Wolf's Rain

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FullmetalCowboy24's avatar By FullmetalCowboy24 on Jan 29, 2013

Critic's Log - Earthdate: January 29, 2013. Review #32: Wolf's Rain

Some people thought that the world was going to end on December 21, 2012. We are still here. For the last three weeks, the pastor of my church was discussing about the End Times and The Book of Revelation. A topic that many Christians find a little unsettling. The pastor at my church mentioned about the End times in response to the 2012 Phenomenon. A while back I was Looking at my list of animes that I will review. This anime was high up there and I thought this would be fitting for me to go over this one. Oh, Hold on a second! This isn't going to be the ONLY ANIME this month that I'm reviewing that had apocalyptic settings! I previously reviewed Evangelion 1.0 and 2.0 and those have some apocalyptic moments (sort of) Gee, me going to church and hearing about the End Times and reviewing anime that have Apocalyptic imagery and so forth sure does feels like the timing is no coincidence. With that said, Let's journey into Paradise with Wolf's Rain!

 

 

In some distant future and in another time, It was commonly known that all wolves have been extinct for 200 years. However, it seems this is not true as wolves have not vanished to the ends of the earth but rather have taken human form. Kiba, a lone wolf, wanders into a city, trying to sniff out the Lunar Flowers that are supposed to lead whoever follows the scent to Paradise. The source of the smell is Cheza (who is referred to as the Flower Maiden), a girl who sleeps in what appears to be suspended animation in a lab. She and the wolves are drawn to each other, and Kiba hopes to find Paradise once he finds the source of the scent of Lunar Flowers. However, once Kiba finds Cheza, she is kidnapped by a mysterious man named Darcia, and his search begins anew. Before he leaves the city, he meets 3 other wolves, Tsume, Hige and Toboe. All four wolves have very different personalities and ideas, and their friendliness towards each other is a little rough around the edges. However, they soon band together in a pack to continue to search for Paradise.

 

 

To be technical, this is a Studio Bones production and I can honestly say that the animation in this show is absolutely gorgeous to look at. And Studio Bones really turned Wolf's Rain as a visual tour de force in both quality and symbolism. Guess what? This isn't the only anime that year to get high remarks. Fullmetal Alchemist started later that same year and it was also made by Studio Bones. 2003 proved to be a wonderful year for Studio Bones. It's been ten years since Wolf's Rain started and the show has aged beautifully.

 

I know you Otakus know full well that Yoko Kanno is responsible for the soundtrack on Wolf's Rain, so stating the obvious can not be helped. The music is... by Yoko Kanno and I don't think there's anything else that hasn't been said about her. She is a talented musician and I think everyone agrees on that, but here's my thought about her regarding this show. I do think Yoko Kanno's music is magnificent in most of the shows she's involved in, Wolf's Rain is one of her best scores in any anime out there. The soundtrack's approach is similar to Cowboy Bebop in terms of mashing in more than one genre for the entirety of the series. There's even a little jazz in it. Steve Conte who was involved in Cowboy Bebop sings the opening theme "Stray" which is nice. Mai Yamane has a song in the soundtrack which she was greatly involved in the soundtrack for Cowboy Bebop. Maaya Sakamoto (a friend of Kanno-san) sings the Closing theme "Gravity" which is a beautiful closing theme on my book. Sakamoto-san's vocals and Kanno-san's piano just strikes all chords for just that particular theme and compliments the show greatly. Kanno-san even uses orchestral themes which really gives the soundtrack the icing on the cake. Kanno-san's soundtrack to Wolf's Rain greatly compliments the show. It simply is a soundtrack worth listening to without the show.

