Warner Bros is finally giving Batman its due – but in Japan. The upcoming Japanese animated flick Batman Ninja – based on DC legend Bob Kane’s Batman series – transports Batman to feudal Japan where he must combat a Samurai Joker, and other iconic DC villains like Harley Quinn, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Two-Face, Clayface and Deathstroke. The film is an exceptional challenge, owing to its period angle, as it actually gives the Dark Knight a classic Oriental spin.
So what’s Anime Batman going to be like?
The trailer for the movie looks like a glorious anime film. The trailer was first launched at this year’s New York Comic Con, and received rave reviews. The Ninja episode is actually a major favourite of comic book readers – and even Christopher Nolan explored it in his movies (what with Ra’s al Ghul and his background in the Asian martial arts). In Batman Ninja, Batman literally time travels to a perilous time in medieval japan – where he must save the country from villains who are apparently trying to “rewrite the history of this country.”
“Batmobile and Batwing both gone… but I still have this body,” says Batman, as he puts on his stellar new armour. The Batsuit has incredibly flamboyant gold accents, and has the Bat sign on his chest – which is unusual. The movie has actual period battle, as Joker has a Samurai army and Batman actually rides a war horse. He also does not have his Batarang anymore, but a sword.
DC is collaborating with Warner Bros on this
The movie, which is a collaboration between Warner Bros. and DC, is clearly careful about the Asian culture portrayed in the movie, and in fact makes the most of it. Not only are the characters given a sharp anime warrior makeover, but they also acquire sword-fighting and Kung Fu skills. With Batman Ninja, Warner Bros is working to establish the brand of the DC Universe Original Movies. And that may or may not be a great move, given DCEU’s unfortunate box office situation.
“When Japan is in a state of chaos like a mass of hemp, a Ninja with a bat mask shall appear and restore order,” a prophecy is heard in the background of the trailer, as Batman and Joker are seen engaging in a sword fight on the roof of a monastery. Interestingly, DC supervillain – the telepathic Gorilla Grodd features in the film as a feudal lord.
The manga giants are working on it
Takashi Okazaki, the creator of the beloved manga series Afro Samurai has done the character design for Batman Ninja, and it looks simply masterful. The detailing itself deserves a special mention, and has somehow still retained DC’s goth overlay, in spite of being anime-adjacent. Okazaki joined director Jumpei Mizusaki, screenwriters Kazuki Nakashima, Leo Chu & Eric Garcia for the anime’s New York Comic Con panel and talked about the movie which is looking for a 2018 release.
“There’s a fight scene in this that might be the best fight scene I’ve seen in animation anywhere,” said Warner Bros. Home Entertainment head of publicity Gary Miereanu.
“When we want to make it look real, we actually do it in real life. We want it to be true to life,” said Mizusaki said. He also added that the actors and stunt performers actually acted out the fight and they were used along with the recorded choreography, which was then used by the animators as reference.