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Anime / Batman Ninja

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When Japan is in a state of chaos like a mass of hemp, a Ninja with a bat mask shall appear and restore order!

A 2018 movie in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line, Batman Ninja is a story of a time-displaced Batman in Feudal Japan, but with futuristic vehicles, airships, and guns. The plot concerns a group of classic villains that are trying to rewrite history while Batman and his allies are the only thing between them and their goal. It is notably only the second DC movie to be produced and developed in Japan, after 2008's Batman: Gotham Knight, and the first to be made in CGI.

The voice cast for the English dub includes Roger Craig Smith reprising his Batman: Arkham Origins role as Batman and Tony Hale as The Joker.

The English dub of the movie was released on April 24, 2018 (digital) and May 8, 2018 (DVD).

The first trailer can be seen here (subbed), the second trailer here (subbed), and the English dub trailer here .

Tropes in this film:

  • Acoustic License:
    • The various Calling Your Attack transformation announcements by the secondary villains couldn't possibly be heard by each other, since they're all sitting inside gigantic mechanical buildings engaged in melee combat.
    • Batman and Joker are able to hear and taunt each other during a fight sequence where the former is driving his vehicles while the latter sits in his mechanized castle.
    • Likewise the flute used to control the army of monkeys.
  • Adaptational Badass: The Joker is generally depicted as more of a schemer than a fighter, and for most of the film his behavior is entirely in line with this. In his first skirmish with Batman, he's become good enough with wielding metal fans over the course of two years that he can cut down multiple trees by throwing them, whereas most other incarnations of Joker usually aren't portrayed as having that much power in their wrists. Then, in the final battle, he turns out to be a master swordsman skilled enough to match Batman blow for blow in a straight fight.
  • Adaptational Curves: As is fitting for an anime, this is one of Catwoman's most voluptuous appearances.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • The normally black-haired Selina Kyle/Catwoman is a redhead.
    • This is the first portrayal of Tim Drake/Red Robin to not have black hair, instead making it a very light brown that's bordering on blond.
    • Instead of being a redhead, this version of Poison Ivy has popping pink hair.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Downplayed. Catwoman is fighting alongside Batman and the Bat family from the start, but she betrays them mid-way to ally with Grodd instead. When Joker takes over, however, Catwoman's right back to Batman's side and stays there for the rest of the movie, even cheerily remarking on how easily Batman forgives her for her early double-cross.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Damian Wayne is usually on the side of the heroes in various incarnations but he's almost always been portrayed as being anti-heroic, rough-around-the-edges, and anti-social to various degrees. Here, almost all his rough edges are smoothed out and Damian is a much more pleasant and jovial character, displaying almost none of the sociopathic qualities he has in other incarnations.
  • Adaptational Personality Change:
    • From what little we see of him, Deathstroke seems more angled toward a criminal mastermind depiction, akin to his Slade incarnation from Teen Titans, as opposed to his usual mercenary-for-hire persona.
    • The Damian Wayne incarnation of Robin is more of an upbeat Kid-Appeal Character than his usual self-important, violent self. He does, however, have his skills with the katana and natural affinity with animals.
    • Grodd is shown eating a banana, despite his usual hatred of them.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Deathstroke the Terminator is a force to be reckoned with who can usually take on Batman and win in the comics. Here, Red Hood takes him down in a gunfight with relative ease, and Slade curiously doesn't draw out his iconic katana and staff.
    • Poison Ivy is typically one of Batman's most formidable enemies thanks to her plant-controlling powers that she uses in combat. Here they're limited to being only used as weapons for her mecha-castle, while she resorts to a katana individually. Damian is able to best her in a swordfight alone.
    • The Penguin completely lacks his favored weapon of poison gas.
    • Grodd’s mental abilities are based on technology rather than his natural mental powers. This is what allows the Joker to hijack Grodd's plan and manipulate the other villains to do his bidding.
  • Art Shift:
