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 fair review, but the ending bumped my opinion up a bit higher.
Hmm, I have to disgaree to an extent with some of your points and scorings. Having Paradise in the peripherals doesn't "take away from the drama" so much for me, but rather adds to it. To start, we don't even know if Paradise exists in the way the Book conveys it or in the way Kiba and Darcia perceive it. There is so much mystery to Paradise that it actually augments the drama: How will Kiba react if it doesn't exist? How will the others in the pack treat him if they fail to reach Paradise? Will Darcia get to it first? Where does Cheza fit into the equation? Without the ultimate goal that is Paradise, there would be no drive. Just because it is a "perfect" place doesn't mean the plot is less dramatic. Besides, who would chase a place where death and destruction continually ensued?
As for the characters "not being fully fleshed out," I don't really understand how people see this. I feel they were perfectly fleshed out. Everyone had a reason to find Paradise that linked back to personal experiences and pursuits and this gave each of them a cause and a goal. For example, Tsume, primarily, wished to seek out Paradise simply to see "if it even exists" and to "prove Kiba wrong." But we later learn that this doubt that the character retains in Paradise's existence stems from his inability to trust others; if you remember, Tsume abandoned his pack and they turned on him, which is where his scar came from. Then, Paradise came to represent Tsume's ability to trust someone again (notably, Kiba's ideals) and so he becomes as fixed on finding it as anyone else in the pack.
As for Toboe, he sought Paradise because he wanted peace, where animals and birds could live side-by-side. This want derived from the peaceful life he had with the Granny, who he accidentally killed. Also, Toboe represented someone who couldn't articulate his power (hence the accidental deaths of Granny and Leara's hawk.) Hige wanted to go to Paradise because it seemed better than earth. But when he met Blue, he wanted to "go as far as possible" to maybe live there and have a life with her, because she was his first love and due to his affiliation with Jaguara, we can assume that he never loved anyone before her. So to address your point, I have to disagree that characters were not fleshed out. I felt everyone had their reasons to go to Paradise and these reasons were impacted by each character's personal experiences and turmoils.
Even the Nobles had reasons to seek Paradise; it wasn't so much a mindless pursuit as you suggested in your review. Jaguara was in love with Darcia and that was her motivation. And likewise, Darcia was in-love with Hamona and wished to cure her in Paradise (until Hamona died, in which power and vengeance drove him.)
The ending to Wolf's Rain wasn't supposed to be happy and it wasn't supposed to be sad, either. In fact, it wasn't even supposed to be definitive. It was left open to interpretation for a reason. Yes, the characters died, but they were also reborn. None but Kiba got as much as a glimpse of Paradise. The ending was to represent the cyclical nature of all things in the universe and how all things, good or bad, have a "start" and an "end." (Paradise, the start and the crumbling earth, the end.)
But I do think that if the series is to be marked down at any part, it would be at Tsume's clothes. Seriously, he looked like a stripper. And a bad one at that.
Anyway, this is just my two cents. Thank you for your thorough comments and taking the time to write your review :)