It took me a long while, but I've wanted to create this section for a long time. The current articles are:
Report from JIN-ROH Release, "Day 1"
Perfection in Detail, or "The Firearms of Jin-Roh"
How Jin-Roh came to be made
The Lost Lyrics of Jin-Roh
Report from JIN-ROH Release, "Day 1"
(The original Japanese report can be found here
and the english translation here)
Russian machine pistol, it is adopted by Eastern Europe partisans when it is replaced little by little in the Red Army starting from 1943.
STEN (circa 1941, cal. 9mm Parabellum)
Proverbial weapon of the French Resistance, very cheap weapon parachuted in tens of tons for all those who fought the Germans.
BERGMANN MP 18/II (1920's, cal. 9mm Parabellum)
Improved version of the first machine pistol brought into service, the MP 18/I. Equipped the police forces of the Weimar Republic (1920s in Germany) and of the IIIrd Reich... the weapon "par excellence" of the police officer. (here, undoubtedly salvaged after a battle)
PANZERFAUST 30 (en of the guerre)
Aiii! Here again, a street weapon, but this one is a tank killer! This single-use anti-tank rocket launcher, requiring a goodly amount of coolness and even of fanaticism, requires the operator to approach to within 30 meters the target, the enemy tank, and tends either to explode in his hands or go off a little easily... (QED for those who saw the film)
PISTOLET NAMBU (cal. 8mm Nambu)
Old Japanese automatic gun, not powerful, not reliable at all, one understands that nobody would want to use it... except those who have nothing else!
They are also in line with historical reality. Like the weapons of the Sect, they are weapons of close combat or street battle. But since the police force, them, they've got money... their hardware, which is entirely German-made (logical!), is much more recent and of better quality.
WALTHER P-38 PISTOL (1938, cal. 9mm Parabellum)
You don't get any better! The best gun of the time, not yet obsolete even today, reliable, precise, rather powerful. For the anime experts, you will recognize the weapon of choice of this dear Lupin III...
SCHMEISSER MP-40 (1940, cal. 9mm Parabellum)
Excellent machine pistol, rather expensive to produce, does not like mud or filth (it gets jammed) but, if well maintained, works well, is light and precise. It is the weapon of the Jin-Roh police officer, always clean and well shaven in his beige trenchcoat. To be noted: the presence on screen of both versions; foldable butt (most frequent in reality) and wooden butt, manufactured towards the end of the war, and here pretty frequent... logical, I'm telling you!
WALTHER FLARE-LAUNCHER PISTOL (1930's, cal. 4, so it's about 28mm I think)
Gun intended for signal flares, distress flares... the Germans imagined during the war that it could nonetheless be used to shoot grenades, and so it was...
MAUSER KARABINER 98-K RIFLE (1937, cal. 8X57 IS)
Standard rifle of the German army during WWII, ultra reliable weapon, powerful, precise, and very robust, enough in any case to mount a grenade thrower (a kind of removable grenade sleeve, and the grenade is propelled by a special cartridge which is shot just like a normal one). Here the drawing of the rifle is so detailed that one can specify that it's the first version of the 98K, manufactured before 1941... I'm not kidding!
Aha! Now we're getting into the most gratifying part for the firearms amateur, section which is also that of the most impressive weapons on screen, even for the neophyte. It's simple: the Panzers are an elite unit... and so they have weaponry in consequence. Weapons ineffective in the hands of poorly-trained troops, but more than formidable in those of experienced soldiers... powerful stuff, large stuff, you-need-a-supply-train-full-of-ammo-to-keep-up-a-decent-firing-rate stuff. Fortunately, with Panzers battles are short. On a much more serious note, this film is a drama where the Panzers play a major role. Their over-powerful armament and the way in which they make use of it increase their image of quasi monstrous bestiality, even if everything stays perfectly realistic, even coherent, as you will see it.
WALTHER PP or PPK PISTOL (1930's, cal. 7.65mm Browning in general)
Reliable and precise weapon, not very powerful but easily hidden, the top-of-the-line of the self-defense or emergency weapon. For the film enthusiasts, and even 95% of the population, it is the weapon of a certain James Bond (it was, actually, before that Pierce Brosnan clown and his plastic toys...)
