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Dan42's JIN-ROH Lair
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So I made a site about Jin-Roh. And guess what? I wrote a review about the movie. How suprising. Here it is, as well as links to external reviews. If you want to submit a review, I'll be happy to post it (but please make sure it has some substance, and don't bother to include a synopsis).

Intelligent, Powerful, And Tragic

All the critics agree : Jin-Roh is a bona fide masterpiece. I've seen many excellent animes, and Jin-Roh is without a doubt one of the most complex and thought-provoking. Director Hiroyuki Okiura's propensity for realism is demonstrated clearly in this VERY serious movie. The whole atmosphere is beautifully dark and the plot, if you're attentive enough to grasp it all, will blow you away by its richness. And, without giving it away, I can promise you that the climax is original and emotionally unforgettable.

The story is set in an alternate past Japan, some ten years after the end of WWII. Radical policies to get the country out of its post-war slump had caused serious social problems. The rising civil unrest had prompted the government to create a special unit of heavily-armored cop-soldiers (the Capital Police, CAPO) entrusted with the repression of the riots orchestrated by militant and terrorist groups collectively known as "the Sect". But times change and the economic prosperity renders CAPO as well as the Sect completely obsolete. With their reason for existence gone, the CAPO leaders see only one way to avoid dissolution : integrate with the regular police forces. However, this fusion is impossible because of the Panzers, the shock troops of CAPO, whose existence is a constant thorn in the foot for the police officials. So a conspiracy is set in motion to discredit them. But the Wolf Brigade, a rumored counter-intelligence vigilante group, is watching from the shadows.

At the center of this great struggle, Kazuki Fuse is a Panzer soldier who failed to kill a young terrorist girl before she blew herself up. As he grapples with the implications of such fanaticism, he meets the girl's sister, Kei Amamiya. Pawns of powerful forces, they end up unwittingly falling in love. Their story is told to us through an extremely original metaphor : the story of little red riding hood. And does it work! You simply have GOT to see it to believe how seamlessly that "children's" story is interwoven and interconnected at multiple levels with the love story of the two main characters. And just as the somber mood of Jin-Roh lets you suspect it, this version of little red riding hood is quite darker than the fairy tale we're all used to. It's a cruel world in which red riding hoods eat the flesh and drink the blood of their mothers and in which wolves, even if human, mercilessly devour red riding hoods. This is all tied in with the Wolf Brigade (the Jin-Roh of the title, which means literally "man-wolf") and the Sect (who use girls code-named "red riding hoods" to distribute explosives).

Finally, let's not forget the quality of the visuals in this movie which are just as flawless as its story. The backgrounds of art director Hiromasa Ogura work perfectly to draw the viewer deep into the world of Jin-Roh, and the animation has the incredible fluidity and realism typical of the highest quality anime. Extreme emotions (terror, anguish) are painted on the characters' faces with a skill that is rarely seen. The character designs are extremely varied and I don't think it's negligible to note that for once the faces actually look Japanese. The action scenes are rather infrequent but this only makes then all the more striking when they DO occur. In fact, some gunfights are simply chilling; the Panzer soldiers are not described as "heavily-armored" for nothing. They seem like unstoppable killing machines whose every movement unfailingly bring words like "deadly" and "dangerous" to mind. They feel like a pack of ravening wolves (again, the wolf theme) under a very thin human veneer. They'll bring a shiver to the back of your neck, it's guaranteed!

To sum it up in a few words : an absolute MUST-SEE movie as long as you don't completely hate complex plots.

Review by Daniel DeLorme

Drunk! Drunk I was... sitting up watching TV at some stupid time in the morning, crying into my beer, watching... something on sky. Flicking through the channels I caught a glimpse of some kind of cartoon.

'Manga' I thought. 'It's good for 25 mins entertainment. maybe even some crude sex scenes.'

What I got was something spectacular, not what I was expecting at all. At about 12am on BBC CHOICE, Jin-Roh the Wolf Brigade aired for the first (and so far, only) time in Britain. It quickly made me sober again to say the least. 'as good as ghost in the shell?' I thought, 'surely not!!'. 'Akira???' definitely not.

BUT!!! To my surprise, it bloodey well is. The only title I dare hold up to Akira, Jin-Roh, remains a legitimate, original piece of emotional work. The plot (although it may need viewing more than once, but not essential) revolves around a 'Panzer'-like division of a police force. And especially focuses on a central figure battling with his own actions after failing to 'terminate' an enemy terrorist.

