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Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 01/23/2002

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade depicts an alternate history for Japan. Having lost the war to Germany, Japan is invaded by Nazis. Ten years later, the invading forces leave... but their legacy of chaos remains. A group of revolutionaries called "The Sect" conducts various terrorist activities, which are in turn kept under control by the government's counter-terrorist group -- Capitol Police's (CAPO) Special Unit. There is also talk of another group within the CAPO known as the Wolf Brigade, which in turn keeps the CAPO in check. But no one knows for sure if this group really exists. Kazuki Fuse is a member of CAPO's Special Unit. When Fuse (pronounced as "Foo-seh") fails to kill a young girl carrying a bomb for The Sect. She detonates it, killing herself and destroying everything around her. After this incident, Fuse is haunted by thoughts and visions of the girl... which prompts him to find out who she really is. And so the story unfolds...
With the all the glowing reviews and overwhelming hype Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade has been receiving, a great burden lies on my shoulders as I write this. On one hand, I thought it was an excellent piece of work. But on the other hand, it didn't rock my world as much as all the propaganda claimed it would.
Promoting a movie is one thing; taking one's expectations to an impossible height quite another. This is a problem that plagues a lot of popular anime films (such as "Akira" and "Ghost in the Shell"). Almost everyone will tell you how awesome they are, making it almost a sin not to agree. Jin-Roh is roughly in the same category as the two titles I've mentioned, but fortunately, it delivers what it promises.
Big bucks were blown for Jin-Roh's production (which partly explains all the fuss over it), and it shows. The first thing that struck me about Jin-Roh was how similar the overall visual style is to another much anticipated release, "Spriggan". Jin-Roh and Spriggan have the same kind of meticulously composed scenes, somber character designs, and incredibly smooth animation... but Jin-Roh takes on a much darker tone. Kazuki Fuse's story unfolds along with a part-by-part narration of "Little Red Riding Hood". The thing is, it's not Red Riding Hood as told to little kids. Jin-Roh makes its analogy with the original Brothers Grimm version entitled "Rotkäppchen". It is a macabre and horrific tale of one girl's journey to meet her mother -- and how a vicious wolf successfully deceives her. The Sect uses young girls whom they refer to as "Red Riding Hoods" to carry bombs, and Fuse encounters one of them face-to-face. After her explosive death, an uneasy Fuse visits the gravesite. There he meets another girl who looks like her. Her name is Kei, and she's the dead girl's sister. A bittersweet affair blossoms between Fuse and Kei shortly after, and I was impressed with the way they managed to express themselves despite the fact that they were hiding things from each other.
Jin-Roh is the story of a nation divided by warring factions, and one man's struggle to determine what he really is. It is marked by a lot of violence, blood, and disturbing imagery. To give you an example, Fuse sees Kei brutally mauled by a pack of wolves in one of his visions / hallucinations. Another thing I noticed about Jin-Roh is how genuinely Japanese-looking a lot of the characters are -- from the facial contours to the way the eyes are drawn. This gives the whole film a very realistic feel which makes it seem almost like a live-action movie, rather than an anime. The only problem I had with Jin-Roh is the how the different factions and their ideologies are not very clearly defined. A certain level of vagueness remains even after the conclusion, which leads me to believe that they tried a little too hard to achieve a profound effect. Still, it doesn't change the fact that Jin-Roh is both a visual and narrative masterpiece, worthy of a place on any serious anime collector's shelf.
The story of Jin-Roh comes from Mamoru Oshii, director of "Ghost in the Shell".

Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade
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Review Title:
Jin-Roh - The Wolf Brigade
100 Minutes
General Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Young Adults
Drama, Military, Psychological
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