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Anime Movie Review: "Batman Ninja" (2018)

Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

Cover of the "Batman Ninja" Steelbook Blu-ray

Cover of the "Batman Ninja" Steelbook Blu-ray

Quick Info

Director: Junpei Mizusaki
Runtime: 85 minutes
Availability: DVD, Blu-ray, HBO Max
Distributor: Warner Brothers Entertainment

Story Summary

Batman is sent back in time and ends up in feudal Japan (1467–1615). Together with the rest of the Batfamily, he has to defeat the Joker and the rest of the Batman rogues gallery while they try to find their way home.

Batman flanked by the Red Hood (left) and Red Robin.

Batman flanked by the Red Hood (left) and Red Robin.

Who's the Audience for This Movie?

As an anime fan and a Batman fan, I wonder which audience this film was intended for because the writers don't seem to know. Batman fans are coming to the film looking for something serious.

Anime fans are coming to this film expecting anime tropes, and what we got was, well, just plain weird. But it was the kind of weird that could only come from Japan. Believe me, I was not expecting giant robots and a giant Batman made out of monkeys and bats, and yes, that is in this movie and makes sense in context.

The Japanese writers decided to tell a Batman story that was clearly made for Japanese audiences, and this film contains a lot of tropes you can only find in anime.

I’m just confused whether they were trying to please non-Japanese fans, because the reception was mixed from both audiences, and I’m not sure how I really feel about this anime movie either.

Animation Is All Over the Place

The animation for this film was made by three different anime studios, Kamikaze Douga, Yamatoworks, and Barnum Studio. There are three different clashing anime styles and they just don’t mesh very well at all. Sometimes it looks gorgeous and sometimes it looks ugly, and when it comes to the CGI in this anime film, it just looks ugly.

The fight scenes range from looking excellent and keeping you on the edge of your seat to so ridiculous you can laugh at them, mainly the giant robots and the bats and monkeys near the end of the film where they go full-blown anime tropes and throw in everything.

The fights between the heroes and villains and a beautifully animated scene between Batman, the Red Hood, who is now a basket-head and the Joker are the only things that really stand out about this film, but I can’t recommend throwing down money for the animation that only sometimes looks really good and other times just looks really bad.

With all these clashing styles in one film, it’s hard for me to recommend buying this just for the visuals, because the animation clashes too much.

Why is it so ugly?!

Why is it so ugly?!

Audio and Subtitles


English (Reviewed) (On disc or on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

English (On disc or on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

Japanese (Available on the same platforms as the English dub)

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English Dub Is OK, But Not Original Script

This film had a lot of controversy surrounding it because fans originally believed the movie would not be release with the original Japanese dub. The Japanese dub is there, but it is not in the language setup of the DVD or blu-ray menu, it is located in the Special Features section of the disc.

The English script also doesn’t adhere to the original Japanese script at all. I think it was because they didn’t want to do what anime licensing companies do when they dub and match the English dub to the Japanese lip flaps. They just decided to rewrite the scrip and probably were obligated to keep the Japanese names and terms but this isn’t like a normal English anime dub.

The English dub itself is just okay. None of the performances are amazing or outstanding, even though they have a lot of great Batman voice actors, like Roger Craig Smith, Grey Griffin, Tara Strong, Yuri Lowenthal, Tom Kenny and Will Friedle. While these are all great voice actors, the performances are just all right. There just isn’t anything that really stands out to me about the English dub.

If you like the Japanese voice actors, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the movie, but this film is just so odd that it’s not something everyone will like.

Music Is Forgettable

I didn’t find the anime film’s soundtrack to be very memorable at all.
Yugo Kanno composed the music and while it was all right, it was not amazing or outstanding. That’s disappointing to me because the music was just okay when it could have been great.

It’s not really a memorable soundtrack and that’s another disappointing aspect of this film that can be added to a long list of disappointing things about this film.

Generic Storytelling

The time travel story is extremely generic and it feels like a lot of the tropes you have seen in other time travel stories. The film has the chosen one trope and that’s been done a thousand times before.

It’s generic, even for a Batman story and that’s one of the reasons that this anime film disappointed me, sure it’s fun to watch, but it’s not something I’ll want to rewatch as my favorite anime movie.

Movie Can't Decide Whether It's Serious or Ridiculous

Batman Ninja has no balance between being serious and being ridiculous. Usually movies have a balance between being serious and comedic and it seemed like the Japan tried to throw out a bunch of ideas and hoped that they would stick.

The tonal whiplash hurt this film a lot and if it had taken a serious or comedic and kept with the same tone instead of whipping back and forth between the two.

Batman in the Batmobile.

Batman in the Batmobile.

It’s Worth Watching, But Only for Free

This is not a Batman film for everyone. The anime fans might not like it, and even Batman fans may not like it. It’s just too all over the place to really to settle on what it wants to be as a film.

I don’t recommend buying this. It’s not a film I enjoyed a lot even though it does have a few good things about it. The animation clashes too much and the English dub is okay, but not amazing. The music is forgettable and it’s just such a weird film that it even weirds me out, and I love watching anime movies.

If you want to see this, you should borrow it from your local library or borrow it from your friend if you have it. It’s not worth the money to pay for it, no matter how good some of the scenes look.

Reader Poll

Quick Summary

What Works:What Doesn't Work:

Intersting story ideas

Story tone all over the place

Beautiful animation in places

Story is too generic

Decent voice actors and an okay dub

Lackluster soundtrack

Final Grade: C-

I have seen reviews that gave this anime film Batman Ninja a high rating, I am not one of those critics. This was a very pretty train wreck, it’s too polarizing for Batman fans, and it’s not because it’s an anime film either.

The story is very generic, even compared to generic anime. It’s just all over the place in both the tone of the film and not settling on the film’s target audience.

Batman Ninja is mediocre because it doesn’t know what it wants to be and which audience they want to have. It’s not worth buying and I can’t recommend it for purchase and if you want to see it, borrow it from the library, or from your friends, but I can’t even recommend it for a rental because it’s just too polarizing, even as an anime fan.

This film is really dumb fun, and I can’t treat it as anything more than dumb fun with Batman characters, and it’s just too silly at times to take it seriously.

I love anime and I love Batman, but I don’t love this anime film even though it should be something I love, but the poor execution of this film makes it something I can’t recommend unless you get it for free. It might be worth your time, but it’s definitely not worth the money.

My Rating

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