Going in to Jin-Roh I really had no idea what to expect. Oddly enough, one hundred minutes later, these sentiments have hardly changed. Indeed, the movie is spectacular in many respects, but likewise it seems to have a strew of perpetual weaknesses that hinder its ability to achieve greatness.
First off, the movie's opening is superb. It starts off with a relatively simple explanation of a divided, post World War II Japan, then smoothly transitions into a tense riot situation. Thrusting you into the midst of flying molotov cocktails, a whirl of stones and rocks, and exploding canisters of tear gas, it's undeniably captivating, and serves as a great hook-line-sinker introduction. Furthermore, the scene ends brilliantly with the tragic death of a young teenage girl who, out of fear, detonates a satchel bomb and kills herself when caught by a team of riot police.
Yet, right after this event, the movie takes a sudden shift in both setting and direction. It follows the story of Fuse, the man who was closest to the girl when she detonated the bomb, and his emotional struggles in the aftermath of the event; however, this abrupt change of pace causes the movie to stumble a bit, as Fuse's complete lack of personality makes it hard to empathize with him. As such, it drifts dangerously close to borderline boredom, but somehow manages to still keep viewer interest by use of a twisted Little Red Riding Hood narrative. The somewhat macabre undertones of this story continually hint at a tense, bloody ending, and perhaps that expectation gave me the motivation to see it all the way through.
Thankfully, to compensate for the droll nature of its middle section, the movie ends with a bang as promised. Though the primary villains' motivations are never really explained with any semblance of detail, the climax provides Fuse's social shortcomings with purpose - and in quite an entertaining fashion. Just like its opening sequence, Jin-Roh revisits its angst-driven combat scenes for one last go, culminating with a bittersweet ending scene that brings the movie to a satisfactory close. While it doesn't completely make up for its pacing issues, in retrospect it makes them worth tolerating, as, ultimately, the movie left me with a positive feeling.
Though, overall, the entire movie looked splendid, the character designs irked me. Despite not being entirely bad, they were very simplistic in design, and at times their lack of detail coincided poorly with the enormously lavish backgrounds. Of these flaws, the women in particular could have used a lot of polish, as I had a hard time distinguishing them from the men for much of the movie. Even so, the Special Unit armor suits didn't suffer this flaw, so I can't say all the designs were bad. By-in-large the movie's visuals were more than acceptable, so I'm hesitant to say anything else that might denigrate your perception further; for an eight year old movie, it certainly doesn't disappoint.
Yet, while the animation might have aged well, I can't say the same about the audio score. Much of the music was rather unremarkable in quality, and for the vast majority of the time I hardly even noticed its presence. Worse yet, though, and admittedly this was likely somewhat intentional, the voice acting was utterly devoid of emotional flavor. While the actors were not bad per se, their lack of involvement contributed rather substantially to my waning interest during the scenes devoid of action. Overall, I think this probably resulted from poorly scripted dialogue, though, as much as it did from performance.
If I've ever come across a pair of lead characters who have proven just how devoid of personality a human being can be, Fuse and his no-name (or if she had one I don't remember) love interest would stake that claim. There is, quite literally, absolutely nothing to say about either character - ultimately they come across as musings of the plot and nothing more. In context they aren't bad, but neither are they either particularly good or memorable.
Even so, overall Jin-Roh is a decent movie. While not too terribly memorable, for its run time it's entertaining irrespective of its minor boredom quirks. It carries an overall mature air that grants it a sense of respectability, and for that I think it merits consideration - especially for an older audience.
Ah! I had this on my list of things to watch for about a year before I bothered to finally get it done. What a mistake! I have this bad tendency to avoid watching anime that aren't made for TV. I don't know what it is, but it seems to happen...
Positives: Jin-Roh is not for everyone. After watching I read some reviews by others who had watched and I found that a lot of their concerns didn't bother me. Without spoiling anything, I'll just say that I found it all to make sense and totally believable. There are some rather deep questions to answer that the characters go through, and for me they were done well. A non-spoilery note on this would be that there is often little dialogue. Much of what is learned and experienced in Jin-Roh is done within the confines of the characters minds. You'll have ot just sit back and "watch" them to really grasp it all. Again, for me that was fantastic and I didn't feel at all cheated by the direction taken.
Jin-Roh was also stylelistically right up my alley. From the art design to the way it is all put together it was visually very inviting.
Negatives: Oddly I can't really think of anything to complain about. I actually made a new wallpaper for my desktop after watching. If you knew me, you'd know that this means I really enjoyed a show. Wanting to see that image day after day means that I was affected in some way. Oh wait, that's not really a negative, is it...hrm...
Ok, negative, negative...
The material is heavy? I dunno. Sorry, let me know what you didn't like in the comments. =)
So I'm thinking about what I wrote and now I'm wondering why I did a review. I guess the most compelling thing for me about Jin-Roh is that it's a very internal show. There were a lot of thoughts and emotions going on for me while watching, and this makes it a very solid addition to my anime experience. Unfortunately, for the review, this having been such an internal experience I'm not quite sure who to properly relate it here. Just watch it!
