Apr 6, 2014

Review: Jin-Rô [Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade] (1999)

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade is the third movie in the Kerberos series following The Red Spectacles and StrayDog. Unlike the previous two, Jon-Roh is completely animated and it is not directed by Mamoru Oshii. He wrote the story for Jin-Roh but it looks like he was pushed out of directing since his directorial efforts for the previous two films did not succeed commercially.

Without Oshii, Jin-Roh feels a whole lot less weird which is OK. I appreciate his efforts for sure and I like a weird movie from time to time. He makes for a good screenwriter though and Hiroyuki Okiura has done a good job at adapting Oshii's vision. It's much more accessible but not in a detrimental way. 

Jin-Roh is set before The Red Spectacles and StrayDog. Japan is very different from the Japan in our world because it was the Germans who occupied and not the Americans after World War II. Tension is pretty high in the country though with lots of unrest leading to violent clashes with police forces. It's a prickly situation but a special force, the Panzer cops are created to quell the situation.

We meet Kazuki Fuse who is part of the Panzer cops. In a crucial situation, he is unable to do what is required of him and it leads to a whole lot of embarrassment for his superiors. The Panzers are supposed to be the best so Kazuki is punished. Nothing too bad, but he has to go back to training even though he's one of the most skilled at what he does.

It's a pretty good story with some hefty emotional moments and a great soundtrack. I especially like the use of Rotkäppchen which is essentially an earlier version of what we know as Little Red Riding Hood. It's a chilling story used to good effect. 

The animation is also pretty solid. It's nothing earth-shattering but it's visually interesting, especially when it comes to establishing shots. It helps that the Panzer cops are pretty cool looking. They're not just there to look cool though, they're put to good use without any superfluous action. 

Jin-Roh makes it hard to find a side to support. It's definitely not a black and white situation, just many shades of grey. That's real life though. There's always two sides to everything and Jin-Roh shows both of these sides effectively. 

Story-wise, Jin-Roh is the most straightforward of the Kerberos movies like I said. It's easy enough to follow but it's by no means a weaker movie. Accessibility does not mean quality has to be sacrificed. The writing-directing duo of Oshmii and Okiura has put together a great piece of animation with a lot of depth. There are twists and turns and the ending is definitely worth watching. 

7/10