    • The scene where Red Hood encounters the now sane Joker and Harley is not animated in CG, but with 2D rotoscoped animation colored with water color paints.
    • Catwoman's portion of the epilogue is done with traditional 2D animation.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The formation of the final Giant Mecha is accompanied by a fast-paced rap song.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Batman does this with Joker's sword during their final battle.
  • Behind the Black: The ship captained by Two Face manages to sneak up without anyone noticing.
  • Beneath Notice: Batman disguises himself as a Catholic missionary in one scene at Catwoman's suggestion, as these were common enough during the time period to not stand out.
  • The Big Board: The Joker has one using shadow puppets!
  • Boyish Short Hair: Selina/Catwoman, granted it's not the first time she's been portrayed with it.
  • Brutal Brawl: The final fight in between Batman and the Joker is an uncharacteristically brutal fight where they hack and bash at each other with swords and fists until both are visibly panting from the exertion.
  • Calling Your Attack: All of the secondary villains announce the various stages of their castles' transformations to each other.
  • Call to Agriculture: Batman and Red Hood come across the Joker and Harley Quinn working as farmers, having been restored to sanity after losing their memories. Joker even talks of how working the land makes him feel like everything bad in him is escaping into the soil. Over Red Hood's objections, Batman decides to leave them be as the couple happily celebrate the sprouting of their first flower. Turns out the flower sprouting was the hypnotic trigger for their previous evil personalities to reawaken. Knowing that Batman would Never Hurt an Innocent, the Joker and Harley hypnotised themselves as a Memory Gambit. Even the plants they are growing are only used later to manufacture Knockout Gas.
  • Captain Ersatz: Monkichi is Monchhichi.
  • Casting Gag: And once again, Will Friedle is voicing one of Batman's subordinates.
  • Crossover: with Pop Team Epic, recreating the famous "Are You Upset?" skit before transitioning into a fight between Batman and Joker.
  • The Chosen One: A prophecy states a man wearing the mask of a bat will bring back order to Japan when it is in chaos.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
  • Combining Mecha:
    • Each of the villain's mechas combine to make a giant one piloted by the Joker. Justified, as Grodd essentially planted a subconscious drive to make their individual mechas so he could combine them into a super weapon they essentially did all the work for him making. Joker just happened to hijack the plan from him and add a hot air balloon to the mix to form the head.
    • Played with in that Grodd's army of monkeys all combine into one giant monkey, and an army of bats combines into a giant Batman.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: In Medieval Japan, a fully ninja-trained Batman and all the Robins, alongside a clan of Bat-worshipping ninjas and a gigantic army of monkeys, fight most of his Rogue's Gallery who are piloting Humongous Mecha castles in a titanic showdown to decide who will rule a unified Japan.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The Joker. He had a long-play plan to fool Batman and win control against Grodd. First he and Harley fake their deaths on an exploding ship. Batman is suspicious and sends Red Hood to investigate sightings of foreign farmers, Red Hood finds them and was going to kill them. But Batman intervenes as the couple prove themselves having actual amnesia. That was the trap, the pair self-hypnotized to actually forget themselves but they were growing a mutant plant from Poison Ivy which was designed to restore their memory and then they used their poison plants to beat Grodd who had defeated all the Gotham criminals.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon
    Joker: I'm going to cut you to ribbons, tie you in a bow, and give you to myself!
  • Disposable Vehicle Section: The cockpit of the Batmobile detaches and transforms into the Batwing. When the Batwing is grabbed, Batman is again able to detach the cockpit, which becomes the Batcycle.
  • Deus ex Machina: While the Bat clans/Order Of The Bat ability to summon bats are shown early in the movie. Grodd's flutes ability to summon monkeys (which becomes essential to Batman's victory) comes completely out of nowhere.
  • Designated Girl Fight: During each of Batman's showdowns with the Joker, Catwoman fights Harley Quinn.
  • Easily Forgiven: When Grodd double-crosses both Batman and the Joker, Catwoman throws in with Grodd because he seems like her best hope of getting home. When the Joker defeats Grodd, Catwoman offers her assistance to Batman to defeat him, and he accepts without question; she lampshades that in the circumstances he could have been forgiven a bit of hesitation.
