found the images beautiful. I loved the premise (Batman rogues gallery carving up feudal Japan, warring -- kind of a No Man's Land transplanted to the past). I just loved seeing Batman's "sons" together in this.

If I'm to criticize anything, it's that elements/arcs felt rushed. For instance, I don't think they set up Batman's dilemma or internal process well (of joining Grodd because of his feeling of vulnerability in losing his tech), and then just as they were revealing this, it was in the scene that was resolving it. I'd have liked more to time to appreciate Batman's situation with resolution later in the movie. Similarly, the idea of Joker/Harley losing their memories of their evil pasts and living as good farmers...all done in one scene that ends with it reversed. Again, it would have been nice to see this play out over a good chunk of movie rather than all in one scene.

There was some danger of Batman appearing dumb, which I think is exactly what Joker called him (falling for the same tricks Joker has pulled a million times, oddly being overly dependent on his tech when traditionally he's very much been all about his honed body/mind, falling for the Joker/farmer thing/accepting it with too much trust, being way too trusting in general (Joker, Grodd, Selina).

I probably would have preferred something less over-the-top. Given the time period, something more reliant on martial arts, stealth, ninja/samurai. Given the presence of Batman's team here, for instance, I'd have loved a story involving Batman and the rest infiltrating Joker's fortress, fighting through Joker's men, utilizing team strengths and their training.

But, that being said, and as I mentioned above, I knew what to expect based on the trailer and quite enjoyed this. Had a lot of spark to it. Looked fantastic. I'm sure I missed most of the little nods/references, but I liked Catwoman wanting to return "back to the future". I liked Joker's reference to picking yourself back up again, seeming like a nod to Nolan's Batman. And, also, Joker's delight at Batman dropping him only to have Batman snag him with his grappler a la The Dark Knight.

I'm looking forward to watching this again, but with Japanese voice track. Haven't checked the disc, but I'm hoping there's a commentary track, too.

EDIT: I like this review better than the "We Got this Covered" review. He gives it a C+, but takes a more balanced approach and acknowledges/understands the influences/intent better.
 
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Yojimbo

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#17
My review of the Blu-ray.

Some additional thoughts/thoughts from the review:
It's pretty cool 2018 saw two yet vastly different period pieces starring Batman, Gotham by Gaslight and Ninja. And the 4 'classic' Robins fighting alongside Batman. Dope. It's funny but Will Friedle's take on Red Hood stands out the most in my head for some reason even though it's just an angrier Terry but not really. It reminded me very little people have gotten a shot at voicing Jason and he's due for extended appearances in animation.

But yeah, I'm not a hardcore anime fan, was always sort just dipping my toes here and there. Nowadays, sometimes I'll watch what Adult Swim airs. That's my only intake. But in a vague way, I did see a lot of old tropes from manga and anime in there but if I was better versed, probably would have noticed a lot more things. Plus, I heard later on that Nakashima loves monkeys -- which explains the big monkey army even though it makes sense Grodd would assemble them in the story. I'm wondering if less-than casual anime fans and non-anime watchers will be put off by the way the story is presented.

Some of my favorite references were
  • The nod to Scarecrow.
  • The Maneki-Neko mask and bell fit right in with Catwoman's design and sensibility.
  • Or Robin's hair style is a nod to Daigoro from the famous "Lone Wolf and Cub" franchise.
  • Red Hood's design translates perfectly into a komuso monk that fits the time period.
  • Even the Joker seems a stand-in of sorts for Oda Nobunaga, the dominant force in Japan's real Warring States Period down to the mixing of traditional kimono and Western ware and weapons.
  • The mecha anime "Gurran Lagan" is still kind of fresh in my memory from its run on Adult Swim and some of its staff worked on this movie such as writer Kazuki Nakashima. The anime was influenced by another property called "Getter Robo Go" and you can definitely see some of it in this movie, especially the absurdity of scale as displayed by how the mecha get bigger and bigger and more flamboyant. In "Batman Ninja", it goes from Lord Joker's Arkham Castle to a cold war of the other rogues fashioning their own castle mechas each with over the top names and moves preserved from the original script then they all combine into one giant mecha armed to the teeth with weapons.
  • There's even a moment in the final battle that might make you think of Naruto.
  • Given how Batman's rogues are always trying to carve up Gotham City for their own plundering, they translate perfectly to the Sengoku Period when lords of provinces were fighting among each other to rule Japan as the next Shogun.
I've seen Warner Bros Japan has the soundtrack for pre-order, out June 13 for $30 plus tax. Not sure if Waterfront is releaseing their own. And I think the 4K digital version of the movie releases later this summer. I don't think there's a 4K physical release announced.
 

DarkAngel

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#18
Nice review. And great to see some discussion in here! So much I want to get into with this, but its been quiet in this thread recently.

Some additional thoughts/thoughts from the review:
It's pretty cool 2018 saw two yet vastly different period pieces starring Batman, Gotham by Gaslight and Ninja.
I liked both a lot but felt underwhelmed by Gaslight. Batman Ninja delivered something more unique and special, for me.

