Posted by psgels on 5 July 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews

For Batman – Gotham Knight, four of my favourite studios Studio 4°C, Production IG, Bee-Train and Madhouse came together and delivered a collection of six short movies about the comic book legend of Batman. Much like The Animatrix, all have different art styles, though unlike the Animatrix, they’re much more tied together. They’re all action somehow, and share the same dark tone.

First up is Studio 4°C, with the movie “Have I got a story for you”, which is probably the most down-to-earth and different of the six stories, and yet it’s typical Studio 4°C, as they show a Batman adventure, through the eyes of four street-kids. It’s a great introduction, that gives a bit of mysterious air to the concept of Batman, especially for those like me, who haven’t seen too much of the guy. The next movie, Crossfire by Production IG continues this trend, by only showing a very few scenes of him, and instead focusing on a couple of cops. It’s perhaps the movie that makes the least amount of sense, and the ending feels like a rather Deus ex Machina. It’s a nice idea, but there are too many plot-holes in this one.

The rest of the movies then shed the air of mystery, and start focusing on Batman himself. Two show a bit of his background, and the other two show how he takes care of a bunch of bad guys. Field Test by Bee-Train tries to explain the things that happen in Crossfire. In this, it fails, but it does build up Batman’s character into more than just a main character, with the characterization that Bee-Train has always been good at. Next up is In Darkness Dwells, which is excellent for those who want action. The villains are a bit dull for those unfamiliar to the Batman universe, but at least they make the action-scenes tense, and a feast for the senses.

Studio 4°C then brings the fifth movie: Working Through Pain, which is probably the reason why this movie earned its PG-13 rating. It’s the most imaginative of the six movies, as they show how Batman deals with the concept of “pain”. The final movie is called Deadshot, which ends with a thriller. It’s the only one of the six where the main villain ends up actually interesting, and the extra bit attention to Batman’s character is also appreciated.

Overall, my personal favourites were Working Through Pain and Field Test, because they show something about the man behind the mask, and turn Gotham Knight into something beyond “just another action movie”, and they make the rest of the stories fun and interesting to watch. The movie isn’t perfect by far, and most of the villains are just one-dimensional, and uninteresting. The stories aren’t the most solid either, and sometimes they rely too much on the comic books, alienating those who haven’t read them. However, as a dark action-movie, it does deliver.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 7/10
Production-Values: 10/10
Setting: 7/10

5 Responses

  1. Avatar Denizen says:

    What’s interesting to note is Otaking’s comments on “waahh not enough shading” are practically torn apart by this OVA.
    The thing I liked most about this OVA was the shading, as well as the good animation. Delicious art.

    Yeah, really good, definitely met my expectations. I hope there are many more Anime companions for films in the future.

  2. Avatar karry says:

    Wasnt it supposed to be released on 8th of July ?

  3. Avatar KaminaLives says:

    I think my favorite episode of Batman: GK was “Working Through Pain” as it shows Bruce Wayne before he became Batman and part of the training he received to become the dark knight. The character interaction between him and Cassandra is excellent (the theme of being honest to oneself and to others, betrayal of trust plus the student-teacher dynamic), and Cassandra herself is a very deep and complex character in her own right. I’m very glad Studio 4°C decided not to shoehorn any romance between the two (as a lesser studio might have done to add more “drama” to the story) as the dynamic they had was great all by itself. Finally, the message of guns and how Batman is forever fighting to get them off the streets (a gun was used to kill his parents, after all) is particularly haunting and poignant; his inner pain over his losing his parents is nothing compared to his outer pain (the bullet wound) and makes him unable to accept help even when it’s offered, driving him further on his quest for vengeance. Plus it sets up the “Deadshot” episode very nicely.

    Deadshot was my second favorite episode. Very intense action and I liked the cat-and-mouse interplay between Bats and Deadshot (even if the villain was ultimately disappointing; barely a challenge even).

    I thought the first episode had some interesting storytelling narratives (it reminded me of the Batman: The Animated Series episode where a bunch of kids retell their own versions of him, as they do here) and the disjointed chronology is a nod to “Batman Begins” and “Dark Knight” director Chris Nolan’s film “Momento.” Though the somewhat distorted and grotesque style of the character designs was a bit off-putting (and I liked Noein but this was a but too much even for me).

    Crossfire was all flashy visuals and awesome animation (it’s Production I.G, after all) but the plot was just meh. The dialogue was kinda stilted too (“He’s a vigilante!” “No, he’s not!” “He’s a vigilante!” “No, he’s not!” Who wrote this stuff?). Batman on fire is a nice visual but I don’t believe even his suit is that flame retardant.

    Field Test had some interesting ideas. Why couldn’t Lucius Fox have developed a personal magnetic field device, making the wearer essentially bullet-proof? I liked that the device worked too well, and makes Batman scrap the idea and be more willing to accept the risks each time he dons the mask and cape. Making him invincible would have been a bad mistake anyway (he’s not Superman; plus being invulnerable = boring character). I just didn’t like the fact that Bee Train made Bruce look like he stepped off the set of Death Note with his ultra bishie-pretty boy looks (I had Light flashbacks throughout the episode and kept on expecting Ryuk to pop up). A jetsetting playboy, yes; a bishie, um, no!

    Darkness Dwells was straight up action and nice animation, but nothing to write home about character or plot-wise. I had been wondering where Scarecrow went after he escaped at the end of “Batman Begins” but he’s barely in this episode at all.

    To sum up, some hit or miss episodes, nice visuals, and a decent complement to the Batman mythos and the upcoming “Dark Knight” movie. At only about an hour for the whole thing, it seems a little short but worth it for any diehard Batman fan.

  4. Avatar Fernando Arias Z says:

    Actually, the first segment was the worst. The art is a crap and the story too.

  5. Avatar Kaamio says:

    Yep, I agree.

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