  • Enemy Mine: Grodd forms one with Batman to take out the Joker whose schemes may potentially rewrite history if he were to become Shogun. Though Grodd uses that opportunity to betray Batman, Grodd renews his alliance with Batman after Joker becomes the bigger threat once again, making sure to note he means it this time as well.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The various villains are all competing with each other for control over Japan. They even go all out against one another with their giant robots, until Grodd uses mind control to make them all his minions, and then the Joker takes over.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: The Joker makes various homoerotic comments about how exciting fighting Batman is, and Harley does some Lecherous Licking to Catwoman, who lampshades their fight as "girl on girl" action.
  • For the Evulz: As the Joker is wont to do, he's not interested in conquering Japan like the other villains are. Rather his goal is to simply spread chaos across Japan as he did in Gotham and turn Japan into his personal slaughterhouse.
  • Gave Up Too Soon: Batman and Red Hood leave the newly-sane Joker and Harley right at the moment their hypnotism was going to break.
  • Gatling Good: The Joker has a massive Gatling gun mounted on his ship which he uses to sink Batman's ninja ship.
  • Genre Savvy: When Batman first comes after the Joker with his Batmobile, Batwing, and Batcycle, the latter points out that the former couldn't possibly win so soon in the plot's first act. When they encounter each other again in the finale, he claims to have taken swordfighting lessons since they're in feudal Japan after all.
  • Good Is Dumb: Somewhat of an recurring theme in the movie that the Joker abuses to its full extent. (Threatening to kill a woman unless Batman got out of his face (said woman being Harley Quinn in disguise, who immediately knocked him out when he attempted to save her), Hypnotizing himself sane knowing that Batman would immediately assume it's irreversible.)
  • Good Old Ways: Batman suffers a brief Heroic BSoD after both losing to the Joker despite having his Batmobile, and his alliance with Grodd ending in failure and the deaths of many Bat Clan ninja. However, he keeps soldiering on without his technology, using the skills of the ninja clan he's hooked up with to construct more period-appropriate weapons and tactics, despite being massively outgunned by his opponents.
  • Gratuitous Animal Sidekick: Robin has small monkey friend named Monkichi. It helped them against the Joker's castle mech by assisting Robin in summoning a giant mech made of armored monkeys.
  • Guttural Growler: Red Hood speaks with a deep and raspy voice, making him far more menacing than most incarnations.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Selina starts on Batman's side as a firm ally, only to turn to Grodd when he gives her a shot at returning to Gotham. Once Joker displaces Grodd as Big Bad and threatens to rewrite history to turn Japan into a land of chaos and suffering, Selina's right back to Batman's side.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: The climax involves Joker taking over Grodd's scheme to Take Over the World and decide to use the Combining Mecha castle to raise apocalyptic levels of hell on Japan.
  • Historical AU: Batman, his allies, and his Rogues Gallery are transported to feudal Japan. The villains have become daimyō, and the Bat-Family learns the ways of the ninja to defeat Gorilla Grodd.
  • Humongous Mecha: Each of the villains have one in the final act, provided by Gorilla Grodd — which combines to form an even bigger mecha through when the Joker takes over.
  • I Like Those Odds:
    Batman: (surrounded by samurai) Seven to one. I'll take those odds.
  • Idiot Ball: Joker inexplicably decides to take a nap in the middle of the battle against Batman and co., giving them enough time to summon Grodd's monkey army. Possibly justified in that he may think his massive barrage of cannons and rockets has wiped them out.
  • Japan Takes Over the World:Shown in the ending, as a result of the advanced technology and tools left behind by all the supervillains and Batman's crew, which allows Japan to effectively take over the modern era, giving everything in Gotham an Eastern motif. Neither Bruce or anyone else seem to mind the change though.
  • Lecherous Licking: Harley Quinn licks Catwoman's face when she temporarily has Selina at her mercy during their Designated Girl Fight.
  • Market-Based Title: The Japanese title is "Ninja Batman" (ニンジャバットマン).
  • Memory Gambit: Joker and Harley intentionally hypnotize themselves into sanity to fool Batman and the others into thinking they've reformed and taken up farming. The catalyst to becoming insane again is the flowering of the plant they're growing.
