Change is part of comic book characters -- even iconic ones -- as new artists want to put their stamp on the character and new writers demonstrate their creative directions for the character. Batman: Gotham Knight introduces a Japanese feel to Gotham's dark protector, as different anime artists illustrate each of the six interwoven stories here. I wish I could have said the results were better.

Anime has created some wild visuals before, but while their takes on Batman and other Gotham regulars (Commissioner Gordon, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, Deadshot) are different, they're not memorable or particularly inspired. Sure we see Bruce Wayne as a typical cool anime-star teen, or Batman wearing different types of body armor, but it's not wild or original enough to be memorable. The only real fun is in the opening story (a reimagining of a comic book tale) where a bunch of kids share their recollections of meeting Batman, turning him into a smoke-demon, a winged monster, and a robot.

The stories here aren't particularly inspired: Batman fights criminals, experiments with technology, and (in the weakest one) deals with pain while flashbacks show him, well, learning to deal with pain. I'm also surprised that with the Joker featured so prominently in the upcoming movie, the Clown Prince of Crime is absent here. He could have made quite an impression, whether he was like the homicidal mastermind from Naturo or the physics-defying Pierre Le Fou. Instead we have lots of mobsters, a giant reptile, a brief bit with the Scarecrow, and a deadly shooter.

Some of the action here is good, and the voice talent is solid. Overall, though, Batman: Gotham Knight is a letdown. If you're looking for a Batman fix while waiting for the new movie, I recommend the original animated series.

Overall Grade: C

Reviewed by James Lynch

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