MAUSER C-96 PISTOL (1896, cal. 7.63 Mauser)
Now we are in a completely different category... Indeed, the C96, first automatic gun sufficiently advanced to be used in combat, is in fact a robust weapon, heavy thus requiring training (QED I'm telling you, for those who saw the film) and very very powerful. By simply adding its butt (which, empty, is also used as a case), it is transformed into a very powerful semi-automatic rifle. Those which we see here are so well represented that they can be identified precisely as 1898 models, whose sides are milled differently from other models!
STURMGEWEHR MP-44 (1943, cal. 8X33 Kurz)
Here, I'll try to simplify; this revolutionary weapon, put in service in rather small quantities at the end of the war, is the first assault rifle. It shoots, in single-shot mode or in bursts, a Mauser rifle ammunition shortened to give less recoil and weight to the weapon. This weapon was copied slavishly by the Russians after the second world war, and they called it KALASHNIKOV! And yet, the Kalashnikov AK-47 is less sophisticated than the MP-44, Russian industry not being able then to master certain German manufacturing techniques. To be noted: the presence of another version of MP-44 in the film, the one with rubber bullets for training. I thought it was invented by the animators but it actually exists, it is in fact a quasi prototype from which was derived the MP-44. Here I thought I knew everything about this period, and I did not know of this weapon!!! But among dozens of specialized books and nearly 250 magazines, this weapon is quoted ONCE... just a photograph with 2 lines of explanation! Incredible but true. The weapon designer of Jin-Roh is a god. I will raise an altar to him in my room.
FG-42 ASSAULT RIFLE (1942, cal. 8X57 IS)
Extremely rare, almost a prototype. The FG-42, another precursor of modern assault rifles, particularly in its architecture, was not produced much because, light weapon firing the ammunition of the Mauser 98K in bursts, it gave a very strong recoil. But when one is a member of the Panzer unit, trained the hard way, that is not a problem... I'll point out that to be aware of this weapon and to reproduce it so well, you have to be hot...
The weapon par excellence of the Panzer; first modern machine-gun, it is a phenomenal weapon due to its reliability and its powerful ammunition (that of the Mauser rifle, but "pumped up" a little). A wonder or a horror, it depends on the viewpoint... 900 to 1300 one-way tickets to hell per minute in automatic mode, bands of 50 cartridges which can be linked together at will for a continuous fire, no light shielding or bulletproof jacket is proof against it... the MG-42 is something mind-boggling. It is raw power for its user, though that is not the word... for a machine-gun we say "its servant", and for the MG-42 that is fully justified. It inspires terror to its targets. It enraptures its servant with its destructive capabilities. It has it's own personality, it is a kind of god of war, or a mass sacrificial tool on the altar of Mars, who claims his harvest of mortals. Since the second world war this weapon has become a kind of legend. Not really a good fairy, no, but rather a kind of mythical beast, a scarecrow for young recruits which frightens still more those who have really known it. It is a kind of ogre, or rather of dragon... the weapon produces a colossal and terrifying (assuming you are still alive) jet of flame caused by a sytem of bolting/unbolting by recoil amplification (explained below). We see examples of this several times in Jin-Roh.
But first, a little History... in the interval between the wars, the Germans very quickly resumed their weapons research. In spite of controls, they succeeded in concluding their research, either with the support of the USSR which welcomed them, or with underhanded ruses, such as giving to a weapon designed at the beginning of the Thirties the name MG-13, just to fool foreign politicians (who did not ask better than to trade with Germany) into thinking that the weapon was from before the war. By the way, it is probably this weapon which was used in the live films of Mamoru Oshii, "Kerberos" and "Akai Megane". This device had performances equivalent to those of weapons 3 times heavier (the real machine-guns of the first world war) but also had an enormous problem. To make it simple and light, the weapon was equipped with a charger of only 25 shots... at 550 rounds/minute, the gunners were reloading all the time.
Based on the same mechanism, very close in aspect, the MG-34 (the one used in the manga...) uses bands of 25, 50 or 100 cartridges, which moreover can be linked together on late models. The weapon is very powerful, precise, stable, rather reliable... but not enough; in the frozen mud of the East Front, the MG-34 is useless. Moreover, as a weapon conceived in a time of peace, it uses expensive manufacturing methods, machined steel, specialized personnel. This weapon, powerful but too complex and fragile for the fields of operations of the East, needed to be replaced on that terrain by a more reliable, less expensive and easier to produce weapon.
