Shortly after the wolves escape with Cheza, they find themselves running from Quent’s gun into the ominously-named Forest of Death. Their relief after this ordeal is short-lived however as Darcia closes in, while Lebowski continues his search for Cher. Meanwhile there appears to be the beginnings of discord among the ruling class of the mysterious Nobles as Darcia pushes his own agenda.
Right from the start Wolf’s Rain proved to be an exhilarating and well paced series but now the action has notched up a gear and there is even more progress in terms of character development. A greater depth of the story is also becoming apparent: the opening episode for instance with its trying situation highlights the differences in opinion between the wolves – Tsume and Kiba in particular show their characteristic pride and stubbornness with Hige and Toboe trying to find a solution without confrontation. In the end though, they all realise that they must work together to survive and in doing so they get a little closer to their destination; petty disagreements will only hinder them. A bit of an adventure cliché perhaps, but it is well handled and reveals so much about the relations between the four of them that it works well on screen.
Tsume has been so far portrayed as rather aloof and uncaring; it was always hinted at that this is not the case at all, and a more sentimental side of him is beginning to emerge at last and he is all the more likeable for it. Interestingly, Kiba is still refusing to take on any sort of leadership status, despite his physical strength and determination. Hige remains the likeable rogue as always (his stomach still gets him into trouble) and while Toboe lacks the feral toughness of his companions he has a sense of compassion that makes him an adopted son in the eyes of the rest of the group.
The paths of the supporting cast are also beginning to cross and intertwine, giving rise to a bigger picture. Great care is being taken to flesh out their characters a little more too, and even Quent’s dog Blue is shown to be more interesting than she may have appeared at first. Of course, this all gives rise to more questions: what is the “paradise sickness’ that has afflicted Hamona? How can Cheza lead them all to Rakuen? What is the significance of the political moves made by Darcia and some of the other Nobles?
That is, a political aspect is making itself felt and shows that the Nobles are not the all-knowing, united and invincible force that they initially appeared to be. Darcia’s devotion to Hamona has caused him to act on his own before but his exchange with Cher concerning the curse of his family suggests that he is a very unusual individual indeed. All of this points towards a plotline that is anything but predictable, and that the four wolves that were the focus of the earlier episodes are only part of a larger whole.
Although it sounds as if I’m building on the hype that surrounds Wolf’s Rain, it really is proving to be a great series. The earlier episodes set very high standards in terms of characterisation, storytelling and production values but crucially this instalment has maintained these standards. Even when portraying a variety of characters in several different settings this series is not dull or boring, even for a moment.