We did a little preview of this a while back, but now that it is out we thought it only fitting to tell you if it lived up to our expectations. I have heard it said that if you aren’t a fan of Batman, don’t bother watching this. My question is, who isn’t a fan of Batman? because I don’t think we can be friends.
It’s interesting because it’s another anime co-production that takes a super popular American franchise and touts the anime production team doing the animation as a selling point. I can’t see something like this coming out once a month but it looks like they sell well enough that I would not be surprised if we saw a co-production like this every two year or so. Plus Batman is always +10 to awesome. I try to catch anything with Batman in it. We just get to cover this one for the blog because it’s anime related.
We didn’t go all out for the special edition, but obviously the most important part is the actual show! The packaging is sparse for the regular printing. You do get this nice coupon however and to my great surprise it is actually valid at a couple of theaters in Manhattan.
This is basically The Animatrix for The Dark Knight. It is a collection of 6 stories set between Batman Begins and the Dark Knight showing what Batman has been up to since the end of the last movie. The stories are stand alone but they are interconnected. You could theoretically watch only select stories or watch the stories out of order and it would be of no real detriment but you would miss out on little nods between the stories. Each story had a different writer, different director, and three different anime studio doing the animation.
Have I Got a Story for You
The first short deals with how every person sees Batman differently, indeed the entire film deals with this idea, too. But this being the first brings the viewer in on a lighter note than the rest of the shorts would have. The kids telling this story are funny and typically trying to one up each other with their tales of the caped crusader. I noted right away that the animation very much resembles Studio 4C’s Tekkon Kinkreet. I always see this as people kind of being shaped like diamonds, as you move away from the body they become extremely narrow and pointed.
For some reason certain Japanese directors love making their animation look like it’s being shot through a fisheye lens. I’m looking right at you Mamoru Oshii. I liked each kids fantastical take on their encounter with Batman. It is certainly one of the most amusing takes on the unreliable narrator I have ever seen. All in all it’s cute story and it’s definitely the funniest story in the bunch. This piece reminded me of Almost Got ‘Im in Batman in animated series.
The next short made me chuckle as I remembered that all of Staten Island has been turned into Arkham. I think this series wouldn’t be complete without the typical cop that doesn’t trust Batman story, so here we have it. I really enjoyed the vision of Batman in this one. He seems ten-feet tall at points and I think that is really how you would feel if you came face to face with him. This had much more intensity and it gripped me. I thought this one also had the best fight throughout, thought that isn’t a surprise when Production I.G. is involved.
You make it seem like that is not just the next logical step with Staten Island. Batman is merely speculative fiction. This is clearly the first episode that shows that this is grittier than the standard Batman cartoon. People are dying left and right in this episode. I mean all the people who die are mobsters but people still die. This is also the episode that makes it utterly clear that Batman is a total bad-ass. I found it odd that they went to Arkham but then it never came up again in any of the stories. I was waiting for an Arkham breakout to no avail. I wonder if it was originally intended it to appear again or if they just threw it in because it is so iconic.
Ah, and we come to the title of our preview article. Bat-Bishonen. This version of Batman is certainly the closest to Christian Bale’s portrayal of him. They obviously based how Bruce Wayne looks on him, too. I liked how this short deals with Batman and Bruce, not just his dark alter ego. I liked how he uses himself as the perfect cover. This short also has Fox in it so that automatically makes it better, so we get to see all kinds of gadgets at work.
Ah. Bat-bishonen. I still like the ring of that. I liked how it showcased that Batman and Bruce Wayne can just as easily work synergisticly as easily as the two identities can cause trouble for each other. It’s an interesting insight into the morality of Batman as well. At one point Batman threatens the two warring faction in Gotham while he knows he does not have enough evidence to get them locked away for their crimes. He can’t stop them from engaging in illegal activities but he can make their lives horrible if they don’t behave. It’s a look at where Batman will draw the line in his fight against crime.
In Darkness Dwells
I was promised an awesome Killer Croc fight, I did not receive it. I wonder if I would have been so disappointed had I not watched that whole first look where they talk about this episode. This episode was the most creepy, but anything with Scarecrow and his weird drugs is freaky plus the animation added to it. But apprently those drugs didn’t have an effect on Batman, he still did his Batman-ness. Oh, I did like how well he knew the underground.
In this story Batman fights his greatest foe: The homeless. Batman’s fight with the Scarecrow’s homeless minions was longer than his fight with Killer Croc. I think this was certainly a story that could have used more time to develop. It seems like if this had been a full half an hour episode it could have taken more time and created a better story overall. I also felt that the poisone Batman was hit with seemed to have no effect on him. The fact that Batman got poisoned seemed there so they could throw in trippy visuals.
Working Through Pain
I liked when one person we watching this with said Bruce looked like Gackt in this short! This was different than all the others, we are getting a look at Bruce’s past not as Batman. The title is a throwback to something he says in In Darkness Dwells. I like the little tie ins thry throw in the episodes. I liked Alfred’s role of actually coming to rescue Batman a little. The ending of the episode was a little humours and a little of a sad look at what Gotham is.
This story, interestingly enough, is more an examination of Bruce Wayne the man than any other story in this collection. Although Bruce is wearing the Batman suit for half the story he does very little Batman work. It’s mostly him remembering his training as he tries to get home after being painfully wounded. This is a story of what about Bruce Wayne makes Batman the character that he is. It is a good look into what makes Batman so strong but so broken at the same time.
Batman has a mad crazy chin in this short! Really the animation is good in this one, I was just blown away by the chinlyness. This story had a little bit of a slow build to the final confrontation. A lot of players who were involved in the previous shorts have a role in this one. Deadshot is a crazy sniper, maybe better than Golgo 13. Through I did feel that Deadshot ended up being a total weenie in the end.
Like In Darkness Dwells I feel that this was a story that if it had gone on longer could have been much more interesting. Plus the preview hyped this story up so much. They promised this revised Deadshot who would be Bruce Wayne’s shadowy reflection. A twisted version of Batman who used his wealth and tragic past for personal gain and to satisfy his perverted desires. It was supposed to be this slow building epic confrontation. It turned out to be a rather pedestrian story of Batman VS another random gimmick villain. It’s not a bad story but it’s also not epic. I was entertained but I felt that the preview hyped it up to be something to remember.
Batman rocks, he came, he showed how much he rocks and he was gone in a flash. How very Batman like of him. The combination of talents in this collection ensures that you will like atleast a couple of these mini movies. As a whole this was good and entertaining and totally worth watching. There were some missteps but overall I’m looking forward to viewing this a second time. And it makes me even more eager to see the new movie.