As the exploded world order sent recent shock waves through us, grim animÇ fairy tale “Jin-Roh: the Wolf Brigade” reeled in the art houses to signal hell on earth.
A Japan wasted in a World War of alternate history rebuilds under a totalitarian regime and anti-rebel death squad Wolf Brigade. After an adolescent agent’s suicide bombing, Constable Fuse is consumed by obsessions of death and duty when her doppelganger sister, Kei, enters to bond with his fractured psyche. Trouble.
Though certain elements suspiciously post-date “Return of the Jedi” and “The Professional,” director Hiroyuki Okiura’s tale of an establishment robot and his troubled inner-outer child is not without its own bleak reality. Order via anonymity and fear puts a dear price on the individual soul in “Jin-Roh’.” Empty-hearted masses are reduced to background. Councils – not a Senator Palpitane or such prominent demon – stand in for the Establishment Brain. These dramatic contructs impel Fuse to self-create as the organism competing with the system. It’s a shame that Okiura leaves Kei’s character much to be desired – her apartment is a beige cube with a phone. Still, in her dependant scenes with Fuse, their emptinesses both echo depth against her airy veneer.
AnimÇ’s cult masses worship in part for the effectiveness of magical realism like “Jin-Roh’s.” There’s no room to be impressed by the plain and phantasmagoric details . Winded from running in winter morning sun, Fuse’s rib cage visibly expands and contracts with natural imperfect rhythm, beads of sweat sliding down
Introspective Fuse’s dark dream sequences are spectacles of graphic imagination: predatory wolf packs multiplying, flesh ripped and bloody from teeth or bullets or explosives.
As a follow-up to Okiura’s cult favorite “Ghost in the Shell,” “Jin-Roh” cannot compare to the former’s hyper-rapturous design. But in trade-off it expands on a world gone to hell in chaos and monstrous over-soul technology.
It was a surreal comfort to experience our new anxieties in safe animÇ, but sympathy won’it suffice. If Fuse suffers, it is because the power of a soul sacrificed to a soulless matrix is too easily forgotten.