What is perhaps most interesting about this one is how close the anime comes to being a classic without ever actually becoming one. While watching Wolf's Rain, there were numerous times in which I could see the anime approaching the kind of exhilarating grandeur found in titles like Cowboy Bebop and Crest of the Stars. However, the show would always back away at the last minute, as if an invisible wall were preventing it from progressing any further.
The anime certainly starts on the right track. I remember fondly of the days in which the average review rating on animenfo for Wolf's Rain was 9.8. If I had reviewed Wolf's Rain at that time, I would have probably given a similar score. The first two episodes are really something else; they introduce striking, memorable characters from the very start, they provide an incredibly promising premise, and they succeed admirably at piqueing your interest. What follows after that, however, is probably the biggest single disappointment for anime in the year 2003.
First, character development becomes a mechanical and uninspiring process. As I learned more about the main characters I actually began to like them less and less. All of the four main characters have exactly one item in their backstory which is used to define their entire character, and all of these backstories feel more like afterthoughts than cohesive elements of the anime. Also, voice acting is definitely somewhat stale at times. Although Quent Yaiden is voiced very well (more on him later), some of the others are just barely passable; many talk in a strangely alienating deadpan that makes them very hard to relate to. Also, Toboe's voice actor is feminine to the point of being obnoxious.
Also, technical flaws in the animation soon become apparent after the first few episodes; noticeable shortcuts are taken in the characters' movements, and as a result many of their actions seem clunky and stiff. Worse than this, however, are the absolutely terrible character designs of the four main characters. Against the bleak and apocalyptic backgrounds, the chic 90s style clothing is so painfully out of place that the characters often feel totally separated from the environment in which they live.
Most importantly of all, the plot begins to become annoyingly tedious and slow. While numerous events occur in each episode, all of them feel strangely irrelevant and uninteresting. Most of these events have little to no relevance with the main storyline and feel almost like sidequests, while the rest seem inconsequential compared to the epic events that were promised in the exposition.
Add in the four recap episodes, and I can easily see how many people gave up on the show midway through. However, while the show is definitely a lot worse than it could have been, this by no means makes the series bad as a whole. On the contrary, Wolf's Rain has plenty of excellent qualities that make it more than watchable.
For one, Yoko Kanno's soundtrack is (of course) amazing. Though I personally don't like the OP, I absolutely love some of the other tracks. "Heaven's Not Enough" and "Gravity" are both absolutely amazing pieces.
Secondly, while most of the characters are mediocre in development and design, Quent Yaiden is an absolutely amazing character. Along with having a remarkably compelling backstory, his character design is fits into his surroundings extremely well. Unlike the main characters, you feel that Quent is very much like the world he inhabits - angry, desperate, and on the verge of death.
Finally, the story does a great job of redeeming itself in the final four episodes. Definitely the best part of the series, these can be compared to Grave of the Fireflies and Now and Then, Here and There for their incredible emotional power. By the end of the last OVA, I felt very satisfied with the story, despite the fact that a good deal of it was boring and unfulfilling.
All in all, this series is definitely worth watching. Although I did not enjoy the anime nearly as much as I had hoped, the excellent soundtrack and the incredibly good final four OVAs still make this anime better than most.
The story follows a group of young wolves looking for "Paradise" a land ruled by wolves from which the human race was banished long ago. To get there, they must seek the flower maiden, Cheza. Each wolf carries has a rather depressing background, and the sub-plots and character interaction are supurb.
Story: The story was creative, if a bit melancholy, and made you feel for every character. Unlike many anime where the lines between who is good and who is evil are clearly drawn, Wolf's Rain allows for a bit of grey area (especially where the wolves are concerned). The story line is beautiful, harrowing, and adventuresome, and takes viewers on a journey to find what everyone searches for: their own paradise.
Animation: The animation was well done.The Bones team did a fantastic job bringing to life such vivid characters.
Sound: What isn't to love about this soundtrack. The opening and ending sequences alone tell of the sadness and determination of the pack. The music throughout adds to the story.
Characters: The wolves act... like wolves. They have their rivalries, their pack order, and their fights. They may have seemed crude, but that's all part of the wolf persona. They all have bakcgrounds that make them who they are now, and each wolf carries his own baggage. I especially liked the tale of Blue. For the humans, I felt they took a backseat to the story of the wolves, but even the human interactions were well done. The only thing that truly puzzled me was the Nobles (beings who apparently didn't descend from wolves), and the wolf-eye of Darcia.