 

 

 

When it comes to voice acting, the Japanese cast is a solid listen. I should point out that there are some good seiyus in the subbed version. Mamoru Miyano is great as Kiba, Akio Suyama is fine as Hige, Kenta Miyake is great as Tsume, and Hiroki Shimowada is not bad as Toboe (pronounced "To-bo-eh"). There are some worthy seiyus such as Unshou Ishizuka, Maaya Sakamoto, Mayumi Asano, and Norio Wakamoto. Like I said, the Subbed version is a solid listen, then there's the dub. Wolf's Rain has one of the best dubs ever made. I think most people might agree on this. If you're a purist, I strongly suggest trying the dub here because it truly doesn't disappoint. Wolf's Rain has big names, and even some voice actors that aren't as big. When it comes to my format of reviews, I usually mention the standout performances and mention some others, I can't do that with Wolf's Rain because every single voice actor in the dub, big or small leave a great impression even if some of them got 5 minutes in the entirety of the series. Some voice actors even play outside their usual typical roles. Johnny Yong Bosch is terrific as Kiba, Joshua Seth is great as the street-wise Hige, Crispin Freeman is spot-on as Tsume, and Mona Marshall is wonderful as Toboe. Kari Wahlgren is also great as Cher, Robert Buchholz is also spot-on as Hubb. Tom Wyner is also a delight to listen to as the drunken marksman Quent. Sherry Lynn plays Cheza quite well and might be her most famous and best role in her career. Jessica Straus is also great, too bad she hasn't been active these days. Last but not least, there's Steve Blum as the noble Darcia. Mr. Blum's performance in Wolf's Rain really left a big impression and it is simply one of his best roles in an anime and (if not) the best villian performance in his career. Beside the standout performances, This dub has other voice actors and actresses such as Beau Billingslea, Bridget Hoffman, Dave Wittenberg, Jamieson Price, Kirk Thornton, Liam O'Brien, Michael Lindsay, Michelle Ruff, Peggy O'Neal, Peter Spellos, Skip Stellrecht, William Frederick Knight, and then there's Mary Elizabeth McGlynn who was the voice of Lady Jaguara. All the performances are great and really did make Wolf's Rain having one of the best dubs in an anime and Mary Elizabet McGlynn was responsible for this dub and she previously did the Cowboy Bebop dub prior to Wolf's Rain, I think she is a great ADR director for dubbed animes. I think I've said quite enough of the dub. It's terrific.

 

 

Now that I've mentioned about the great production value and the dub. you're probably thinking of the more important stuff like characters and story. That's where it gets somewhat debatable here.  it isn't easy understand sometimes because Wolf's Rain is a very symbolic show . I actually like the approach to all this because it leaves room for interpretation and gives the show high re-watch value too. The direction by Tensai Okamura is an interesting one.

 

 

Here's what I think of the characters in this show. Kiba is our main protagonist in the series and I almost had a problem with this guy until I saw further into the story because I almost saw Kiba as a shallow character at times. I'm not sure what else to say about the guy, the more mystery the better I guess. Hige is street-wise and laid-back, I actually liked Hige from the start. Tsume is pretty much the stereotypical angry loner, Tsume actually gets away with this because he's actually a pretty good character as the story progresses, not to mention he was badass from the start. Then there's Toboe, He's the runt of the group but he's a great character as well. If you stick around later in the series, you're in for quite the surprise. As far as human characters go, Cher is pretty interesting as the story progresses, same goes for Hubb and Quent. Hubb is definitely the gentleman of the series while Quent was probably the most interesting human character for me in this series. As far as the nobles, There's Lady Jaguara, I decided to just keep Lady Jaguara silent on this one, and last but not least there's Darcia and Oh My... This guy was quite the interesting one too.

