[Anime] Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade

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[Anime] Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade

Postby doomed1 » Sun Sep 07, 2008 1:35 am

Title: Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1998, 2001)
Studio: Bandai Entertainment
Licensing: VIZ Media, Bandai Entertainment
Genre: Alternate History, Action, Drama, Science Fiction
Age Rating: 16+
Series Length: Movie format

this is a movie review i wrote for my film studies class. if you haven't seen this film yet, this may convince you to look it up.

A rather common staple of going through childhood, as popular culture implies, is being told fairy tales and the like to help put children to bed, in their innocent tales of fantasy and lesson. Jin-Roh: the Wolf Brigade (2001) is a mature themed animated film that takes a not-so-innocent pre-Perrault reading of Little Red Riding Hood and then applies it to an alternate history post WWII Japan. The story begins outlining the events that follow the second world war and where the film takes its break from history, with a mobile paramilitary police force called the Capitol Police being pulled together to keep order in the capitol city of Tokyo from terrorist groups. After the quick introduction to get the viewer up to speed on the whole ordeal, the actual animation begins with a large riot involving riot police, high potency Molotov cocktails, and terrorist bombs. After the riot gets out of hand, with the riot police charging the rioters, the scene cuts to a group of terrorists preparing the next bombing, sending the package with a young girl through the sewers. Cue in the Panzer Cops, a heavily armed and mobile force within the Capitol Police. They literally rip up the terrorists from before with their heavy machine guns with no intent to imply their bloody demise. The young girl, hearing the commotion, attempts to run off, but is cornered by Kazuki Fuze. He doesn’t fire, despite the girl holding the detonation wire. Eventually, the rest of his company catch up, which encourages the young girl, the “Little Red Riding Hood” to follow through and detonate the bomb. No one is hurt, due to their heavy armor, but Kazuki remains heavily emotionally scarred, displaying signs of post traumatic stress through the rest of the movie. Eventually, he meets the girl’s sister and their lives intertwine through betrayals and conspiracies to provide a story that focuses on human nature and escape from it.

The first thing that shot out to me about Jin-Roh was its stark and melancholy atmosphere. Everything was colored in that sort of 50s noir brown, and the general tone of the characters and music provide for a tense and somewhat depressing attitude. So much so, in fact, that it started to drag the movie along in a few parts. The dull brown of the atmosphere dulled senses enough that it wasn’t quite as engaging as it could have been. There was not enough hope within the setting to provide a more engaging dichotomy between the starkly disturbing reality to a more hopeful future. Another problem was that the entire presentation relied so heavily on the Red Riding Hood story that it almost brought into play a slight camp value, something very out of place in such a starkly realistic setting.

Despite all that, however, the dark and brooding atmosphere provided for tense, even emotionally distressing action sequences contrasted by slow, methodical, and intricate domestic scenes. The stark contrast and sharp transition between the two types of scenes provided for an emotional rollercoaster of an experience. Each was nearly perfect in setting up the main characters as sympathetic and the often used metaphor of the wolf and the innocent that much stronger. The intricate and twisting plot kept a slight curiosity of who exactly the “wolf” was and forces the viewer to question who exactly is the good guy if everyone is playing the part of the villian. In terms of technical aspects, the voice acting is strong despite the foreign origins and the scenes are well thought out and meticulously animated. The overall frame rate is low, but that seems a staple of Japanese animation either way.

Ironically, what makes this Jin-Roh great is also what brings it down. The dark, desperate themes and the close ties to Little Red Riding Hood and the all important themes of Beasts and Men provide a chilling narrative that takes the viewer for an emotional trip. However, because these themes are so strong and prevalent throughout the film and because of how heavily the Little Red Riding Hood metaphors are used, the pacing is effected and it makes the whole thing feel just a bit forced. And yet, despite the shortcomings it is certainly an experience I would suggest to anyone looking for a rollercoaster plot and a profound emotional experience.

I give it a 4... out of 5
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