This Anime Movie was really good though I am not surprised at it's low scores. My son's father could not sit through it either. If you are the type of person who likes to only 1/2 pay attention to an anime while fiddling with your cell phone or doing other things this movie is not for you. It is one you need to pay attention if you want to really understand it's value. It would be easy to lose track of what is going on otherwise and you wouldn't get how great the story really is.
For me this anime was extremely well done in almost every way. I thought the world it was based in was really well thought out and interesting. I would have really liked to see what Fuse and his comrades end up doing in the future. Though since this anime is pretty old I doubt we will be getting more since nothing new has been released. Though I guess sometimes it's better to just end things before they go downhill. I am trying my best not to spoil anything in any reviews I write so I apologize for being vauge. However, the movie did wrap up loose ends so it doesn't leave you hanging like in a lot of anime these days. Any continuation of the story would have to start with a new incident.
For me this show rated very high but if you are looking for something brainless to watch in between making out with your girlfriend/boyfriend and checking your cell phone then this is the wrong one.
I didnt have much by way of great expectations for Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade, having read mixed reviews before its beginning. As expected, it was no Haversham to my Pip.
The animation style is of that slightly perplexing, almost faux 3-D that was seemingly the trend for mid to late 90's anime films yet which I find slightly off puting. From the tales onset, there are a lot ofmoderately appealing moments in terms of characters, however the film in general seems to hinge on the Dystopic regime and general genre which falls behind that without really giving us too much by way of the engaging plot. Our protagonist, a CPO Officer Lt. Kazuki, suffers from a brief moment of apparently unacceptable morality when he fails to shoot a young girl who is carrying an IED, who subsequently detonates herself.
In his re-interring into the military style police fold once more, he discovers himself infatuated with the suicide bombers sister, yet even with all this supposed edginess plotwise, the story itself I found boring and frankly, a little played on.
I should make mention of one feature I, as a weapons nut, found appealing. Throughout the film, the guns used are all from a 1940-1950 style so as to imply that this totalitarian regims resistance was akin in terms of equipment to WWII and the tumultous times following this greatest loss of human life. The practicality of the German MG-42 is wonderfully displayed in animation to a particular scene where our impressionable Lt. is re-assembling his main weapon, giving a nice visual representation of how good this LMG was put together, a new barrel every 7 Seconds with fire capability of 1,200 rounds per minute. I.E. you get a 7s window for barrel changes then have to eat another thousand rounds.
Jin Roh had some redeeming features but on a whole I was disinterested and could easily see why it isnt in the same same boat that other post-apocalyptic films are, Akira being most prominent.
Please take the time to experience the series as well as this review and make your own opinion upon the matter, particularly if you disagree with what is written above.
Now before reviewing this, I remember seeing this movie way back on premium movie channel Encore Action and as of today, I questioned why it was shown there considering the movie isn’t much on action but more focused through the drama and hardships of World War II, or in this case, it’s an alternate version of a post-World War II where Germany has taken over Japan, instead of the United States.
After witnessing the suicide bombing of a terrorist girl, Constable Kazuki Fuse becomes haunted by her image, and is forced to undergo retraining for his position in the Capital Police's Special Unit. However, unknown to him, he becomes a key player in a dispute between Capital and Local Police forces, as he finds himself increasingly involved with the sister of the very girl he saw die.
Now I really don’t talk politics much in my reviews mainly because I’m not really much of an expert on that but the movie does have its political references from Japan’s own situation from the 1960s and 1970s where massive student protests for the ANPO Hantai movement and the interesting fact about it is that not only Mamoru Oshii, the writer of the movie, was involved in back in their hayday but so was Studio Ghibli regulars Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies) and Hayao Miyazaki.
Part of the story in Jin-Roh also parallels toward Rotkäppchen (or Little Red Riding Hood / the real Grimm fairytale version) as the girl in the red hood in the beginning as like Red running from the wolves but from what I saw from the movie and saw from other reviews (either professional or amateur), the roles of the that can be switched, making it somewhat more unexpected than the usual story. As for the main character himself, Fuse is that character who may be a constable and associated with the army, but I think some people, especially those who went through what he did, can relate to the guy and the trauma that he is suffering from. On a small note, the movie’s pace can be slow for the majority of the film, so it would be better to watch when there is nothing on and the graphic violence may not be suitable for the squeamish, although it’s shown for the brutality of make a message and not just to show violence for the sake of it.
As for the animation, it is done by the amazing Production I.G., and the animation is dark, broody with muted colors and yes, it is centered more of a realistic Japan rather than the same style that we’re used to. I’m not going to bitch about what style of whatever animation and character design most animators do and for what it’s worth, it did an outstanding job for that.
The music wasn’t that very noticeable as that wasn’t anything that captured any attention to my ears, but the score was decent. The English dub done by The Ocean Group via Bandai Entertainment was actually one of their more well-acted productions considering I didn’t have kind words for them last time (fucking Monster Rancher) but here, I can see why they get work for many anime worth watching.
FINAL VERDICT: Well, I will say that Jin-Roh is worth watching and it is, but sometimes for an hour and 40 minutes, it can feel like 3 hours at a time. The character development was handled extremely great and really dug in deep into knowing them and their emotion but after you watch it (or watch it for reviewing), it isn’t something you would watch again.
And so, Jin-Roh the Wolf Brigade gets an honest grade of Planet Tyro Rating: SOLID B - 8/10