Just when fans of Anders Matthesen‘s story concerning a tiny spirit of vengence was over, a sequel, simply titled Checkered Ninja 2, was released to some markets instead of hitting film festivals worldwide. This series is apparently very popular in Denmark. and it’s a spinoff of Terkel I Knibe (Terkel in Trouble), one of this filmmaker’s earlier works.
To learn that the villain from the first film is on the loose again is troubling. The crime Philip Eberfrø committed resulted in the spirit of Taiko Nakamura possessing a doll in part one, and thus, the Checkered Ninja was born! But he can’t do it alone. By happenstance, he becomes Alex’s toy and the relationship they have isn’t all that kosher. After the stuffed doll helps the young boy grow a spine (he was bullied), they finally buddy up.
I reviewed this movie a few years back and absolutely loved it. When Variety magazine reported about its sequel, I hoped some local animation festival would screen it. Sadly, that never happened. Despite having a home video release in 2021 in Denmark, there’s still no official North American release. As soon as I saw listings for the Blu-ray release on eBay, I immediately ordered the European release and I’m glad I have a multi-region player.
Alex’s entire clan is involved in this outing, and it’s nice to see how everyone helps. Although the parents are none the wiser, the others are. His sibling learns about what’s going on, and even Uncle Stewart pops up to help! But if that isn’t tight enough, Alex is having problems with Jessica. They are a cute couple, and it’s about time a bit of teenage romance is added to the yarn.
Everything I said before about this film world still applies here, and the only thing that’s aged gracefully is in giving us a tale that too looks at societal concerns–namely the use and abuse of child labour. This concern and other issues still plague today’s South Asian world, and to have this nuance in a children’s film is surprising. Perhaps viewers can learn from it, and initiate some movements to help those countries out.
This sequel also sees the relationship between Alex and the Checkered Ninja develop further. They aren’t necessarily Batman and Robin. The side-kick can handle himself, and he tries to be more like Nightwing this time around. As for whether there’s Ra’s al Ghul for them to face in the future, I doubt that’s the plan. I’d love to learn more about the Checkered Ninja’s past. To get to know about this little fellow’s or Nakamura’s former heroics is a thought. He might have had other children to save before meeting Alex.
Showing some Year One antics might be what this series needs to maintain momentum like a certain Batman.