It is no surprise to anyone that I loves me some cartoons, but I’ve never really been a fan of anime. My first love is Western animation; I watched a little Sailor Moon in high school, but that was about the extent of my exposure. I have since watched a few, but nothing really grabbed my attention; for someone accustomed to the twenty-odd minute chunks of action-packed stories, sitting through an hour of tedious dubbed dialogue followed by five minutes of stunning acrobatics left me dizzy.

And then 2008 rolled around and Batman: Gotham Knight was released.

Oh, my.

It is very similar to the Batman: the Animated Series that I grew up with and still like to watch and caress and whisper sweet nothings to. (Don’t judge me!), but it is also radically different.

Set outside the canon of the DCAU, it is an animated feature broken down into six distinct segments. While each segment weaves into a coherent story, one borrowing from another, the styles are very, very different, and for good reason. In what I would call an innovative and risky move, each segment is directed by a different director and animated by a different anime studio. The only constants are the voice actors (most notably Kevin Conroy (squeee!), who returns as the Caped Crusader) and certain story elements.

And it works.

Damn, does it work.

Best of all – multiple Batmen.

Pictured: Batman

Also Batman

Actual Batman

Yet more Batman.

I count nine Batmen, each one different. The first segment alone, told in reverse from the viewpoint of three kids, each with their own version of Batman (and the real one shows up, of course) has four.

It is not for kids; Gotham Knight is only the second animated Batman movie to receive a PG-13 rating, mostly for blood and violence (this is  Batman) and it is quite bloody but I did not find it overly so.

The overall story is meant to bridge the gap between  Batman Begins  and The Dark Knight and does a very good job. Both movies are referenced, but if you haven’t seen them yet you can still enjoy this film. I quite enjoyed it, but I’m a touch biased.