 

 

I want to at least mention about the story, I got to admit that my reviews from square one have been formulaic as hell and that's because it's my little routine to make my reviews easy to write down while analyzing. I usually mention the sypnosis of the show first and talk about my afterthought of the story last. I don't think it necessarily matters at this point. I can honestly say that there's not much Icould say about the story because it is a little hard to explain about the whole thing. What I can say is that it is an incredible journey to witness as the viewer. It is heavily symbolic because the journey that these wolves are on is a spiritual one. I like how the creative staff wanted the viewers to see the journey through. I like how dynamic the characters are in terms of personality and ideals. There are times where the viewer may even connect to the character and boy, does this become extemely effective in the long run. I felt connected to the characters and I really felt sorry for Darcia losing Hamona, the woman he dearly loved. As the series progresses, the common viewer may get attached to the characters. Then along came the final 4 episodes where I guarantee that guys will end up crying like a little bitch and ladies will cry their heart out. I actually cried over moments that occur in the last 4 episodes. Think Mufasa's death plus Bambi's Mom getting shot, but a bit more tragic and heartbreaking. That just shows you that the show's doing its job and Keiko Nobumoto deserves enough credit for making the story emotional and making the characters flow with it. The ending did get some mixed opinions, I understand it's open ended and a little confusing. I do think it was all about the journey and after everything was set and written, it leads to another beginning. I actually believe they were in Paradise in the ending, just not the kind of Paradise we would expect. If there is anyissue with the show, it's the infamous recap episodes that are right in the middle of the show and I'm not sure why, consider these episodes optional since you are not missing out on anything if you skip them. Best of all, they are all on one disc. Another slight issue is that the animation does have some slight bumps from perfection, but I'm satisfied with the animation already. In the long run, Wolf's Rain turned out to be an unforgettable journey.

Before I wrap this up, I just want to point out that this review was brought to you by

 

 

Wolf's Rain was available by Bandai Entertainment and I hate to be the messenger of bad news, Wolf's Rain has become out of print, The manga illustrated by Toshitsugu Iida and written by Keiko Nobumoto is available through Viz Media. I can't say the manga is necessary to read alongside the show, but check it out if it will satisfy your curiousity.

 

With all that said, Wolf's Rain is an emotionally powerful journey with a complex setting, dynamic characters, a terrific soundtrack and gorgeous animation. I cannot absolutely guarantee 100% that you'll like this series to the fullest because of some things portrayed in this anime. I can say that it is purely a visual tour de force that proves itself to be a work of art. If your familiar with Doug Walker (The Nostalgia Critic) Wolf's Rain is one of his favorite shows. Like it, hate it, or be neutral about it. It's an anime that's worth seeing if you're the spiritual type or the artsy type of person, or if you like anime in general.

 

I give Wolf's Rain a 9.8 out of 10, it is EXCELLENT!

 

Feel free to comment below, and let's meet again...in Paradise

 

9.6/10 story
9.8/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
9.8/10 overall
Sunagan's avatar By Sunagan on Jan 5, 2010

Story

A gloomy, dark and forsaken land. Outcasts, initially strangers, set out on a journey together to find paradise. On the way, their bonding becomes stronger as they reach for their goals and try to avoid the abundant enemies. Tragedy, courage, pain, all efforts seemingly in vain in the face of the approaching apocalyps. This is Wolf's Rain, a visually powerful story about identity and desperately reaching for a future in a world that's coming to an end.

Although the atmosphere is the strongest asset of this anime, the aforementioned deeper meaning of the story is interesting. The personal struggles of the characters as they try to survive and work towards their goals are also highly involving and intriguing, although the surface story is often slow paced (especially in the beginning), full of unnecessairy events and covered in unappealing mystery. Still, after you make it through the difficult beginning it will surely get to you; even if not consciously, you will still feel it in your gut. 

Although the pacing is generally ok, the four recap episodes at ¾ of the story (15-18) are totally out of line. They add nothing fresh to the story, and everyone would be better off not watching them. Except for these eps, there isn't really anything fatally wrong with the pacing, although in the beginning it's difficult to keep watching while the end is rushed.

I'm still not really sure if the ending of Wolf's Rain was a good or a bad thing. It got to me so badly that I was left in a total shock. It was, at the time, one of strongest emotional punches I had received up 'til then and I didn't feel so totally devastated again until Clannad After Story knocked at my door. In retrospection, however, I feel a little bit tricked, because the ending was in fact rushed and ultimately even felt a bit cheap. I will leave this matter for the viewers to decide for themselves.

