The character of Batman has been a worldwide phenomenon since it entered the public consciousness all those years ago when Bill Finger and Bob Kane introduced the Dark Knight to popular culture.
One of the places that it has had a major influence is Japan, where he even had a long running manga series in the 1970s. One of the most recent endeavors into this art form was the 2008 DC Animated movie, Batman: Gotham Knight, which featured several different anime auteurs giving their own personalized take on the Caped Crusader.
Now Junpei Mizusaki, who has worked on Mega Man and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Takashi Okazashi of Afro Samurai, and Kazuki Nakashima of Kill La Kill is giving the world the most stunning vision of Batman yet and in probably the most romanticized period of Japan, one in which their own film industry has revisited many times, in a new animated film, Batman Ninja, which debuted a clip and a teaser trailer at this year’s New York Comic Con. But now a new trailer has been released online for the masses.
From the trailer, I can see Batman and a handful of his most iconic allies and enemies get transported back to feudal Japan during the Middle Ages. The film includes Alfred, Robin, Penguin, Nightwing, the Joker, Two-Face, Harley Quinn, Gorilla Grodd and Catwoman, and includes a huge samurai-influenced battle between good and evil. At their panel back in October, the creators gave some tidbits of what to expect:
On the action sequences:
“When we want to make it look real, we actually do it in real life,” Mizusaki said, adding that performers acted out the fight in live-action, with the recorded choreography used by the animators as a reference point. “We want it to be true to life,” he said. Everything – from the way blades are gripped to the swift and brutal blows – had a real life counterpart.
On working on the English script:
“It was extremely difficult,” Chu said. “But we have a long history of working with Japanese animation, with anime. But Warner Bros. very much left the filmmakers alone in making this movie, so what you’re going to see is something that’s authentically anime. And when they came to us, we made it authentically Batman.”…. “We’re not seeing Japan through the eyes of Batman,” Garcia added. “We’re seeing Batman through the eyes of the Japanese.” Garcia said the movie is a love letter to the Batman mythos, with a cache of easter eggs and surprises in store for fans.
On how much of the DC Universe is reimagined:
I would say that the classical characters are the majority of those that appear,” Nakashami said, wanting to share more but holding back. “Unfortunately, even saying a little bit is going to spoil too much. We’ve already said too much! But… just watch the film and you’ll see!”…….“The characters are reinterpreted in a way that they seem fresh and new,” Cho added, with Okazaki and Mizusaki agreeing it was pivotal for the creative team to remain true to the characters’ core appearances and personalities despite their Japanese makeovers.
On possible future anime adaptations of DC characters:
“I just want to see more,” Garcia said. “I’m such a huge fan of anime and of Batman, and we’ll just see how this is received. I’d love to see this interpretation and idea carried through to other properties.”
“I put 200% of my energy into designing Batman Ninja, and I would be more than thrilled if all of you enjoy it,” Okazaki said.
I am personally excited to see how the film comes out, as the combination of the mere fact that most of the major players from Batman’s canon show up for the medieval tale, the gorgeous animation and the setting makes it a must see.