A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Batman Ninja is a highly original entry in this classic superhero franchise. Made in Japan in the "anime" style, the artwork, with its distinctive character design and attention to detail, sets this Batman apart from all the earlier adventures. The story, as well, is a departure from usual Dark Knight fare. Batman, along with his allies and enemies, time-travels to ancient Japan, where warring states and the feudal system provide the perfect environment for The Joker's most evil plans. The movie is action-packed; one lengthy battle after another finds weaponry from ancient times as well as modern ones. Cannon fire, swords, spears, and muskets are used alongside the usual DC Comic mayhem, which includes gunfire, poison clouds, explosions, fire, bats, and hand-to-hand combat. Characters are hit and pummeled and live to fight again. A few mild curse words and insults are heard: "hell," "damn," "ass-kicking," "buzzard," "dumb." Female characters have ample breasts and a bit of sexual innuendo goes by quickly.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
An inadvertent encounter with Gorilla Grodd's time-travel machine finds Batman (Roger Craig Smith) and a deluge of DC Comics good guys and bad guys fighting it out on ancient Japanese soil in BATMAN NINJA. Batman's appearance (some two years after many of the others have landed in feudal times) coincides with The Joker's (Tony Hale) efforts to exploit feuding states and take over the world, changing history as he goes. It's up to Batman and his allies, including Robin and Red Hood (both voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) and Cat Woman (Grey Griffin) to prevent the chaos in Japan, defeat the evil-doers, including Two-Face (Eric Bauza), Harley Quinn (Tara Strong), and The Penguin (Tom Kenny), re-assemble Grodd's time machine, and get everyone back to Gotham in time for their next adventure.
Is it any good?
Superb anime and an unprecedented time-travel adventure bring a new dimension to this iconic hero and his team as they battle classic Gotham enemies in feudal Japan. Even traditionalists should appreciate Junpei Mizusaki's creative vision in Batman Ninja, as well as the stunning character design by Takaki Okazaki (Afro Samurai). And while the setting is unique and Batman must battle a plethora of Gotham's villains in a far-off place, the story -- The Joker schemes to take over the world -- is a familiar one. Voice performances, most by Batman regulars, are first-rate, with Tony Hale giving an all-out cackle-and-shriek fest in his initial venture into DC land as The Clown Prince of Crime. With Gorilla Grodd's time-travel machine on the table, opportunities abound for Batman to join forces with anime and set venerable worlds of the past and centuries-old cultures on fire. Fun and cartoon-edgy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the differences between this special Batman, made in Japan by anime artists, and the usual Batman cartoons. What is "anime?" What are the determining characteristics of this animation genre? Look at some of the still photographs from Batman Ninja and compare with still photographs from an American Batman cartoon for an easy contrast.
Think about the cartoon action in this film. What emotions is it intended to elicit from audiences? Is it funny? Scary? Exaggerated? Do you remember how old were you when you understood the difference between real and pretend violence? Are you aware of the impact of violence on kids?
Batman's enemies are almost always outrageous villains. Which are your favorites? Why? Be creative. Draw or write a new villain for Batman.
- On DVD or streaming: May 8, 2018
- Cast: Roger Craig Smith, Tony Hale, Tara Strong, Fred Tatasciore
- Director: Junpei Mizusaki
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, History
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of violence, and for some suggestive material
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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