Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade ★★★★½

"The hunter only kills the wolf in the stories humans tell to each other."

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade is set in an alternate history 1950's Japan, in which riots have occurred between the supposed terrorist group known as The Sect, and the governing police as well as the autonomous special forces, known as Kerberos Corps. In the midst of this turmoil, Corporal Kazuki Fuse of Kerberos is hesitating to shoot a young woman, who is detonating a satchel charge in front of him. Fuse survives this event, and is subsequently struggling between keeping or losing his humanity, especially after he meets Kei, the sister of the young woman who blew herself up.

What I liked the most about this film is the world-building. The alternate history setting gives the audience a great idea of how things could have gone horribly wrong in Japan. Combined with the clever, albeit overt, allusions to The Little Red Riding Hood, which are even used to explore the possible PTSD that Fuse is suffering from, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade effectively shows us a world where you can only survive, if you give up your own humanity. Fuse's character arc, which involves his conflicted sense of humanity, is what drew me into the film, but it ultimately does not matter in the end, as it is the complex political conflict that end up becoming central to the story. That is an excellent way to show us how humanity doesn't have a place in a totalitarian society. Fuse's character arc also moves towards a brilliant twist I won't spoil here, but it is cleverly foreshadowed throughout the film. Also, the cinematography for this film is brilliant. There are many great mise-en-scènes, such as in the trial at the beginning of the film, and even great first-person shots. It's not often that the cinematography of animated films are praised, so it is exceptional to me that this aspect stood out so well.

The main gripe I have with this film is one aspect of the film I have already praised. The political conflict is great, and I like the elements of deception involved. With that said, it also leads to a lot of repeated exposition, as well as a meeting between police and special forces that just felt like unnecessary filler material to me. It should have been done shorter and more fluently to the progression of the plot, as it here just does nothing but grind the film to a halt. Also, and this is a thing that might make others more harsh towards this film, the characters can sometimes come off as a bit too bland at times, as they are not given that many character moments. I personally wasn't too bothered by this, but I can see why it would be a problem for other viewers.

In conclusion, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade is an amazing dark dystopian anime film, that you should definitely give a chance. I highly recommend this film if you have yet to see this.

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