 

Animation

As I mentioned before, Wolf's Rain really impresses through powerful visuals; poor ghetto's, dead forests, scientific labs and endless snowy landscapes as far as the eye can see present you with the overall mood of the show. You'll feel just as forsaken and lonely in this dramatic, post-apocalyptic world as the lead characters, you'll be able to taste their pride, their doubts, and despite all the shit they go through you will also feel their strength, as the feeling of despair steadily closes in on the inevitable tragedy that will unfold. If animation alone can make you feel that way, I can't help but speak highly of it.

The character designs were also really appealing and fit the corresponding personalities of the lead characters well. Most of the time the anime was not very colourful, but that was one of the things that made the mood so strong. What I liked as well was the lack of human-wolf transformation sequences (usually sequences like that are initially cool, but they start to be excruciatingly boring once you've seen them more than 10 times...). Instead a perspective change was chosen, which did not only feel more mature, but also emphasized that the wolves didn't change their appearance; the only thing they changed was the way they allowed humans to look at them.

The wolves are stunningly beautiful too, and their movements and mannerisms are surprisingly realistic. It's almost impossible not to instantly start loving wolves after seeing this anime ^_^...

 

Sound

I guess the music was ok and fit the anime decently. Nothing stood out in particular, but it was sufficiently dramatic to lift the power of the animation to a next level. The opening theme ('Stray') really impressed me though (hence the 7.5), not really because the music was brilliant but because I've never experienced lyrics that matched that well with the overall feeling of the anime. Combined with the visuals it's one of the most memorable opening themes in the anime world, and it always got me into 'Wolf's-rain-mode' instantly. A lot of people do give a lot of credit both to 'Cheza's song' and 'Gravity' (the ending theme), but although they do have a simple charm, I personally think they are nothing special.

Surrounding sounds and voice acting were decent too.

Characters

It certainly takes most people (including me) a few episodes, but a strong attachment to the four lead characters will form relatively quickly. Before you know it you care for them deeply, although you won't realise this consciously until the leads are faced with mortal danger.

The leads are real people with complex personalities. Especially Hige, the slacker with the dark past and bringer of repeated comic relief, and Tsume, the silent, risktaking gangster who initially mocks Kiba's idealism but becomes a strong believer himself towards the end, stand out as being particularly interesting and believable. Kiba, the proud idealist looking for paradise, remains shrouded in mystery for most of the time and therefore comes across as less real than the other characters. He accounts for the eyecandy, though. Toboe's clumsyness is endearing, but in my opinion he doesn't really add anything substantial to the strong cast of leads. Cheza, the mysterious flower maiden, was a bit of a disappointment for me. Her personality was like a blank slate, passive and fairly uninteresting. (In the picture below from the left to the right: Hige, Kiba, Cheza, Tsume and Toboe)

 

A few interesting personalities also arise as the story of the divorced couple Hubb and Cher, and the relentless wolf-hunter Quent and his dog Blue unfolds. Their fates slowly become entangled with that of the wolves towards the end, testing their courage, friendship and love repeatedly. These characters will touch your heart as well, although it will probably take some time.

Altogether, the group dynamics were incredibly interesting in this anime. Most of the lead characters and even the side characters are intriguing and real and before you know it you'll care.

 

Overall

Wolf's Rain is a gloomy, athmospheric post-apocalyptic drama. The powerful visuals will most likely sweep you off your feet, and the realness of the characters will get to you emotionally. The tragic story that unfolds is one of a journey looking for your identity and desperately reaching for a future in a world that's coming to an end. Although the surface story is not always interesting with quite a lot of unnecessairy events and unappealing mystery, the deaper meaning of the show and the characters still make it so that Wolf's Rain still earned it's 8 really, really well.

