Batman: Ninja Preview Panel Gives 1st Look at Anime Treatment Work in Progress
Warner Bros. Animation previewed Batman: Ninja – still in post-production – at the 2017 New York Comic Con. Other than some relatively sparse details, the event centered on a trailer (that the featured guests were also getting their first look at) so nice, they played it twice. Of course, we weren’t allowed to film the trailer; so an official promotional poster will have to hold you, for now.
Some of you might consider Batman: Gotham Knight as an anime treatment of the material; but if you really want to know what sets this project apart (and pick a fight), consider the recent effort by Marvel. Marvel Anime was a thing, for a while; so this could just be another case of the Direct Competition looking to extend its long-standing edge in animated output.
A translator was necessary, but the principal creative forces were on hand, to speak for their work. The script comes from Kazuki Nakashima; so if you’re a fan of Kill la Kill, or Gurren Lagann, then start anticipating what these fan-fave characters could be made to do. The character designs comes by way of Takashi Okazaki; so if you’re familiar with Afro Samurai, or Basilisk, then that should give you some idea what these re-imagined fan-faves will look like. On the other hand, director Jumpei Mizusaki (Dragon Quest, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure) has been quoted as stating that “compromise is death” – suggesting, in this case, that as much of the wide variety of artistic contributions was retained as possible.
I interpret that to mean that too many cooks laced this broth with Smile Gas. This may fry your brain, and you may like it.
This was strictly a word-of-mouth panel, meant to get the hype going for Batman: Ninja; so there really wasn’t much to show, and even less they could share with us about key character/ plot details. In other words, there was quite a bit of the ol’ “you’ll have to wait for it” responses, to audience questions. The upside to that is that there may be room for last minute test audience add-ons. I found the panel’s mild excitement, at the mention of the setting fitting within Ra’s al Ghul’s timeline, interesting. The eventual “we’ll get back to you” response was just encouraging.
Personally, I’d always go with Ra’s (Ninjas & all), over the Joker; but between Kabuki theater, and a tradition of truly insane-looking Samurai face masks, I suppose the Joker would be a natural fit. Consider the design, courtesy of Tamashii Nations collectables, via The Toyark.
Everyone had their favorite character to have worked with, of course, although more than one creator settled on Gorilla Grodd. There was talk about making him strong & sexy, and it showed. The one, establishing pan-away-shot of Grodd was non-action; but it was actually among the most memorable.
There was the inevitable clash of blades, between Batman & the Joker, which begs the question of whether this blend of future & feudal results in a major Joker upgrade (considering that the notion of the Joker going toe to toe with Bats is most often a non-starter).
Overall, though I’d much rather this be a self-contained Elseworlds – re-imagining the Bat-verse organically – but bringing the Bat-verse to feudal Japan seems like as good an excuse as any to have Anime masters run wild with the material. Unlike Gotham Knight, this isn’t a western production outsourced to eastern animators – the anime masters are in full control of this one.
The 2018 Blu-Ray release will feature both an English subbed, Japanese language edition, and an English language edition (adapted by Leo Chu, and Eric Garcia – also present onstage); but if you’re eager to find out who has been cast for the English version… you’ll have to wait for it.
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