And the 4 'classic' Robins fighting alongside Batman. Dope. It's funny but Will Friedle's take on Red Hood stands out the most in my head for some reason even though it's just an angrier Terry but not really. It reminded me very little people have gotten a shot at voicing Jason and he's due for extended appearances in animation.
The 4 Robins together is easily one of my favorite things about it. In particular, I like that Red Hood wasn't treated like an outsider, allowed to be who he is here. Great to see the four brothers together.

As to the voicing, it was actually Yuri Lowenthal who voiced Red Hood (in addition to Robin). Here's a brief interview from this page:
Yuri Lowenthal (Red Hood, Robin)

APA: Can you tell us a little about your characters?

Lowenthal: They’re definitely very different; Robin plays into that anime role really well with his high-pitched voice. It’s funny because he wears this helmet and I was revisiting a character I played in Afro Samurai, who has a bear thing on his head. When I was casted, they didn’t do it on purpose; it was fate. Bob, the designer who I became friends with on Afro Samurai, was thrilled when I told him I was cast as Red Hood. Actually, that scene where Red Hood confronts Joker, who also forgets that he’s the Joker--it was fun to play into the hardcore anime character and a more artistic vision during that painted scene.

APA: How familiar are you with both of the characters?
Lowenthal: I’m a big fan of the DC Universe, but I did fall out of the comics when multiple Robins started popping up. When I played Red Robin in another movie, I had to go research which version that was. I was an early Batman/Superman adopter. They used to have hardback comic book copies in the library when I was young.

APA: What do you do to make these characters your own?
Lowenthal: I used to obsess over characters who were previously casted, but now I’ve learned to trust the person who casted me. I trust that they saw something in me that worked for this particular project. I don’t do a lot of research into the past iterations for the character. Particularly for anime, when there’s a lot of visual already there, it’s hard to adlib. I’m not a huge adlibber, but I tried towards the end when Robin defeats Poison Ivy. I made a pruning joke rather than a cutting joke, but they didn’t go for that.

APA: What were some of your favorite scenes?
Lowenthal: I was joking earlier, I would have to say that part of the beginning to the end of the credits. The movie starts out crazy, but there was one point where I leaned over to Tony Hale, and told him, “Now here’s where it gets really weird.” I was nervous that the audience wasn’t going to come with us on this journey, but we were reassured when we heard the cheering and clapping.If you watch a lot of anime, it’s not so much stuff that you haven’t seen before; but you haven’t seen it with Batman. I didn’t even know I wanted this, and now I can’t imagine living without it.


Even the Joker seems a stand-in of sorts for Oda Nobunaga, the dominant force in Japan's real Warring States Period down to the mixing of traditional kimono and Western ware and weapons.
Yeah, it was neat to realize there were parallels. I read one of the warlords from that period was conceivably a woman, and so we got Poison Ivy there. Grodd was a stand-in for a figure known to be manipulative and apparently who had the nickname "monkey". I'm not sure if Two-Face embodies any characteristics of the actual Lord, but his armor was very reminiscent of the real armor.

Given how Batman's rogues are always trying to carve up Gotham City for their own plundering, they translate perfectly to the Sengoku Period when lords of provinces were fighting among each other to rule Japan as the next Shogun.
It did feel like No Man's Land or Arkham City transplanted to feudal Japan. Would have made for a great miniseries, but I imagine they saw this as possibly their only shot to do something like this, and so threw everything in they could think of into one movie.

When I have more time, I plan on posting some thoughts comparing the dialogue between the Japanese and English. It doesn't seem as simple as one being better than the other. I've gone back forth between the two, watching one segment in one version and then the same scenes in the other. Some lines/parts I prefer in the Japanese version and others in the English.
 

Yojimbo

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5/24: Thanks!

The 4 Robins together is easily one of my favorite things about it. In particular, I like that Red Hood wasn't treated like an outsider, allowed to be who he is here. Great to see the four brothers together.
Totally agree with you there.

As to the voicing, it was actually Yuri Lowenthal who voiced Red Hood (in addition to Robin). Here's a brief interview from this page:
My bad, thanks for posting those quotes.

Yeah, it was neat to realize there were parallels. I read one of the warlords from that period was conceivably a woman, and so we got Poison Ivy there. Grodd was a stand-in for a figure known to be manipulative and apparently who had the nickname "monkey". I'm not sure if Two-Face embodies any characteristics of the actual Lord, but his armor was very reminiscent of the real armor.
Yeah, meant to look into that woman warlord. But it makes sense for Grodd to be a stand-in for Toyotomi. If I remember my history right, Oda was the early pick to rule Japan then Toyotomi then of course, Tokugawa ended up the Shogun.

5/30: The movie will be adapted as a manga by artist Masato Hisa and launches Friday in Japan in Monthly Hero's magazine.