One of the many highlights of the anime Batman: Ninja was seeing his coworkers get a proper Japanese makeover. And now, in what I hope is the first of many, Batsy’s gal pal Catwoman is getting her own anime with Catwoman: Hunted (Blu-ray, 4K, DVD), a rather fun and quippy tail, er tale.
Directed by Shinsuke Terasawa,
who’s helmed episodes of XXXHOLiC and The Tower Of DRUAGA: The Aegis Of URUK, and written by Young Justice writer / producer Greg Weisman, Catwoman: Hunted opens with Selina Kyle sneaking into a crime boss’s costume party to steal an emerald called (what else?), the Cat’s Eye. Suffice it to say, the criminals ain’t happy. But after a run in with Batwoman, literally, Selina finds that the only way out of this sticky situation is to play nice with her new BFF to take out the big bad.
What follows is a clever and often intricate story that has some unexpected twists. It also has a rather snappy script, especially when it comes to the banter between Catwoman and Batwoman, though it’s never jokey in a bad sitcom way.
It’s also a rather action packed story, and director Shinsuke Terasawa does a great job with these parts. Catwoman and Cheshire’s brawl is unusually brutal for a DC animated move, while Catwoman’s exit from the party at the beginning recalls the frantic church brawl in Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Catwoman: Hunted also benefits…
from having an impressive voice cast. Though she’s no Eartha Kitt, Dynasty‘s Elizabeth Gillies does give Catwoman a bit of Kitt-like ’60s sex kitten vibe, which is nicely countered by the stoic approach of Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Stephanie Beatriz as Batwoman.
Filling out Catwoman: Hunted‘s notable cast are The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohan and Star Trek: Picard‘s Jonathan Frakes as Interpol agents overseeing this operation; Kelly Hu, who was recently the voice of someone else in Batman: Soul Of The Dragon, and brings an engagingly self-aware vibe to her portrayal of the assassin Cheshire; Rick & Morty‘s Keith David as the big and tough Tobias Whale; Jonathan Banks from Better Call Saul as the crime lord Black Mask; and The Good Place‘s Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Barbara Minerva, the head of Leviathan, and the aforementioned Big Bad.
As for how it compares to the other DC animes, it’s not as strong as the best shorts in Batman: Gotham Knight, but it comes rather close. It also doesn’t embrace as many anime tropes or camera tricks as Batman: Ninja, though the ones it does use, it uses to great effect. Though I don’t recall either of those having the kind of jazzy score we’ve heard in Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and Darker Than Black, something Catwoman: Hunted uses to great effect.
This is especially notable given how good Catwoman: Hunted sounds (and looks) on these handy take-home editions. Though I can only comment on the Blu-ray, it does a good job of presenting the movie as it should be seen and heard. The aforementioned jazzy score sounded crisp and clear coming out of my home theater’s speakers, and the same can be said for the movie’s visuals, even when they had more of a soft, smoky look about them.
The Blu-ray and 4K versions…
of Catwoman: Hunted also come with a pair of interesting featurettes. First, “When The Hunter Becomes The Hunted” spends nearly twenty minutes with Weisman and other members of the production staff — as well as people who’ve told other Catwoman stories — to discuss how this movie came together, and what went into the decisions behind the different aspects of the story.
Next, Catwoman’s long career as an anti-hero is explored in “Catwoman: The Feline Femme Fatale,” which spend forty minutes discussing the character’s comic book origins, as well as her subsequent appearances in movies, on TV, and in cartoons.
Though as surprisingly in-depth as it may go on those fronts — both the Halle Berry movie and the upcoming film The Batman are discussed — it does leave a lot out, most notably her parts of the Arkham video games, her being in Batman: Ninja and other recent animated shows and movies (save for a brief bit from The LEGO Batman Movie), and, oddly, Catwoman: Hunted.
Sadly, these aren’t the only oversights when it comes to the “Special Features” section of the Catwoman: Hunted Blu-ray and 4K. Neither the director nor anyone from this movie’s voice cast are interviewed in “When The Hunter Becomes The Hunted,” nor is there a featurette on them, or them doing a running commentary on the film.
This also doesn’t have the movie’s trailer, or trailers for any other recent or upcoming DC animated movies, not even the usual mini “making of” the next movie they usually include.
Even without these things, though,
Catwoman: Hunted is an engaging story for Gotham’s most prolific B&E perpetrator, and the Blu-ray, 4K, and DVD editions are a great way to enjoy her criminal exploits without getting fleeced yourself.