With a disconcerting ease, the German engineers took up the challenge with the MG-42.
According to W.H.B Smith, in his work "Small arms of the world" published in several versions from 1943 to 1950 (terrific book!), the reason of this success is that the designers voluntarily ignored all the traditional precepts which seemed impossible to circumvent for this type of weapon.
Whereas it was thought that only machined steel (and quite thick in addition) could be used for a weapon firing powerful ammunition at high rate, they largely used stamped plate (all the carcass of the weapon, the caps, and a number of internal parts). It is thus less expensive, faster to produce, and requires less heavy tools.
Rather than ancient and traditional systems, like "piston-springs-rod and there you go with another piston, and still more springs, and a super part really tough to machine", the weapon uses the recoil to function, with a brilliant system... the gases of the cartridge, when they leave the mouth of the gun from where they have expelled the bullet, slacken, and there, very glad to get out of this not very roomy place, they don't realize that the end of the gun is enclosed in a sleeve of sheet metal (very visible at the tip of the weapon). Running up against the sleeve pierced with a hole just wide enough for the passage of the bullet, the gases go up in pressure and push the barrel back by pressing on its front section. Since the barrel is not asking for better, with the recoil from the ammunition which is already significant, that makes a simple mechanism where there are 2 sources of push to make the barrel move back. The eventual residues of mud, sand, earth or various materials which could have velleities of stopping this movement by getting into the mechanism are pulverized without even slowing down the weapon. The barrel while moving back pushes the cylinder head which remains locked to it until at the end of its course a very simple system (rollers) unbolts it... in its motion, the cylinder head will eject the worn casing and move back until the spring placed behind it, in the butt, returns it with force to the fore where it will pick up a fresh cartridge, push the barrel forward, lock itself to it and fore the cartridge whose gases, when leaving the gun, etc...
And all that at 1300 shots/minute, due to the simplicity of the mechanism and the power of the ammunition. Shooting one of the best ammunitions of war of its time, the 8X50 IS (8mm Mauser, also known as 7.92 Mauser), the MG-42 is an excellent anti-aircraft machine-gun; with its bipod, it can be served by one or two men, and on heavy tripod it becomes an excellent heavy machine gun, very precise.
The weapon, simple and therefore extremely reliable, is easy to disassemble, reassemble and maintain... the fast barrel change system is brilliant because simple and very fast. One can see it in Jin-Roh when Fusé cleans his weapon. Rather heavy (13 kg), its greatest weakness comes from its greatest strength: its high rate of fire. In combat, you have to feed the beast, greedy in ammunition... and frequently change its barrel in the case of sustained fire because this one becomes too hot. The fast barrel change system becomes very importance then, but this moment is nevertheless the only one where one can attack an MG-42 (without tank or plane support).
Feared by the Allied soldiers of the last war, its noise alone (according to the witnesses, like that of a fabric being torn or a drum roll accelerated and amplified a thousand times) was sometimes the cause of movements of panic. In Italy, a pair of MG-42 providing a crossfire in a mountain pass stopped whole American columns... the only means of eliminating them being to call upon aviation.
This is an extreme and fascinating weapon, for it is undoubtedly among the most successful machines of destruction ever conceived and used... and moreover usable by a single man! In this individual weapon configuration, the MG 34 and 42 often use bands contained in sheet metal drums, simple or double, fixed on the side of the weapon.
As a side note, the American army copied the mechanism of this weapon for their famous M60 (Rambo's gun), which doesn't shoot quite as fast, bullets being expensive for the American taxpayer... And as their ammunition of the time was too long for this mechanism, they created a new type of ammunition, adopted it, imposed it on NATO, and today if the French, the Belgians, the English, etc... use the 7.62 Nato caliber, it's because the Americans (and, let's be frank, the rest of the World as well) would have done almost anything to adopt this devastating German machine.
Okay, you survived? I've tried my best not to be too technical... I understand easily that not everyone is interested in the weapons of the two world wars.
