Friday, August 10, 2012

A Wolf in Stormtrooper's Clothing

It might well be that Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999) is one of the most underrated anime offerings of all time – a situation no one into the more adult leanings of the medium should ascribe to.

Here you’ll find gallons of action, philosophical undertones, and sizable armaments involved - set alight with manic abandon. Kiddie stuff this most certainly is not.

With equally big gun anime production houses Production I.G and Bandai Visual working together here (along with one Mamoru Oshii) there was never any real doubt about the grown-up nature of this material or the quality of the animation.

Add to the military hardware and action a tall, dark, silent-type protagonist, a mysterious, unlikely femme fatale who’s a member of a terrorist organization, government-condoned death squads, post-modern German World War 2 helmets, gasmasks, full-on body armor, and – hidden amidst all this – some overt references to the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale.

Penned by Mamoru Oshii of Ghost in the Shell fame as part of his Kerberos saga, the alternate reality late 1950s story underpins Oshii’s earlier live-action film Stray Dog (1991) – a movie which starred actor Yoshikatsu Fujiki, who here returns to voice our hero Kazuki Fuse.

Fujiki also starred in Oshii’s more recent live-action movie Assault Girls (2009) and his presence is all the more reason that you should watch the movie in the original Japanese dub with English subtitles, rather than opting for the easy-listening local lingo.

The depth of talent involved in this production is guaranteed to smack around anyone vaguely interested in anime.

Kenji Kamiyama (later the director of TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) worked as sequence/animation director, the character designs (based on director Hiroyuki Okiura’s originals) were embellished on by Tetsuya Nishio (a key animator on Millennium Actress and FLCL) and you’ll also find Hiromasa Ogura - the man behind the surprisingly cool background art in Drawer Hobs (2011).


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