Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
Scooby-Doo and the gang are joined by none other than the Caped Crusaders, Batman and Robin, in this double dose of anime action adventure. First, the Mystery Machine gets a flat tire, and the Scooby Crew stumble upon a spooky old house, where all is not as it seems. Fortunately Batman and Robin show up to help the meddling kids catch the Joker and Penguin, who are out to perpetrate a nefarious counterfeiting scheme. Next, the Mysteries Inc. gang go camping in some spooky old woods, where all is not as it seems. Fortunately Batman and Robin show up to help the meddling kids catch the Joker and the Penguin, who are out to perpetrate a nefarious kidnapping scheme. This winning teamup of Scooby-Doo and Batman features some of the most original and inventive storytelling anime has ever seen.
Please note, this review was a part of our 2003 April Fools Jokes. Scooby-Doo Meets Batman really exists, but it was created by Hanna Barbara and is not a Japanese Anime. Furthermore, the review itself is not a serious review of this show.
Once in a great while an anime comes along that redefines the boundaries of the medium. Just as Akira stretches the limits of anime's visual brilliance and the works of Hayao Miyazaki soar to unprecedented emotional heights, so too does Scooby-Doo Meets Batman represent one of the crowning achievements in anime history. A unique collaboration of two of the best-loved characters the art form has ever known, these two extraordinary episodes are presented together for the first time in this special edition DVD release.
Not just your typical Scooby-Doo mystery, the addition of the Batman characters brings an incredible amount of depth to the Scooby universe. In an astoundingly original plot twist, the identities of the villains are known to viewers from the start, as classic Bat-villains the Joker and the Penguin show up to bedevil the Mysteries Inc. gang. The tightly-woven suspense comes not from wondering who is lurking under the monster mask, but whether the Joker dressed up as the Tree Ghoul, or the Electric Ghost? And the addition of Batman and Robin to the Scooby team cannot be undervalued. Their serious crime-fighting methods are the perfect foil for Shaggy and Scooby's hilarious antics, and the combination makes for a perfect blend of hard-boiled detective drama and playful whimsy. The Dynamic Duo also bring a new level of sexual tension to the show, and shonen ai fans should be pleased. The only slipup is the Joker and the Penguin's terrified reaction to a disguised Scooby and Shaggy. Would two of the greatest supervillains in Gotham City really be afraid of a talking dog with a sheet over his head? But it's a minor complaint, and Scooby-Doo Meets Batman still makes for a thoroughly entertaining anime experience.
These episodes date from the "New Scooby-Doo Mysteries" era, the season in which much of the Scooby style was perfected. Whereas earlier episodes ran at a mere half-hour, each of these installments run at an impressive forty minutes, allowing more time to develop to complex, detailed mysteries Scooby-Doo is known for. The greatest achievement, however, is the addition of the hilarious laughtrack. The exact same tinny, canned laughter erupts every five seconds, regardless if there is a joke or not. This makes the show doubly entertaining, and I found myself joyously laughing along every time Shaggy utters a terrified "Zoinks!", Velma loses her glasses, or Fred stands motionless and blinks his eyes. The only thing missing is Scrappy-Doo, Scooby's lovably irascible nephew and quite possibly the greatest, most fully-developed anime character of the past thirty years.
The quality level of artwork present is light years ahead of most other anime productions. Miyazaki could learn a thing or two from Scooby's gorgeously-realized fantasy world, which comes to life in glorious hues of brown, green, green, green and brown. The lifelike animation remains unmatched to this day, and the multiple scenes in which Scooby and the gang run from their enemies have a tremendous energy. Capping off the technical accomplishments is a groovy psychedelic score that puts Yoko Kanno's work on Cowboy Bebop to shame. It all blends into a triumphant fusion of sight and sound, one you will never forget. No matter how hard you try.
It deserves better than this sub-par DVD release, however. The opening theme is completely removed from each episode, as are all the eye-catch sequences. But the biggest travesty is the omission of the original Japanese language track. In a horrific sleight to fandom, Scooby-Doo Meets Batman is only presented in its English and Spanish dubbed versions. While the American voice actors do a fair job of recreating the sound of the original cast, Toshio Furukawa's Shaggy is sorely missed. Perhaps in a feeble attempt to compensate for this crime, Warner Bros. has packed this release with many extra features. There is a challenging "Find the Supervillain" game in which players use their remote control to try and locate the Joker, who has hidden somewhere on the disc. Players are given twenty minutes to find the Clown Prince of Crime before he releases a computer virus into the DVD player which destroys the lens and renders the unit inoperable (hint: click on the giant helicopter in the center of the screen). Also included are several groovy Scooby-Doo music videos as well as a mini-documentary. If only the titles and the Japanese vocal track had been included, this would be a first-rate release.
Simply put, any real anime fan has no choice but to add Scooby-Doo Meets Batman to their DVD collection. Everyone young or old will find something to cherish in this heartwarming tale of love and triumph over adversity. This remarkable film will forever stand as a reminder of the glory and power of Japanese animation.
Overall (dub) : A+
Overall (sub) : A+
Story : A+
Animation : A+
Art : A+
Music : A+
+ Two of the greatest anime characters ever in one of the greatest anime, ever.
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