FEATURE: What Anime Would Robin Make Batman Watch?
Since Batman Day is upon us I must ask a very important question: Is Batman a weeb? It’s a fair question. He trained with ninjas, has some tokusatsu elements to his costume, and is a rich man with downtime that could be spent watching anime. It’s hard to say whether or not Batman would be an anime nerd… his sidekicks on the other hand are absolutely otaku to the highest degree. Specifically, all the Robins are all around the right ages to have gotten into anime at different points during its mainstream rise.
So, the question is: what anime would each Robin be into and thus make Batman watch?
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In order to make this work, I’m aging each Robin as though they are their current age in modern time. This helps gauge what anime were foundational to each Robin’s taste. For Dick Grayson, he’s likely around 24-27, so his earliest anime introductions would probably be the Toonami broadcasts of Naruto, serving as his gateway anime alongside the late-night Adult Swim anime lineup.
Dick has always been the talkative, charismatic, show-offy foil to Batman’s brooding nature, something that carried over into his shift to Nightwing. Taking all this into consideration, he’d make Batman watch classics from the late 90s and 2000s like Cowboy Bebop and, of course, Big O since it’s basically anime Batman. As he grows up, Dick might get into series like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (surely since he comes from circus folk, Dick would appreciate the ridiculous, flamboyant vibes) or anime featuring a found family resembling his own adoption like Golden Kamuy.
Jason Todd, the second Robin, is kind of an edgelord (yeah I said it), both as Robin and as The Red Hood. Knowing his background as The Boy Wonder and as a crime lord, it’s safe to say that Jason’s anime taste centers around violence, revenge, temperamental/vengeful protagonists, and black-and-white justice. Placing his age around 20-23, some of the anime he would try to get Bruce to watch would include the likes of Death Note (he would be OBSESSED with it). More recent titles he’d be into include PSYCHO-PASS and Tokyo Ghoul. He’d also own a collector’s edition of Akira.
Jason is also something of a tortured soul, so series like Berserk would satisfy his anime taste. In trying to get Batman to watch these, Jason would get scolded about their disturbing content. This would, of course, make him watch more.
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Carrie Kelly appeared as Robin in The Dark Knight Returns, which came out in 1986 — the year the comic takes place. Since Carrie is 13, the anime she’d have access to would be limited. That said, she definitely has weeb vibes and would be on top of early exports and fan screenings. Carrie’s taste would be vast and diverse since she seems like an early anime adapter and connoisseur.
Carrie would be into classics like Dirty Pair, Vampire Hunter D, Fist of the North Star, and the Ghibli films that made their way to the states like My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies. She would try to get Batman to watch these, but a 55-year-old Batman might be the hardest to convince yet.
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Tim Drake doesn’t always have the most consistent personality, but some recurring aspects are his natural talent, intelligence, an altruistic heart of gold that endears him quickly to others, and a sense of self-consciousness that can lead to self-depreciation. It’s safe to say that these traits would make Tim a real shonen buff — the raw-talent underdog who proves others wrong with their skills and gathers a found family out of pure heart.
Taking into account his age being around 16-19, he’d potentially discover anime just before its widespread availability entered the mainstream. He’d enjoy series like Hunter x Hunter, before getting into My Hero Academia, Mob Psycho 100, Gurren Lagann, and sports anime like Haikyu!! — all of which feature protagonists proving their worth and fighting for others. Since shonen is rife with anime tropes that still get parodied today, Tim shoving these recommendations in Batman’s face would be jarring, to say the least. Though his interest might be piqued by My Hero Academia, Bruce probably wouldn’t “get it.” Shame.
Stephanie Brown was only Robin for a short period of time, but she can’t be overlooked. Around the same age as Tim and known for being defiant and desperate to prove herself, Stephanie probably has an anime taste similar to Tim Drake, but with some of the Jason Todd rebelliousness thrown in. Some of her earliest anime might include Full Metal Alchemist in 2003 then Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. She’d also be a fan of series like Soul Eater or One Piece as Luffy is quite the defiant underdog.
Stephanie was eventually dismissed as Robin for disobeying orders, so her anime taste going into modern day would include ALL the Gundam series or any kind of “screw the rules I’ll do what’s right” type series like Fairy Tail. While she might try to show Batman her feelings on her experience as Robin by sharing these, I doubt Batman would get why these shows are her favorites — he can be a little thick-skulled.
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Last, but not least, we come to the current Robin, the little snot that is Damien Wayne — the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul raised as an assassin, only to turn to the side of light and work with his father. Damien is quite a bit like Jason Todd, taking things a bit too seriously with a bit too dark of a view on things, but he wants to do good despite his shortcomings.
Since Damien is a Zoomer, he doesn’t know a world where anime wasn’t part of the pop culture zeitgeist. He’s definitely a fan of cool “edgy” stuff like JUJUTSU KAISEN and Tokyo Revengers, maybe less recent stuff like Kill la Kill, or series that speak to his assassin-turned-hero past like SPY x FAMILY and Lycrois Recoil. Of course, since he’s part of the generation who’s fully steeped in anime, so he’s into whatever’s hot and new like anyone his age! When he tries to get Batman to watch any of these — most likely recommending JUJUTSU KAISEN and SPY x FAMILY — Bruce would tell him he shouldn’t be watching that stuff because, as we’ve established, Batman’s no fun.
All the Robins probably have a group chat where they keep recommending anime for Batman to try — all agreeing that he needs to watch Big O — but it would probably be in vain since justice and vengeance provides very little free time to watch anime. That said, Batman may in fact already be a Sailor Moon fan…
Sean Aitchison is a writer and researcher from LA who watches too much anime and knows too much about Sonic the Hedgehog. Follow him on twitter @Sean8UrSon for his work and listen to his podcast, Sonic Podcast Adventure (@SonicPod).