Hello, my friends. 2021 may not have arrived with inhuman-like swiftness due to all of the horrid things that the previous year has thrown at us, but it’s time that we take our lessons learned from the past and start our way back up to the regular speed that we’re accustomed to within regular life. As such, I’ve decided to give the Dark Knight a much-deserved return to these hallowed halls and allow myself to dive into a tale that takes place outside of the regular boundaries of both the long-running DC Universe Animated Original Movie line, as well as his modern-based municipality. On that note, we’ll be seeing the Caped Crusader and company go on a Japan-sized adventure within a tale called…
Originally premiering at WonderCon on March 24, 2018, it would eventually get its Digital Download release on April 24 before coming out for DVD & Blu-Ray on May 8. Eventually, it came out in Japan on June 15. For the purpose of this Junpei Mizusaki-directed flick, I’ll only be covering the English dub, just like when I reviewed the entire “Marvel Anime” line. With all of that out of the way, let us travel towards the perils that awaits us.
We open at Arkham Asylum as a familiar Feline Fatale narrates about how we haven’t seen a Dark Knight story like this before. From there, it shifts over to Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman (voiced by Roger Craig Smith) who’s attempting to stop Gorilla Grodd (voiced by Fred Tatasciore) from setting his mechanical “experiment” into motion. After getting tossed out, Batman notices Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman (voiced by Grey DeLisle-Griffin) making her way inside. Suddenly, Grodd’s machine activates as the whole facility gets encased within a massive ball of energy. He attempts to make his way back while the building gets warped around him before he uses his grappling hook. Unfortunately, he’s too late to stop the machine’s machinations as he and the entire asylum completely vanishes.
He then suddenly finds himself in a quaint village as he soon discovers a piece of parchment at his feet, taking notice of the Japanese text on it as well as his facial image. Suddenly, he’s approached by a trio of samurais wearing familiar face masks who attempt to attack him.
Fortunately, he easily defeats them before he holds the last guy up at blade point and orders him to explain himself. After learning that they were ordered by their master “to find the man dressed as a bat” and execute him, Batman knocks him out after he notices several more familiar samurais approaching. As such, he uses a smoke pellet and takes out his grappling hook before he realizes that there aren’t any tall-enough structures nearby for him to aim at before he simply slinks away.
Following the opening title sequence, we shift to a short time later as Batman is outside of the main village. He attempts to access his Bat Computer system, only to discover that there’s no signal as he realizes that he’s in Ancient Japan. By the time he gets to the main pagoda, night has fallen as he reaches the rooftop before his automated cowl zooms in on a familiar figure talking with a samurai, where he discovers that it’s the Joker (voiced by Tony Hale). Suddenly, he’s discreetly approached by the genuine article before finding out that Harley Quinn (voiced by Tara Strong) was in disguise.
Batman then demands an explanation for what his foe is up to. Joker explains that the citizens have called him Diruku Tin Mao a.k.a. the Demon King. Not only that, but he’s become a Japanese Lord and it’s all because of Grodd’s machine that he wound up in this position. From there, he attacks with his acid-shooting flower as Batman dodges it before they take their fight into the nearby forest. After a brief scuffle, Joker takes out some razor-tipped fans and throws them at the Dark Knight, who manages to evade the numerous strikes while the projectiles are only able to cut down several trees.
From there, Harley and two of his fellow samurais join him in order to provide him with a seat and some water. Afterwards, Batman asks him what he’s going to do now that he’s dodged every one of his lethal fans. Soon enough, he finds himself surrounded by seven of Joker’s samurais. Fortunately, he’s able to fend one off before firing his grappling hook into another goon, where he proceeds to swing him into the rest of the armored guards. Afterwards, he’s able to make his escape. Harley then asks Joker if they should pursue their foe, to which he says that there’s no rush since they have their “people”, in addition to “all the time in the world”.
Meanwhile, Batman is able to hide while Joker’s group of samurai head out to find him. Afterwards, Bruce is met upon by Catwoman. From there, he learns that she also arrived in this time period via Grodd’s machine two years ago. With Batman puzzled as to how that’s even possible, he decides to look over some information that he managed to acquire prior to the time jump. As such, he and Selina learn that Grodd had gathered the Joker as well as a few other notable felons in order to show them his newest machine.
