JIN-ROH: THE WOLF BRIGADE
Set in Tokyo of an alternate past, Constable Kazuki Fuse (voice of Michael Dobson) is a special-forces operative who kills in the name of the law but doubts the worth of his humanity. Fuse is made of flesh and blood, and is human enough to feel cold, to be frightened and to be absolved. One night in the sewers below Tokyo, Fuse and the men of a special unit confront a fleeing band of sect members. He aims at a young girl carrying an explosive satchel charge, but when he hesitates, she detonates the bomb. Compelled to find out her identity, Fuse tracks down her older sister Kei (voice of Moneca Stori), with whom he begins a love affair.
Review by Dylan Behan:
This anime, which is only having a short run, is being promoted as a violent and post-human Akira-like futuristic noir - which it is anything but. Instead, it tells the quite human story of a trapped and isolated young man, Kazuki Fuse, an elite special forces operative who is coming apart at the edges following the suicide bombing of Nanami, a young terrorist girl he was ordered but refused to kill. Fuse miraculously survives the close-range sewer blast, and seeking some form of atonement, forms an emotional attachment to Nanami's older sister Kei.
Set against a backdrop of a Japan that lost a different Second World War, Tokyo now has a post-occupation German influence flowing through architecture, landscape and transport. Tokyo is a civil war zone, and Jin-Roh gives us a human account of terrorism as a form of extremist, romantic, political expression. It uses the story of Little Red Riding Hood as a metaphor - not only for the deadly relationship forming between two enemies, but also for the young anti-establishment bombers who risk their lives.
Aside from the interpersonal human element, there's a larger political story that we almost forget about, only to have it re-emerge halfway through and it radically affects the relationships.
Jin-Roh is by no means an accessible anime, nor is it a particularly revolutionary one (as say, Akira or Metropolis are) - but it's a well constructed tragedy of two people united in sadness against a violent political backdrop. Also, unlike Akira, the English dubbing is done extraordinarily well and is absolutely seamless.
Written by Mamoru Oshii, who is best known for directing the masterful Ghost in the Shell, the film may take a while to settle into, but is an intelligent and intriguing tale of paranoia and love. Jin-Roh is ultimately a rewarding experience for anime fans and a must for fans of Akira and Ghost.
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JIN-ROH: THE WOLF BRIGADE (M15+)
VOICES: Michael Dobson, Paul Dobson, Mike Kopsa, Scott McNeil, Moneca Stori
PRODUCER: Tsutomu Sugita, Hidekazu Terakawa
DIRECTOR: Hiroyuki Okiura
SCRIPT: (English) Kevin McKeown and Robert Chomiack (Mamoru Oshii)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hisao Shirai
EDITOR: Shuichi Kakesu
MUSIC: Hajime Mizoguchi
PRODUCTION DESIGN: not credited
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Becker Entertainment
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Perth: October 24, 2002; Sydney: November 14, 2002; Melbourne: December 5, 2002;