7.5/10 story
8.5/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
ChibiRosie's avatar By ChibiRosie on Oct 12, 2009

I really reccomand this anime to people who wants to watch a different plot line and who wants a action anime. this anime has a little bit of everything it has a little hint of comedy, romance, lots of ACTION, and a great plot line. I must warn you though that this anime is very sad but its a worth watching anime and if you dont mind to cry then this anime is for you. Also the characters are so greatly made and the most i love is that their personalilties are different but somehow they are all connected which is the fact that their WOLVES. This anime is one of my favorite animes and the length of it is not even that long its only a 26 episode anime with 4 OVA's which is not bad. So if you want a good length anime with a good plot line and good characters then Wolfs Rain is for you also if your a fan of Wolves then this anime is DEFFINITLY for you =]

10/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
Proxy11's avatar By Proxy11 on Sep 1, 2011

These are my Reviews if they're helpful great, if not, that's great too. I am not adept at writing/typing this is merely a contribution to the site.

STORY/PLOT
This will be covering both the original series along with the 4 episode OVA as a single set.

Wolf's Rain has a premise that for years kept me from giving it a fair chance. The thought of Wolves disguising themselves as humans along with a flower in the form of a girl sounded silly to me. Only wolves can reach paradise, they are also enamored with "The Flower Maiden" so right from the beginning you see she is important to the story. Which is just that.. finding paradise. Beyond the symbolic side I had so many questions like why were wolves special? How were they disguising themselves? What drove the world to a wasteland? Why does a flower look like a girl? As the series closed in on it's second half I didn't care as much that they were not being answered, everything was cohesive and full of emotion. The pacing was unmatched in my opinion. Slow and grueling at the start but I cared what happened by the end. The ending had me slightly disappointed but still one of the best I've seen. Looking back I appreciate Wolf's Rain more and more, something that is new for me.

ANIMATION/ART
Their is nothing special about the animation or post-apocalyptic art style when you review it individually. Seen as a whole with all other aspects of Wolf's Rain and somehow it becomes special. You feel the world and it's hopeless future. The colors have a very low but welcome tone for it's setting. Designs were unique for each character which I loved. Their is not a lot of big fights or flashy scenes but that's not where it's strength is. Wolf's Rain is most powerful showing resiliance in a dying world, to the end. Depressing landscapes and a crumbling society is where it shines.

MUSIC/DUB
I usually don't include the music section because it's most of the time not worth mentioning. To not credit it here would be shameful due to the impact on the viewer. Music is just as important as the story in this case because it bring's the emotion across with some beautiful and sad themes. Once again Wolf's Rain functions as a whole, each aspect supports the other resulting in a dramatic and heartfelt adventure. Even so the music stands strong on it's own and in my opinion is the best part altogether. The English cast was spot on with the exception of a couple of the female roles which were at most, acceptable.

CHARACTERS
Characters were the other aspect I liked early on. Their all developed thoroughly from the start to the end, but it had very little back story. If it wasn't for their conflicting personalities and the slow pace of the show to understand them I would not of cared as much as I  did towards the finale. Even side characters if you want to call them that play somewhat important roles. Everything literally has a place in Wolf's Rain and presents itself exceptionally.

ENJOYMENT
Wolf's Rain was suggested to me when searching for a show similar to Ergo Proxy, the only similarity I find is them both being Post-Apocalyptic settings and slow paced. The "no hope left" story seems to be my favorite genre when it meets my standards. The slow moving drama peering deep into character emotions intrigues me. This type of plot is severely overdone but I believe Wolf's Rain makes up for this with phenomenal character development, a beautiful soundtrack to complement the art and a undeniable end.