Not only that, but a few of Batman’s familiar allies were there as well. From there, Grodd unveils his Quake Engine, which was intended to help him conquer all of time and space. Shortly after the Dark Knight intervened, the security footage cuts out due to an explosion caused by Grodd’s machine. Just as it gets to Batman taking on Grodd, the file suddenly ends as he realizes that the Joker managed to benefit from this event.
As they take their leave, he wonders why he and Selina had a two-year difference in arrival if they were both at Arkham Asylum. He then deduces that because of Grodd’s action towards him, it affected Bruce’s own time jump just enough for him to arrive later than everyone else. From there, he asks Catwoman why she was at Arkham at that moment. She explains that she followed Grodd in order to learn what he was up to and even steal whatever the fiend had. She then says that because the gathered criminals wound up in this time period as well, they managed to usurp the various “Sengoku Daimyos” in order to take control over Japan’s numerous regions. Batman realizes that this was when the country was in “a feudal era of warring states”. From there, Selina explains that each one of his fiends is attemptting “to conquer and unify Japan” under their own rule. Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a. Penguin (voiced by Tom Kenny) is in charge of Kai and is feuding against Echigo’s ruler: Pamela Isley a.k.a. Poison Ivy (also voiced by Tara Strong). Over in Natsu, that area is under the might of Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke The Terminator (also voiced by Fred Tatasciore). Finally, Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face (voiced by Eric Bauza) is in charge of Omie and has also become Joker’s “vassal”.
However, Joker and Harley are the ones who’re the furthest along in their attempt to unite Japan under their rule. With different villainous factions attempting to rewrite history under their iron fists, Batman says that they must track down Grodd. Catwoman says that she hasn’t seen the intelligent gorilla, but she and Bruce will have a better shot of finding him if they team up. As such, they agree that they must get into Joker’s tower since it’s where the Quake Engine is being held.
As dawn breaks upon the land, Selina has managed to disguise Bruce as a missionary as she explains that several Christian missionaries had flocked to Japan during this time period. They make their way towards an industrial area within Joker’s territory as Batman discovers that coal has been mined to power his operation. Later, he brings up the notion that their foe is already altering history since the country’s industrial revolution didn’t occur until much later (the 19th Century, or 1868 to be exact during the Meiji era), to which she says that the Joker is doing this in order to become a Shogun. Just as Bruce says that he’ll need some weapons in order to stop the fiendish clown and the rest of the familiar foes, he’s then offered some tea. Suddenly, he realizes that it’s his butler Alfred Pennyworth (voiced by Adam Croasdell). After letting Batman know that this meet-up was Selina’s idea, Alfred presents him with his makeshift Bat Cave as it’s revealed that the Batmobile survived the time jump. Catwoman explains to Bruce that because Pennyworth was waiting within the famed vehicle when Grodd’s Quake Engine went off, they fortunately came across each other and knew that Batman would ultimately catch up to them.
Suddenly, Bruce hears a screeching sound as he dives for cover alongside Alfred. It turns out that Joker’s samurai squad managed to discover the hideout and are pelting it with cannonballs. Fortunately, our main group survived the surprise assault as Batman tells Catwoman to keep Alfred safe while he goes after the Joker. From there, he drives the Batmobile through the water and easily reaches the other side where he takes out Joker’s men before he heads out towards his foe.
Later, Harley warns the Joker that Batman is approaching within his signature car. As such, he’s easily making his way through their defenses, as neither the gunmen nor a series of spikes are able to remotely stop the Dark Knight.
With the Caped Crusader closing in, Joker tells Harley to “activate Arkham Castle”. From there, she summons a fellow samurai who presents them with a familiar device.
Just as Batman begins to arrive, he suddenly sees Arkham Castle coming to life as it grows some mechanical arms. Even as she views this from afar alongside Alfred, Catwoman is perplexed by what she’s seeing.
Joker then controls his mechanized hideout into throwing some massive shurikens. Even though Batman manages to weave around them and begins to make his way inside, the Clown Prince of Crime manages to pick up the Batmobile within his mechanical grasp and begins to crush it.
