Briefly, I didn’t enjoy this as much as I’d hoped. The general idea is that it bridges Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, providing some backstory to the second film, and does so with a series of shorts done in artistic style inspired by various anime.
I seem to be going against the grain in my general disappointment with this. The best episode of the disc was the first one, because it plays to the image of Batman in the mind of the ordinary criminal as something supernatural or inhuman. Except, instead of criminals, it’s children, who are in a way just as susceptible to Batman’s mystique as the criminals are (though obviously in awe rather than fear). My only gripe was that the animation style was the same as Tekkon Kinkreet, with richly detailed cityscapes that take your breath away, but with bizarrely distorted character art, misshapen limbs and torsos and minimalist faces. Still, it was a good story.
The rest of the installments were largely forgettable, though seeing Bruce Wayne realized in Oyamada Masumi style (episode 3, Field Test) was a bit of a treat. Also, a supporting character from The Dark Knight gets some character development in episode 2 (Crossfire), and the recurring villain Sandman makes an appearance, as do Batman-universe minor villains like Croc and Deadshot. There’s a few tidbits about Bruce’s attitude towards guns, pain, and gadgetry, but nothing about Batman’s detective skills.
The animated sequel/prequel is not unique as a concept – the Riddick series has a anime-style bridge installment between Pitch Black and Chronicles, (Dark Fury) and that was far superior an effort both in terms of general art as well as advancing inter-movie plot and character backstory. Still, if you’re really a big fan of the Batman movie franchise reboot (as I am), it’s definitely worth watching.