All in all, I would suggest this anime if you want a tale of struggle and steadfast search for paradise.
Wolf’s Rain is a movie musical, stretched out to last ten times more than it needed without a proper storyboard to excuse the excess duration. And what a better choice to mess up in that department, than Bones the “pretty colors and no faks given for the plot” studio. It’s one of the hottest names today for all the wrong reasons.
The best way to approach the show is as a dark fairy tale that overstayed its welcome and has to do with freedom, life, happiness and wolf-huggers. It does a great job at building up a melancholic mood with its artwork and soundtrack, making it very easy for a weak-minded viewer to start thinking weirdly.
It is properly dark and depressing, with the snow keeps falling, while songs and dialogues keep mentioning freedom from pain and sadness. It’s about four wolves who disguise as pretty boys being hunted by everybody in a dying world as they follow their instinct to reach paradise where a flower girl will resurrect everything. Did that make any sense? No, but it is a cool concept and it does a great job at presenting an apocalyptic world at the brink of destruction. The problem is, that’s the only thing it does.
The characters for example are nothing more than mouthpieces that seem to be interesting just because they are a patchwork of fetishes. If you try to remember what their personality is like, there is not much there. Pretty boys to attract the fujoshis, can transform into wolves to attract the furries, and are victimized by the world to attract the feelfags. Not that anyone who liked the show cared about good characterization, since apparently that was never the point.
Neither is the pacing, which is EXTREMELY slow. So slow they had to throw in FOUR RECAP EPISODES for a plot that can be summarized in less than one. That’s what happens when you strike a deal for two cours and don’t bother to fill them with something. The story was not complex and the main characters had no depth to excuse the duration. If you are expecting something to happen in every episode, you will be bored to death. But then again, it’s not a show you are watching for its plot or characters. It’s supposed to give you the feels, which in turn will make you feel like reciting emo poetry.
And even for the scraps of plot you can find in it, anything unfolds in any way the scriptwriter feels like it. There is such an overuse of magic, to the point anything is possible. The main villain has such broken powers, he can teleport anywhere he likes, kill anyone he feels like it, and nobody can do the slightest thing to stop him. The story can end whenever he wants it, basically. The sky can turn pink and it will make sense because nothing makes sense. When nothing has limitations, everything is possible, and nothing matters. Bones in a nutshell. But hey, look at the pretty colors and stop thinking about it.
So basically, what you are supposed to do with the show is stare at the gloomy backgrounds, and listen to the teen angst filled soundtrack. It is all about the artistic whatchamacallit side of the show, and the emotions it inflicts to its viewers. You might as well pretend there is no story at all. The ending is just a reality reset, which renders pointless the entire show, since it doesn’t exist anymore.
The whole thing is very one-note, and because of its duration it will become tiresome very fast if you want something other than just mood atmosphere. Wolf’s Rain hardly deserves its fame. It needed less episodes, better characterization, and someone NOT FROM BONES to work the storyboard. The soundtrack is the only thing I appreciate about it.
A little heavy at times, but very very good
Absolutely awesome to look at, fits perfectly
The music is excellent; it fits to every part of the show. The dub for this anime is one of the best around
A little cliché at times, but still good
Excellent, but have something light-hearted lined up afterward to watch
Have you ever watched a show that played with your heart so much that you actually cried when watching it? This is what happen to me when I watched Wolf’s Rain. Now before I get pegged for saying that it’s the best show ever, that is not the case. While I love most of the concepts and ideas, followed by music and characters, the show does have one or two downfalls that keep me from saying it’s the best. The story is very slow and almost always seems to go one step forward and two steps back in many different places, leaving you feeling like you don’t want to watch anymore once in a while. I warn people that this is not exactly the show you want to be marathoning, especially if you have a tendency for feeling too much for a character or get to involved in the show.
The characters are almost all wonderful and fleshed out with their pasts, and they even explain their pasts instead of saying, ‘go read the manga’ which is good because when it came out, there wasn’t really any manga on the shelf. The manga only got out just as the show was in completion. Something most people don’t get out of the show is that each of the main characters (the wolves anyway) is actually supposed to symbolize a different type of wolf that is actually endangered.