Fortunately, the Dark Knight manages to escape within a pod that transforms into a Batwing before zooming back around to open fire on Arkham Castle. Unfortunately, the Joker counters his attack by using a pair of retractable poles to pierce the plane’s wings.
Thankfully, the Caped Crusader manages to get out again thanks to the last configuration which turns out to be the Bat-Cycle. From there, he drives up the arm and storms into the castle as he tells his foe to stand down. However, the Joker takes out a comically-sized switch and diverts our hero’s attention towards a helpless woman & her child who’re in danger of being crushed by his mechanized hand. As such, Batman decides to be the hero and attempts to save the weary mother & her kid.
Suddenly, he’s met upon by a massive sumo wrestler who turns out to be Bane (voiced by Kenta Miyake, who’s one of three actors to be in both the Japanese and English dub of this film), as he catches the Bat-Cycle and throws it with our hero on it across the yard. Fortunately, he safely lands upright before he drives towards the muscle-bound fiend. Along the way, the Bat-Cycle transforms itself around the Caped Crusader and helps him become Armored Batman. From there, a brief struggle ensues before Bane gets thrown into a tree and ends up knocked out.
Afterwards, Armored Batman manages to reach the woman in time and hold up the mechanized hand long enough for her to make it to safety. Unfortunately, his mechanized suit doesn’t have enough power to hold up the opposing palm for much longer. As such, Batman gets ejected from it before he’s forced to crawl away in the nick of time.
However, he’s soon met upon by the damsel in distress who turned out to be a disguised Harley Quinn as she smacks him with her mallet. Afterwards, the Joker slides down while his samurai squad surrounds the weakened Dark Knight as he and Harley mock him for falling for his noble nature. He then taunts our hero with the fact that he has no more modern-day gadgets to use and that he doesn’t have any allies to help him out of this jam. Suddenly, Quinn warns him of something else approaching them, which turns out to be a swarm of bats as they proceed to disorient the fiends. Not only that, but Harley notices some “Ninja Batmen” have appeared and are protecting our hero. From there, they help the Caped Crusader escape as they vanish just as quickly as they arrived.
Later, Batman is on a special boat as he manages to reunite with Dick Grayson a.k.a. Nightwing (also voiced by Adam Croasdell) and Tim Drake a.k.a. Red Robin (voiced by Batman Beyond himself, Will Friedle). They explain that not only have they made the time jump to Ancient Japan, but Red Hood and Robin have done so as well. For now, Red Hood is away on a recon mission in order to learn what’s going down within the country’s feudal states. As for Robin, he’s meeting up with Alfred & Catwoman in order to bring them onto their team. From their, Batman gets introduced to Eian (voiced by Matthew Yang King), who’s the leader of his own ninja team called the Bat Clan of Hida. Eian goes on to explain that his group is motivated by a prophecy that foretells of “a foreign ninja wearing the mask of a bat” who’ll “restore order” to Japan. Now, Batman is being looked upon as the “great shinobi from across the sea of time” who’ll help them fulfill this grand destiny.
Later, Batman is overlooking the ninja clan’s base alongside his familiar allies. He tells them that his vehicles have been destroyed by the Joker as he wonders how they’ll been able to “regain the advantage”. Afterwards, they’re met upon by Damian Wayne a.k.a. Robin (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) who informs the Dark Knight that his monkey friend named Monkichi (voiced by Anna Mugiho) has a message that came “from someone in the mountain”. As such, Bruce reads it and discovers that Grodd has requested a conversation with him.
As night falls, Grodd is relaxing in a hot spring with several monkeys before he’s met upon by Batman who demands to know why his primal foe invented the Quake Engine in the first place. He explains that the gathered criminals of Gotham were originally going to be used as unknowing guinea pigs and that he was going to scatter them across the time stream in order for him to have an easier time conquering the city. However, Batman’s interference has caused them all to wind up within Ancient Japan. Grodd then says that they must team up in order to make sure that they get back to their original time period. As such, Batman agrees and says that he’ll lure the Joker out of hiding.
