Batman and Japan

So, since I signed up for DCU in late December I have been doing a rewatch of B:TAS. Today I finished “Day of the Samurai” (S2E16) and earlier this week I watched “Night of the Ninja” (S2E7). Both have Batman face a ninja (Kyodai Ken) and have him in Japan (either actually or through flashback). I was pleasantly surprised with the episode and its accuracy. Not to say that it was perfect (e.g. some of the Japanese characters on the buildings were incorrect, but I don’t know if that was intentional or not) but most elements like the Japanese language audio that was used was surprisingly accurate. Kevin Conroy even had good pronunciation and accent. So it shows that they put a lot of effort into making it the best it could be. Just another thing making it a fantastic show.

As a shakuhachi player and an ethnomusicologist with a regional focus on Japan, I was most surprised and excited to hear the use of Japanese instruments such as the shakuhachi and koto used in the soundtrack so idiomatically. Shirley Walker is truly a master at composition.

Anyway, I think it would be an interesting research project to see representations of Japan, Japanese language, Japanese music, etc. in Batman media. I was hoping to enlist the help of the DCU community. Of course things with sound like TV and movies are the best, but I’m looking for anything, even just a panel in a comic book. I know of a few:

  • The above-mentioned episodes in B:TAS
  • The villain in the 1943 serial is a Japanese guy, Dr. Daka, and there are some Japanese elements (and pretty racist, though reflective of the anti-Japanese sentiment during WWII)
  • The Batman and Teen Titans cartoons were inspired by anime
  • The Batman Ninja movie
  • Batman Ninja manga by Hisa Masato (久正人; in two volumes)
  • Chip Kidd’s Bat-Manga and the actual Jiro Kuwata Batman manga
  • A few elements in Batman Begins
  • Batman: Gotham Knight was animated by various Japanese anime studios
  • Batman and the Justice League by Teshirogi Shiori (手代木史織; 4 volumes)
  • Batman Death Mask by Natsume Yoshinori (夏目義徳)
  • Batman Child of Dreams by Asamiya Kia (麻宮騎亜; in 2 volumes in the original Japanese)
  • Short manga story by Ōtomo Katsuhiro (大友克洋) in Vol. 1 of Batman Black and White
  • Use of Katana in Beware the Batman TV Series
  • Batman the Brave and the Bold S1E24–the Katana section features many Japanese elements including the use of the shakuhachi and shamisen

Hopefully you can help me add to my list. Thanks in advance for all your help!! :blush:


A very cool project idea, @tshaver! I’d be happy to help you out. Here are a few more intersections between Batman and Japan I was able to track down.

Teen Titans #4 (1966): The Teen Titans at the Tokyo Olympics.

Batman and the Outsiders #9-13 (1984): A story arc featuring Japanese native Outsider, Katana.

Batman: No Man’s Land Secret Files (1999): A reporter chases Bruce through Japan for an interview.

Titans Annual #1 (2000): Nightwing and the Titans battle a Japanese entity known as Bushido.

Birds of Prey #43 (2002): The Birds of Prey encounter a WWII-era Japanese battleship carrying a deadly disease on board.

Batman #615 (2003): A brief flashback to Bruce’s training in Japan.

Teen Titans #39 (2006): Robin and the Teen Titans track down Zatanna’s cousin, Zachary Zatara, performing in Japan.

Final Crisis (2008): Featuring Most Excellent Superbat of Japan’s Super Young Team.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #8 (2009): Batman teams up with local Japanese hero, Rising Sun.

Batman Annual #27 (2009): The Cult of Crime refers to a chapter in Nagasaki.

Batman and Robin #18 (2010): Bruce Wayne recuperates from a long journey in Japan.

Batman, Incorporated #1-2 (2010): Featuring Mister Unknown, the Batman of Japan.

Birds of Prey #2, 13-15 (2011): Featuring Katana.

Batgirl #9 (2012): Backstory on Strix, a Talon befriended by Batgirl in “Night of the Owls.”

Batman, Incorporated #0, 11, Special (2012): Further appearances of Mister Unknown, Batman of Japan.

Beware the Batman #3-4 (2013): Origin of Katana.

