Saturday, September 1, 2001

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade

Genre: Action / Fantasy / War
Parental Guidance Recommended
1998 Written by Mamoru Oshii. Directed by Hiroyuki Okiura. Production IG.

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Firesenshi's Description:
After World War II, the Japanese government (non-historical setting. This is all fiction.) is faced with revolutionaries called The Sect where young teenage girls wearing red hoods were used as messengers. One day, officer Kazuki Fuse and his team are in pursuit of the "red riding hoods" escaping in the sewers. But as an unfortunate disaster happens, Fuse is pushed back to retraining. Here he meets the girl's sister, Kei Agawa. As Kei gets close to Fuse, he is reminded of the raid he and his team made in the sewers like the wolf in pursuit of the young girl in a red hood in the fairy tale he often hears. In an unexpected liaison between them, their connection with each other seem to be as deadly as the operations of the Sect versus the Government. Which of them is part of Jin-roh? And who will end the fairy tale?

At first I thought it was boring. >>> by firesenshi
Explaining the political setting of Japan in the first part was indeed necessary. But as I'm not a fan of current events and political terms, I thought this is going to be just another depressing film of riots and post-war sentiment to awaken social consciousness. Those things turned me off until you meet Fuse. Following his story will lead you on a trail of suspense as you learn intrigue upon intrigue. Discussing military counterintelligence is always full of metaphors and deep code that one has to read in between the lines. And ultimately, learning each bit one by one is like a puzzle you piece together until you think you know who or what the antagonist is AND still end up wrong.

Mamoru Oshii is a genius in this. He is careful not to reveal NOR explain all the elements in one sitting. Some of the anime I watched make you fall on the trail of intrigue one by one and later, one of the characters will explain what had been going on in great detail! Well, don't expect that with Mamoru Oshii. You will get learn everything one by one and no one will explain it to you in the end. You are really just a spectator. You overhear the conversations going on in the military underground. You will see the covert operations as though you're someone who just happened to pass by. But if what I described to you seems somewhat like an outsider to the whole thing, it is because the very concept of Jin-roh is a secret counter intelligence wolf brigade. Giving you everything you WANT to know is totally spoonfeeding. Giving you everything you NEED to know puts you on the trail like that of an investigative reporter where clues lead to bigger questions that when you ultimately find out what's going on, it feels good to know that you figured out an astonishing mystery BY YOURSELF.

From these covert operations, Mamoru Oshii distinctly adds a dash of drama in the personalities and pasts of the characters. Political concepts, like I first thought, were so cold until you are curious about the relationship between Kazuki Fuse and Kei Agawa. The inner conflict in those characters along with the bigger social and political chaos as backdrop are just in sync. Such are the ironies in Jin-roh that you have to see this film.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 8; Story 10; Characters 9; Sounds 7

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