Sometime later, Grodd is out on the water before he’s met upon by a massive boat that’s under the control of the Joker and Harley. As he demands for Batman’s location, he soon finds the Dark Knight emerging from his disguise while the Bat Clan reveals themselves to have surrounded their vessel. However, the Joker was anticipating this maneuver as his samurai pop up and fire away at Batman’s backup, with also Harley joining them as she even uses a grenade as well.
Afterwards, Joker takes out a massive Gatling gun and opens fire at Batman and Grodd. Fortunately, they somehow miss as the Bat Clan’s boat reveals itself and rams into Joker’s vessel.
From there, Eian leads his clan as they board the ship, alongside Robin, Red Robin and Nightwing. Harley wonders how the ninjas are still alive, to which it’s reveled that her group attacked decoys.
From there, Catwoman shows up and proceeds to fight Quinn. Harley tries to shoot her, but Selina manages to dodge the opposing gunfire until her foe runs out of bullets. Eventually, Kyle manages to get the best of her.
Meanwhile, Nightwing, Robin & Red Robin manage to engage the opposing samurai and take them down.
Also, Grodd makes his way towards the Joker before Batman surrounds his foe and attacks him. From there, Grodd delivers a fierce uppercut that sends the Joker flying into the air before Batman catches him within his line and pulls him back down onto the boat.
Later, Joker’s entire armada has been defeated. He then warns Batman that Grodd could betray him before he gets gagged. As if on cue, the intelligent gorilla thanks the Dark Knight for his help before he takes out a familiar headset and attempts to control the ninja clan into attacking our heroes. Fortunately, Eian explains that the entire group has been trained to prevent outside forces from compromising their self-control over body and mind. However, Grodd soon reveals his back-up plan.
Suddenly, a barrage of cannonballs appear and smash into the ship as they soon discover that it came from a nearby vessel under the control of Two-Face. With Grodd having teamed up with the fiend, he manages to leap towards his comrade’s boat. Unfortunately, our heroes are unable to follow due to the constant cannonball attacks upon the Joker’s ship, as well as their own vessel.
Meanwhile, Grodd and Two-Face are met upon by Catwoman. Not only that, but she has a particular device that she managed to swipe from Harley during their scuffle. Because it’s a key component to the Quake Engine, she’s willing to team up with him in order to get back to their time period. Back aboard the Joker’s ship, Batman tells his comrades that they must evacuate at once. Suddenly, he notices that Joker and Harley have escaped their bonds.
From there, they get his attention from up on the mast with a massive explosive barrel in their grasp. Red Robin tells him that they have to go, but Batman tells him to leave with the rest of the team and that he’s staying put in order to make sure that they don’t escape. However, Joker has Harley light up the potentially-dangerous barrel before kicking it off. From there, it tumbles towards the flaming ship and explodes on impact as Batman gets caught in the blast.
Meanwhile, Two-Face, Grodd and Catwoman see the Joker’s boat blow up and sink towards a fiery demise, unaware of the swarm of bats that’re adjacent to the scene.
We then cut to the next day as the Penguin, Poison Ivy, Deathstroke and Two-Face oversee the renovations upon their temples. Over at Arkham Castle (which is also undergoing its own renovations), Grodd tells a fellow samurai to inform the four Damiyos that they’ll engage in a grand battle over at Jigokukohara, or the “Field of Hell”, for the right to see who’ll become the rightful Shogun.
Afterwards, Catwoman asks him when they’ll be returning to their original time period. Grodd assures her that it’ll be soon enough, since they need to reclaim three power converters from Oswald, Pamela and Slade in order for his Quake Engine to be properly powered. From there, the scene ends with Grodd disposing a banana peel into a vase.
We then shift over to the Bat Clan’s headquarters as Bruce finally wakes up after being out for the past two days. He then sees a new bat mask as Alfred informs him that Eian brought it into his room for him to ultimately wear, since it’s “the legendary mask of the Bat Clan”.
