Acclaimed screenwriters including David Goyer (Batman Begins), Josh Olson (A History of Violence) and Alan Burnett (Batman The Animated Series) join forces with revered animation filmmakers on six spellbinding chapters chronicling Batman’s transition from novice crimefighter to Dark Knight. These globe-spanning adventures pit Batman against the fearsome Scarecrow, the freakish Killer Croc and the unerring marksman Deadshot.Using an arsenal of high-tech gadgetry from Wayne Industries, Batman’s ethical boundaries exist only where he chooses to place them, leaving some fearful of his power.
This DVD, Batman: Gotham Knight tells six stories about the Dark Knight, or Cape Crusader, in different studio animations. If you have ever seen The Animatrix, then you know what to expect. With the help of studios like Madhouse, Studio 4ºC, Bee Train, and Production I.G, we can see how is Batman shown in different animations and how each one tells us about him. What makes this collection even better, is that we also have Kevin Conroy doing the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne in all six shorts. Some of Batman’s well-known villains makes an appearance too but not all.
To those who don’t know, Kevin Conroy is well known voice actor who did the voice of Batman/Bruce Wayne in the classic Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League cartoon, the Arkham Games (not Origins, he was replaced by Roger Craig Smith), and he will return in the upcoming DC movie The Killing Joke with Mark Hamill.
I will be reviewing all six shorts and tell you what company did what.
Have I Got a Story For You (Studio 4ºC)
The story begins with a group of skater kids telling their stories on how they encountered Batman and what they think he is. The tell bizarre stories that make Batman seem not human at all. As you watch them tell their story, you as an audience will see that their stories are not true. This because they never actually got close to Batman and they try to explain what he is like.
This short, or anime short, was done by Studi 4ºC who are well-known for doing Tekkonkinkreet, Steamboy, and First Squad and it was written by Josh Olson and directed by Shoujirou Nishimi.
Personally, I felt like the animation was decent. I did think, however, that this worked well in a setting where the skaters told their stories; places like Gotham or a place to skate makes gives the anime a “street” or urban feel. I did think the short also does well on making it feel pleasant. It was about children telling stories and it made me chuckle. The anime also reminded me of the episode from Batman the Animated Series “Legend of the Dark Knight“. Overall, you like Studio 4ºC and enjoy seeing Batman as nonhuman, then you may like this.
Crossfire (Production I.G)
The story introduces us to two police officers named Crispus and Anna teaming up and joining Lieutenant James Gordon and capturing an inmate. While on the job, Crispus tells his partner that he thinks Batman is vigilante and doesn’t trust him at all. Anna argues back and tells him that Batman is a good guy and he is helping clean Gotham. While arguing, they get trapped in a crossfire between two rival gangs: the Russian Mob and Sal Maroni’s gang. It’s up to Batman save them.
This anime was done by Production I.G who did works like anime Psycho-Pass, Eden of the East, and Ghost in the Shell and the story was written by Greg Rucka and directed by Futoshi Higashide.
Personally, I think this animation did great on the characters. I also found it interesting to find this short focus mainly on the cops than Batman. Of course Batman shows up but I felt like it was quite short. We see him do a couple attacks and he quickly deals with the gangs. Overall, it had a nice animation but not a lot of Batman.
Field Test (Bee Train)
The story begins with Lucius Fox, a man that helps create Batman’s equipment, creating a device for Bruce/Batman that will help him repel against small-arm fires. Later, Batman goes investigate the mysterious death of an activist after having a golf session (as Bruce of course) with Ronald Marshall. While on crime duty, Batman uses the new device on Russian Mob.
This anime was done by studio Bee Train, they worked on anime like Noir, .hack//Sign, and Madlax. The writer for this short was done by John Goldberg and directed by Hiroshi Morioka.
This one of my favorite shorts in this collection because it really does look it could be a Batman anime. I like the design for Bruce in this short and I couldn’t help and think of him like Light Yagami from Death Note. I also like the batsuit in this short. I was impressed on how they made Bruce appear in “anime format”. Besides the appearance, I will admit that Bruce did look a little bit too young. Remember what I said before when I mentioned he looks like Light Yagami? I think this short does better with him when he is Batman than Bruce Wayne. The action moments was pretty amazing. I also felt like the plot of this was too short. I felt like the short was focused on dialogue than action.
side-note: You can use this costume in Batman: Arkham Knight and it’s for free!
In Darkness Dwells (Madhouse)
After hearing about Cardinal O’Fallon getting abducted by a lizard-like creature, Lieutenant Gorden, Crispus, Anna investigate the disappearance in the crypts under the cathedral. Along with the abduction, there are rioters that are fighting near the cathedral. After hearing about that, Batman joins in the investigation and explores the dark, wet crypts. He and Gorden makes a theory that the lizard creature is one Batman’s villains Killer Croc and the person responsible for the rioters was the cause of Scarecrow and his fear gas.
This short was done by Madhouse and they did anime like Death Note, Trigun and One-Punch Man. The story writer was David S. Goyer and directed by Yasuhiro Aoki.
Unlike the other shorts, this anime mostly focused on action than dialogue. The fighting moments was epic and the villains were impressive but Scarecrow had most of the spotlight. I was impressed on how they made Killer Croc and Scarecrow appear scary and creepy. Personally, I felt like this short was a little bit dark; Not content, but just on the characters. I felt like the characters were little bit “rough”.
Working Through the Pain (Studio 4ºC)
Assuming that this takes place after In Darkness Dwells, Batman gets injured from fighting an hallucinated man. While trying to handle the pain, Batman goes through a flashback to a time where he, as Bruce, volunteer to help doctors perform surgery for a patient without anesthesia in Asia. Bruce meets a woman named Cassandra and ask her to train him to fighting pain. Bruce trains to in months on handling with pain and learns about how Cassandra’s past.
The anime was done by Studio 4ºC and was written by Brian Azzarello and directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka.
This short is average. I like the story about Bruce and how he gets stronger in combat. It gives us more information about him and what struggles he goes through. I did feel like we didn’t get enough of Batman and the story plot was slow. The animation was impressive in my opinion but after seeing Bruce in combat, it sorta felt like a martial arts movie. The cliffhangar at the end made me want more of what was going to happen next.
The story is about Batman trying to stop an assassin from killing lieutenant Gorden after he and the rest of the police force finds out that someone killed Mayor Manning with a sniper. It turns out it is the villain Deadshot and he was paid by the Russian mob to kill the candidates.
This anime was also done by Madhouse but written by Alan Burnett and directed by Jong-Sik Nam.
Out of all the shorts I seen, this is number one. This short has the most impressive art styles. Personally, I felt like this art reminds me of Hellsing Ultimate. The story plot was great and the action moments were top notched. Besides action, I found this short great because Bruce talks about how even though he doesn’t use guns, he shares his thoughts on what makes guns favorable to people. Overall, this short deserves an A+ and I couldn’t find anything negative about it.
After watching all six shorts and under different anime studios, I was surprised to see how they interpret a Batman story. This collection shows that it’s possible to make a Batman short and what’s better is that many companies got involved and made their own piece. Depending on which style and story writer you prefer, these shorts can be good or bad. My favorite shorts were “Deadshot” and “Field Test”. If there was going to be a Batman anime, I would like to see more of Batman villains or allies in it. Imagine seeing Robin, Catwoman, or Joker as an anime? Anyway, I thought Batman: Gotham Knight was sweet treat and I would recommend this DVD to those who wants to see Batman as an anime or for those who is a fan of Batman.
Have you seen this DVD? If so, what do you think? What’s your opinion on Batman being an anime? Comment below your thoughts.