Not wishing to spoil the plot for anyone as this would be classed as a sin, go see this work! It would definitely appeal to those who aren't even entised to anime! The only problem I have now is WAITING UNTIL THE BLOODEY FILM IS AVAILABLE OVER HERE!!!!! DAAAMNNN IIITTTT Go see it, you definitely won't be sorry!!!

Review by Andy J B

Outside reviews

Here are excerpts from outside reviews, with the links the the whole review. Since I aim to be as objective as possible, I've tried as often as I could to include the negative comments about Jin-Roh when they occur. Even though I can't possibly understand how ANYONE could find ANY fault with this movie...

WARNING!!! The full reviews (links) may contain spoilers, and believe me : this is one movie where you DON'T want to be spoiled (kinda like the Sixth Sense). Proceed at your own risks!

Hiroyuki Okiura has crafted something very different from genre norms. [...] the film reads its complex plot and back-story (The Manchurian Candidate had nothing on this) through the story of Little Red Riding Hood, producing a set of disquieting and ultimately very moving ambiguities. In this remarkable vision, even the explosions and spasms of violence are thoughtful.

It is a sober, introspective anime which avoids the genre's tendency toward superficial surface affect, but also abandons its major strength: the anything-goes sense of possibility. [...] JIN-ROH cannily brings together elements of science fiction, romance and folk tale (the story of Red Riding Hood is evoked repeatedly), working them into a plot involving a multi-level bureaucratic conspiracy. There are occasional rousing action sequences, like the opening riot and a ballistic showdown in the sewers of Tokyo, but mostly the film is composed, melancholy, low-key.

The animation here is striking in its style, using soft lines for the characters, with detailed, almost photo-realistic backgrounds. [...] unfortunately, the story tries too hard to make a political as well as social statement regarding the inhumanity of people who lose sight of their duty towards society, but gets marred in a banal story of political double-crosses.

Excerpt from Reel Life's review

The plot of the film is very complex, involving several ambiguities which are disquieting at the outset. But gradually, the vision of the director comes through, offering food for thought even in the most violent scenes

Set in the past where most =anime= features are set in the future, Jinro also eschews computer-generated images in favor of expanding the possibilities of traditional cel animation.

Like GHOST IN THE SHELL and PERFECT BLUE, the plot twists and turns, seemingly warping reality in on itself. After a while, the viewer no longer is sure who Fuse is. Is he the hero or the villain, or is he neither? Is the he pawn or the puppet master? This film is definitely very cerebral, and, like PATLABOR 2, has more psychological and political intrigue than all-out action. However, it is Fuse's tenuous grasp of reality, or what he perceives to be reality, that keeps the viewers enthralled as they try to determine what is real and what is false. The animation quality of the film is exceptional, and is technically superior. After all, this is Production I.G.

For those of us more familiar with the slam-bang action generally associated with sci-fi anime, Jin-Roh comes as a bit of a surprise: apart from the explosive riot at the start and a big noisy shoot-out at the end, this is more of a character piece. The relationship between Fuse and the sister is carefully drawn, even if the frequent quotes from the story of Little Red Riding Hood are sometimes a little overdone. The animation is as enjoyable to look at as these things usually are, but you get a neat study on guilt and betrayal thrown in with the nuke-proof body armour, making for something with a bit more depth than your typical straight-to-video manga.

Excerpt from Spank's LFF Diary

Jin-Roh is an extremely complicated movie with 90% of it's screening time devoted to developping the characters, the plot and the intrigue. Action segments were only incorporated when required by the plot, however those action segments that do exist in the movie are extremely intense [...] Artisticly Jin-Roh is a masterpiece, as can be expected with anything coming from Productions IG. The extreme attention to minute detail seen in Jin-Roh is very rare. [...] Without a doubt, if you are into intense psychological drama, and dark moods, Jin-Roh with it's excellent production values is a must see... and maybe you should watch it twice, just so that you can understand it. However, if you'd rather something lighter, funny, or just plain mindless violence that doesn't require heavy thinking (and at times we all want this stuff) then Jin-Roh definitively isn't for you.

French reviews
Given that Jin-Roh has been released in France, it's really not surprising that many reviews are in french. If you can, come see the
french half of this site.

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