  • Mighty Whitey: The Rogues Gallery have no problem seizing control of various parts of Japan. Justified with Batman as a ninja cult has grown up around his prophesied arrival (encouraged by Robin, Nightwing and Alfred, no doubt) and the Rogues Gallery are super-criminals from the future with skills and knowledge far outstripping the authorities of ancient Japan.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Joker in the finale looks incredibly similar to the Heath Ledger version of the character with almost identical hair and smeared face paint. Even his defeat is near-identical, with Batman tossing him from the rooftop only to narrowly save him with his hook and leave him dangling. Emphasized by the Brazilian dub, in which Joker was voiced by Márcio Simões, who had voiced the Ledger version.
    • The Giant Batman made out of bats takes the form of the caped crusader in his very first appearance in Detective Comics #27, complete with giant pointy ears.
    • Grodd's hat is based on one of Hideyoshi Toyotomi's helmet decorations.
    • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, when Batman tells Oracle about the Joker contaminating the water in the sewers, Oracle sarcastically asks what's next, a giant Joker robot? Fast forward to this and there actually is a giant Joker robot.
    • Batman's present-day outfit closely resembles the Batsuit of Batman: Arkham Knight.
    • Each of Batman's vehicles also resemble incarnations from different depictions:
      • The Batmobile resembles the one from the DC Extended Universe.
      • The Batwing heavily takes cues from the 1989 film.
      • Although it technically does not visually resemble the equivalent of the Christopher Nolan films, the Batcycle shares the ability to be ejected from the Batmobile/Batwing should they be too heavily damaged.
    • When Robin and Monkichi play the monkey-controlling flute, the tune that is heard is the leitmotif of the 1960's Batman TV series.
    • The epic music during the final swordfight is reminiscent of Nolan's Trilogy.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Turns out that the Joker and Harley somehow learnt how to hypnotize themselves into creating a whole new "innocent" Split Personality so they could play Manchurian Agent any time they wanted at some point prior, and they decided to utilize this up-to-now-unmentioned ability to stay low during the months that it took to grow the plants for their plan (otherwise they probably would have exposed themselves too early out of boredom, maybe), also knowing perfectly well that if Batman found them during that time he wouldn't do something to make sure they're not a threat like locking them up (let alone the allow the Red Hood's attempted murder) because he will Never Hurt an Innocent.
  • Ninja: The Order Of The Bat is a group of ninjas that exist to serve Batman, as they believe he will bring order when the country is in chaos.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Batman Ninjas Robots Monkeys. In various combinations. Close enough.
  • No-Sell: Grodd puts on a Mind-Control Device and orders the Bat ninjas to kill our heroes. None of them move, because as ninjas they have total control over their minds and bodies. Grodd isn't fazed and goes instantly to Plan B, a surprise attack from a gunboat manned by Two Face, who switched sides from the Joker.
  • Non-Dubbed Grunts: Kenta Miyake's vocals for Bane are the same on both the Japanese and English audio tracks.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: A very downplayed example happens in the Latin American Spanish dub: While everyone in this dub speaks with neutral accents and everybody does their best effort to keep it that way, since Joker is voiced by a Mexican voice actor, while everyone else are voiced by Venezuelans, there's some scenes when Joker's accent is very notable and sticks like a sore thumb compared with the rest of the Venezuelan cast.note  This is not a bad thing, since it makes Joker sounds creepier and utterly alien compared with the rest of his goons and Batman himself.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: In the Japanese version at least, none of Batman's proteges are ever called by their real name.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Batman blends in by pretending to be a Christian missionary but shaves the bat-symbol into the back of his head for some reason.
  • Plot Coupon: The time machine's power components get separated and each of the villains ends up with one. They must be reassembled before the time machine can be used to send everyone home. Downplayed as Grodd manages to grab almost all of them at once.
