Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade is a 2000 anime film that centres on the horrors of post-war conflict in Japan and an alternative history of 1950s Japanese riots
It opens with a documentary-like explanation of this alternative history narrative in a stark and blunt manner that takes a different approach to quickly explaining the plot to viewers.
The events that set the story in motion are equally horrifying and saddening as our main protagonist, Kazuki Fuse, member of the elite Kerberos Panzer Cops (a metropolitan anti-Terror unit), fails in his mission to prevent a young female terrorist from setting off a bomb and killing herself right before his eyes.
With his unit’s reputation in tatters and these events causing a moral dilemma, Fuse is forced to re-examine his position and begins a journey after meeting Kei, the supposed sister of the dead suicide bomber.
Without spoiling too much, Jin-Roh explores the harsh realities of conflict and PTSD as we also see deception and corruption abound with Fuse just trying to survive. We also get to see a growing relationship between Fuse and Kei that seems destined to end in tragedy.
The main recurring story beats are the parallels to the story of Little Red Riding Hood and her dealings with the wolf, tying right into the full title, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, who are revealed as a secret group acting independently to their superiors and who try to help Fuse in his moments of need.
The conclusion for Jin-Roh is gut-wrenching but also appropriate for the film’s overall themes and tone. It left me feeling very somber but also like I’d experienced an intriguing storyline that offered something unique.
Jin-Roh was animated by Production I.G who have worked on a lot of science fiction anime over the years. The director, Hiroyuki Okiura, has previously worked as a key animator on classic anime films like Akira and Patlabor: The Movie. The film itself is an adaptation of a manga by Mamoru Oshii, the director of iconic anime films Ghost in the Shell and Patlabor 2: The Movie. They both do a great job in bringing the source material to life and deliver a relatively simply storyline with memorability and style.
Looking at the actual release, Jin-Roh provides audio tracks for both Japanese and English languages and both are solid. Kizuki Fuse is portrayed by Yoshikatsu Fujiki and Michael Dobson respectively and both do a good job with a difficult role.
Elsewhere the other key highlights are the voice actors for Kei, Sumi Mutoh and Moneca Stori, whose performances help to enhance the mysterious aura surrounding the character.
The score for the film was provided by composer Hajime Mizoguchi whose music suitably accompanies the sombre tone that resonates throughout.
The picture quality on the Blu-ray is also decent if a bit soft in places. The film has a layer of grain throughout that offers a more filmic look. appropriate for the story and its more subdued colour palette.
This release is brought to us by Anime Limited. The packaging for the release includes a 48-page booklet and houses the Blu-ray and DVD in a digipack.
In conclusion, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade is a very engaging film that paints a bleak alternative history for the 1950 Japanese riots that’s filled with violent post-war unrest and a visceral brutality that affects those around it.
The story here of Kazuki Fuse trying to find an alternative to this way of life is sympathetic but the reality presented to them sadly showcases that sometimes suffering is an inevitability.