I recently purchased the Dvds of the complete Batman the Animated Series. This series first aired in 1992 after the release of the Batman Returns feature film. This series featured the animated adventures of DC comics Dark Knight, produced by Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski. This “cartoon” took a serious approach to the Batman mythos, showing a grim Batman set in a very dark Gotham City. From the start with the first episode “On Leather Wings”, Batman fans knew that this was the Batman we had been waiting for, there was no camp, no mugging for the camera, and grown up tales of a Batman we had seen only before in some of the best Comics of the series.
It is certainly evidenced that the creators were Batman fans based on the detail given all the characters of the series. It’s widely known that Batman has the best rouges gallery of any hero and it shows in all its glory within the series.
One of the best features of the series in the voice acting, no longer did a company use the stock performers we all grew up with from the Hanna Barbara stable, no this time real actors took on the roles giving it their all. For example Mark Hamill, brings the Joker to manically life throughout the entire series, so much so that when ever you see the Joker all you can here is Hamill’s distinct laugh for the character.
Also the series features some of the best writing for these characters ever produced with many of the best episodes being written by Paul Dini. Dini not only utilize all the elements of what made all the characters great, but in many cases reinvented them and gave them more depth, for example Mr. Freeze in the first season episode “Heart of Ice”.
Also the look of the series was very distinct, given a very dark look, with very detailed lighting effects and a style which can easily be traced back to the old Max Fleischer Superman cartoons of the 40s. The pictures in this series are dark, extremely dark and this fits the mood of the entire series and the characters. Again, much of what animation had looked like in the past thirty hears had been established by companies like Hana Barbara and Flimation, which utilized very limited background stills and reused the foreground art over and over again.
In my opinion the creators of the series had done the definitive Batman……The Batman that every fan knew and didn’t know, and wanted more of each week. I can’t recommend this series enough; it’s a treat for every Batman fan out there and possibly for any anime fan as well.
Also it is noted that Paul Dini, is currently writing Batman in Detective Comics and is introducing many of the animated elements into current Batman continuity, so check it out!