This, certainly, is a mere catalogue... I would dream of making a detailled analysis of how the weapons are used in Jin-Roh, because the majority of the shots featuring weapons are superb and very worked out... there is neither free violence, nor meaningless display. Everything serves the scenario, the dramatization of the story, the depiction of the character who sees himself... ahem, if I dare say "emphasized" by his weapon, as much as by his attitude or his speech. But firstly that would be an extremely time-consumming task exceeding both my capabilities and my availability, and secondly it would have to be reserved for those who saw the film, otherwise it would spoil the pleasure of the others!
A terrible drama, Jin-Roh portrays, with a real perfectionism, weapons which were made with no less perfectionism; the person who did not tremble at the deep rumble of the MG-42 has a solid stomach and nerves of steel.
And these scenes are even more striking when one knows all their actors, when one weighs what there is of destructive capacity in the objects on screen... it is for that reason that I wrote this small note, which I hope will have interested you.
When Mr. Oshii was called to a meeting with Bandai Visual, he presented the proposal paper of Ghost in the Shell. But in his bag he had another proposal paper, which he didn't submit at that time. It was a proposal for an animation based on Hellhounds.
And when Ghost in the Shell was nearly completed, this proposal was again put under consideration. At first, the plan was to create an OAV (original anime video) based on the six episodes given in the manga at that time, but they thought it better to create something more solid, and decided to make a film. So they had to write a new scenario, but Bandai Visual and others did not like the idea of a work both directed by Oshii and scripted by Oshii. (They were probably afraid of Oshii's arbitrariness.) But Kazunori Ito, who usually writes scenarios for works directed by Oshii, was determined to never deal with Oshii's "dog" stuff, and Mr. Oshii never wanted to delegate to anybody else the scenario of a story which is set in "his world" itself. So he accepted the condition that he writes the scenario but instead somebody else directs the film. Thus, Hiroyuki Okiura, who was supposed to make the first episode of the OAV version of Hellhounds, was chosen to be the director.
Mr. Okiura was surprised and hesitant by the change from an OAV to a film. So he asked Mr. Oshii excessive requests about the scenario, like "put young characters in it". He expected Mr. Oshii to refuse these requests and was going to make that the reason for declining.
However, Mr. Oshii just accepted the requests with no opposition and Mr. Okiura was unable to quit. After writing the scenario, Mr. Oshii did not touch anything and let Mr. Okiura do as he liked. The film "Jin-Roh", original story given and scripted by Mamoru Oshii, and directed by Hiroyuki Okiura, was thus created.
...This appears to be the details of how Jin-Roh was made, based on the information published in various sources (such as magazines).
Several points deserve comments. First, why didn't Bandai Visual want Oshii to be both the director and the script writer? The reason is obvious: because such works have always been really unsuccessful in the past! The typical instances of this are "The Red Spectacles" and "Stray Dogs", actually. Even the core fans of Oshii admit these are super-bad works.
So, unlike some people's misunderstanding (English reviews in several newspapers, for example), it is the combination of Okiura and Oshii, rather than Oshii alone, who made this great film possible. Okiura even modified much of Oshii's script, as one can see (if he/she can read Japanese!) by comparing the actual speech in the film with the original script in "Jin-Roh ManiaXX". For instance, there was a whole scene with a rather unnatural and even strange dialog by Fuse and Kei about constellations related to dogs and wolves (based on a similar dialog by different persons in the manga), which was entirely removed by Okiura.
As a result of these, the film has a rather different "taste" from other works by Oshii, which is actually good in my (and many other people's) opinion.
There are also points in the film that may be difficult to understand for people who aren't very familiar with Japan. One is the (models of) wolves in the museum, which appear many times in the story. A review in some newspaper (sorry - I forgot which) criticized this is an example of "too much symbolism" of the film.
Well, indeed there may be "too much symbolism", but people don't seem to be aware that those wolves are (most probably) of a kind called "Japanese wolves" (Nihon-Ookami), which were exterminated in the early 20th century. This implies the fate of Fuse or of the special unit as a whole.
[ WARNING: MANGA SPOILER ] In fact, later in Oshii's "history" of Japan, the special unit rise in revolt to the government who decided its dissolution. The revolt fails and all members are killed except for a few, as one can read in the latest volume of (the Japanese version of) Hellhounds.