Batman #26 (2014): Flashback to Tokyo, 1946.

Batman Eternal #5, 15-19 (2014): Red Robin and Harper Row battle nanobots in Tokyo.

Nightwing #30 (2014): Nightwing disarms a terrorist in Tokyo.

Batman and Robin #39-40 (2015): The Justice League and Damian Wayne fight a giant monster in Nagasaki.

Batman & Robin Eternal #24 (2016): Spyral agents confront Mother’s operatives in Tokyo.

Batman #52 (2016): Flashback to Bruce’s training in Japan.

Batgirl #1 (2016): Batgirl visits Japan on a tour of East Asia.

Nightwing #42 (2018): Nightwing rescues Damian from the Crimson Kabuki.


One more that I can think of


Update: added some Nightwing and Titan appearances.


Also, I agree wholeheartedly that Shirley Walker was a genius.


@HubCityQuestion Thank you for that extensive list and links to all of them. I’ll definitely be checking them out.

@50710 Thank you for this. It looks promising! It says it’s a translation, so I wonder if I can find the original Japanese version somewhere…

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I have some photos of Jiro’s original layouts, if that’s of any interest, but it would take some digging to find them. I don’t mind, but just want to make sure it’s what you want before I go spelunking through a pile of flash drives. :slightly_smiling_face:


:open_mouth: Holy cow… that would be amazing!!


Np, then :wink: I’ll share sometime this weekend. I was really lucky and got a chance to see them on exhibit last year. Happy to share the manga love.


@tshaver I don’t know if as authentic as the BTAS episodes, but Beware the Batman featured Katana prominently and was made by veterans of BTAS.

Beware the Batman (TV Series 2013–2014) - IMDb


Oh great! I just purchased that series on iTunes. I’ll start watching it and check it out. Thanks for the heads up.
This reminds me that Katana was also in Suicide Squad. Her Japanese was accurate, but the her accent left much to be desired in that.


@50710 Thank you for alerting me to the existence of this! I checked on Amazon Japan and THEY HAVE IT IN JAPANESE!! So of course I ordered all 4 volumes.

While I was on Amazon Japan, I also found a Manga version of Batman Ninja (in Japanese) in 2 volumes… and I may have splurged on that as well. I mean, if I’m going to pay for the international shipping, might as well go all the way and get it all, right? :sweat_smile:


That’s great that you found what you were looking for.

Just a little jump in to assure I never forgot this thread, but for the life of me, I can’t find the photos. Not sure if my card got mixed in with some from work or what. :frowning:
I’m glad you found Japanese copies on amazon. They’ll be infinitely easier to read than my glare-blasted shots.

@tshaver I don’t know if you would be interested in English translations, but there are three volumes from Jiro Kuwata from the 1960s. You may also want to check out the book pictured in the lower righthand corner which is a history of Bat-Manga by Chip Kidd who has done many books on comics and design.

@TravisMorgan Thanks for the post! Of course English is fine if the original Japanese is unobtainable. I actually have all three volumes of Kuwata’s manga in the original Japanese and the limited edition hardcover of Kidd’s Bat-Manga though.

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For those that are interested, in my own recent searches I found two new Batman manga. I’m attaching pictures of the English versions, though I was also able to find and buy the original Japanese versions.

*Batman Death Mask by Natsume Yoshinori (夏目義徳)
*Batman Child of Dreams by Asamiya Kia (麻宮騎亜; in 2 volumes in the original Japanese)

Batman Child of Dreams

I also found that a short manga story by Ōtomo Katsuhiro (大友克洋) was done for Vol. 1 of Batman Black and White. HOWEVER, I have been unable to find it in Japanese. On the first page it does say it was translated. Does anyone know if it was ever published in the original Japanese? Or if the original Japanese was just in his handwritten/drawn copy?


In Batman the Brave and the Bold S1E24, Psycho Pirate messes with the minds of The Outsiders. In Katana’s mind, she goes back to her time in Japan with her teacher. The scene is very Zen minimalist Japan with the main action taking place in a Zen garden and the background being almost all bamboo. The enemy in this scene is even dressed in samurai attire. Musically, it features the shakuhachi and the shamisen which was exciting :grin:

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