Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade |
First of all, I want to make it clear that this is an anime for the thinkers among us. If you watch anime just for thrilling action or cute girls, this probably isn't the movie for you. Not that there is anything wrong with the aforementioned taste in anime, I just need to clarify that this film was made with something more than that in mind.
The reason I say this is because Jin-Roh is all about the tragic story of a man struggling with his own inner demons. While there are a few scenes of delightful violence in which people are chewed apart by machine-gun fire, the 162 minutes of this movie mostly involve the rather slowly-paced unfolding of the life of Constable Fuse, a member of a special unit of peacekeepers charged with ending terrorist threats and keeping post-World War II Japan safe. His story takes place in an alternate world where a different version of Japan exists after the end of occupation by U.S. Armed Forces following the Japanese surrender after the second world war. Great social unrest has seized the country, and a radical group of protestors/terrorists called "The Sect" has arisen, causing deadly riots all across the country. During one such riot, Fuse's unit in sent in to stop these terrorists from transporting explosives through the sewer system. As the team uses their powerful combat gear to easily eliminate the bulk of the Sect members, Fuse comes face-to-face with a young girl carrying a bomb disguised as a tote bag. After a brief but intense standoff, the girl detonates the bomb, instantly killing herself and nearly slaying Fuse as well, who could not bring himself to pull the trigger of his rifle to stop her. It is this tragic event that scars Fuse's soul and starts him on his quest to find himself.
The storyline for this film was written by Mamoru Oshii, the same man who brought us the classic Ghost in the Shell. Viewers who have seen this film will immediately see similarities to Jin-Roh. Like Ghost in the Shell, Jin-Roh ultimately strives to make the viewer ask himself a very important philosophical question. While Ghost in the Shell dealt with the somewhat futuristic question of what defines a human being, Jin-Roh poses a question every bit as powerful, but much more easy to relate to. Are humans really nothing more than beasts? And if so, are we ever really able to rise above that bestial nature? The movie does an excellent job of developing this chilling thought, using Fuse's plight as the model on which to base an answer. By the end of the movie, all but the most hard-hearted viewers will be moved by the result and will probably go away still searching within themselves for an answer.
With an emotionally involving story and a philosophical dilemma of great significance to us all, Jin-Roh is a film that has enough food for thought to satisfy even the deepest thinkers around. And with a masterful soundtrack and visuals that are both captivating and beautiful, Jin-Roh proves to be very impressive on a technical level as well. Futhermore, if you are willing to shell out some more cash, the special edition set will net you a soundtrack CD, a very readable and interesting essay on the film's creator and background, and an extras DVD packed with concept art sketches and interviews. Aside from some slow moments and a bit of confusion resulting from some fairly complex government counterintelligence plotlines, the movie is near perfect. I give Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade a 9 out of 10!!!!