Later, a fully-recovered Batman makes his way to the nearby cliff as he sees Alfred conversing with two fellow ninjas. From there, he talks to his familiar allies that the past events saw him lose both his modern-day vehicles and weapons, thus forcing him into a desperate alliance with Grodd, only for him to be taking advantage of. As a result, they lost some of their fellow ninjas. Despite that, the clan still looks up to him as their “Master”. When Nightwing asks him what he’ll do next, Batman assures them that he’s still going to fight back, especially since he has everything he needs to pull through: his mind, body, spirit and the supportive help of his present Bat Family. From there, he removes his damaged cowl and tosses it over the cliff.
At that moment, the sun rises upon the land as Bruce dons his new mask and tells his comrades that they’ll fully adjust to “this time and place” in order to finally prevail over their enemy. He promises to preserve the clan’s faith in him and that they’ll “master the ways of the ninja”. After some proper preparation, he’ll look to “turn their legend into reality”.
From there, the Bat Family proceed to set their operation in motion. It starts off with Nightwing informing Batman of the clan’s effective ninja techniques. As such, they should be able to combine the group’s martial arts prowess with their own “modern innovations and combat” for a style that’ll surprise Grodd. Later, Red Robin tells Bruce that they’ll out-maneuver their foes, should they be attacked by their own fortresses. Tim assures him that the clan has their own blacksmiths with an outstanding level of craftsmanship that places their own weapons precision over what’s normally available back in the present. Sometime afterwards, Batman is met upon by Alfred who lets him know that he’ll craft a special “high-protein” diet out of the exceptionally good wild game and produce at their disposal. Afterwards, Robin returns and tells Bruce that Monkichi has a new message for them. Specifically, it’s about Red Hood finding their targets. As such, Batman heads out to rendezvous.
Later, Jason Todd a.k.a. Red Hood (also voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) arrives at a farm out in the country and asks the couple there if he could have some water to drink. With the pair being revealed as Joker and Harley, they actually offer to help him out as she kindly goes to get him a drink.
Suddenly, Red Hood grabs Quinn and threatens to break her arm as the Joker tearfully begs him to stop before he’s forced to reveal his face to him. However, he admits that he doesn’t know why he’s being referred to as Joker. From there, Jason shoves Harley onto the ground as the befuddled Clown Prince of Crime rushes over to comfort her. Red Hood then says that he doesn’t buy their attempt to pass themselves off as farmers before he proceeds to assault them.
Despite their beating, the Joker is still befuddled by this supposed mistaken identity. As such, Jason places his gun and aims it at point-blank range towards his foe’s head. Suddenly, a shot was fired, but it ended up missing its target. It turns out that Batman arrived in time to intervene as he confirms Joker & Harley’s location due to them being reported as “foreign farmers in the area”.
Later on, he asks the Joker if he remembers anything, to which he says that neither he nor Harley are able to recall their own pasts. Not only that, but they came to this mountainous area in order for them “to live a peaceful life”. Red Hood tells Batman that he shouldn’t believe this lie, but Bruce feels convinced by the Joker’s confession. From there, he tells out heroic duo that working on this farm with his lady offers a feeling of personal cleansing. Suddenly, Harley tells him that a sprout has grown on their land. Despite Jason’s claim, Batman assures him that even though he’s been tricked by them in the past, they don’t have the same deceitfulness within their eyes.
Meanwhile, Joker and Harley take joy in the fact that they managed to grow a simple sprout upon their land. From there, Bruce assures Red Hood that they lost their memories as a result of the boat explosion, thus they’re no longer a threat. As they head out, Wayne informs Todd that they’ll eventually take them back to their time period, but will keep an observational eye on the pair for now. From there, the scene ends with the sprout blossoming into a flower and spreading its seeds out towards them. However, their pleasant giggles slowly turns into familiar and devious laughs.
One month later, the renovations to Arkham Castle have finished. As such, Grodd and Catwoman are ready to reclaim the power convertors for the Quake Engine. From there, they set their plan into motion as Arkham Castle shifts into its mobile form and heads out.
Meanwhile, the rest of the devious Damiyos have also begun to mobilize. With the Penguin, he proceeds to get his Trojan Birdman Castle moving.