FINAL THOUGHT
The story may have been the weakest part when it's over but I'll keep saying, it's powerful when everything else is involved. The other aspects are so strong that even though it presents nothing new it still raises the bar for what's average. Hopefully someone understands that. This will be one of two box sets I'm buying and I don't purchase much anime for whatever that's worth :)

7/10 story
7.5/10 animation
9/10 sound
7.5/10 characters
7.8/10 overall
chaoserver's avatar By chaoserver on May 30, 2010

Wolfs Rain was my surprise of the year as far as anime series go. I began watching it with very low expectations but slowly it grew on me, and with the exception of a few gripes, was solid in most regards.

Story:

From the beginning you get the feeling the world of Wolf's Rain isn't quite right. The city we begin in is a gloomy place. Living is a harsh routine in an isolated city that simulates normal skies beneath a dome. The feeling that this city is very disjointed from the rest of the world become clear, and the existence of a class known as nobles, who have access to flying crafts are of evident contrast to the low class civilians. The story is essentially the journey of wolves towards paradise, though what that really is remains unclear as they progress. There is a lot of mystery to be had, and not in the form of questions the characters blatantly ask, but ones you ask yourself as you see this disjointed perishing world.

A strong theme is "what is paradise" and while I won't spoil anything, let it be said it presents multiple takes on it.

It is very reminiscent in a way to texhnolyze, and despite being less blatantly dark that actually enhances the atmosphere as you come to realizations on your own.

That's not to say it is flawless. First of all it's pacing is similar to Texhnolyze towards the beginning(slow/unmotivating), and though not quite as painful, it might deter some who wonder if it will be worth it. And in direct contrast to that, it's ending is a bit swifter than it needed to be.

Worst are  the four recap episodes, which literally you must skip to get full enjoyment out of the series, as they are wholly uneeded. Though seeing as this is easily avoided it is only an annoyance.

There are some cliches like important female point of interest who the main characters seek, though she is not overused, and never becomes largely disliked.

There are a handful of things that should have been explained but aren't sufficiently, like some of one characters abilities ect.

And lastly despite consistent quality, three or four episodes were close to being filler.

That being said, the anime is still enjoyable, and these negatives only stop it from becoming classic.

Animation:

Very good. The art direction in this anime is excellent. From arctic wastelands, postapocalyptic ruins, expansive beautiful forests, to class divided cities, Wolf's Rain nerarly always impresses. Characters are distinct from eachother, and the wolves are very well portrayed. The visuals themselves can inspire questions in your mind, while the feel to each location is screamed by it.

Sound:

Amazing, though I personally hate the OP, heaven's not enough is awesome, and the acceptable voice acting mixed with the amazing soundtrack combine for a very nice package.

Characters:

The characters are a diverse bunch. We have wolves, nobles, humans, even other animals. It is interesting as the fact the world is divided provides different personalities in many different areas. Wolves each have their different takes on humans and their meaning in life, and we get to see how they evolve, which is done well enough. Our human cast is nice, though not quite as much was done with them as could have been possible, especially secondary characters like a military commander who has a few awesome moments out of nowhere, acknowledges something you've been waiting for him to, and is never seen again. The nobles are curious, and provide a good amount of mystery through the series, though it isn't quite as much as one might want. Quent is a solid character, as those who watch will see, and provides some comic relief. Cheza isn't as bad as some generic female characters but never outwardly impresses, other than causing a few enjoyable scenes. Darcia is wholly enjoyable and a total badass throughout the series, and by the end I think I had a pretty good grasp on him, though I certainly wouldn't have minded some more info on him. The biggest issue is because of how many characters they are, some don't quite have satisfying climaxes due to the hasty conclusion, or develop to the potential they had.

Overall:

Ultimately Wolf's Rain just doesn't quite become a classic, but still impresses as a both enjoyable and  somewhat thought provoking series. It is weird, Wolf's Rain feels more like an emotion than a story, when I look back on it, it shouldn't feel like much, but somehow it does. If the four recaps vanish, and the few less potent episodes were better utilized, along with changes to the narrative, it could have easily been a far superior series.

6/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
6/10 characters
6/10 overall