Kiba is an Arctic (Tundra) wolf, a very beautiful white wolf. He is my favorite of the pack for he has a rather strong will about him. He’s proud of his wolf heritage to the point that he hates showing himself as a human though he does to survive. I consider him much more spiritual and idealistic of the wolves for he seems to always look for a reason why he exists. Most of the time, he seems lost in thought and rather disconnected from everyone else except for Cheza whom he stays very loyal to. Now, still I have one or two nit picks about his character. You would think that threw a long series like this, he would grow to trust and change a bit more then he does, but yet near the end, he seems to still be exactly the same as he was in the beginning. The journey doesn’t really change him in any way and I feel it makes him seem like he was a little to perfect.
Tsume is a Gray wolf with a large scar across his chest from his old pack. He’s untrusting of both human and other wolves for much of the series, ready to snap at a moments notice when something happens. He’s always on edge, and with turn away from almost anyone, except Toboe. I can see why there are so many people out there that have paired him up with Toboe in a romantic way for he always seems to be more protective of Toboe then any other. Although I fall into the wishing to god that the romance were there, I can see what actually is there. I believe that Tsume protects Toboe more for the fact of almost protecting his own ‘innocence’ and love that he lost long before the series even started. Toboe being a pup means he never got to deal with the heartache of being betrayed by his pack. He looks at him more like a brother then a lover (Sorry fan girls). In my opinion, Tsume seems to be the one that grows the most out of any of the wolf characters.
Now, speaking of Toboe, he is my second favorite character of the whole show! Toboe is a Red wolf, and the pup of the group. Tsume always calls him the runt because he’s a bit smaller of the group and acts the most immature of times. He had a sort of sheltered life being brought up by a old women he called Granny so he’s rather friendly to people, even trusting them enough to sometimes show what he is. For most of the show, he does act rather whinny and childish, although he grows as the story goes on making him a bit stronger as a ‘person.’ He stops wanting to rely on others and tries desperately to be on his own, though he looks up to Tsume a lot for his strength. Again, people may see this as a romance between the two but I see it more as a little brother looking up to his tougher big brother more.
Hige is a Mexican Wolf who seems to be the most laid back of the group. He’s flirty, eats a bit more then the others considering how chubby he is, and just goes with the flow most of the time. He’s also a rather interesting jokester, being quick to poke fun at a situation. He also doesn’t really change like Kiba, though he does fall in love with someone and gets the reason he needed to protect them.
All I can say about the next wolf is that it’s a black wolf dog but if I said anymore, it would be a spoiler.
Then we come to the main villain of the show, Darcia. He is one of the nobles somewhat responsible with the ‘extinction’ of the wolves. He searches for the flower maiden for his love, Hamona, who was stricken with an illness that her soul was taken to Paradise and she had fallen into a coma. After a while, Darcia is driven insane by the act of wanting to go to Paradise to be with her.
Now, I have one thing to say about the ending, DEPRESSING! And yet I really want more! It may be a spoiler but I want to see what happens after. I wish it had a second season to it or a series that happened after.
The animation is rather beautiful yet dark, keeping a rather steam punk and post apocalyptic look. The animation is pretty fluid, with nothing really being comical. Actually, if it had anything comical in it, it would destroy the feeling of the show. Everything has a gray filter over it and keeps it dark to where sometimes I had to pop up the brightness a tad to see things.
The instrumental is beautiful monotones and almost music box like. It’s gentle and keeps the sad slow tone that the show has within itself. The opening song ‘Stray’ has a rather dreamy like quality that gives it an almost hunting feeling while staying rather energetic. On the other hand, the ending song ‘Gravity’ is a more slow, sad song that has almost a sleepy tone to it. The difference in both of these songs mimics well to how energetic the show is, to how slow it gets in the middle, and then the climax will have you grasping your seat to see what will happen.
The voices in the English dub are awesome! Johnny Yong Bosch perfectly betrays Kiba better then I think most of his other roles in how almost dreamy his voice is. It’s done as though you’re walking in a daydream looking for something but never finding it. On the other hand, Crispin Freeman gives a perfect contrast as Tsume with his rather brash and almost barking attitude. Unsurprisingly, Mona Marshall is the voice of Toboe with his rather childish personality and girly looks and voice. Now, though they play these roles so well, that I didn’t even notice who was playing the characters because I was two into the characters!