Batman: Gotham Knight is a six segment animated film, each directed by a different director of Asian descent. The animation quality, both in character and environment detail, in these six segments exceed the quality of the animation found within all of the Batman Animated series, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and all of the other Batman animated films. The fore and backgrounds aren’t after thoughts; they have as much thought put into them as the animated characters, an extreme rarity in American animation.
For the most part, there is continuity between each segment, though some of the connective tissue is minute. Most of the segments revolve around growing animosity and turf war between the Russian mob in Gotham City and the Italian mob. “Have I Got a Story for You”, directed by Shoijiro Nishimi, written by Josh Olson and produced by Studio 4C, is more of a stand alone segment that has no visible connection with the other segments. The main purpose of this segment seems to have been to show how different people can be looking at the same object, in this case the Batman (Kevin Conroy), yet see different interpretations of it. Three of the four characters in “Have I Got a Story for You” see a different aspect of Batman: his ability to fly, his quick movements and his near invulnerability. These aspects are represented beautifully with the different versions of Batman brought to life in this segment.
“Crossfire,” directed by Futoshi Higashide, written by Greg Rucka and produced by Production I.G, is about the Gotham City Police’s Major Crimes Unit, what’s happened to The Narrows and the turf war between the Russians and the Italians. The interesting part about this segment was that the viewer gets to know two of James Gordon’s (Jim Meskimen) hand picked detectives and some nice action sequences. “Field Test,” directed by Hiroshi Morioka, written by Jordan Goldberg and produced by Bee Train, houses an interesting invention by Wayne Industries, the presence Lucas Fox (Kevin Michael Richardson) and his clever sense of humor. The Batman presented in this segment reminded me of Azrael’s Batman and his “System”-generated Bat suit. We are also given a glimpse of Batman’s selfless commitment to preserve life while in the pursuit of justice. “In Darkness Dwells,” directed by Yasuhiro Aoki, written by David S. Goyer and produced by Madhouse, deals with Waylon Jones aka Killer Croc and Jonathan Crane aka The Scarecrow (Corey Burton) and is an action packed segment.
“Working through Pain,” directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka, written by Brian Azzarello and produced by Studio 4°C, showcases the pain aversion techniques Bruce Wayne learned in India. At first I thought this was the weakest segment but after seeing it multiple times, I realize it is actually one of the strongest, with the most to say about what makes Batman tick. “Deadshot,” directed Jong-Sik Nam, written by Alan Burnett and produced by Madhouse, is the segment of Batman: Gotham Knight that I initially enjoyed the most. It probably has to do with Madhouse’s Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodshot, anime on my list of 5 Essential Anime Films You Need to View, being two of my favorite animated films of all time. The animation in “Deadshot” is top notch, aided by computer generated effects and it shows. This is the segment that deserves its own film in my opinion. Floyd Lawton (Jim Meskimen) aka Deadshot has a tragic past (like Batman and Killer Croc) and I wish that had been fully explored. The writing for this segment is also excellent but this is also true of “In Darkness Dwells” and “Working through Pain.”
Batman: Gotham Knight isn’t a great film because its individual segments are a tad too short. Just when you get into a segment, it ends, not that abruptly but it ends. Gotham Knight would have been much stronger if it had been one continuous storyline instead of segments slightly linked. Batman: Gotham Knight is entertaining, its animation refreshing but as a narrative, lacks the cohesion that would have made it memorable.