I’ve been a new arrival to comic books for the past year, but I’ve always been a loyal fan of the ever-famed Dark Knight. I grew up on the animated series cartoon for years; I fell in love with the 60’s television show upon getting older; and most of my favorite comics now are Batman stories. It’s slightly difficult to talk about, given the reputation of the hardcore Batman fanbase, but I’ve personally adored the caped crusader for his use of psychological tactics against his foes. He’s become superhuman on sheer will alone, something I think everyone can admire.
But you know what else is superhuman by sheer will and training? Ninjas…. That segue hurt and I apologize.
Animation studio Kamikaze Douga released the first visual of their new project on their website: Batman Ninja. The full-feature movie has been a project three years in the making and will see release sometime in 2018. The concept in and of itself isn’t so far-fetched; Batman is, effectively, a western-equivalent to a real ninja. His tactics of working from the shadows and using all kinds of gadgets to convince the criminals that he’s everywhere and nowhere are very akin to traditional ninjutsu.
But, rather than showing us scenes of Bruce training to be the Big Bad Bat, we get a story that sounds like it’s gonna be one hell of a hybrid.
The Story So Far
If you were hoping this was an alternative storyline about a Japanese Batman, you’re probably gonna be disappointed. Rather, according to an article about the Comic-Con panel in New York, the story will have Batman and a handful of characters flung back into medieval Japan. The footage is not available for the public right now (else you can bet your keister I’d have it here) but the description I saw makes the whole thing look bananas in the best way possible.
To quote the article:
Picture Batman, decked out in shogun’s armor and wielding a katana, charging at the Joker, who’s also brandishing a sword, but draped in a fanciful, ancient Japanese courtier’s outfit that’s overflowing with tattered ruffles that bounce along with his maniacal laugh.
On a tiled roof, the pair crash and slash at one another in a dizzying flow of gorgeous swordsmanship and the Joker taunts Batman that, even in this unfamiliar time and place, he’s still every bit the bloodthirsty killer he was in Gotham. The scene jumps to a quick montage of fight scenes and we see that it isn’t just Batman and the Joker who have been displaced. Nightwing, one of the Robins, Harley Quinn, Penguin, and Gorilla Grodd are there as well, and they all look like avant-garde, high-fashion, concept-art versions of themselves.
Combine this with the mention of some mixed 2D/3D animation, and you can color me curious. The show’s director, according to the author, made a point of mentioning that this movie would very much be about how Japan sees Batman; if this is what they see when they look at Batman, then I just fell head-over-heels in love.
A Promising Staff
If the concept itself wasn’t a sell, the names behind it should be enticing. Directing the movie will be Kamikaze’s founder and CEO Junpei Mizusaki, who produced the opening animation for both iterations of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Meanwhile, we have the mangaka for Afro Samurai, Takashi Okazaki, designing the characters and writer Kazuki Nakashima in charge of the script (with him having Kamen Rider and Gurren Lagann to his name). If that wasn’t enough, the English translation of the film will be headed by Leo Chu and Eric Garcia, executive producers for the Afro Samurai anime and movie.
Why would I hammer this so hard? Because great ideas can always go astray if they are horrifically mishandled. Take, for example, the base-splitting flop that was Batman vs, Superman: Dawn of Justice or the Man of Steel movie. While Zack Snyder has all my sympathies for the tragedy he dealt with, that didn’t excuse the fact that he gave us an uber-depressing Superman and a Batman who may as well moonlighted as an Arkham inmate suffering from paranoia. The fact that this animated movie has so many good names attached to it doesn’t alleviate my fears completely, but at least it doesn’t have the same baggage future Snyder films will have.
Comics and Anime Make Great Bedfellows.
For all the jokes and memes people make about western anime fans, people forget that western comics have become popular worldwide as well. There have already been several instances of West Meets East anime or anime-like pieces, including television shows about Iron-Man, X-Men, and the Gotham Knight shorts. The Marvel shows alone saw decent success and proved that anime could easily handle the outright crazy that comics tend to peddle.
To that end, I think Batman fits into anime’s tendency towards the absurd just fine. The storylines that Batman finds himself in are ostentatious for a fellow with no superpowers: tangling with the immortal Ra’s Al Ghul and his Lazarus Pit, Doodlebug summoning demons through blood-paintings (one of my favorites), and even going face-to-face with the tyrannical alien ruler Darkseid. Almost anything can happen in comics and comic-cartoons, mirroring anime’s boundless narrative possibilities. And, since Batman’s narrative, these days, is about a mortal man dealing with bigger-than-life villains and forces of evil, we’ve got some huge potential.
Wrap It Up Already
And, in the end, that’s what Batman Ninja is right now: potential. We only have an image and an idea, with a talented team working in the background. But, with every great idea, there is a chance for a massive flop if care and passion are not put in. I can’t tell from such paltry amount of info if this will turn out for good or bad, but my first thoughts are cautious optimism and excitement.