On October 5 2017, the first poster for Batman Ninja was released, causing fans of superhero comic books and films around the world to rejoice. After all, not only is the upcoming feature another dive into the animated DC world of Batman, it is being directed by none other than JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure producer Junpei Mizusaki, while character designs have fallen to Afro Samurai creator Takeshi Okazaki.
That’s right, it’s an full-length anime Batman movie, how could we not be excited about that?
Further fuel was added to the fan fire on December 1 last year when the initial trailer was released, finally showing us just some of the scenes we can expect from Batman Ninja.
It appears that once the film is digitally released later this year in April, we will finally have a superhero film we deserve featuring our favourite DC characters as well as all the Japanese period martial arts action fans of anime have loved for decades.
According to the official synopsis, which was released on February 13, the movie will explore many eras of Japan as Gorilla Grodd’s time displacement machine transports many infamous Batman villains back to feudal Japan. Fortunately, The Caped Crusader and his best allies are also taken back so there’s at least some chance of restoring the right timeline in present day Gotham.
Really, that’s all we know about Batman Ninja right now, which has led us to ask a multitude of questions. There’s no denying how popular feature-length films based on comic book heroes are, even when they’re animated so it’s no surprise that Warner Bros. is releasing another cartoon Batman movie. No, our biggest query, is: why set a Batman film in feudal Japan?
In March 2017, the Association of Japanese Animators released a report revealing just how popular anime is around the world. According to statistics featured in the study, the anime industry grossed almost $2 billion in 2016, indicating that an “anime boom” was occurring for the first time since the early 2000s. This was mostly due to releases such as Your Name which received critical acclaim all around the globe, as well as other factors such as internet distribution, live entertainment and, surprisingly, the increasing worldwide interest in games such as Japanese slots and Pachinko.
With titles such as Attack on Titan, Dragon Ball Super and One Punch Man attracting massive audiences, it’s easy to understand why Warner Bros would want to invest in an anime, Batman. Still, we must ask again, why feudal Japan? What was going on in Japan between 1185 CE – 1868 CE? One word: samurais.
Around the world, samurais are celebrated and have often appeared in Western media over the past few decades. The Last Samurai, Kill Bill and 47 Ronin are just some of the movies featuring elements of feudal Japan, while Samurai Jack was perhaps one of the most well-loved western cartoons of the 2000s.
Samurais are even more popular in games, appearing in everything from huge console titles such as the Metal Gear Solid franchise to modern iGaming releases such as the Samurai Split game, a slot that actually has a lot more in common with Batman Ninja than you would think. Speaking of which, Batman Ninja won’t be the first time comics have adopted the samurai-style, as you may remember Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles featuring samurai swords as a staple weapon.
So, there we have the answer to why Batman Ninja is a feature-length anime set in feudal Japan: we love comic books, anime and samurais. This movie will hopefully be the perfect combination of three epic elements, and we absolutely can’t wait to see it. Batman Ninja will be released digitally in the USA on April 24, then as DVD and Blu-Ray hard copies on May 8. Later in the year, theatrical releases will begin in Japan on June 15.