Jin-roh: The Wolf Brigade

on June 22, 2001 by Jordan Reed
   It's impossible to know whether or not "Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade" made more sense in its original Japanese. But like the anime classic "Akira" that spawned it, this neo-fascistic cartoon suffers from a rambling, allegory-laden storyline that makes it nearly impossible to follow.

   With the benefit of production notes--which modestly refer to "Jin-Roh" as "the last great anime film of the 20th century"--one can unravel the plot: In an alternate, post-WWII Japan, an underground terrorist group called "The Sect" wages war against the government-backed militia known as the Capitol Police. When cop Kazuki Fuse (voiced in the English-dubbed version by Michael Dobson) balks at gunning down a young female radical, his entire belief system is called into question--by himself as well as his superiors. Sent back to the academy to retrain, Fuse finds himself embroiled in a sticky plot to fell the Special Unit section of the police force. He meets Kei (Moneca Stori), supposedly the sister of the girl Fuse refused to kill (who blew herself to smithereens in front of him, by the way), who he falls for and who gives him her dead sibling's copy of Grimm's dark version of the "Little Red Riding Hood" fable as a present. Then the wolf allusions really start to fly. Then there are some double crosses. Then Fuse shows his true colors. Then the movie ends, and you don't know what the hell just happened.

   But along the way there's some nice animation to look at, and plenty of bullet-riddled-body, spent-shells-tumbling-out-of-gun worship to appeal to the type of folks--baked teenaged boys and comic-book store owners, predominantly--who enjoy that kind of thing. Plot matters little to them so long as it's vaguely anti-establishment, and a pretentious, befuddled howler like this fits the bill.    Voiced by Michael Dobson, Moneca Stori and Doug Abrahams. Directed by Hiroyuki Okiura. Written by Mamoru Oshii. Produced by Satoshi Kanuma and Toshifumi Yoshida. A Viz Films/Tidepoint release. Animated. Not yet rated. Running time: 101 min.

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