Over with Poison Ivy, she refuses to let her plant-based paradise be conquered by her male adversaries. As such, she mobilizes her Juroku Plant Poison Castle off towards the battlefield.
At that moment, Deathstroke decides to head out in order to become “the most powerful warlord in Japan” as his Gakuju Sharaso Castle begins its mechanical march.
Finally, Two-Face also begins his trek towards the Field of Hell as the Fudo Omote Two-Face Castle proceeds on its course.
Over at the Bat Clan’s headquarters, the distant rumbles are felt as Batman and company meditate in preparation for the big battle ahead. After he suits up, Bruce unveils their vast arsenal for his comrades to use. From there, he tells his Bat Family that they’ll stand a fighting chance if they’re able to infiltrate the gigantic machines and take out the fiends operating within each of them. As such, he’s ready to fully embrace the clan’s prophecy. From there, all five of them head out with Eian and their fellow ninjas as Wayne takes on the role of “Sengoku Batman”.
Meanwhile over at Jigokukohara, the feudal Damiyos proceed to clash with each other. After withstanding Deathstroke’s cannon blasts, Penguin proceeds to charge right at Poison Ivy. Following a brief struggle, Oswald transforms his Trojan Birdman Castle into a fighter robot. Pamela responds by having her Juroku Plant Poison Castle do the same before they resume their tussle.
Deathstroke decides to join the transforming robot fun as he makes Gakuju Sharaso Castle into a multi-barreled machine before he fires away at them. Suddenly, he’s approached by Grodd and his Arkham Castle. From there, Two-Face arrives within his Fudo Omote Two-Face Castle as he proceeds to stand between them.
After withstanding the opposing barrage, he transforms his mobile palace before he proceeds to tangle with Deathstroke. During this, Batman and company arrive to see this unexpected battle.
Suddenly, an opposing armada shows up in front of them. Fortunately, Eian offers to take their fellow ninjas into battle against them. However, Red Hood notices that more of Grodd’s forces are approaching them from behind.
With Arkham Castle in his sights and a steep cliff in front of them, Batman decides to lead the charge as he and his Bat Family ride down towards the opposing fortress.
Meanwhile, Two-Face and his castle continue to withstand Deathstroke’s firepower as Grodd appreciates his loyalty to him. Just as his mobile fortress prepares its multishot bow-and-arrow, Harvey’s fateful coin flip has him ultimately choosing to turn on him as he redirects his aim. However, Grodd counters as Arkham Castle grabs his traitorous partner’s robot’s face.
Back with Batman and company, they deicide to take to the air as they soar upon their built-in Bat-Gliders and make their way towards their target. During this, Grodd’s mobile fortress proceeds to throw Two-Face’s robotized castle as our heroes manage to avoid it before it slams right into Deathstroke’s roving citadel.
Afterwards, Grodd decides to pull this off again as Arkham Castle grabs both opposing robots and tosses them at Penguin and Poison Ivy, who wind up on the receiving end.
He then gets his mobile fortress into position above the fallen Damiyos before he unveils a hidden console set.
With all four foes now under his mind control, he then sets his ultimate plan into motion.
As he places certain pieces onto his console, the other transformed robots get into position as Grodd explains to Catwoman that he manipulated those fiends into creating their fortresses. As such, they were unaware that their buildings were actually “pieces in a larger puzzle”. Just as Selina says that she’s fine with this scheme serving as their ticket back to their time period, Grodd reveals that he has no intention of honoring this request as he intends to conquer Japan. From there, he’ll turn the whole country “into a kingdom of monkeys” and ultimately “rewrite the history of the world”. With the other four mechanized castles put into place, he prepares to lay down the final piece to his combiner plan.
Suddenly, a ball comes in with a recorded laugh as a familiar flower pops up and emits its toxic gas, causing Selina and Grodd to keel over. From there, a hot air balloon arrives as Joker and Harley announce their restored return.
As Batman and company are surprised to see this devious duo back in action, they proceed to infiltrate Arkham Castle as Joker tells Grodd that he intends on paying him back for his actions over on the lake. Harley then informs Catwoman & Grodd that their paralysis is only temporary before Joker announces his intention on taking control over Grodd’s plan.