  • Power Armor: The Bat-cycle turns into a suit for Batman to wear.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Joker's nose starts to bleed when his hynotically-triggered insane self starts to re-surface. He smears the blood across his mouth to give himself the familiar Joker smile.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Alfred has no trouble maintaining the Batmobile, Batwing, and Batcycle for his master's arrival two years later. Sure, Alfred wouldn't be driving them much, but he'd still have to rely on the fuel and lubricants that were actually inside the vehicle when it was transported in time.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Grodd's eyes turn red when he uses his mind control powers. The eyes of his victims likewise turn red.
  • Reed Snorkel: A flotilla of reed snorkels appears around the Joker's ship in the lake as the Bat clan seemingly surrounds it. The Joker's samurai open up with muskets, only to reveal the snorkels are a feint and connected to Ninja Logs floating the surface.
  • Rock Beats Laser:
  • Rogues Gallery Showcase: This is one of the highest number of villains featured in any Batman film, animated or otherwise; the Joker, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, the Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Deathstroke, Bane, and Gorilla Grodd are all present and accounted for.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant:
    • Gorilla Grodd started as a The Flash villain, and while treated as a general DCU villain nowadays he's rarely considered a nemesis to Batman. note  Here, he's one of the villains.
    • Deathstroke was introduced as the Arch-Enemy of the Teen Titans. Though he's often thought of as a Batman villain these days, that's a relatively recent dynamic.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The final sword fight between Batman and the Joker takes place on the roof of his Humongous Mecha castle.
  • Rule of Cool: A giant batman made out of armored monkeys and bats controlled by a flute and capable of punching out a giant mecha made of mechanical castles makes absolutely no structural, mechanical, biological or physical sense whatsoever. But who cares? it's a giant batman made out of armored monkeys and bats controlled by a flute and capable of punching out a giant mecha made of mechanical castles!
  • Save the Villain: After Joker tries to kill Grodd, Batman saves him from falling to his death.
  • Schizo Tech: The setting appears to be Feudal Japan, except there's futuristic vehicles (including a mech suit), firearms, and floating airships introduced by the villains.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Arkham Castle grows tracks and starts moving the scene borrows much from the opening sequence of Robot Carnival, right down to the music, looming shadow, the perspective of the camera, and the dog barking in the middle of the street.
    • The fight sequence where Batman and the Joker leap between trees in a forest closely resembles a similar scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
    • Deathstroke's castle transformation looks more than a little like the Devil Gundam.
    • In the post credit, Catwoman is riding a motorcycle wearing a helmet similar to Celty Sturluson's from Durarara!!
  • Smoke Out: Batman does one shortly after arriving in Feudal Japan, to escape some guards. (The audience gets to see him, under cover of the smoke, pull out his grappling gun then realize the village he's in has no tall buildings to swing up onto, so he just runs away.)
  • Spiritual Successor: The campy and over the top setting that heavily relies on Rule of Cool, combined with the movies glitzy color palette bring to mind Batman: The Brave and the Bold. It also helps that the movie has elements in it that wouldn't be out of place in an episode of the cancelled cartoon, such as the members of the Caped Crusader's Rogues Gallery piloting thematically appropriate mechas designed for them, which later on combine into a gigantic mecha with Joker's face, to which Batman responds with a giant made out of monkeys, which then gains the help out bats to become a gigantic version of Batman himself.
  • The Stinger: There are two mid-credits scenes: Batman tries out a new horse-drawn Feudal-Japan-styled Bamboo Technology Batmobile, and Catwoman reveals that she's managed to make a profit on the adventure.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical:
  • Sumo Wrestling: Bane briefly appears as a sumo wrestler, only to get thrown by Batman and never seen again.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • When Batman tries to use his grapple gun to get away from the samurai, he discovers he can't, since there are no buildings more than two stories tall in a common village in Feudal Japan.
    • When he uses his grapple gun to latch onto a Joker samurai and use them as a flail against dozens of others, it breaks due to the excessive stress put on its cable.