Among the many qualities of Jin-Roh, one that may get less attention than it deserves is the music. The haunting melodies composed by Hajime Mizoguchi are very subtle, slowly building momentum and emotion in every scene in the movie, with only the most musically aware viewer being conscious of their effect. In part because of that subtlety, all of Mizoguchi's songs on the soundtrack haver been eclipsed by one other track, the end theme composed by Yoko Kanno. I say "in part" because the other tracks don't only fall prey to their own subtlety, they also fall prey to the end theme's magnificence. Grace Omega would eclipse any other track, whatever album it were on. It is a truly gorgeous piece of music, with ethereal vocals that reach deep inside your soul.
These vocals seem to have intrigued a lot of people, as I have received many questions about the lyrics of Grace Omega. Unfortunately I have no idea what they are. In fact, those lyrics may not even exist. The lyrics of Grace Omega were sung by Gabriela Robin (supposedly an alter ago of Yoko Kanno). On rec.arts.anime.music it is suggested that Gabriela Robin often uses nonsensical lyrics.
WHAT LANGUAGE DOES GABRIELA ROBIN SING IN?One only has to looks at a few of Kanno's songs to realize this has some truth to it. The lyrics of Cat's Delicacy are a prime example. An interview of Yoko Kanno by EX.org sheds further light on the matter:
As one rec.arts.anime poster once wrote, it's LizFraserese (i.e. Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins is well known for her "screwing up the lyrics" experiments in phoenetics). In Robins' case, often, it's gibberish that sounds kind of French.
EX: What languages did you use for "Medicine Eater", "Cat's Delicacy" and "Arcadia"?In an attempt to get to the bottom of this, I figured that Japanese fans might have a better clue to this than me, being closer to the source. So I inquired of Eijiro Sumii if he might know the lyrics. He answered:
KY: Hmm... which language... There is only the image of someone swallowing medicine. (laughs) For "Cat's Delicacy," the image of a golden-haired lady. As for "Arcadia"...
EX: Is it Latin?
KY: There is the image of Latin, but the atmosphere of ESCAFLOWNE is an otherworldly one. It's really not Latin at all.
EX: What languages did you use for "After, in the dark", "Torch song", "SANTI-U", "Pulse", "A Sai En" and "Wanna Be an Angel"? They're not real Earth languages, right?
KY: No, they're not real Earth languages. (laughs)
Actually, this is a mystery that Japanese fans are also wondering about. The official information is, of course, that Gabriela Robin (the singer) made the lyrics up, as the "Stab Liste" in Jin-Roh ManiaXX says (in English for this part only). Hajime Mizoguchi (the composer) has answered somebody's question (in his official web page in Japanese) that they are "the company's secret" and he would like to let the audience imagine. Google doesn't give any hint other than that, either.Well, to me they sounded kind of latin, but I guess we'll never know. And maybe that's okay, really...
So, unless somebody has written them down, the lyrics are unlikely to exist on the Net... If you have any more information, please let me know! To me, they somehow sound like in German - is this correct?
UPDATE - January 18th 2003
Some time after posting this story, I received an e-mail from someone known as Noeru. Apparently he/she has a very fine hear because the e-mail contained a transliteration of the Grace Omega lyrics. I've tried to do this myself before but I was never able to identify any clear sounds; the lyrics were too muddled. However, listening to the song while reading that transliteration, I was able to perceive the "words" and maybe make them a little more accurate. Here's the transliteration, but keep in mind that this doesn't represent any language; it only represents sounds.
Se he melpt he le heusWhile it's nice to have this much, it sure doesn't look like any language I know. There are a few parts that do indeed remind me of latin, but it might as well be spanish. If these phonetics look even a little like a language you know, PLEASE contact me. But in the meantime it looks like this will remain a mystery.
Tre he melpt o pridi
Lingu ni he fe he me
Tre he melpt godi
Ste he melpt he le heus
Tre he melpt o pridi
Lingu ni he fe he me
Tre heus o prishid godi
Eta li hapru
Esta mi langu
Oh fabi atshiius
Gofria kruhemen entu
Se he melpt he le heus
Tre he melpt o pridi
Lingu ni he fe he me
Tre he melpt godi