  • Sword Cane: As might be expected, the parasol the Penguin carries in feudal Japan conceals a hidden blade.
  • Tele-Frag: Like in the Terminator franchise, Batman leaves the bottom of a spherical indentation in the ground when he appears in the past.
  • Tempting Fate: Lampshaded by Lord Joker after scoffing no one was going to rescue Batman.
    Lord Joker: I didn't mean it! I was being sarcastic!
  • Terminator Twosome: Taken to extremes with several villains fighting for control of Japan and Batman and co. trying to take them back to the present and restore the timeline.
  • Time Travel: Batman, his allies, as well as a group of villains end up in Feudal Japan via Gorilla Grodd's "Quake Machine".
  • Time Travel for Fun and Profit: In The Stinger, Selina is in an antiques store selling some brand new valuable antiques she acquired during the adventure.
  • Title Drop: For the Japanese title, the Boss Subtitle appearing during Batman's final battle with the Joker, shortly after he demonstrates how to use the Ninja Log technique to dissolve into clouds of bats at will.
  • Transforming Vehicle: After the Joker damages the Batmobile, it jettisons the damaged parts and becomes a Batwing — and when that gets damaged, it jettisons the damaged parts and becomes a Batcycle.
  • Translation Convention: Inverted in the Japanese version. Everyone is obviously speaking Japanese, but the characters still often act as if they don't. (Most notably exemplified by The Joker explaining the meanings behind a few Japanese words to Batman, even if the latter has never shown a single sign of ever speaking anything but Japanese.)
  • Unusual User Interface: Grodd's Transforming Mecha castle is partially controlled by placing pieces on a shogi board and its monitors have a shadow puppet aesthetic.
  • Vanity License Plate: Catwoman's motor bike has a license plate saying 9LIVES.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The trailer reveals the story to be about Batman characters fighting during the Sengoku Period, with Joker taking the role of Oda Nobunaga, Gorilla Grodd as Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Deathstroke as Date Masamune.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Joker spends most of the movie as his typical Laughably Evil self, but once Batman fries his mecha and confronts him on the roof, the Joker goes ballistic, with his clothes tearing apart, his hair going astray, and his face paint smearing as he devolves to trying to dismember Batman with a sword with furious, psychotic energy not seen prior. By the time Batman defeats him, Joker's gone Laughing Mad.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: One of the first clues that Grodd's machine has transported Batman to Feudal Japan is a wanted poster in Japanese. The first clue that that's not all that's going on is that the subject of the poster is Batman.
  • Warrior Monk: Played with: Red Hood is a buddhist monk wearing a red reed hood who fights with a flintlock pistol in each hand.
  • Weapon Specialization: Each character wields a unique weapon that serves to identify them.
    • Batman wields a katana, as does the Joker.
    • Nightwing uses bamboo versions of his Escrima sticks in combat.
    • Red Robin has two swords on his back, but his preferred weapon is still the quarterstaff.
    • Red Hood retains his choice of weapons: a gun in each hand, this time using flintlock pistols instead of semi-auto pistols.
    • Catwoman makes use of Wolverine Claws.
    • Harley uses a massive mallet shaped like a Kabuki drum.
    • Deathstroke wields a multi-barreled musket in lieu of a modern automatic rifle.
  • The Worm That Walks: A heroic variation, first with a bunch of monkeys in golden armor making a giant monkey to face off a mech, and then THAT fuses with a large legion of bats to form a giant Batman (with said monkeys forming the belt). Because why not?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Bane just kinda...disappears after the fight with him.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Grodd tells Batman that he wanted to use the time machine to banish all the villains elsewhere so he could rule Gotham. Killing them would have been simpler.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: The Joker pulls this on Batman. The woman with the baby whom Joker threatens to crush with his Humongous Mecha is actually Harley.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Batman time travels only a few seconds after everyone else. Because of this, they have been there for 2 years by the time he gets there.


Video Example(s):


Lord Joker

And this is why Zordon specifically asked for teenagers with attitude.

How well does it match the trope?

4.44 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / CombiningMecha

Media sources: